Low-Carb Diet Weight Loss: How Fast You Can Expect Results
Everyone has their own reasons for starting a low-carb, high-fat diet like keto, but the most common reason is weight loss.
There are plenty of case studies, impressive before and after photos, and even controversy surrounding the ketogenic diets application for weight management and fat loss. But youll also hear many skeptics and critics, saying keto doesnt work, or that its not sustainable as a lifestyle.
This article will answer the following questions:
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, its helpful to know the following:
Benefits of Weight Loss
Before looking at what kind of weight loss you can expect on the ketogenic diet, its helpful to review the benefits of weight loss in general. Losing weight will help you look and feel better, but there is much more at stake when it comes to your health.
According to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, more than two-thirds of American adults are overweight, which means they are at higher risk for experiencing a number of weight-related health issues:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even modest weight loss anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can provide huge health benefits, including improvements in blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Furthermore, a study in the National Weight Control Registry cited that participants who maintained significant weight loss reported increased energy levels, physical mobility, general mood, and self-confidence.
What Factors Impact Weight Loss on Keto?
#1: Your Current Weight
To lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, which means you need to burn more calories than you consume.
Your current weight is the top factor that will determine how fast youll be able to lose weight on keto. This is because the heavier you are, the higher your metabolic rate is (your ability to burn calories in a given day). Keto-ers with more weight to lose typically lose weight faster and more easily in the initial stages than those who dont have as much to lose. In other words, someone who has 100 pounds to lose will lose weight faster and easier than someone who has 15 pounds to lose.
#2: Your Lifestyle
Your lifestyle includes:
These are all key factors when it comes to weight loss. The more drastic the changes in these areas, the more likely you are to experience dramatic changes in your weight.
#3: The Quality and Quantity of Sleep
Sleep is crucial for weight loss. According to Dr. Craig Primack, a member of the national board of directors for the Obesity Medicine Association, People who sleep less than seven hours per night tend to have slower metabolisms, which means they arent burning as many calories as they could be.
This has a lot to do with your bodys hormonal balance and response, and how micro and macronutrients are used in the body.
#4: How Often Your Body is in Ketosis
Some research has shown that those who follow the keto diet more strictly and are in ketosis for longer periods of time are most likely to lose weight faster. Being in a state of ketosis means your body is in fat-burning mode, instead of glucose-burning mode.
How Much Weight Will You Lose on Keto?
The good news for those interested in the ketogenic diet is that it is an extremely effective method for weight loss for a number of reasons:
With the importance of weight loss in the back of your mind, and an understanding of some of the factors that impact weight loss, we can now look at the amount of weight you can expect to lose on keto. This guide is based on the assumption that someone is following a strict keto diet where 75% of their calories come from fat, 20% comes from protein, and 5% comes from carbohydrates.
Phase 1 of Keto Weight Loss
Time: Weeks 1-2
Anticipated Weight Loss: Rapid weight loss up to 10 pounds (of water)
As you start removing carbohydrates from your body, your body will begin using the glycogen stored in your liver and muscles as its primary fuel source. This is exactly what you want, because once your body gets through the glycogen, it will start burning fat instead of glucose. And when this happens, it means youre in a state of ketosis. Well talk more about this in Phase 2.
During the first phase, you can expect to lose 2 to 7 pounds of water weight. Some people may even lose up to 10 pounds, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. Studies show that each gram of glycogen in human muscle is bound to about 3 grams of water. So, as your body burns through the glycogen, it also rids your body of water. Even though youll be losing mostly water weight in this early stage, this is a great sign that you are on your way to achieving ketosis.
It is important to note that while youre in this phase, youll want to make sure to drink extra water to prevent dehydration. Replenishing your electrolytes is also helpful during this phase. You may also notice flu-like symptoms nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and maybe some irritability. This is commonly called the Keto Flu, and could last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Dont worry this is a sign that your body is getting adjusted to a new fuel source i.e. transitioning to fat-burning mode.
