Keto Weight Gain: Why Are You Gaining Weight On Keto?

You believe you’re doing keto diet right.

You carb intake is at 20 grams per day, you eat a moderate amount of protein, and you are eating plenty of healthy fats.

You’re also drinking lots of water and have increased your activity.

You are in ketosis but not losing weight. Instead, you’re gaining weight on keto diet.

Does this sound like you?

In fact, it seems to be going in the wrong direction even when you’ve tried intermittent fasting and kept your blood sugar levels check all the time.

Getting into the Nutritional Ketosis zone was supposed to make things easy, but it’s not helping you at all.

If it’s been over 2 to 4 weeks since you started gaining weight, you might also be thinking about quitting your weight-loss diet.

If so, this comprehensive ketogenic guide written for those gaining weight on the keto diet is designed to help you find where you’re going off track.

There’s no need to run back to the standard American diet that got you into your current condition.

That’s a recipe for disaster!

Even though the keto diet isn’t living up to its promises quite yet, you just need a little help to discover what is holding you back from your weight loss goals.

Gaining Body Fat on Keto or Just Water?

Let’s start with an easy fix:

  • Have you been on several weight-loss diets in the past?
  • Maybe, you’ve done some form of low carb before?

If so, then your body is going to put up a fight.

Your body is in the business of doing things the easy way, so it doesn’t like to shrink your fat cells, and it really, really, doesn’t like to get rid of them, especially if you have created a pattern of going on and off a diet throughout your life.

The body will simply stuff water into your fat cells and wait for you to quit dieting and go running back for the carbs.

The good news is that this weight gain isn’t body fat.

It’s just water and does not much weight.

I know that isn’t comforting to hear, but the scale measures more than just body fat. It shows you:

  • how much water you’re holding onto.
  • the amount of muscle mass you have.
  • any food that hasn’t been digested yet.
  • how much your organs weigh, including skin and nails.
  • what the weight of your hair is?
  • what your clothing weighs.

This is in addition to how much body fat you have.

If this is what’s going on for you, the only recourse you have is to drink plenty of water and just wait it out. There isn’t a lot that you can do until your body decides to get rid of all of that excess water.

It might take a few weeks.

If you’ve gained more than 5 or 10 pounds, are in the optimal range for Nutritional Ketosis, and you are continuously gaining weight week after week, then something else is desperately wrong.

Check your calorie intake, measure ketone levels and keep track of all the macros.

Are You Trying Cheat Meals?

Keto isn’t like other weight-loss plans where you can recover quickly after cheating.

With ketogenic diets, compliance is essential.

Cheat days need to be very few and far between, unless you’re purposely using a cyclic approach.

If you’ve been eating things off plan, here and there, guessing at how many carbs you’re eating, or even bingeing on low-carb foods, the result can be weight gain instead of weight loss.

Honestly, if you’ve only cheated 2 or 3 times over the course of a month, those extra carbs and calories can result in a gain on the scale.

Every time you go over your carb tolerance level, the body is going to believe that you are going to flat-out quit really soon and it will start holding onto water.

Even if you’re able to get right back into the Nutritional Ketosis zone, what you did when you were out of the optimal range is what matters. Nutritional Ketosis must be consistent to see results.

So if this is your problem, you need to commit.

Don’t cheat at all until you’ve become ketone-adapted. Give your body time to start burning fatty acids efficiently before you experiment with off-plan foods and beverages.

Are You Drinking Alcohol?

In the beginning stages of a ketogenic diet, it’s best to abstain from alcohol — if at all possible.

While some forms of alcohol have no carbs and can be made into non-carby drinks by using carb-free beverages, the way in which alcohol is processed by the body can cause you to gain weight.

When alcohol comes in, the body sees it as a poisonous substance. It’s toxic, so everything in the bloodstream is immediately stored in order to handle the problem.

Carbs, amino acids, and triglycerides all go into storage.

And this includes what you happen to be eating along with that alcohol.

Everything is stored, but fatty foods are the worst because they are going to go straight to your belly and hips.

Nothing stored is pulled back out of your fat cells and used until every drop of the alcohol has been oxidized and disposed of.

Whether you gain weight, maintain, or lose after drinking depends on how many calories you’re eating consistently.

This is because ketone production is put on hold when alcohol is available. You won’t be kicked out of ketosis, but ketosis waits until the alcohol is gone.

Many people talk about glucose being the body’s first choice in fuel, but glucose is not actually burned first.

Since alcohol cannot be stored by the body, the body sees alcohol as primary fuel.

