If you are trying to just cut carbs to lose weight and not seeing results, you may need to make some adjustments. While cutting carbs generally is a good thing, it can leave you feeling worse rather than better if you don’t make other adjustments to your diet. If you are trying to follow a ketogenic diet, remember this: A ketogenic diet is always a low-carb diet, but a low-carb diet is not always a ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet requires your body to move into a specific metabolic state called ketosis. Just cutting carbs doesn’t necessarily put you in ketosis and may leave you feeling lousy. Everyone has their own specific carbohydrate set point. Knowing how to get into ketosis can be challenging. A new book by Bill McIntosh called BodyReboot, tells you everything you need to know to get into ketosis. If you are interested in learning how easy it is to get started on a keto diet, check out this FREE book offer from the BodyReboot program.
Check out these four steps to move from simply eating low-carb and moving into true ketosis:
Four Steps to Convert From Low-Carb to Ketosis
So why is just low carb bad? If you’re just low carb and not keto, you can experience some of these very fun side effects:
– Low energy and fatigue
– Irritability and mood swings
– Hormonal disruptions
– Hunger pangs
– Weight gain
– Physical performance losses
– Messed up lab panel
– and more!
When you are not in a state of ketosis, your body is using the breakdown of carbohydrate (or proteins) to create glucose and use it as a primary energy source. However, the shift from burning carbs for energy to burning fats for energy doesn’t automatically happen when going “low-carb”. This means your body is asking for fuel that you are not giving it. Not good.
If you’re still running on carbs for fuel, but not eating any carbs and giving your body any fuel, you will be having a bad day. But why isn’t it good enough to just eat low carbs? Good thing you asked. Shifting from burning carbs for energy to burning fat for energy is a different process for everyone and is not as simple as just limiting carbohydrates.
Here are three main reasons why people eating a general “low carb” diet can feel terrible, not get into ketosis and write it off as something that doesn’t work for them:
1. THE LEVEL OF CARBS IS STILL TOO HIGH
Everyone responds to different levels of carbs, fat, and protein differently. It’s not enough to just eat what you think is a low amount of carbohydrates. Your metabolic history, daily activities, or any other factor may mean you can only tolerate 25 grams of carbs per day before getting kicked out of ketosis whereas someone else can tolerate up to 100 grams of carbs per day.
The only way you can tell if you are eating too much or too little carbs is to test your ketone levels. If you don’t know, I wrote an article, appropriately titled How To Test Your Ketone Levels. If you are limiting under 20 grams of carbohydrates, testing your ketone levels, and still aren’t in ketosis, move on to the next problem.
2. THE AMOUNT OF CALORIES CONSUMED IS TOO LOW
If you’re not eating enough food, your body is going to be going into a starvation mode and not going to be super thrifty at burning any type of energy. This happens many times because people think that they can just remove carbs and not replace that food source with anything. That’s a huge mistake. You’re going to be super low energy, have hormonal problems, and potentially gain fat on a very low-calorie diet versus one that is closer to your metabolic needs.
Make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of calories for your body size, and in the form of fat. Use any arbitrary calculator online to determine a rough amount, but for most people this will be between 2000-2800 calories. If you don’t know how much you are getting in a day, then for a few days get a baseline by using an application like MyFitnessPal to track everything and see where you stand.
Check your ketone levels and symptoms, see where you’re at, and if you’re still struggling after increasing calories then move to the next item.
3. THE AMOUNT OF PROTEIN IS TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW
Protein can turn into carbohydrates via a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis (making new carbs) and will do in people at varying degrees. Protein turning into carbohydrates means you’re not in ketosis. However, this is generally an overblown statement that only happens at the extreme cases when you are drinking a lot of liquid protein shakes.
This is a huge mistake I was making. Even though I was eating about 20g of carbs and assumed that I was in ketosis, I wasn’t. So I tested. Hmm… still not in keto, eating enough food, and I feel like crap, must not be for me. But no! I wouldn’t accept that.
I ended up pulling protein intake down from about 180g per day to about 120g per day and removing all of the liquid protein I was consuming. Anything over 120g with liquid proteins and I’m out of ketosis. Once I pulled the intake down and found this sweet spot, it was like the lights came on. Energy skyrocketed.
Since eating about the amount of protein, working out a little less, and being super strict on a ketogenic diet I’ve actually gained lean tissue mass. This also happened after my recent four day fast, which busted another belief of mine that you would die and lose muscle if you didn’t eat protein every 12.4 minutes.
If none of these modifications work for you, check out my article on the biggest ketosis mistakes people are making. If you’re still having problems, you should check with your doctor about other issues that could be going on.
A ketogenic diet is not a low energy diet. It is a normal human metabolic state that we used for many thousands of years. You are born in a state of ketosis. You should not want to die when you’re keto.
A ketogenic diet definitely is a low-carb, high-fat diet. But a low-carb, high-fat diet is not always a ketogenic diet.
4. TEST AND TRACK LEVELS TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE ACTUALLY IN KETOSIS.
Ketosis isn’t an idea. This isn’t like “paleo” where just because you eat things that you think cavemen eat and then you’re all good. Ketosis is literally a measurable metabolic state.
You can’t just assume you’re in ketosis. It is very specific for every person. Make sure you’re tracking and testing up front, then peel back when you have a reduction in ketone levels.
If you’re trying to lose weight by following the ketogenic diet and not getting results, it is likely that you need to make some adjustments. First, make sure your level of carbs aren’t too high. Everyone has their own carb set point that pushes them into ketosis. Second, make sure you are getting enough calories. Third, make sure you aren’t eating too much protein. And finally, always test to make sure you are getting into ketosis. Just guessing doesn’t work at least in the beginning. As you become more experienced, you may be able to feel when your body goes into ketosis. Until them, use one of the many possible methods to test for ketosis.
At the time of writing this post, we are giving away free copies of the Body Reboot book to help people lose weight and get healthy! Just cover the small cost of shipping, and we’ll send a FREE copy to your door. Go over to this page to see if copies are still available!