You can gain weight on a ketogenic diet, despite your best intentions

Did you come for the weight loss, but find you gained weight instead on a ketogenic diet?

Dr. Deepa Mahananda


If you’re experiencing weight gain or weight neutrality on a ketogenic diet, when that was not your original intention, then don’t throw in the towel. First it is important to recognise that it is absolutely possible to gain weight on a ketogenic diet, even when you appear to have addressed the root cause of insulin resistance by doing the obvious and lowering carbs!

There are a variety of mechanisms through which this weight gain may still happen:

  • The weight ‘gain’ may be coming from increasing muscle mass rather than fat mass
  • There is too much healthy fat in the diet. Yes, this is possible on a ketogenic diet! This is one of a few unique situations where total caloric intake, particularly from fat calories, can be relevant. One way to address such a situation is by increasing protein whilst reducing fat intake.
  • Weighing every day out of habit or just because the scales are there in the bathroom. The process of weight loss is not a downward straight line on a graph. It is a series of ups and downs that overall are heading in a downward direction. Weight may not be changing rapidly or may even increase but body composition is positively improving. Weight may not shift until underlying metabolic dysfunction has had time to resolve.
  • The diet is well formulated and nutrient dense BUT your sleep quality is poor.
    • Put simply not enough sleep → high cortisol → high glucose → compensatory high insulin
  • The diet is well formulated and nutrient dense BUT you are always stressed and anxious due to external stressors.
    • High stress → high cortisol → high glucose → compensatory high insulin
  • There are concurrent regular medications being taken that can potentiate insulin resistance, independent of food intake. An example of these medications are antidepressants like Lexapro and Zoloft.

And we could go on and on.

As is most often the case there are usually multiple factors at play when people are experiencing weight gain on a ketogenic diet.

Don’t throw in the towel if low carb doesn’t appear to be working for you. To learn more come along to our FREE info night on Tuesday 25th May.