Do you have to Count Calories on a Ketogenic Diet – Do Calories Matter?

Do you need to count calories on a low-carb or ketogenic diet?

Answer: Yes.

I could end this blog post right  there but I wont.

So yes the simple answer is that you do need to count calories and calories count, no matter what you have heard otherwise; this is a fact.

The long answer.

The biggest misconception of the ketogenic diet is that you do not need to track calories and track macros and that calories really do not matter as long as you eat low carb. Some have gone as far as making claim that you can “eat as much as you want and still lose fat” as long as you are eating low carbs.

This error in this thinking dates back decades ago when Dr. Atkins would preach that you do not have to worry about calories on a ketogenic diet BUT that does not mean they do not matter or that they do not count.

What Dr. Atkins was trying to explain is that because a ketogenic diet (with adequate protein) has very strong appetite suppressing effect; it makes you naturally eat less. So while his statement of not worrying about calories is true, he means that you won’t eat enough that it will be a problem or better yet it is hard to eat too much on this diet because of the satiating effects of the diet.

“A hierarchy has been observed for the satiating efficacies of the macronutrients protein, carbohydrate and fat, with protein as most satiating and fat as least satiating.” ref:

Unfortunately too many people took this to mean you can eat all you want and lose weight. This then became a catchphrase in marketing of diet books. Just think how many books/diets one can sell if the title says “Eat all you want and lose weight”. Lots of unethical salesman out there made and still make a fortune over this claim.

If you eat too much of anything you won’t be able to lose weight, whether it is zero carbs or hundreds of grams of carbs. Energy Balance/Calories is the main predictor of fat loss/fat gain and millions upon millions of dollar have been spent on medical ward studies proving this.

Energy intake that exceeds energy expenditure is the main driver of weight gain:

Total energy intake remains the dietary predictor of body weight:

Low Carb vs Low Fat weight loss

One of many examples/studies proving that energy balance or calories matter is a 12 week study, directed by Penelope Greene of the Harvard School of Public Health where they compared weight loss on a low carb diet vs those on a standard low fat diet.

In the study, 21 overweight volunteers were divided into three categories: Two groups were randomly assigned to either low fat or low-carb diets with 1,500 calories for women and 1,800 for men; a third group was also low-carb but got an extra 300 calories a day. The low-carb meals were 5 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein and 65 percent fat. The rest got 55 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein and 30 percent fat. So this was a true ketogenic diet at 5% carbs. In the past studies have failed to have a true ketogenic diet as one of the study groups, this one did not make that mistake.

In the end, everyone lost weight.


  • Low carb group 1500 and 1800 calories (women vs men) – avg “weight loss” was 23lbs.
  • Low fat group  1500 and 1800 calories (women vs men) – avg “weight loss” was 17lbs.
  • Low carb group 1800 and 2100 calories (women vs men) – avg “weight loss” was 20lbs.

As we all know a ketogenic diet leads to a lot of water loss in the early stages of the diet, so that is what we are seeing with these results, the extra 6lbs “weight loss” is often attributed to the water loss in the first few weeks of the diet. The other factor is the satiating effects of protein (you end up eating less) and higher Thermic Effect of Food plus the fact it is near impossible to store excess protein as fat results in higher weight loss for those who eat more protein, NOT those who eat less carbs. It is always the protein.

The thermic effect of food is the caloric cost of digesting and processing different macronutrients. Protein has a thermic effect up to of five times greater than carbohydrates or fat. The average person will burn up to 30 percent of the calories in protein foods just to process them. Carbohydrates thermic effect averages between 15 and 20 percent of the calories in those foods. Fats only have a thermic effect of only 2 to 3 percent. This means that your net caloric gain from fats averages 97 to 98 percent of their total calories, compared with a net caloric gain of about 70 percent of the calories in protein.

So any low carb diet that looks like it is superior to the weight (fat) loss of a low fat diet in fact has zero to do with the low carb intake, but everything to do with protein intake. Most diet comparison studies do not match protein and calories, if they did then the “fat” loss (not water weight) results would all be the same; low-fat, low-carb, high-carb, high-fat as long as protein is matched as well as calorie intake.

Calories matter

So back to the study results above. It indeed proved that calories matter, the lower calorie low-carb group LOST MORE weight than the higher calorie low-carb group. Dismissing the myth that calories do not matter on a low-carb/ketogenic diet.

