Keto Not Working For You? Here’s Why and What To Do Now

Last Updated on January 1, 2024 by Richard

Richard says: Are you wondering “Does keto work for everyone, but me?” Well, there are several reasons for the “keto not working” problem.

First, it is easy to fall out of ketosis without even knowing it. It happens to everyone.

Dr. Ferreira will talk about the common mistakes everyone makes.

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Second, there are some people who should not be on the keto diet. Either because the keto diet isn’t capable of working with their medical condition. Or, because it isn’t safe for them to use the keto diet, because of their medical condition.

Third, athletes can benefit from the keto diet, but they have to be more knowledgeable about the diet and their goals.

Keto not working for you? Keep reading!

Article written by Dr. Helcio Ferreira. Comments (in green) by Richard Quick.

Are You Trying But The keto Diet Is Not Working? These Could Be The Reasons.

The ketogenic diet is a very effective way to lose weight. However, small mistakes can make the difference between losing weight and wasting your time.

The nutritional basis of the ketogenic diet is to limit carbohydrate intake drastically, consuming only between 5 and 20% of macronutrients through carbohydrates.

Fat consumption predominates in the diet, being between 60 and 75% of the total calories we eat through food, with moderate protein intake, up to 40%.

It may be possible that you are making a great effort to comply with all the instructions, but the ketogenic diet is still not working. We will explain how the following errors can get you out of ketosis quickly.

You Are Not In Ketosis

The ketogenic diet is a complex process to carry out, and it can be challenging to know when we are in ketosis, and when we are not, or when we are deceiving ourselves.

If we are doing the diet all on our own, and we do not have the support of a doctor or a nutritionist, no one may have informed us about how to know if we are in ketosis.

To start doing the right thing, you need to identify if you are in ketosis. These are the notable changes during the start of ketosis that you can identify:

  • Breath changes (fruity smelling)
  • Increased thirst sensation
  • In some cases, feeling dizzy. [1]

However, the only way to be clear about whether we are in ketosis or not, is by testing. Either testing for ketones in the urine or with blood tests.

The urine test strips allow us to know our concentration of ketones in the urine and thus know if we are in ketosis through different color tones (higher tonality in the strip will indicate the degree of ketosis).

It is best to be in intermediate tones; this will mean a correct balance without risking health.

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It Is Effortless To Get Out Of Ketosis

Another problem with the ketogenic diet is that staying in ketosis can be more complicated than at first sight. And many foods can get us out of it.

One of the problems is that, if we don’t have enough knowledge about nutrition and we are dieting on our own, we may not know what foods can affect progress.

Thus, figures as small as 50 grams of legumes, 700 milliliters of milk, a large banana, grapes, an apple, a potato or even 300 grams of beetroot, carrot or pumpkin can get us out of ketosis. All without really being aware and, therefore, influence the outcome of the diet.

Common Mistakes During The Ketogenic Diet

Incorrect Adjustment Of Carbohydrates In The Diet

Some people are more sensitive to carbs than others, and this depends on genetics and carbohydrate sensitivity.

If you are on a ketogenic diet and have not entered ketosis or have stagnated in your progress, you may not have the proper carbohydrate adjustment.

If the ketogenic diet has not worked, try adjusting your daily carbohydrate intake by cutting down to 5 grams total, until you achieve ketosis.

This means that you should avoid eating certain fruits, and choosing better sources of carbohydrates.

Making a record of all the foods you eat will help you be more productive.

Excess Protein In The Ketogenic Diet Is A Mistake

The ketogenic diet is based on moderate protein intake, and some people may mistakenly think that, by drastically reducing the amounts of carbohydrates in the diet, they can abuse protein intake.

Excessive consumption of meats can be a delay for the progress of your ketogenic diet. High amounts of protein in the diet can increase glucose synthesis, because it activates the metabolism of amino acids, Which is a different metabolism process to obtain energy. [2]

Ketosis and the progress of your ketogenic diet depend on the discipline and commitment you have to eat correctly.

If you are consuming large amounts of meat or other sources of protein, you are making a big mistake.

Mannitol Is Not So Suitable For The Ketogenic Diet

Mannitol is a sugar alcohol used in diabetic foods as a sweetener.

