Reasons for not losing weight on a keto diet

The keto diet is a type of diet that significantly restricts carbohydrate intake. Ordinarily, the body breaks down carbohydrates into the sugar glucose, which it uses for energy. When there are not enough carbs in the body, it goes into a stage called ketosis.

During ketosis, the body becomes very efficient at burning fat and using it instead of glucose for energy. This fat burning makes the ketogenic diet a popular choice for people looking to lose weight.

However, some people may find that they are not losing weight on the keto diet. In most cases, this will be because they have not gone into ketosis.

There are other reasons why a person may not lose weight while following the keto diet. In this article, we outline the different possibilities. We also provide some general tips that can help a person achieve their weight loss goals.

1. Not achieving ketosis

A person on the keto diet should try to make carbs only 5–10% of their calorie intake.

Usually, when a person does not lose weight on the keto diet, it is because they have not achieved ketosis.

The most common reason for not getting into ketosis is not cutting back enough on carbs. According to a 2019 article on the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates should represent only 5–10% of a person’s calorie intake.

Specifically, most keto diets require a person to cut down to between 20 and 50 grams of carbs each day.

Sometimes, a person may feel as though they have drastically reduced their carb intake. However, they may still be eating enough carbs for the body to produce energy from glucose, and this will prevent the body from burning fat.

A person who is not losing weight on the keto diet may benefit from purchasing a home testing kit. These kits contain test strips that check for the presence of ketones in the urine. A positive result indicates that the body is in ketosis.

Another option is to use a small machine called a ketone breath analyzer that detects ketones in the breath.

Home testing can be a helpful way for people to ensure that they are actually entering ketosis. People can use this information to make dietary changes that will help them achieve their weight loss goals.

2. Eating too much protein

Many low carb diets allow for a moderate amount of protein. Some people mistakenly think that a low carb, high protein diet is a keto diet. However, this type of diet is unlikely to cause ketosis because the body can break down excess proteins into amino acids and convert them to types of sugar.

A person who is on the keto diet will get most of their calories from fat, which should represent about 55–60% of their calorie intake. This fat intake leaves little room for protein. If protein makes up more than 35% of a person’s diet, it is unlikely that they are going into ketosis.

3. Eating too many acceptable carbs

On the keto diet, several types of carbohydrate are acceptable, including nuts and dairy. These foods are typically high fat, nutrient dense foods that make a great addition to a keto diet. However, they also contain carbohydrates.

Eating too many of these foods will keep a person from achieving and maintaining ketosis.

4. Eating maltitol

Sugar alcohols are typically a good option for people following the keto diet. They provide sweetness without increasing net carbs in the body. However, not all sugar alcohols are alike.

Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that is not keto friendly. Although maltitol is technically a low glycemic index (GI) sugar, it still affects blood sugar levels. This effect is enough to prevent a person from entering ketosis.

5. Not counting calories

a man on his phone and making note in the kitchen.
Counting calories may help a person lose weight on the keto diet.

A person who eats more calories than their body can burn is unlikely to lose weight. People who consume too many calories may gain weight, even if they are in a state of ketosis.

High fat foods tend to contain many more calories than foods that are high in carbohydrates and proteins. It is, therefore, important that people keep track of the number of calories that they consume.

Sticking to a balanced meal plan can help a person work toward their ideal weight.

6. Constant snacking

Even when a person has an approved meal plan in mind, if they succumb to continual snacking, this can greatly increase their calorie intake. A snack may help prevent hunger pangs, but it can easily sabotage weight loss efforts.

7. Drinking alcohol

Many alcoholic drinks, including wine and beer, are high in carbohydrates. Most forms of the ketone diet do not allow these types of alcohol.

Hard alcohols, such as gin and vodka, are lower in carbohydrates, meaning that they are generally acceptable on a keto diet. However, these drinks are very calorie dense. As such, even these options can prevent weight loss.

Drinking alcohol is an easy way to increase calorie intake without providing the body with nutrients.

8. Little to no exercise

Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. Exercise also stimulates the body’s metabolism and burns calories. It is, therefore, a great tool for dieters.

Exercise may be especially important on a keto diet, as the high fat foods that a person eats contain many calories. Burning calories through exercise can help a person reach their desired weight.

9. High stress

A high stress lifestyle can also stop a person from losing weight on the keto diet. As one 2012 study notes, stress can cause changes in hormone levels, which can lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.

Chronic stress may also cause people to crave comfort foods. These foods add extra calories to the diet.

10. Underlying medical conditions

Sometimes, a person may be doing everything right and still be unable to lose weight on the keto diet. In some cases, this may be due to an underlying medical condition that is causing weight gain or preventing weight loss. Alternatively, a medication that a person is taking for the underlying condition may be causing increased appetite as a side effect.

Some conditions that can contribute to weight gain include:

A person should see a doctor if they are unable to lose weight despite adhering to a strict diet and exercise plan. The doctor may carry out tests to determine what is preventing weight loss. Treating the underlying condition may resolve the issue.


woman drinking water in restaurant or bar
Drinking plenty of water may help prevent a person from snacking.

The following tips may help a person avoid common dieting mistakes so that they can lose weight on the keto diet:

  • Keeping a food journal: By keeping track of what that they consume throughout the day, a person can often identify any foods or eating patterns — such as snacking — that may be preventing weight loss.
  • Drinking plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water helps fill the stomach, and this may help keep a person from overeating or snacking too much throughout the day.
  • Chewing sugarless gum: Chewing sugarless gum containing erythritol or stevia may help stave off cravings for sweet foods. It may also help minimize unnecessary snacking between meals.
  • Getting plenty of sleep: Sleep helps regulate the body’s normal cycles, and it may also help reduce stress levels.


Achieving and maintaining ketosis can be a difficult task for many people. The keto diet is strict, and it requires people to adhere to it closely to achieve results.

However, with some minor adjustments, most people can reach ketosis and start to work toward their weight loss goals.

Anyone who is unable to lose weight despite following the keto diet and exercising regularly may wish to consider speaking to a doctor or dietitian.

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