Do you have to count calories and track your macros

So the question still needs to be answers – do you have to count calories on a ketogenic diet. Yes and No.

Whether or not you’re actually counting calories, your body is counting calories.

Basically what that means is you can’t eat over what your body’s maintenance caloric level is and think you’re not going to gain weight. For those who do not track calories yet are able to lose weight, it is like saying you never look at the gas gauge on your car and you never run out of gas…that doesn’t mean that you have special magic abilities that just means you got lucky and you got gas in time before you ran out.
So by you not actually counting calories is fine but that means you’re staying under maintenance and that’s why you’re able to lose weight. Until you stall….

Not counting calories and stalling on a ketogenic diet

It is inevitable for a ketogenic dieter to hit a stall and after working with thousands of low carb ketogenic dieters who have stalled, we see that once they start tracking every calorie they eat and start making adjustments to reduce calories they break the stall and start losing weight again. So it turned out they were eating too much. This again shows why calories matter on a ketogenic diet or any diet for that matter.

Do only calories matter?

So are calories the only piece of the puzzle, the only part of the equation of fat loss? No but it is the #1, main predictor of weight loss; energy balance. Hormones, genetics, body type, food allergies, inflammation etc all play important yet small role in the overall equation but hormones and genetics will never come before energy balance nor with the hormonal response to a meal or type of calorie eaten supersede the weight loss effects of a calorie deficit.

If you find that your weight loss has stalled and you have not been tracking your calorie intake, this is a good sign that it is time to count and track your food intake and make adjustments to start losing again.

Recommend supplements on a ketogenic diet

Official KetoGenics® recommended supplements to take on a ketogenic diet

Supplements are just that, to supplement above and beyond an already balanced diet. The problem is and especially on a ketogenic diet, not all needed nutrients are consumed with the available foods choices that make up a ketogenic diet.

In addition to the potential lack of certain nutrients on a low carb diet, even if you are able to eat the foods you need to get all the nutrients your body requires for optimal health, your efforts often fall short because of the low quality food on the market as well as nutrient depleted soils the crops are raised in contain. In addition, the overuse of pesticides and chemicals that are used in the treatment of crops greatly reduces their level of nutrients. Animals who are fed these crops are growing with less than optimal nutrient levels and thus is reflected in the meat that comes from them.

To get deeper into this nutrient depletion topic check out the blog post here: Is a multivitamin needed on a ketogenic diet?

This list below serves to describe some needed supplements as well as supplements that go above and beyond “need” but more so help achieve optimal health and performance which may or may not be optimal for some. It all depends on your goals.


Without a doubt, the most important class of nutrients needed on a low carb and ketogenic diet are electrolytes, especially sodium, potassium and magnesium; chloride and calcium also play an important role.

On a ketogenic your body excretes more water than it stores and with this water loss the minerals found in that water are excreted as well. It becomes hard for your body to function properly when it is depleted of these key electrolytes. Here is some further reading and in depth blog post looks at the Importance of Electrolytes on a Ketogenic Diet


The easiest way to up your sodium intake is to liberally salt all your foods.  Choose salty foods such as bacon and fish and bacon…did we say bacon? 😉 An even tastier way is to have some warm bouillon broth in water a few times a day.

Bouillon can be found here.  Herb-Ox Bouillon


The preferred form of potassium for a ketogenic dieter is potassium chloride. Some foods choices to up your potassium intake are avocados, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables. A popular seasoning many use to up their potassium intake is No Salt.

No Salt (potassium chloride) can be found here: No Salt

A good all-in-one Electrolyte Supplement that is super popular among ketogenic dieters is Keto-Lytes, found at this link: Keto-Lytes Electrolyte Support


Some good food sources of magnesium would be leafy green vegetates, cacao/ dark chocolate, certain nuts, pumpkin seeds, fatty fish like halibut, salmon and mackerel.

A good supplement form of magnesium would be Magnesium Glycinate. A typical dosage is 400mg taken at night before bed.

Kal Brand magnesium glycinate is very popular among ketogenic dieters, found here:  Magnesium Glycinate

Protein Powder

Since a ketogenic diet is naturally appetite suppressing, many people find it a struggle to hit the required protein amounts for the day. Supplementing with protein powder, especially whey and/or micellar casein protein is ideal to get in all your protein. Whey protein is top chouce and the 3 types of whey recommended are Hydrolyzed Whey Protein, Whey Protein Isolate Cold-Filtration and Whey Protein Isolate Microfiltration

Our recommend whey protein brands:

Dymatize Iso-100

NutraBio Whey – make/flavor your own protein blends.

