In Ketosis But Not Losing Weight

Really hoping someone can help give me some insight as to why I would be gaining weight in ketosis.


I'm sorry this is a long post, but I really want to try to give you as much info as possible so you know how to advise.


 


 


I am a 5', 41 yo woman.


I have maintained a weight of 105 - 108 since I've been in my 20s with a very low carb diet.  For almost 20 years, I very rarely ate sugar, grains, processed foods, or even fruit, unless I was having a cheat meal.  I've always been active and healthy.  I would usually eat about 5 small meals/day.  I never counted calories.  Just ate low carb foods until I was full.  I could set my watch by how my body reacted to everything I put in my mouth.  I knew exactly how my weight and my body would react to almost every food out there.


 


That changed when I hit 40.  For the past 1.5 years, even if I would severely restrict my caloric intake to 800 - 1000 calories/day, my standing, average weight has inexplicably gone up to about 113 pounds.  For someone who is only 5', this is a significant weight gain.  I tried everything that worked for me in years past to bring that weight down, but it wouldn't budge.


Right about that time, I started eating super clean, figuring that was the cause for the weight gain.  I eliminated all diet soda (pretty much just drink water now), artificial sweeteners, and eat only organic veggies and pasture raised meat.  I am REALLY strict about clean eating.  I even got my own goats and chickens in pursuit of eating as naturally as possible.  My weight did not come down.


 


About a month ago, I started the BP diet and IF fasting.  Not only has my weight not gone down, it's GONE UP.  


 


I test my blood ketones every single morning to make sure I'm not missing anything.


I take no meds except an occasional ambien.


I get 7 hours sleep/night.


I do Pilates 3xs/week.


I recently had my thyroid tested and I am totally normal.


 


Since going on this plan, my weight has gone as high as 118, but pretty much hovers around 115.  I understand that this is considered in the "healthy" range, but it is not the right weight for me.  This is 10 pounds higher than where I should be and 10 pounds higher than I have always been able to maintain without over training or under eating - all my life.  I have absolutely NO body issues.  I don't care about chasing a number.  I know what looks right and healthy on my body.  I prefer a slightly muscular build, not skinny.  I am not striving to be underweight.


 


What is making no sense to me is how I can be doing everything right, but my weight is still high and climbing.  The only thing left to do is starve myself, and I know that's not the ultimate answer.  Besides, I've tried that and it doesn't work anymore.


 


Since I started the BP diet about a month ago, my blood ketones have steadily been in the 1.5 - 2.5 range.  I was above .5 the very first day I ever tested, which doesn't surprise me since I ate so low carb before I started this diet in the first place.


 


Here is what my typical eating day looks like  (This is almost exactly what I eat every day.  I'm a creature of habit, so I don't vary much except for the type of meat and veggie at my dinner meal):


 


6am-7am - Cup of bulletproof with 2 Tbs Kerrygold and 2Tbs coconut oil


10:00 - Small slice of grass-fed, organic cheese and supplements (fermented cod liver oil, super greens, and Garden of Life multis)


12:00 - Big salad - 3-4 cups of organic spring mix.  1/4 cup fermented sauerkraut.  Boiled egg.  1/2 Avocado (most of the time, not every time).  2 Tbs raw goat cheese  (I make this myself).  Heaping tsps of the following:  nutritional yeast, hemp, chia, flax, gelatin.  Small amount of pine nuts. Dressing is olive oil and apple cider vinegar - Calculated calories at about 800 -900)


6:00 - Some kind of pastured meat and 4 cups veggies (spinach, kale, or broccoli) sauteed in Kerrygold.


 


**I used to drink 2 cups of bulletproof (one in morning and one in afternoon).  This made my morning ketones read between the 3-4 range, but I wasn't seeing any weight loss, so I dropped the 2nd cup**


 


One more thing...I have tried experimenting with adding in some "good" carbs, but even in small amounts, it will inevitably make me feel bloated and cause my weight to creep up.  Every time.


 


Can anyone offer me some insight as to why my weight would be going up when all the data says I'm doing everything right?  Is there something else I should be looking at or testing for that might be off?


