Do you need to be in ketosis to lose fat?

Will getting “kicked out of ketosis” put a halt on your fat loss efforts?

No……Because ketosis has ZERO to do with fat loss. Ketosis is the side effect of the ketogenic diet, not the goal…. Confused yet? 

Since this comes up a lot, lets talk more about ketosis.

Ketosis is a state at which your body produces ketones in the liver, shifting the body’s metabolism away from glucose and towards fat utilization. If you do not give the body carbs/glucose it has to burn something else as fuel…it is not that ketones are the preferred fuel source, it is (for the most part and for this discussion) the ONLY option the body has when eating keto (when carbs are restricted)

Why do some prefer a ketogenic diet/being in ketosis while they try to eat right/less calories and order to lose fat?

Let’s look at the benefits of ketosis/ketogenic diet:

– Possibly the #1 benefit of ketosis for most dieters is that it increases the body’s ability to utilize fats for fuel and adherence to a caloric restricted diet.
– Ketosis has a protein-sparing effect (if and ONLY if you are consuming adequate quantities of protein)
– Decrease in appetite – easier to maintain a caloric reduction and lose fat.
– improvement in insulin sensitivity, less sugar cravings,
– reduction in fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin levels
– more energy
– often better sleep
– better skin
– major reduction in inflammation
– improvement in digestion
– and more..

Keep in mind many/most of the items/benefits above are realized in ANY diet that results in fat loss…keto, paleo, high carb, low carb, iso-caloric etc.

Are you in ketosis but still not losing weight?

Being in ketosis does not guarantee weight loss. It’s just the amount of ketones in your bloodstream. Low-carb diets in general are beneficial for weight loss (appetite suppressing effects + effective way of using body fat as fuel, etc …see above). What this means is that going “zero-carb” vs low carb (under 50 gms/day) will NOT help you lose more weight nor will eating more fat – don’t aim for high ketone readings.

If you haven’t succeeded by following the ketogenic diet, chances are you need to start monitoring (TRACK!) your calorie intake, lower your fat intake (and up protein), increase exercise or a combination of these.

Level of ketosis (high(er) ketone readings) are irrelevant to fat loss. MANY people gain weight/fat in ketosis.

This can be seen in the numerous keto Facebook groups and online forums where people are eating a lot of fat (since they assumed keto is “high” fat), have very high blood ketone readings but are not losing any weight and many of them are gaining weight. The issue is energy balance;  eating too much.

Calories/energy balance matters, not ketosis for fat loss. Hormones are on the way bottom of the fat loss totem pole and usually come into play well after someone has lost a lot of weight, not at the start of their fat loss journey.

Ketosis matters for other things unrelated to weight.

Many keto people in the “eat more fat” camp of keto and those who are mainly concerned about ketone readings and blood glucose numbers after their initial weight loss are often struggling to losing fat. They are often “stalling” or putting on fat. They have been misled that ketone level, higher fat intake as well as hormones are dictators of fat loss. When the reality is that energy balance/calories, etc rule in that department;but of course other factors are in play and are not ignored.

Eating more fat does NOT equal a better keto diet. It may taste better though 🙂

You can eat ZERO grams fat or 500 grams of fat and you are still eating a ketogenic set up. ONLY carbs matter, no other macronutrient.

The fat on your body is basically stored energy. If you do not eat enough fat to supply your body with the energy it needs, then it taps into the fat reserves to make up the difference. But most of us realize we do want a decent amount of fat to be in our diet for various reasons but keto is not a “high” (in context) fat diet, it is a LOW carb diet. High Fat is a marketing term to sell books.

Many low-carbers think that being in ketosis (as indicated by Ketostix which lie and are not accurate) is the way to lose body fat. People lose weight eating at much higher carb intake. Keto is not the only way to lose weight. In fact the early (original?) keto studies done on epileptic children were HIGH fat (sadly like how many keto dieters follow today), they were HIGH fat for 2 reasons; to get higher levels of circulating ketones to stop/reduce seizures and to prevent the children from losing weight. …..Yup, they realized HIGH fat is a recipe for NOT losing fat since the children were NOT on a DIET to lose weight but to control seizures.

Truth be told I lost WAY more “weight” on a low-fat diet then I ever have on low carb but I would never do it again, way too many issues, way too much muscle loss, hormones getting messed up (low testosterone, thyroid,) etc. I also enjoy the list of benefits I wrote above that come with being on a ketogenic diet.

Ketogenic diets work for some people that have trouble losing fat because they are carb sensitive and binge at the site of carbs. However, even in ketosis, if you eat more than your body burns, then you will still not lose fat.

As I said above there are MANY examples of people in many low carb Facebook groups that have stalled with weight loss while in ketosis. In fact many of them reached out to us for help and we have helped fixed their thinking and macros and the weight melts off them. Most recently a lovely woman who was doing the “high” fat keto was stalled for 6 months, we reworked her macros and she is down 50lbs and loving her results.

Ketosis does NOT mean that you will continually burn fat. It just means that your body is primed to use fat as the preferred fuel it chooses to burn.

Ketosis is a SIDE EFFECT of this diet, not the goal of the diet.