The above brands also make their own micellar casein which is another good quality protein source.

For those with dairy issues or vegans, Pea Protein Isolate is a good option and can be found at True Nutrition Pea Protein

A lot of keto and low carb dieters like to use Isopure no carb protein powder but this is a very poor choice and we do NOT recommend it. Isopure 1990’s Ion-exchange technology. Ion exchange heats the protein during the manufacturing process, when you heat protein, the peptides and amino’s break apart, which makes it tougher to absorb.

Stick with cold filtered whey or hydro-whey as outlined in the above choices.

Omega Fatty Acids

We can’t say enough about the great benefits of Omega 3’s and fish oils in general. Our recommendations are:

Mega Epa/Dha

Krill Oil

Plant sources of Omega 3’s:

Flax Meal

Chia Meal

Hemp Protein Fiber – comes with the added benefit of additional protein from the hemp seeds.

Constipation and Fiber supplements

Even though there is plenty of meat and adequate vegetables, some ketogenic dieters find themselves constipated on the diet, here are a few things that can help:

Pysllium Fiber

Inulin – Prebiotic Fiber

Magnesium Citrate (more of a laxative effect)

Flax meal, Chia Meal, Hemp Protein fiber – all previously mentioned above are great sources of fiber and are VERY helpful in keeping things “moving” 🙂

Cascara sagrada (more of a laxative effect)

Sleep aids

There are various reasons why some people have sleep issues on a ketogenic diet, we get into more detail here at this blog post: Insomnia on a ketogenic diet

Some helpful remedies include:

SnoozeControl™ – all in one Ketogenic sleep aid.

Some individual ingredients that are common sleep aids:

Magnesium Glycinate – 400mg at night before bed, not really a sleep aid but does help relax you.

Melatonin –  a hormone found naturally in the body that helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm.

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)

Glycine – functions as a calming neurotransmitter in the brain.

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) – helps promote relaxation and ease nervous tension.

Pre Workouts powders

These are more luxury non-essential items but are useful and have a huge following in the fitness community.

It seems the #1 ingredient in an effective pre-workout is caffeine or a similar stimulant. It is cheap and it is effective. Other ingredients that are rather popular are the various “pump” type ingredients such as creatine, citrulline, glycerol, arginine, taurine, agmatine, betaine and a few others.

Some good all-in-one pre workouts we recommend are below:

Nutra Brio PRE – Would be our #1 choice for this category.

Kaged Muscle Pre Kaged


Non Stim:

Allmax H:vol

Primeval Labs MEGA PRE

Fat Burners

This category is more of the specialty category and not considered must have supplements. While fat burners do “work” it only accounts for a small % of the weight loss in those who are dieting and following a calorie reduced diet.

ECA stack – the most effect and researched “far burning stack”; Caffeine Ephedrine and Aspirin. Typically taken 15-20 minutes on an empty stomach prior to meals. Since Ephedrine is a gray area of legality, we won’t go into much detail. There are plenty of resources on Google for the “ECA Stack”

Other notable mentions are any sort of “fat burner” or supplement that raises your heart rate and increases Free Fatty Acids (FFA’s) in the bloodstream, others focus on BAT – (Brown Adipose Tissue thermogenesis), PPAR and AMPK activation and increase metabolic rate.

Green Tea Extract –  has good antioxidant properties and can have some beneficial effects on increasing resting metabolism and increase rates of fat oxidation (or fat burning)

Green Coffee Bean Extract – has good antioxidant properties, glucose disposal properties and involved in fatty-acid transport and oxidation.

L-Carnitine L-Tartrate –  helps shuttle fatty acids across cell membranes to be oxidized by mitochondria. This can be useful on a ketogenic diet to help shuttle dietary fats can’t get into the mitochondria and be burned for fuel

Capsicum Extract

A recent study with 40 healthy adults examining the effects of either 2 mg capsaicinoids from 100 mg of Capsimax or placebo on resting energy expenditure, heart rate and blood pressure showed that supplementing with this low dose of Capsimax increased metabolic rate which calculated to an equivalent to burning an extra 116 calories per day. Moreover, though resting energy expenditure varies with each individual, this increase would yield almost 1 lb. of fat lost over 30 days.

