People want results yesterday.
Ever since I’ve been in the fitness industry, I’ve learned that the statement above can be startlingly true. People do not like to wait for results. Whether it’s decreasing numbers on the scale or increasing poundages on their lifts, the clients I’ve coached have all suffered from the same human flaw - a lack of patience.
I really think that this is one big reason why the keto diet is so popular: people believe that when they remove carbs from their diet that the fat will just “melt off” of them.
This tendency toward impatience is great at the beginning. Someone gets so fed up with the crappy situation they’re in that they decide to take action. They begin to adopt a fitness regimen and a low carb diet, and they pursue it with abandon…
…for a few weeks.
Then they step on the scale. They read that someone on the diet they’re on lost 15 lbs in two weeks. As they see the numbers come up on the scale, anxiety rushes over them followed by panic. The’ve been busting their butt on this diet for weeks now and the numbers haven’t gone down - WHAT GIVES?
The keto diet is definitely one of the most effective tools for weight loss that I’ve ever come across, but it’s also not fool proof. If you’re having trouble losing weight on the keto diet, it’s probably due to one of the following five mistakes.
I’m starting with this one because it’s probably the most frustrating for people to hear, but it’s also the truth.
In an age where programs like the “3 Week Diet” are making millions of dollars every week people do not want to be told to be patient. When they do get told to be patient, they turn around to Google the quickest and easiest solution they can find.
They end up jumping from diet to diet each time they hit a road block. There’s no consistency, and in the end no new habits formed. That means that even if they do find something that seems to “melt the fat away,” the fat doesn’t stay off for long. Once they see some progress, they go back to doing what they were doing before. They weight comes back on, and they start the cycle all over again. This creates a steady pipeline for people to buy the next big fitness product - the “2 Week Diet.” (Yes these products actually exist)
Regardless of what diet you decide to choose, the first thing you should do is manage your expectations. Keto or not, healthy weight loss still occurs at 1 to 2 pounds a week. Yes, you may lose water weight more rapidly at the beginning of a keto diet, but once that happens, you should settle down into a more gradual loss. Understanding and being OK with this will be one of the major keys to your success.
At the end of the day, rapid weight loss isn’t what you’re looking for. You’re looking to get the weight off and keep it off in a sustainable way. The keto diet can offer you a very sustainable and even enjoyable way to burn fat and keep it off for the long haul if you implement it properly.
But if you treat it like a crash diet and don’t manage your expectations you can end up frustrated, disappointed, and burned out.
Fat and ketones are the performance enhancing substances of the keto world. We’re learning more and more everyday about the effects that high blood ketone levels can have on athletic performance like in this landmark study by Jeff Volek and his team studying ultra endurance runners.
This, in turn, has led to the creation of some amazing products like ketone salts and high quality MCT oils. These are both products that rapidly convert to ketones in the blood stream. They can make you more mentally clear and they can boost your energy levels.
While leaner keto practitioners can definitely benefit from using MCT oil and ketone salts regularly, those seeking to rid themselves of excess fat should only use these products sparingly.
To understand why takes some understanding of fat loss and ketosis.
Natural ketosis occurs when fat gets mobilized out of its cell and into the blood stream. In order for this to happen, there can’t be any other readily available sources of energy in the bloodstream. That’s why most of us require a 5-10 day adaptation phase to get into ketosis, so that our bodies can switch from using glucose as fuel to ketones.
But just as eating enough glucose can kick you out of ketosis, introducing a bunch of ketones from an outside source only induces an artificial ketosis. Essentially, you’re bringing in excess energy for the body to burn off rather than encouraging it to mobilize the stored energy in your fat cells.
Hence, over consuming MCT oil and using exogenous ketones when you’re trying to burn fat can throw a huge wrench into your fat loss efforts even if it does make you feel good.
I am a fan of ketone salts for athletes and even bodybuilders who are looking for a fantastic pre workout, but if you’re overweight and seeking to lose fat your should not be using these until you’ve seen some fat loss success.
MCT oil can be used sparingly at the beginning to help ease the energy deficit of keto-adaptation, but should not be used throughout the day if you are excessively overweight.
If you are looking for supplements that can enhance you’re own fat mobilization look for the following:
acetyl l-carnitine - this amino acid helps with mobilizing stored fat. You can take this pre-workout to help generate ketones from your fat stores.
n-acetyle cysteine - NAC helps to replenish glutathione levels in the body, reduces inflammation, and can help to enhance liver function. Your liver has a huge role in converting fatty acids into ketones.
Getting into ketosis simply means that fat has mobilized into your bloodstream. You still need to burn it off!
You cannot remain sedentary and expect to lose weight in a sustainable manner.
You do not need to train like an olympic level athlete, but you do need to increase your activity levels.
If you aren’t used to exercise, a great way to start is simply by walking. Take a 15-20 minute walk after each meal. This will help to stabilize your blood sugar and reduce the possibility that any glucose you took in will get stored as fat. Every hour, get up and do three to five sets of bodyweight squats or pushups.
This is a start. The more you move, the more you will burn. Lifting weights, doing HIIT training, and some steady cardio should all be things that you include in your efforts, but don’t let not being able to get to the gym become your excuse. Move as much as you can and put those ketones you’re creating to use.
Hydration is one of the most neglected aspects of fat loss, not just with ketosis, but with any diet. It is, however, particularly important with a ketogenic diet.
That’s because, with the absence of carbohydrates, your body pushes water out more readily.
Dehydration is the number 1 cause of the keto flu and it can create headaches, brain fog, fatigue, and nausea. It can also keep your body from mobilizing fat to produce ketones because water is the primary medium in which all of your bodily reactions occur.
Make sure to drink at least half your bodyweight in fluid ounces of water plus an additional 10 ounces. Also make sure that you use natural salt on your food to replenish lost minerals and balance out your electrolytes.
This feeds into common sense, but it needs to be said. Cheating can halt your progress like nothing else.
That’s not to say that I don’t believe in properly scheduled cheat meals. I have a set cheat meal each week.
But a cheat meal should only come after you’ve done the work necessary to warrant a cheat meal. I make sure that my cheat meals come on days when my activity level is highest, and they only happen after I’ve had a good strength workout, cardio, or jiu jitsu training session.
I’ve also been fat adapted for 6 years and I keep myself fairly lean. If you’re at the beginning of your weight loss efforts, you really shouldn’t be considering regular cheat meals.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself! There are thousands of recipes online that include keto comfort foods and keto desserts! I’ve put a lot of these into our keto cookbook, which you can download for free if you take my free Starting Keto course.
The keto diet can be an awesome tool for fat loss, but it isn’t magic. There’s still work you need to put in and rules that you need to follow to make it work. Be patient, and be consistent. Once you get it, you’ll love the way you feel and you’ll love what you’ll be able to accomplish.
If you’re looking to find out more about how the keto diet could benefit your weight loss efforts, take our Starting Keto course here.