Alcohol is burned first, so you don’t want to drink until you are ketone-adapted because drinking can interfere with that adaption, as well as pack on the pounds.

If you’re in the habit of having 2 or 3 drinks a week and you’re also eating a high-fat meal while drinking, this can be enough to reverse what you’re trying to do by going keto.

Get ketone-adapted first, and then if you want to experiment with alcohol, you’ll be in a better position to see how your body reacts to it.

Are Your Genetics Interfering with Keto?

Since keto is said to be a high-fat diet, let’s also talk about how dietary fat is digested, especially since dietary fat is often blamed as being the bad guy when it comes to gaining weight.

Fat is actually a necessary macronutrient that forms the structure of every cell in your body.

Essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, synthesis of hormones, and the essential fatty acids you need to control inflammation, dietary fat also provides energy when glucose is scarce.

When you eat dietary fats, a small amount is used for immediate energy and the rest is stored until the body needs it later on.

On keto, this happens fairly quickly, provided you aren’t drinking alcohol along with that meal or snack, since glucose is in short supply.

However, the way your body digests fats can be compromised by your genetics. In fact, genetics can be why you’re gaining weight on keto. The metabolic rate of fat loss might not be the same in everyone.

Digestion of fat actually begins in the mouth when you start to chew your food. Lingual lipase is released and responsible for emulsifying fat in the mouth.

As food hits the stomach, the stomach secretes gastric lipase, which is released to help get the fat molecules ready for the upper small intestine.

Most of the real digestion of fats takes place after food moves into the small intestine. This is where nutrients are absorbed after food is degraded into very small particles.

Here, the pancreas secretes its own form of lipase, which goes to work breaking down triglycerides into fatty acids and glycerol. In addition, bile is released by the gallbladder to help emulsify food particles, making lipase’s job easier.

Eating fat stimulates the production of bile, which is produced by the liver but stored in the gallbladder. If you’re missing your gallbladder, fat digestion can be less efficient for you because the fat molecules often stay too large to be absorbed.

When fat molecules are too large, malabsorption often results, but as long as you’re able to make enough lipase, and not everyone has the genetics for that, you’ll be able to handle keto to some degree.

Can You Do Keto Without a Gallbladder?

Many say that a lack of a gallbladder has no effect on whether or not you can do keto successfully, but this is very individual.

A few people are able to eat a high-fat diet, even right after gallbladder surgery, but fat molecules need to be small enough to pass through the intestinal wall or you’ll end up with uncomfortable symptoms, such as bloating and gas, after the fat molecules reach the colon.

Most people who have had their gallbladder removed have difficulties doing keto because there isn’t enough bile available to digest the heavy load of fats.

This is because you have lost your ability to store up bile in the quantities needed to digest a fat-heavy meal.

In those without a gallbladder, bile constantly drips into your small intestine instead of being stored in the gallbladder.

However, keto can easily be tweaked to fit your fat tolerance.

Prepare keto recipes with low fat.

Many keto dieters without a gallbladder have had great success at eating 45 to 55 percent of their calories in fat.

On a typical 1500 calorie low-carb diet, this would come to about 83 grams of fat. Just slightly less than what you’d find on Atkins.

You can also discuss taking bile salts with your physician and know about important medical conditions associated with it.

Bile salts are what the body normally produces to help emulsify the fat to get it ready for lipase to do it job.

Why are You Gaining Weight on Keto?

Since most of the fat you eat is immediately stored in its original form, you have to be able to pull that fat back out of storage and then break it down in a timely manner through the help of lipase.

This means you have to be eating at a calorie deficit to make it necessary for the body to dip into its fat stores to make up for the calories that are missing in your diet.

Pouring bacon grease, olive oil, and butter over your morning’s eggs, all at the same time, is what you can do at maintenance and not what you should do if you are interested in carving off the pounds.

You might also include coconut oil or MCT oil, which has been associated with loss in belly fat.

While keto doesn’t require you to count calories or fat grams, only carbohydrates, you still have to be taking in less energy than you can use throughout the day, or your body won’t have a need to tap into its fat stores at all.

You could potentially see a gain in weight instead.

The state of Nutritional Ketosis makes it easier to eat at a calorie deficit, but that deficit definitely has to be there. This means that despite keto being known as a high-fat diet, you can gain weight if you’re eating too much fat.

In fact, eating fat beyond satiety is the number one reason why people fail at the keto diet. Part of your fat percentage must come from your body fat!

This is what most keto dieters are doing wrong!