With the low availability of Capsimax, most people buy Cayenne Pepper Extract instead.

We believe the real benefits of these “fat burning” ingredients would be used pre-fasted cardio. Take them 15 – 20 minutes prior to cardiovascular activity. Many of these ingredients help release Free Fatty Acids (FFA’s) into the blood stream to be used during the cardiovascular exercise.

If not taken prior to cardio, then take 15-20 minutes prior to a meal should suffice.

Other notable supplement mentions:


Science has really evolved regarding healthy gut bacteria and optimal healthy. Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac says it beautifully here:

“Research over the past two decades has revealed that gut health is critical to overall health, and that an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.

In fact, many researchers (including myself) believe that supporting intestinal health and restoring the integrity of the gut barrier will be one of the most important goals of medicine in the 21st century.”

If you were to remove all supplements and only allowed to take one for the rest of your life it would be wise to choose a probiotic as that one supplement.

Learn more about our favorite probiotic here:  KetoBIOTIC

Ketogenic Multi Vitamins

Essential Amino Acids

Most commonly used are Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAA’s) which are really not worth it especially if you are consuming adequate protein on a daily basis but with the availability of Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) which have a complete amino acid profile that also includes BCAA’s, it makes a standalone BCCA product worthless. If you feel you must have some extra amino’s then get the right ones, EAA’s.

PEScience Amino IV is good product.

Vitamin D – may or may not be lowered on a ketogenic diet but a rather good supplement to look into.

Alpha Lipoic Acid – a very potent antioxidant which can also increase insulin sensitivity resulting in lower insulin levels, higher glucagon and a faster entry into deeper ketosis from speeding up liver glycogen depletion. Can also opt for the more expensive R-Ala or Na-R-ala forms of Alpha Lipoic Acid.

Curcumin – tons of benefits and most commonly used to ease inflammation.

In Summary

While there are plenty of other vitamins and supplements one could take on their question for optimal health., tried to keep this list simple and of course cost effective for the average keto dieter. Remember you can’t out supplement a bad diet. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet that involves exercise and use supplements as needed.


Is a multivitamin needed on a ketogenic diet

Should you be supplementing with a multivitamin on a ketogenic diet

Supplements are just that, to supplement above and beyond an already balanced diet. The problem is and especially on a ketogenic diet, not all needed nutrients are consumed with the available foods choices that make up a ketogenic diet.

In addition to the potential lack of certain nutrients on a low carb diet, even if you are able to eat the foods you need to get all the nutrients your body requires for optimal health, your efforts often fall short because of the low quality food on the market as well as nutrient depleted soils the crops are raised in contain. Furthermore, the overuse of pesticides and chemicals that are used in the treatment of crops greatly reduces their levels.

A famous study done at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding declines in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century.

There were several other studies with similar findings: A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal, found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. Another study concluded that a person would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as decades ago.

A report comparing the nutritional content of food in 1940 and 2002 shows that the mineral content of vegetables, fruits, meat and milk has fallen significantly over the past 60 years, in some cases by as much as 70%. And the loss of essential minerals – such as calcium, magnesium and iron – from our food can have serious implications for health.

For the ketogenic dieter with regards to animal products, meat, poultry etc – there is declining nutritional content in industrial meats and animal products. The report also examined data from 15 different meats and found that iron levels fell by an average of 47%, with the highest drop being 80%. Compared to 1940, chicken now contains more than twice as much fat, a third more calories and a third less protein. This is likely explained by the quality of animal feed.


So it seems even if we try to eat as many high quality nutrient-dense foods and vegetables, sometimes our efforts fall short. Supplementing with a ketogenic multi-vitamin may be just what we need.

ketogenic multivitamin

How to break a stall on a Ketogenic Diet

Breaking a Stall on a Ketogenic Diet

On a ketogenic diet, your body will lose a lot of water weight in the first couple of days due to carbohydrate restriction, but fat loss depends primarily on calorie intake. Since weight loss is not linear and doesn’t happen at a constant rate, there are bound to be plateaus or stalls or periods of times when the scale just won’t budge; but this doesn’t mean you have stalled.

Your body loses a lot of water weight (scale weight) the 1st few days or weeks of a ketogenic diet, the scale loss numbers are rather big. After your body adjusts to the ketogenic diet and starts to burn/lose mainly fat (as long as you are in a caloric deficit) the scale numbers seem much lower. But this is not bad.

