Keto for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?
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Keto for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

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Keto for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

Posted 4 years ago

Brian Stanton

Brian Stanton


Tony O’Neill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN

Tony O’Neill, PT, DPT, MSc, RDN

Author and Scientific Reviewer

Expert Approved

Everyone is raving about Keto for weight loss right now. You’ve probably seen the before and after images on social media with friends and celebrities showing off their “Keto transformations”.

Sure, it’s inspiring. And looking at the pictures, it’s hard not to feel a little envious.

Maybe you have a big event coming up. That could be your success story, where you show up and surprise everyone with the “new you”. They ask for your secret. You say “All I did is switch to Keto!”

Then you catch yourself. The whole Keto thing just seems too good to be true. Eating steaks, avocados, and bunless burgers to lose weight? Get real...  

Still, it’s piqued your curiosity. Can the Keto diet actually help with weight loss? Is this just another fad diet? And what can you expect if you do go low-carb? Keep reading. 

What Is The Keto Diet? 

The basic premise of the Ketogenic diet (or Keto diet) is simple. You eat high-fat, moderate protein, and very low-carb. 

Specifically, you eat about 60-70% of your calories from fat, 20-30% from protein, and 5-10% from carbohydrates.[*] Keeping your “macros” (fat, protein, and carbs) in these ratios tells your body to enter a unique metabolic state called ketosis. 

Think of ketosis as fat-burning mode. In ketosis, you burn body fat to produce energy and ketones. 

We won’t talk much about ketones today, but understand that these tiny molecules serve as fuel for your brain and body in the absence of carbs.[*] Basically, on a Keto diet you stop running on carbs and start running on fat and ketones. This metabolic shift, the research suggests, comes with the neat “side effect” of weight loss.[*

How Keto May Help With Weight Loss

There are several ways by which Keto helps promote a healthy weight. We’ll need to cover a little science, but don’t worry, we’ll keep the scientific jargon to a minimum. 

#1: Increased fat burning

When you restrict carbs, it helps prevent spikes in blood sugar. This means that insulin, your “blood sugar boss” hormone, stays suppressed. 

This low-insulin state is the key to fat burning.[*] By lowering insulin, the Keto diet helps you access stored body fat—especially visceral belly fat—as a usable fuel source[*] And when you can access body fat for fuel, sustainable fat loss becomes an achievable reality.  

#2: Hunger management 

It’s hard to overeat on the Keto diet. Why? Because its two primary macros—fat and protein—are more satiating than carbs. An example will help illustrate.

Imagine eating 750 calories of gummy bears. How long will those gummies keep you full? Not very long, due to the inevitable crash in blood sugar that will follow. Now imagine eating 750 calories of an omelette. In the omelette, there’s lots of fat and protein to keep you satisfied for hours on end—easily carrying you between meals. 

This isn’t just imaginary. Keto has also been shown to reduce your hunger hormone, ghrelin.[*] Ghrelin is the hormone that signals hunger to your brain and makes snacking seem mandatory. 

With ghrelin kept in check on Keto, you’re less likely to overeat. Less overeating, less weight gain. 

#3: Fewer cravings

Carb cravings are real. Your brain literally gets addicted to sugar, and you lose all self-control.[*

That’s where Keto comes in. On a low-carb diet, you deprive your brain of it’s carby rewards, and the cycle of carb craving eventually gets broken. And when you aren’t eating empty calories from processed carbs, it becomes easier to lose weight. 

What To Expect When You Go Keto To Lose Weight

Many folks experience rapid weight loss soon after going Keto. But is this initial weight loss actually fat loss? Probably not. 

More likely, it’s water loss. The thing is, when you cut carbs, your body uses up its stored sugar (called glycogen), and this process releases lots of water to be excreted in urine.[*

Sustainable fat loss takes longer to rev up. Your cells need time to go from burning carbs to burning fat—about 2 to 8 weeks, depending on the starting point of your metabolism. This is called becoming “fat-adapted”. 

The delay in fat-adaptation likely explains why many people hit weight-loss plateaus days or weeks into Keto. Remember, sustainable fat loss takes time. 