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Comments

  • dazdaz today is a good day ✭✭✭
    Are you able to tell if the weight gain is all/mostly fat (as against lean mass)

    fake it till you make it



  • One more thing...I have tried experimenting with adding in some "good" carbs, but even in small amounts, it will inevitably make me feel bloated and cause my weight to creep up.  Every time.


     


    Can anyone offer me some insight as to why my weight would be going up when all the data says I'm doing everything right?  Is there something else I should be looking at or testing for that might be off?




     


    You can be in ketosis and only be burning dietary fat, not body fat. 


     


    Are you doing carb refeeds at least once a week? If you are not, then you are not following the Bulletproof diet. It sounds like you are not. If you consult the BP diet roadmap, you will see that the Bulletproof diet has a serving of carbs in the evening, and a carb refeed at least once a week. 


     


    Not refeeding can increase stress hormones which can wreck your metabolism. As Dave wrote in his "BP diet hacks for women" article, women generally need carbs more than men. And women over 40 need to make some adjustments too. People who have been low-carb for a long time often complain of carbs making them bloated. You may have to introduce them slowly and deal with some bloating. If you can't eat carbs as presecribed in the Bulletproof diet, I wouldn't recommend trying to follow an incomplete version of it. 

  • Thanks...I'll go through and read all that stuff again.  


    I guess I didn't read it the same way you did, meaning that I thought carb re-feeding was something you should try and see how your body did with it.  I have tried it, but I assumed based on the bloating and sustained weight gain that my body just couldn't do it.  


    I must have missed something, though, so I'll go back through all the material.  


    It's not that I can't tolerate the bloated feeling...I love carbs and would love to eat them if they work for me.  


    But, based on the bloated feeling coupled with the weight gain that did not go back down once I got back to a normal BP diet, I figured it wasn't something that I could tolerate.


    Thanks again for your help and the links!


  • Daz - I don't think it's all fat because I would never still be able to fit my clothes if it were.  


    But, some of it is definitely bulk/fat - I can tell for sure around my mid-section that I'm carrying extra.




  • Thanks...I'll go through and read all that stuff again.  


    I guess I didn't read it the same way you did, meaning that I thought carb re-feeding was something you should try and see how your body did with it.  I have tried it, but I assumed based on the bloating and sustained weight gain that my body just couldn't do it.  


    I must have missed something, though, so I'll go back through all the material.  


    It's not that I can't tolerate the bloated feeling...I love carbs and would love to eat them if they work for me.  


    But, based on the bloated feeling coupled with the weight gain that did not go back down once I got back to a normal BP diet, I figured it wasn't something that I could tolerate.


    Thanks again for your help and the links!




     


    No problem. Yeah, "protein fasting" was something Dave added about a year ago, and he made it coincide with the carb re-feed day. I think it added a bit of confusion, because it's protein fasting that is more something optional to try, while re-feeding is pretty crucial for most people. 


     


    Also to add to my other links, at 30:25 of podcast 257, Dave gets into the specifics of women on intermittent fasting.


     


    Based on your history, my *very* loose theory of what's going on with you is that you kind of got away with constant low carb, and then hormonal changes at 40 made it harder to get away with. Going BP without refeeds is even a bit more stressful on the body than regular low carb, and is likely to lead to excess cortisol which can set up a situation where any dietary change leads to fat gain. Alternatively and a better-case scenario: the body really likes to hold onto the last bit of glycogen (stored carbs.) If you depleted that last bit over months or years, then tried one refeed, of course it's going to lead to weight gain that's hard to get rid of. Glycogen is a sugar/water matrix, and for every gram of sugar there's 2-3g of water. All told, with water included, even a fairly small human can store 7+ pounds of glycogen in the liver and muscles. 


     


    So I suspect a lot of your weight gain is water. Perhaps a bit of fat (if cortisol is indeed too high) and perhaps some muscle too as daz pointed out. As for being bloated, I suspect that's just your digestive tract not being used to carbs, and sending in a lot of water to aid in digestion. Ramping up slowly could help with that. Maybe consider adding a bit of sweet potato or a piece of fruit after dinner (part of the BP diet anyway) and increase the serving size over time. 