For example, if you lost 7lbs the 1st week, 5 lbs the 2nd week and only 2 lbs
the 3rd week…chances are the 1st and 2nd week was mostly water and maybe you only lost 2lbs of fat. So in this case you are still doing good and you are on track, you are not stalled nor did your “fat” loss slow down. Your “weight loss” did but we only care about “fat loss”.

That is why using a scale to gauge your fat loss progress is near useless and stressful since the numbers do not tell you what is truly going on.

Now let’s say you have been on the diet a while 6-8+ weeks and you no longer see “scale weight” loss, again it doesn’t matter but work with me for a bit here. If you are exercising you probably put on some muscle. For example lets say you lost 1lb of fat and gained 1lb of muscle in a week…the scale shows ZERO change, BUT you still lost fat 🙂 This is a good thing! (can you see the trend here?- ditch the scale). Use the mirror and how clothes fit to track your progress.

So far the “stall” is not yet a stall since you are still losing fat.

But what happens when you really hit a true stall or a plateau? Clothes are not fitting better in fact maybe they are tighter? You do not look any better in the mirror for the past few weeks. What is going on here is closer to a true stall than anything else. Sometimes stalls are just part of the process and you need to wait it out.

Whoosh Effect

Another thing that may be going on is that your body is about to experience the “whoosh effect” which will sneak up on you one day and you all of a sudden lose a few pounds or more on the scale. This happens after your fat cells that have held onto water for a period of time finally release it and a decent amount of scale weight drops off.  But it is water, not fat but it still makes you feel good to see the numbers dropping again.

Tracking Macros

After all these things are accounted for and you are still not losing weight then it is time to look at your macros; Fat, Protein and carbs. How much of each are you eating in grams and ultimately how many calories per day.

Since a ketogenic diet is naturally appetite suppressing, most people do not count calories and are still able to lose fat because they are just not eating a lot. They naturally eat under their daily caloric maintenance. But some people are actually eating more than they should and here is where the math needs to be done.

When you do not track your food and you are stalled that means a few things are happening:

1) you are eating too much fat, even though you think you aren’t.
2) you are eating too many carbs, even though you think you aren’t. (hidden carbs, “ketofied” foods etc)
3) you are eating too many calories
4) not getting adequate electrolytes
5) eating too many “trigger foods” – nuts, dairy, nut butters; foods that      cause you to eat too much or cause inflammation which makes you retain water. (A good probiotic is the first line of defense for inflammation)
6) you are not moving (exercising) enough. There are 2 parts of the energy balance equation; calories in/calories out. You may have a grasp on the “in” but your “output” is too low; start moving/exercising more.
7) you have been dieting (in a caloric deficit) too long

So the obvious questions are; Why should you adjust your macros? How were you able to lose fat in the first place without worrying about your macros?

A few things happen when you are in the process of keto adaptation, as we have seen there is a lot of water loss.

There is often a decrease in inflammation on a keto diet so even more scale weight/water loss.

You eat less. Probably the biggest benefit of a ketogenic diet with adequate protein is the natural appetite suppressant effect of the diet. You do not track calories but you end up eating less than you would have on a non keto diet, you eat under your maintenance calories and you lose weight.

You are increasing your insulin sensitivity so you are better able to handle the food/carbs you eat. This is seen often in women with PCOS who lose a LOT of weight once they increase their insulin sensitivity.

Increased Insulin sensitivity

Insulin sensitivity is very important to fat loss because if you are insulin resistant your body is more likely to store energy (the food you at) as fat. Increasing insulin sensitivity also reduces inflammation which helps drop a lot of water weight. Increased insulin sensitivity will help you better utilize the carbs, albeit a small amount on keto, and not readily store them as fat.

One of the greatest benefits seen from a ketogenic diet is the increased insulin sensitivity many experience especially in type 2 diabetics. In Fact a study showed that the combination of Fish oils and a ketogenic diet reduced patients average insulin concentration by 43%. The study also showed that fish oil is also beneficial for lowering triglycerides and reducing inflammation! Which as mentioned above can mask your weight loss if not halt it for a while.