Evidence For Weight Loss On Keto

Here are some weight loss studies that provided sufficient fat-adaptation time on Keto:

  • Over a six month period, obese women lost more fat on a Keto diet than women on a low-fat diet.[*]
  • Over 12-weeks, military personnel experienced a marked improvement in body composition (including 43% loss of abdominal fat) on a Keto diet, without any compromise to physical performance.[*]
  • A 24-week Ketogenic diet showed significant weight-loss, and improvement in other health-markers including cholesterol, in obese individuals.[*]
  • Over twelve weeks, sixteen adolescents lost more weight low-carb dieting than low-fat dieting.[*]

To be clear, these studies don’t prove Keto will help you (or anyone) lose weight. But they do suggest it’s an effective diet for this purpose. 

Troubleshooting Keto Weight Loss

You might be feeling motivated to try Keto for weight loss at this point. But before diving right in, here are some problem areas to watch out for, along with recommended solutions. 

#1: Hidden carbs

It’s not easy to cut out carbs, especially if they’re a big part of your diet. But with a little help, it’s possible.  

Carbs are sneaky. They’re hiding everywhere, like candy-filled eggs in a sprawling Easter egg hunt. 

These hidden carbs don’t care about your health goals. They’ll kick you out of fat-burning mode and leave you kicked out for hours. 

To avoid hidden carbs, get in the habit of reading labels. Almost everything has added sugar, even salad dressing, tomato sauce, and soup.  

But the real trick to carb cutting is to log all of your foods using an app like Carb Manager. This not only helps you detect hidden carbs, but also helps you stay accountable to your weight loss goals. You can even scan nutrition labels to get an instant “Keto grade” for anything you’re thinking about eating. 

#2: Poor sleep

It’s hard to lose weight when you’re sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation increases the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which leads to bleary-eyed munching.[*] We’ve all been there. 

Sleep is also crucial for insulin function. Remember insulin? It’s the hormone that tells your body whether to burn or store fat. Getting enough sleep keeps the dial twisted towards “burn”.[*]

#3: Stress

When you’re stressed out, your adrenal glands release the stress hormone: cortisol. This is not a positive development for your Keto goals. 

Why? Because cortisol increases blood sugar and stimulates fat storage.[*] It’s like Keto kryptonite. 

Because of this, stress management should be part of any Keto weight loss program. Namaste. 

#4: Overeating or undereating

Once you get settled into a Keto routine, you’ll be able to eyeball your portions and simply eat your fill. But before that happens, you’ll want to track calories.

The goal is to eat a Goldilocks amount of food. Not too little, and not too much.

Calorie restriction may cause short term weight loss—but it also can permanently slow your metabolism. That’s why contestants on the Biggest Loser tend to regain their lost weight after the show.[*] While studies have shown[*] that it is often easier for those following a low-carb diet to naturally eat less due to it’s satiating nature, a similar slow in metabolism may also occur over time. If your Keto weight-loss plateaus, it may be helpful to be mindful of this and adjust your calories and macros accordingly.

Too many calories (even Keto-approved calories) will, of course, inevitably cause weight gain, though one study[*] has shown that low-carb diets may allow for a higher calorie maintenance level than a corresponding high-carb diet. 

Use the Carb Manager app to find and maintain your perfect level of daily calories (and macros) for your Keto diet and weight-loss goals.

Next steps

Did this article cover everything required to succeed on Keto? The whole shebang? Of course not. 

But it did cover how Keto might help with weight loss. And the knowledge and tips here should provide the foundation for further exploration. 

To continue along this path, inside the Carb Manager app you'll find the tools you need to dial in your Keto diet, including meal plans, a macros tracker, a video course to get you up to speed, and thousands of low-carb and Keto-friendly recipes.  

It’s like having a supportive health coach right in your pocket—an ally for your journey, onwards and upwards, towards better health.  

Comments 30

  • FantasticKale517722

    FantasticKale517722 a year ago

    How do you like this program? Because I want to lose weight faster I am Man to the weight 23 pounds

    • UpbeatMacadamia399024

      UpbeatMacadamia399024 2 years ago

      How do I start

      • Madmom

        Madmom 3 years ago

        Question: can’t find an answer to this ANYWHERE . I can not do artificial sweetners of any kind. They send my hot flashes into overdrive. How can I maintain a keto diet and enjoy the occasional sweet if I cant have artificial sweetner?

        • RousingKetone562954

          RousingKetone562954 2 years ago

          have you tried natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit?