     


    A lot of people new to BP come to the forum with this situation, though they have generally not been low carb for as long as you. I did it too. I thought if BP said low carb was good, I should go even lower carb. It doesn't really work that way, but once you get down to those really low carb levels your body loses so much water that any dietary change leads to sudden water weight gain. I had to increase slowly, and pay more attention to the tape measure than the scale. You can lose fat later, but I'm not sure it's possible to move to moderate carb from extremely low carb while also losing fat, unless maybe you were at a very high-calorie version of low-carb. For me, the ketones from low carb suppressed my hunger so I was also way too low calorie in addition to being too low carb. Being very low calorie can make the sudden weight gain issue worse, since if you've brought down your metabolism to say 1,200 calories a day, an extra 300 calorie snack could put you at 25% over maintenance calories. So if you've never counted calories, it might be useful to take a couple days of what you commonly eat and count them, then compare that to a basal metabolic rate calculator (found online) for your age, height, and weight. Not to count calories forever, just a quick test. In my case I found I was more than 500 calories under what I should be eating, accidentally. 

  • DManDMan Master of Arts ✭✭✭
    Do you get bloated with all carbs? For example honey? Sounds like there is something going on in your gut. Look into it.

    May you be well, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be loved.

    How much to eat:
    advanced | How to train: bulletproof training | HRV: HRV FOR TRAINING HRV BASICS What Affects HRV | Brain  & Memory dual n back training advanced training

     

     

  • Thanks SO much, ACH85 (I'm sorry, I don't know how to tag your comments like you did to make things easier to follow)...your answers are really helpful and I'm grateful that you would take the time to respond in such detail.  I promise that I won't let your effort go to waste.  I'm printing everything out to make sure I look into everything you recommended.


     


    DMan - I think it's not so much that I get bloated, but that I somehow feel heavier in my belly (hard to explain, but I kind of always know when I eat something that is going to make me gain weight because I just get this feeling of heaviness in my belly - even broccoli and some other veggies do this to me sometimes as well).


    When I get that feeling, my weight almost always goes up by about a pound, and it's usually a fight to get the pound back off - so, it doesn't seem to just be water.


    I hadn't thought about carbs from honey.  I incorporate raw honey into my kids' food all the time because I think it's incredible for you, but it's one of those foods I never even experimented with because of the sugar.


    Maybe I'll try that when I try the carb re-feed again (combined with the protein fast) and see how I react.


    I'm pretty big on gut health (which is why I take pro-biotics and eat fermented foods), so I appreciate your reminder to think of things like that when I'm having a weight issue.

  • Hi OOck, I'm impressed by your long term commitment to healthy eating.

    I feel your pain because I am very strict with my eating too and sensitive to even the slightest changes in bloating, weight gain etc.

    I'm a wee bit older than you but I think you can blame this weight gain on hormones.


    Things just change when you hit 40.

    I've never been able to pin point exactly what is going on but certainly progesterone and testosterone start to drop around this time.

    Estrogen becomes unstable in your 40's too, but you may not be at that stage yet.


    You could get your hormone levels tested and maybe start using a little testosterone and progesterone cream if they are low.

    There are lots of good books on this subject. The Hormone Cure is good and also a book on testosterone for females that I can't remember the name of, sorry.

    I found these books on Amazon and got the kindle versions. Testosterone is actually really important for females and even a slightly low level can affect weight, muscle strength etc.

    I hope this helps. :)
  • Hey, BMK  (my sisters initials and you look like her, too!)


     


    Thanks for the reply.


    I will absolutely look into what you've suggested.


    It makes sense to me because I didn't all of a sudden start doing anything differently, but boy did things change the second I hit 40yo.  


    I used to dismiss people who said things like everything changes when you get to be a certain age.  


    I arrogantly figured they had gotten sloppy and weren't eating properly or taking care of themselves and I just knew that wouldn't happen to me.  


    Until, it happened to me.  


    So, I figure I deserve the dose of medicine I'm taking right now!


    Just trying to figure it all out.


    Thanks for the suggestions!