Ref: Paoli, Antonio, et al. “Effects of n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (ω-3) Supplementation on Some Cardiovascular Risk Factors with a Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.” Marine drugs 13.2 (2015): 996-1009

This small study resulted in a 75% increase in insulin sensitivity in test subjects following a ketogenic diet. Ref:

So we know keto has some benefits and increasing insulin sensitivity is one of them BUT when all the magical benefits of keto come to a halt;  that means your lack of tracking macros has caught up to you and it is time for an adjustment.

Improper Calorie Tracking

Studies have shown that dieters who claim they track their food intake with precision are often off by as much as 30-40%! So yes most of these people are just eating too much. Most of the fault is in the consumption of fat. Since fat has 9 calories per gram and protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram, it is very easy for the calories to add up when you over consume fat. Often keto dieters consume a large amount of fat and still lose weight but after the initial weight loss from adapting to the ketogenic diet stops they must realize, it’s time to eat less.

In fact the most effective “keto” type diet known to science is the Protein Sparing Modified Fast which is VERY low carbs AND  very low fat and very HIGH protein. PSMF dieters lose fat at an ACCELERATED RATE. The high protein as well as lower fat intake (compared to a standard ketogenic diet) not only has no negative impact on ketosis or fat loss but a positive impact on their fat loss.

But take baby steps at first. If you follow typical keto ratios of 70% fat, 25% protein, 5% carbs then change it up to 60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbs. This has worked wonders in many people we know and  we help with keto. Once you find your sweet spot and the fat loss begins again, stick with it until the next stall and then rework the numbers again.

Adaptive Thermogenesis

What other reasons would stall weight loss? Something that is very serious and requires very important steps to fix and it is called Adaptive Thermogenesis and happens after you reduce carbs as well as calories for too long. This is real and this is VERY common in low carb and ketogenic dieters and it is how the body responds to being in a caloric deficit for too long. This sounds like a bad thing but it is not, this is your body functioning the way it should, it is trying to maintain homeostasis.

Maintaining Homeostasis

Your body reacts to changes in energy balance where it speeds up your metabolism when you are eating well above your caloric maintenance or it slows your metabolism down when it seems you are not consuming enough energy it needs to deal with the daily functions it requires. And when you lose muscle it makes it even worse.

Less muscle = lower resting metabolic rate = harder to lose fat.

This is one of the MAJOR reasons to eat adequate protein on a ketogenic diet. Adequate means no less than 0.8 grams to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass.

In my opinion adaptive thermogenesis is the main reason why a true stall and weight loss plateaus are so common in ketogenic or any dieter. Adaptive thermogenesis has its strongest impact on your hormones and this is what is messing up your fat loss efforts. It strongly negatively impacts Leptin, insulin and thyroid. Stress and cortisol also come into play when dieting too long and that is a major cause of holding onto a lot of water weight.

Fixing a stall on a ketogenic diet

The following applies to ONLY those who have done everything they can to start losing weight again; reworking macros, lowering calories/fat maybe exercising more etc.  If you have done all these, and weight has stalled again then the following is for you.

How to combat Adaptive Thermogenesis

Oh boy, most hardcore keto dieters are NOT going to like to hear thus BUT the #1 way to fix this issue is by consuming carbs and a lot of them.


Carbohydrates reset hunger hormones Leptin and Ghrelin levels which are crucial for continuous fat-loss, carbohydrates stabilize normal T4-T3 conversion, (which slows on keto). Carbohydrates also ncrease anabolism (muscle glycogen) to increase muscle mass.

Carbohydrates boost leptin levels far more than protein fat. In fact, fat has almost zero effect on leptin levels.

  • Carb overfeeding increased plasma leptin concentrations by 28%, and 24 hour Energy Expenditure by 7%. Basal metabolic rate and the energy expended during physical activity were not affected. FAT overfeeding did NOT significantly change plasma leptin concentrations or energy expenditure. Ref: CARB overfeeding, but NOT fat overfeeding, increases energy expenditure and leptin concentration.
  • High-fat, low-carbohydrate (HF/LC) meals, which induce smaller insulin and glucose responses, would produce lower leptin concentrations than low-fat, high-carbohydrate (LF/HC) meals.Ref:

During LF/HC feeding, there were larger increases of leptin 4-6 h after breakfast (38 +/- 7%, P < 0.001) and lunch (78 +/- 14%, P < 0.001) than after HF/LC meals (both P < 0.02).

