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Keto & Weight Loss: What You Need to Know

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

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The keto diet has gained immense popularity over the last few years as a weight loss tool due to its ability to induce rapid weight loss by putting the body into a state of ketosis. In ketosis, the body uses stored fat for energy instead of glucose derived from carbohydrates, which leads to significant weight loss. Keto is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has been found to be extremely effective in promoting weight loss and improving overall health. Let's explore the science behind keto and weight loss, the benefits and potential challenges of the diet, and tips for successfully losing weight on the ketogenic diet.

How the Keto Diet Works for Weight Loss The ketogenic diet works by restricting carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake, which forces the body to switch from using glucose as its primary fuel source to using ketones produced from the breakdown of fats. In the absence of carbohydrates, the liver converts stored fat into ketones, which are used by the body for energy. This process is known as ketosis and can lead to rapid weight loss due to the increased breakdown of fat stores for energy.

One of the key factors in weight loss with the ketogenic diet is the reduction in insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that is released in response to carb intake and is responsible for storing glucose as glycogen in the liver and muscles. When insulin levels are high, the body is in a state of storing energy, making it difficult to burn stored fat for energy. By reducing carbohydrate intake, insulin levels are lowered, which allows the body to more easily access and burn stored fat for energy.

Another way the ketogenic diet promotes weight loss is through the creation of a caloric deficit. By increasing fat intake, which is more satiating than carbohydrates or protein, individuals on the ketogenic diet are able to consume fewer calories without feeling hungry or deprived. This calorie deficit, combined with the increased fat burning in ketosis, leads to weight loss over time. The Science Behind Keto and Weight Loss

woman grabbing fat on stomach

There is significant scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of keto for weight loss. A study published in the journal Obesity Reviews found that the ketogenic diet was more effective for short-term weight loss than low-fat diets, with participants on the ketogenic diet losing an average of 2.2 pounds more than those on low-fat diets. Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that the ketogenic diet was associated with greater weight loss and improved cholesterol levels compared to a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet. The reason why the ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss is due to the metabolic state of ketosis. When the body is in ketosis, it is able to burn that extra stored fat on your body for energy, which leads to weight loss. Additionally, the reduction in insulin levels and the satiating effects of a high-fat diet help control how often you feel hungry, thus reducing your calorie intake, leading to a caloric deficit and further weight loss. Common Challenges to Sticking to the Keto Lifestyle

Despite its potential benefits for weight loss, the keto diet is not without its challenges and potential pitfalls. Here are some of the most important ones to consider:

  1. Difficulty Adapting to the Diet: The strict requirements of keto can be difficult for some people to adhere to, particularly during the initial adaptation phase. This can lead to feelings of fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating, which can make it challenging to stick with the diet. This feeling is usually amplified due to dehydration, also known as the "keto flu", but is avoidable with proper electrolyte supplementation.

  2. Nutrient Deficiencies: Eliminating certain foods from the diet, particularly fruits and whole grains, can lead to nutrient deficiencies over time. It is important to ensure that the diet is balanced and includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods to prevent deficiencies and replace those important nutrients you may have cut out, like fiber.

  3. Weight Regain After Returning to a Regular Diet: Like with any diet, there is a risk of regaining weight after returning to a regular diet. It is important to develop healthy habits and make sustainable lifestyle changes to maintain weight loss long-term.

  4. Limited Food Choices: The ketogenic diet limits certain food groups, which can make it challenging to maintain a well-rounded, varied diet. This can be particularly difficult for vegetarians or vegans, who may struggle to meet their protein needs on the diet.

  5. Risk of Ketoacidosis: While quite rare, there is a very small risk of ketoacidosis, a potentially dangerous metabolic state, in individuals with diabetes who follow the ketogenic diet. This is why it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting the diet, particularly if you have any underlying health conditions.

As with any diet or drastic lifestyle change, it's important to weigh the potential benefits and challenges before starting and to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure that it's safe and appropriate for you.

Tips for Successfully Losing Weight on Keto

older husband and wife cooking

If you are interested in trying the ketogenic diet for weight loss, here are some tips that can help you get started and increase your chances of success:

  1. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time: One of the biggest challenges of the ketogenic diet is planning meals and snacks ahead of time. Taking the time to plan your meals for the week can help you stay on track and ensure that you have plenty of healthy, low-carb options on hand. Read more.

  2. Monitor Your Macros: Tracking your macronutrient intake (fat, protein, and carbs) is essential on keto. There are many apps and websites available that can help you track your intake and ensure that you are staying within your recommended ranges.

  3. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is important on any diet, but it is particularly important on the ketogenic diet. The diet can have a diuretic effect, which can lead to dehydration if you are not drinking enough fluids.

  4. Incorporate Healthy Fats: While the ketogenic diet is high in fat, it is important to choose healthy sources of fat, such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. These foods are also nutrient-dense and can help you stay full and satisfied between meals.

  5. Overcoming Cravings and Temptations: Cravings for carbs and sweets can be one of the biggest challenges when starting the keto diet. Strategies such as finding keto-friendly alternatives to your favorite high-carb foods and keeping keto-friendly snacks on hand can help you resist temptations.

  6. Regular Exercise and Physical Activity: While weight loss on the ketogenic diet is primarily driven by dietary changes, regular exercise and physical activity can help to enhance weight loss and improve overall health. They say diet is 80% of it, but the added exercise will round out the other 20% and help you feel your best and healthiest.

  7. Be Patient: Losing weight on keto can take time, and it is important to be patient and persistent. It can take several weeks for your body to fully adapt to the diet and start burning fat for fuel.

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success on the ketogenic diet and achieve your weight loss goals. Remember to be patient, stay hydrated, and choose healthy, nutrient-dense foods to support your overall health and well-being.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it! Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet that's become increasingly popular for its effectiveness with weight loss by forcing your body to burn fat for energy by putting it in a state of ketosis.

While the ketogenic diet can definitely help with weight loss, it's not always easy. Some of the challenges include planning meals, tracking macros, and resisting cravings. But with a little bit of planning and some tips and tricks, it's definitely doable and more than worth the effort.

At the end of the day, the keto diet can be a really helpful tool for weight loss and may even have some other benefits for your overall health and wellness. Just make sure to talk to a healthcare professional before getting started to be sure it's right for you. Best of luck on your keto journey!


Gibson, A. A., Seimon, R. V., Lee, C. M., Ayre, J., Franklin, J., Markovic, T. P., . . . Sainsbury, A. (2015). Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 16(1), 64-76. doi: 10.1111/obr.12230. Yancy, W. S., Jr., Olsen, M. K., Guyton, J. R., Bakst, R. P., & Westman, E. C. (2004). A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 140(10), 769-777. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-140-10-200405180-00006.

The information provided above is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please speak with a licensed healthcare professional specific to your situation before making any sudden changes to your diet.


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