  • ACH85ACH85 ✭✭
    edited November 2015


    Thanks SO much, ACH85 (I'm sorry, I don't know how to tag your comments like you did to make things easier to follow)...your answers are really helpful and I'm grateful that you would take the time to respond in such detail.  I promise that I won't let your effort go to waste.  I'm printing everything out to make sure I look into everything you recommended.




     


    No problem, I hope it helps. I'm not an expert though, just someone who's paid attention to this stuff for a while. You should come to your own conclusions. Also, you can tag other people's comments with the "Quote" button at the bottom right of their posts. Instead of using the open box at the bottom of the thread, hit "quote" and it will open a new text box with them quoted. You can also edit that quote so you're only responding to a part of it, which is helpful to avoid super long posts that are mainly quotes. Also when you quote it sends an email to the user you're quoting (depending on their settings,) which is good if you want to make sure they notice your response. 


  • I think the main problem here is you're older.  Hormones change as one ages, and many people grow in weight.  If you look up any body fat percentage chart, you'll see it grows more acceptable to gain weight the older you get.


    I don't really think you can win this battle.  Your body is just doing what's natural.


  • edited December 2015

    Jumping in here... I found this happened to me the year I turned 40 also.  I feel strongly that a lot of my weight gain was emotional - I certainly felt the weight , and gravity, of growing older!  My solution was to do a detox under the supervision of a naturopath (like you I have been a committed clean eater for years and years) and gear up my exercise routine with lots of long walks and intermittent sprints.  There were herbs involved also.   It did the trick and I saw in my 40th birthday feeling really great.  Fast forward six years and I've just given birth to a healthy baby girl.  During TTC I did a lot of research into hormone balance and how diet impacts this.  The previous poster who mentioned estrogen and progesterone has a point - these can need some help, particularly because our lives keep going on getting more stressful.  Things like meditation, yoga and other stress relieving activities can help, as can supplements such as maca, vitex, and (if you're willing to be very experimental) DHEA or pregnenalone.   I strongly believe in the connection between hormones, fertility, emotional states and weight.  Perhaps this is something you could explore?


     


    Edited to add:  I gave a lot of attention to letting go of ideas about growing older during my 'detox' - and to ridding my life of things that made me feel heavy.


  • Just a quick update here, because I found something that FINALLY worked and I thought I would share.


     


    After all the feedback I received, I immediately made the following changes:


     


    I started intermittent fasting 18 hours every day (similar to what I was doing, but no snack at 10:00am).  My eat window is now 12:00pm - 6:00pm.


    I also started doing carb re-feeds 2xs week (one of those re-feed days I also drop my protein to less than 15g)


     


    Did that for almost 3 weeks.


    Still nothing.


     


    But, what I did notice is that I would drop a little weight on the days when I did my carb re-feeds, which I thought was odd.


    Looking into it further, I noticed that my caloric intake on the days when I did my carb re-feeds actually went down.


    When I calculated my typical intake, it was about 1500 calories/day.  On my carb re-feed days, it dropped to somewhere between 1,100 to 1,200/day.


     


    So, as much as I did NOT want to do this, I decided that I was going to start counting my calories and dropped my caloric intake from 1500/day to 1200/day.  I continued to eat exactly the kinds of foods I first indicated...just less.  Reducing calories was the ONLY change.


     


    In one week, I went from 115 to 110.  There was only one day in that week that I ate 1500 calories.  Guess what?  That was the only day I did not drop any weight.  I didn't gain, but I didn't drop anything. 


     


    So, as much as it pains me to say it, and flies in the face of everything I've ever wanted to believe, reducing my caloric intake (WHILE still following the bulletproof diet) is the only thing in almost two years that has worked.  I know lots of people aren't going to like it, but you can't argue with actual results.

  • ACH85ACH85 ✭✭
    edited December 2015


    So, as much as it pains me to say it, and flies in the face of everything I've ever wanted to believe, reducing my caloric intake (WHILE still following the bulletproof diet) is the only thing in almost two years that has worked.  I know lots of people aren't going to like it, but you can't argue with actual results.