Phase 2 of Keto Weight Loss
Time: Weeks 2-4
Anticipated Weight Loss: Average weight loss 1 to 2 pounds per week
After the initial drop in weight due to water loss, your body will begin to adapt to using fat as its main energy source. At this stage, youre becoming fat adapted. This is the point in the process when you achieve a state of ketosis, meaning your body switches from using glycogen as its fuel source to using fat. When your body starts burning fat for energy, it produces ketones (also called ketone bodies). You can test your bodys level of ketones to determine whether or not youre in ketosis.
During this fat-burning stage, you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Youll also begin to feel less hungry in this stage because the fat youre consuming will make you feel more full. This will give your weight loss process a huge boost because youll have an easier time eating fewer calories.
Phase 3 of Keto Weight Loss
TIme: 1-3 months and beyond
Anticipated Weight Loss: Slower weight loss potentially 1 to 2 pounds per week
Once youve gone into ketosis, you will feel like you have more physical and mental energy and endurance, and any carb cravings you may have experienced in the beginning will disappear.
In this phase, you may continue to lose 1-2 pounds per week, or it could slow down. If your weight loss slows down, thats okay! Remember, as you lose weight, your metabolism will slow down a little as well. Your caloric needs will also lower, which means youll have to eat less to maintain your deficit. Stick with it. The CDC suggests that people who lose weight gradually and steadily at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week are more successful at keeping that weight off.
What if Youre Not Losing Weight on Keto?
The ketogenic way of eating is an extremely effective weight loss method, but every person is different. Dont compare yourself to the drastic before and after photos you see online. If you dont experience the weight loss youre seeking, stay positive and make sure youre following these tips:
Watch out for hidden carbs. Carbs are everywhere, especially in processed foods. If youre consuming more than the recommended amount of carbs (5% of your calories), your body will revert to burning those as opposed to burning fat. Try to stick to wholesome, unprocessed foods and be very careful about what youre putting in your body. Read the nutrition facts on everything you eat and use an app to monitor your carb intake. Know the difference between net carbs and total carbs.
NET CARBS = TOTAL CARBS FIBER SUGAR ALCOHOLS
To achieve and maintain ketosis, most people have to keep net carbs between 20-50 grams per day.
Monitor protein intake. Aim for about 20% of your calories to come from protein. If you eat more than that, your body will turn the excess protein into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. Your body will then try to burn this glucose off instead of fat and will kick your body out of ketosis.
Confirm youre in ketosis. To reach your optimal weight loss goals, you must stay in ketosis for as much time as possible. The nice thing about the keto diet is that you can determine whether your body is in ketosis by measuring the ketones being produced.
Exercise regularly. In addition to staying in ketosis, the best thing you can do for your weight-loss journey and your overall health is to exercise regularly! Its extremely easy to wake up, go to work, sit at a desk all day, come home, and then sit on the couch for the rest of the evening. But this sedentary lifestyle wont help you burn enough calories. For best results, vary your workouts and make sure theres a mix of weight training and cardio training. Building muscle will give your metabolism a boost since muscle in your body burns more calories than fat. And even if you dont want to go to the gym or get outside for a run, try to get in a 30-minute walk 3-4 times per week. A 30-minute walk at a brisk pace can help you burn about 150 calories. Plus, working out will boost your mood and help you stay motivated on your health journey.
Is the Keto Lifestyle Right for You?
While each persons keto journey will be unique, the fact remains: going keto is an effective way to shed extra weight and kickstart a healthier life. Youll look better, feel better, and perform better in everyday life. But as with any diet, there will be times when the weight effortlessly slips off, and other times when the weight stubbornly hangs on. When you hit those weight loss stalls, the best thing to do is stick with it and stay on track. The ketogenic diet works if you stick with it. Its not something that you can do for a couple weeks here and there. To really see and feel the benefits of keto, we recommend giving it a minimum of three months to see whether its right for you.
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