During LF/HC feeding, leptin increased from a morning baseline of 10.7 +/- 1.6 ng/ml to a nocturnal peak of 21.3 +/- 1.3 ng/ml (change, 10.6 +/- 1.3 ng/ml; percent change, 123 +/- 16%; P < 0.0001). The amplitudes of the nocturnal rise of leptin and the 24-h leptin AUC were 21 +/- 8% (P < 0.005) and 38 +/- 12% (P < 0.0025) larger, respectively, on the LF/HC day. In summary, consumption of HF/LC meals results in lowered 24-h circulating leptin concentrations. This result may be a consequence of decreased adipocyte glucose metabolism.

One last interesting and beneficial thing carbs do to a stalled dieter; they elicit the “whoosh effect” that was discussed above! That is right, often after having a carbohydrate refeed you wake up the next day down 2-3 pounds on the scale! Its really cool how these things work.

Keeping it Keto

Ok, ok so lets be honest, most keto dieters are not going to start adding carbs back into their diet after coming so far on this diet. So if that is the case you still need a short diet break and you need to eat more calories and MORE protein. Working out with weights helps too.

Typically a 1-2 week diet break, eating over maintenance calories (no longer eat at a deficit). Don’t worry about gaining scale weight (it is mostly water weight anyay), sometimes you need to take 1 step back to take 2 steps forward. It is a process, dieting is a process so let the process play out the way it is supposed too. My advice during these 2 weeks; keep it strict! No nuts, dairy, “ketofied” foods, stick to meats, fish, poultry and some low carb veggies or just plenty of lettuce. Keep the calories high as well as the sodium and electrolytes in general. You may even notice some nice benefits during this time; better sleep, better energy, increase thyroid output, decreased cortisol and less stress overall.

Once you feel you are ready then it is time to reduce calories again and rework your macros.

Just remember, no matter how hard you try or how much effort you put into fat loss; weight loss is not linear. “Weight loss” is the number on the scale and changes on a daily basis for many reasons, this does NOT mean your “fat loss” has slowed. So don’t overthink it, don’t weigh yourself often and use the mirror and your clothes as your guide.

How important are Electrolytes on a Ketogenic Diet

The Importance of Electrolytes on a Ketogenic Diet

Great write up from Jeremy Partl over at

Many people who start a ketogenic diet often experience the dreaded “keto-flu”, which is the name for the experience of one or a combination of the following symptoms:

Keto flu symptoms

Even if you are following a well-formulated ketogenic diet, with a low amount of carbohydrate, moderate amount of protein, and high amount of fat as suggested, it is likely that you may still experience some of these symptoms.

The reason being while your macronutrients may be in line, there is another important factor to consider, ensuring you keep your body properly nourished and functioning well. That key factor is the balance of electrolytes in the body.

In this article, we will cover the importance of electrolytes on a ketogenic diet.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals found in the body that are the electrical signaling molecules used for maintaining functions within the body such as regulating your heartbeat and allowing muscles to contract for functional movement.

The most relevant electrolytes in this context are sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium.

Why Monitoring Your Electrolytes is Important

When you shift to a ketogenic diet, your body tends to release more water as opposed to storing it.

The reason being that there is less insulin produced as a result of the composition of the diet. This leads to hormonal signals via the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system, signaling your kidneys to excrete MORE water and retain LESS.

Along with increased excretion of water, the minerals found in that water are lost at a higher rate . In the end, you can quickly become depleted of the key electrolytes that your body needs to function properly.

As a result, you can experience some of the negative symptoms associated with the “keto flu”.

Getting The Right Amount of Each Electrolyte


More than likely, you have probably heard that you should avoid adding sodium to your diet.

For most of the population, especially those who are metabolically unhealthy, high sodium intake typically comes along with a high calorie, high carbohydrate diet, which over the long term, has resulted in increasing rates of obesity and hypertension .

However, for individuals on a low carbohydrate diet or athletes that are training hard, the truth is that your body actually needs extra sodium.

Potassium is another electrolyte of concern on a ketogenic diet. Just as with sodium, potassium is excreted at a greater rate with a low carbohydrate intake.

When you say the word potassium, most people would probably tend to think first of bananas and potatoes. Not exactly keto-friendly, right?

Luckily, there are ways to get more potassium in your diet while remaining ketogenic:

Potassium on a Ketogenic Diet
Potassium on a Ketogenic Diet


In general, magnesium deficiency is becoming a more common nutrition deficiency for the whole U.S. population.