     


    I don't mind it and agree that sometimes (often?) caloric deficit is the only thing that works for people. BUT earlier I advised you to plug your age/height/weight/sex into an online metabolic rate calculator. It's important to know where you "should" be while doing this. (HINT: I plugged your info in, and with moderate activity you should be a little over 1,800 calories / day.) 


     


    1,200 calories is very low. It sounds like now you've gone from 1,500 calories (maintaining weight) to 1,200 calories (losing weight.) This means you've set up a 300 calorie deficit. 


     


    BUT:


     


    Your metabolism will eventually adapt, and you'll stop losing. What will you do then, go to 900 calories? You're low enough that you're getting into the range where you can't support basic nutrition. In general, a gram of protein is 4 calories, a gram of carbs is 4 calories, and a gram of fat is 9 calories. As you can see with a little math, there's not much room to get adequate protein for maintaining muscle, carbs to provide energy, or fat to create hormones (at these low calories it would be asking a lot to use fat for energy AND hormone creation.) 


     


    So I think it's important that when you do stop losing fat at 1,200 calories, you have a plan to slowly increase your calories and your metabolism as well. Don't cut calories again from there. Jason Miller did a good video on this with our forum's other Jason over here, the basic plan is covered in the first 15 minutes or so. The key concept is to add calories by 100/day each week, allowing your metabolism to "keep up" with the increase, increasing as high as possible, maintaining for a few weeks, and then doing a cut. Imagine if you could get up to 2,000 calories/day without gaining fat, then do the same 300 calorie cut you're doing now, but at 1,700 calories. You'd have 500 more calories to play with each day. That's a lot of tasty dark chocolate or whatever else you want, a lot more room for error if you go to a dinner party or something, and a lot less stress on the body. 


     


    EDIT: oh hey, also I'm glad you're getting the results you want! 




  • I don't mind it and agree that sometimes (often?) caloric deficit is the only thing that works for people. BUT earlier I advised you to plug your age/height/weight/sex into an online metabolic rate calculator. It's important to know where you "should" be while doing this. (HINT: I plugged your info in, and with moderate activity you should be a little over 1,800 calories / day.) 


     


    1,200 calories is very low. It sounds like now you've gone from 1,500 calories (maintaining weight) to 1,200 calories (losing weight.) This means you've set up a 300 calorie deficit. 


     


    BUT:


     


    Your metabolism will eventually adapt, and you'll stop losing. What will you do then, go to 900 calories? You're low enough that you're getting into the range where you can't support basic nutrition. In general, a gram of protein is 4 calories, a gram of carbs is 4 calories, and a gram of fat is 9 calories. As you can see with a little math, there's not much room to get adequate protein for maintaining muscle, carbs to provide energy, or fat to create hormones (at these low calories it would be asking a lot to use fat for energy AND hormone creation.) 


     


    So I think it's important that when you do stop losing fat at 1,200 calories, you have a plan to slowly increase your calories and your metabolism as well. Don't cut calories again from there. Jason Miller did a good video on this with our forum's other Jason over here, the basic plan is covered in the first 15 minutes or so. The key concept is to add calories by 100/day each week, allowing your metabolism to "keep up" with the increase, increasing as high as possible, maintaining for a few weeks, and then doing a cut. Imagine if you could get up to 2,000 calories/day without gaining fat, then do the same 300 calorie cut you're doing now, but at 1,700 calories. You'd have 500 more calories to play with each day. That's a lot of tasty dark chocolate or whatever else you want, a lot more room for error if you go to a dinner party or something, and a lot less stress on the body. 


     


    EDIT: oh hey, also I'm glad you're getting the results you want! 




    Thanks so much....I will absolutely watch this video all the way through.


    What you're saying about slowly adding calories back and allowing your body to adjust makes sense.


    I can't say that it makes sense to me how you can add back significant calories and not gain weight, but I'm sure I'll learn by watching that video!


    And, I have to admit that it's much easier for me, mentally, to believe that there is something I can do to eventually be able to increase my calories and not have to be so rigid.  


    But, at the moment, I have to admit, I'm just reveling in FINALLY started to get back to a weight that I'm comfortable with...but, I'm totally open to the fact that this is likely not a long term solution.


    Thanks for all your help!

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