If you’re eating 80 percent of your calories in dietary fat, and you’re not on a Fat Fast, you’re eating too much fat.

According to Dr. Phinney, the creator of the Keto Diet, 80 percent fat is maintenance and not what he recommends for those who are trying to lose weight.

This is why keto doesn’t require you to use macros.

You simply set your protein needs, stick to your carbohydrate tolerance, and then use fat calories to either dial in your deficit or help you maintain your losses. Make sure you are not consuming much protein.

Fat is to be eaten to satiety and not fullness.

But dialing back your fat intake doesn’t mean you have to start counting calories. All you need to do if you’re gaining weight on keto is to trim your fat intake to satiety and your calories will automatically go down.

However, eating too much fat isn’t the only reason why you might not be losing weight on your ketogenic diet.

Exercise and Keto

Most of the time, when you’re gaining weight on keto, it’s not due to making a single mistake.

You’re probably making several.

And since diet and exercise go together, let’s talk about what happens when you overdo it on the activity.

Increasing your activity level is a great way to burn a few extra calories, and get the scale moving downward, but overdoing it will actually cause you to stall or gain weight!

Bouncing weight patterns are also quite common in those who are doing too much exercise.

The way keto works is to switch your metabolism from using predominantly glucose to using predominantly fatty acids and ketones to fuel your activities.

This can prevent you from getting too tired when your glycogen stores run low because the body will prefer to burn fatty acids during exercise, instead of glucose.

But ketone-adaption isn’t quick.

It takes several weeks for the body to become proficient at burning fatty acids for fuel, so if it’s been less than 4 to 6 weeks since you started your keto diet, the gain in weight might just be the body’s way of trying to adjust to what you’re doing.

However, too much exercise will put a lot of stress on the body, since it’s already trying to adapt to carb and calorie restriction. That will cause your cortisol level to rise.

Elevated cortisol, when coupled with high-intensity and long-duration exercise routines, will make it more difficult to ditch the body fat and can even cause an increase in belly fat for many individuals because cortisol is a stress hormone that triggers the fight-or-flight response.

Anything that triggers the fight-or-flight response can result in weight gain, as well as exhaustion. This response is triggered by stress, so you’ll also need to take a look at your overall lifestyle, as well.

In addition, exercising too much can also cause microscopic tears that will raise cortisol and require extra water to repair.

The extra water is going to show up on the scale as a gain in weight and the cortisol is going to coax the liver into converting any glycogen it has into glucose and dumping that glucose into the bloodstream.

The extra glucose is going shut down fat burning and trigger a rise in insulin to help coax the glucose into your body’s cells.

While the extra water will be gone in a couple of days, if you’re overdoing it on the exercise, one exercise routine will overlap another and the excess water will never have a chance to come back off.

Plus, the elevated cortisol can keep your insulin level too high.

Eat too much fat while all of this is going on, and the result is going to be weight gain.

Best practice is to do a long-duration and low-intensity or a short-duration and high-intensity regime. It’s also best not to visit the gym more than once per day when doing keto.

Got any Sensitivities to Keto-Friendly Foods?

Just because something is low in carbs or commonly eaten by the keto crowd, that doesn’t mean that food is safe for you to eat. Food sensitivities cause systemic inflammation and often go unnoticed on the standard American diet.

These sensitivities are often not caught until you go keto.

This is because food sensitivities get worse when you eliminate these foods from your diet, and go back onto them after all of the allergens have disappeared from your body.

Reintroducing an allergen, such as climbing the Atkins Carbohydrate Ladder where you’re reintroducing carbier foods back into your diet, can result in an over-reaction to that food or ingredient.

This happens a lot when dieters decide to cheat on keto with breads, pizza, cake, or other foods that contain gluten. Even if you’re not doing Atkins, you might have started to experiment with keto recipes.

There are keto-friendly foods and ingredients that you can be sensitive to. Some of the common foods and ingredients that keto dieters might react to include:

  • wheat protein
  • wheat starch
  • dairy products
  • soybeans
  • soy flour
  • soy or whey protein powder
  • modified cornstarch
  • sugar substitutes
  • sugar alcohols
  • citric acid

Try eliminating these foods and ingredients from your keto diet and see if the weight starts to come off.

Final Thoughts

Some keto dieters meet their weight loss goals by ensuring their meal plans are sugar-free while others slash their fat intake to see any weight loss on the scale.

Whether you have to rein in your appetite, wait out a water retention problem, dial back your exercise routine, or cut out what you’re sensitive to, keto can be easily tweaked so you can stop gaining weight on keto.

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