      • SpectacularKale286269

        SpectacularKale286269 3 years ago


        • SpectacularKale286269

          SpectacularKale286269 3 years ago

          Am getting what to do know more fats in my mail

          • SpectacularKale286269

            SpectacularKale286269 3 years ago

            Love it but have done it a few weeks but I'm one Towing now I drink a lot of water and still gain my weight still not losing weight started 226 now 219 been there for few days

            • AwesomeKale264648

              AwesomeKale264648 3 years ago

              I decided to switch to a keto diet after being plateaued for a long time on WW after losing 27 lbs. I have bounced a few lbs up/down throughout the pandemic but no significant weight loss. At first it was a learning curve but I have used the tracker faithfully. Gained a few lbs to start but beginning to see a downward turn but not very exciting. Should I consider changing my macro numbers such as calories and carbs. Any feedback will be appreciated.

              • Heavy Evvie

                Heavy Evvie 3 years ago

                Excellent article. You did very well in defining and explaining this diet. This app has helped me log everything and that helped me understand what foods had carbs and where. I may try this, but low carb, low calorie. So far I have been low carb, under 80 and under 1800 calories.

                • LadyMaine2021

                  LadyMaine2021 3 years ago

                  I learned that I gained 6 of the initial pounds lost by not paying attention to macros. Thanks!

                  • GorgeousCauliflower993194

                    GorgeousCauliflower993194 3 years ago

                    Thanks for the good info.

                    • StupendousAvocado739360

                      StupendousAvocado739360 3 years ago

                      Great into article. I appreciate the balanced appraisal of Keto.

                      • TBarken

                        TBarken 3 years ago

                        Great info!

                        • Cindycarlos306

                          Cindycarlos306 3 years ago

                          Good article to read before and while following a Keto plan.

                          • RousingMacadamia517361

                            RousingMacadamia517361 3 years ago

                            The carb manager app is outstanding. Really helps you understand your total food intake, carbs, protein, fat and calories. These articles are very informative and helpful in understanding the keto diet and it’s process. Congratulations

                            • kini6960

                              kini6960 3 years ago

                              I'm a beginner, couldn't cope without the app.

                              • AwesomeRadish285728

                                AwesomeRadish285728 3 years ago

                                I'm new to this app, I like what I see. I have a question, are the recipes single serve or are the for more servings? It's only me who wil follow this lifestyle, I don't like leftovers very much. I prefer to cook single serve portions.

                                • BeachBum2

                                  BeachBum2 3 years ago

                                  I just read that the Best Keto is higher in protein, lower in fat. Is this true??

                                  • Kelflugs

                                    Kelflugs 3 years ago

                                    Too much protein will spike insulin production.


                         3 years ago

                                  This is a “re-start” for me. I intend to take it slower and follow the app this time.

                                  • AwesomeRadish331330

                                    AwesomeRadish331330 3 years ago

                                    Love this app. I went pro the first day and it has been so easy to follow. Love the choices of recipes and the fact you can alter the protein ingredients

                                    • SplendidAvocado957717

                                      SplendidAvocado957717 3 years ago

                                      Awesome article to get my head in the game. After 3 weeks I upgraded to premium and so much easier to log my foods!

                                      • OutstandingMacadamia220642

                                        OutstandingMacadamia220642 3 years ago

                                        Is there any insight for people with hypothyroidism? Should you expect it to take longer to get into Ketosis? Any tips?

                                        • RousingMacadamia620844

                                          RousingMacadamia620844 3 years ago

                                          Fantastic app & information is comprehensive. Sincerely happy with CM!!!💪👍🙌💫

                                          • MarvellousKale725286

                                            MarvellousKale725286 3 years ago

                                            I’m new at this and hit a brick wall for three days, this has helped me understand the process more. ie.. keep going it will kick in over time.. Thank You

                                            • SpectacularAvocado378348

                                              SpectacularAvocado378348 3 years ago

                                              I’m new but Iv learnt that if I hit a wall I have a heavy cream coffee or cook up a mug bread roll and have a fried egg!! Mug bread is stodgy and keeps my carb craving well away it totally hits the spot! 😁

                                          • Bonbit43

                                            Bonbit43 3 years ago

                                            Now that I got the hang of new app I still in love with it

                                            • Shauna

                                              Shauna 4 years ago

                                              The app is so helpful! I went pro and the recipes are amazing!!!

                                              • RainbowSunshine26

                                                RainbowSunshine26 4 years ago

                                                I have no idea how to work out carbs v net carbs. This app is fantail and makes everything so simple. The traffic light system is excellent

                                                • tamstar1

                                                  tamstar1 3 years ago

                                                  When looking at food label, subtract fiber from carbs to get net carbs. Also, keto friendly sweetner carbs don't count either😄