Some of the best keto friendly ways to bump up your magnesium intake are:

Magnesium on a ketogenic diet

Don’t Forget The Water

While you need to make it a priority to keep your electrolyte intake escalated, it is also important to increase your water intake as well.

With the switch to a ketogenic diet, you will probably experience increased urination during the first couple of days. Additionally, as mentioned before, your body does not retain water as well. Thus, it is important to keep your water intake high to ensure proper hydration.

An easy and convenient way to determine hydration status is to check the color of your urine. If it is a pale yellow or clear color, like lemonade, then the odds are that you are well hydrated.

The darker it is, more like the color of apple juice, the more you may need to drink up.

Summary of Electrolytes on a Ketogenic Diet

Whether you are preparing to embark on a ketogenic diet, or are suffering from any of the mentioned symptoms, make sure you are conscious of your electrolytes and not just the macronutrients of the foods you are consuming.

Keto Conclusions

  • Proper micronutrient intake is just as important as a well-formulated macronutrient intake.
  • Electrolytes become depleted on a ketogenic diet due to increased water excretion and decreased water retention.
  • Important electrolytes to focus on during a ketogenic diet are: sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Increasing your water intake is important on a ketogenic diet to maintain hydration.

To see Jeremy’s original blog post visit HERE.

Some recommended products to help manage your electrolyte levels on a ketogenic diet, click each image below:

keto flu support supplementmulti mineral complexketogenic multivitamin

Ketogenic Diet and Dawn Phenomenon | Low Carb Diet Physiological Insulin Resistance

Dawn Phenomenon and Physiological Insulin Resistance

Have you been on a low-carb or ketogenic diet for some time and perplexed why your morning blood glucose readings are on the high end? Did you know that it is quite common for long-term ketogenic dieters to have morning fasted blood glucose readings that average 100-125 mg/dl? This is rather common, albeit normal and sometimes referred to as Dawn Phenomenon or Physiological Insulin Resistance.

Dawn Phenomenon is a natural rise in blood sugar because o a surge of hormones secreted at night which trigger your liver to dump sugar into your blood to help prepare you for the day.

Another term for this is Physiological Insulin Resistance. A good description of this phenomenon comes from Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac:

“Very low-carb diets will produce elevated fasting blood glucose levels. Why? Because low-carb diets induce insulin resistance. Restricting carbohydrates produces a natural drop in insulin levels, which in turn activates hormone sensitive lipase. Fat tissue is then broken down, and non-esterified fatty acids (a.k.a. “free fatty acids” or NEFA) are released into the bloodstream. These NEFA are taken up by the muscles, which use them as fuel. And since the muscle’s needs for fuel has been met, it decreases sensitivity to insulin. “

So, if you eat a low-carb diet and have borderline high Fasting Blood Glucose (i.e. 90-105), it may not be cause for concern. Your post-meal blood sugars and A1c levels are more important.

One of the clearest explanations of physiological insulin resistance I’ve seen comes from Paul Jaminet, Ph.D. a MIT and Berkley-trained astrophysicist who says that physiological insulin resistance is a protective response of the body that ensures that the brain gets the benefit of a limited supply of glucose. Because the rest of the body is refusing to take up glucose, and the liver takes it up slowly, a meal of carbohydrates is followed by higher blood glucose levels in someone on a low carbohydrate diet.

The human body is very adaptive to different situations and different fuel sources.  Just because our reference data is from the past few decades when we have typically eaten large amounts of processed carbohydrates, we take that as the new normal.

Physiological Insulin Resistance is a benign state that is not making your diabetic insulin resistance worse.  A ketogenic dieter becomes adapted to sparing glucose for use by those cells which absolutely require it. Some brain cells, red blood cells and testes require glucose because they do not have mitochondria. Fasting blood glucose will often rise above 100 mg/dl.

With Physiological Insulin Resistance you will have a low HbA1c value, your liver and kidneys will be very sensitive to the effect of insulin, even though muscle tissue isn’t, you will almost never suffer hypoglycemic events. It takes a few days of eating carbs to return to the normal state for healthy people.

This is why the term is “physiological” and NOT “pathological”. It is not a disease state, it is a healthy response to carbohydrate restriction.

Is physiological insulin resistance such a bad thing? No, it means your body is healthy and functioning properly.  If you have physiological insulin resistance, you are not at risk to become diabetic, in fact it is the opposite.