Alcohol sweeteners can be considered a good option for people who follow a healthy diet. These alcohol compounds can provide sweetness to your recipes and dishes with only a small amount of carbohydrates (1 gram can sweeten like two tablespoons of sugar).

But the ketogenic diet is different; the metabolic process of maltitol is totally different during the ketogenic diet, because maltitol is not a ketosis friendly sweetener.

Although maltitol has a low glycemic index, it’s chemical composition can affect blood sugar levels, putting your ketosis at risk.

You should be aware that if you abuse maltitol during the ketogenic diet, you are making a mistake.

You Are Very Stressed All The Time

To obtain results in the process of weight loss, the body must be in perfect metabolic conditions. In some cases, it is not enough to eat healthily and exercise.

The normal hormonal balance is necessary to promote favorable conditions for ketosis. Stress can alter hormonal balance because it increases blood cortisol levels.

High cortisol levels can increase anxiety and promote bad eating habits; they can also stimulate gluconeogenesis, raising blood glucose levels, putting your ketosis at risk. [3]

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You Eat Too Many Nuts

Although nuts are a great source of healthy fats and omega 3, they are very caloric, so be careful with the amounts you eat.

Nuts can contain high amounts of calories from fats, 70% of calories from almonds, peanuts, and other nuts can come from fats.

Which contains nine calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates have four calories.

Eating the right amounts of nuts will ensure you get all the nutrients and benefits safely, without putting your weight loss process at risk.

Richard says: I eat a lot of mixed nuts.  More than a handful can trow you out of ketosis.
Richard says: I eat a lot of mixed nuts. More than a handful can throw you out of ketosis.

Avoid processed nut foods such as commercial peanut butter, due to excess added oils.

You Are Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential for health and is an important factor in reducing the risk of obesity. During sleep, hormones necessary to maintain ketosis and for fat burning are secreted. [4]

The metabolic processes of obtaining energy are increased during sleep. For this reason, people with insomnia and poor eating habits have a higher risk of obesity. [5]

Lack of sleep can also increase cortisol levels, causing hormonal stress and increased blood glucose, due to gluconeogenesis.

If you are doing everything right, but you are not sleeping properly, you will not see the results you might expect. If you have a sleep disorder, consult your doctor.

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Keto Not Working? You Are Not Exercising

Calories burned during exercise will not have any effect on your progress if there is not an adequate balance in your diet. That is why caloric balance is essential, even in low-carb diets.

Exercising is essential for physical health and to optimize the weight loss process. [6]

Exercise is necessary to accelerate the metabolism of fats, in this way you will get more energy from fats.

It also helps to gain muscle mass, activate blood circulation, improve your cardiovascular health, and improve your mental health.

Additionally, through exercise, we release endorphin, “the hormone of happiness.” [7]

You Eat Continuously (Even If It’s Not Carbohydrates)

It is a very persistent myth in health and fitness circles: we should all eat many small meals throughout the day.

It has been thoroughly studied, and no benefit has been found in making six meals than two. You just have to look at a large number of benefits for body composition that intermittent fasting has .

Richard says: I combine a keto food plan with intermittent fasting. So, I go into a mild ketosis everyday, after not eating for 12-14 hours.

I usually don’t eat for 16 hours or more each day. Since I’m not trying to lose weight, I eat more protein and carbs than the keto diet allows. So, you could say I have a “keto not working” problem every day.

Staying on a keto diet is a lot easier when you have a meal plan  that is filled with the foods you love.

You Just Go Over Calories

Although the ketogenic diet is not a strict calorie count, the excesses are totally harmful to your health and your progress.

The number of calories we eat throughout the day is significant when it comes to seeing the final results. If we are to consume 2,200 calories and eat 2,500, it will be impossible to lose weight.

One of the main reasons why low-carb and ketogenic diets are so effective is that they reduce appetite and cause people to consume fewer calories overall.

Try weighing food and keeping a thorough count of the calories you eat.

Situations Where The Ketogenic Diet May Not Work

There may be situations where the ketogenic diet does not work. Although they are not related to errors, the body conditions prevent achieving ketosis and obtaining results.


Carbohydrates during pregnancy are necessary for the proper development and growth of the fetus.

Only when the mother has diabetes or suffers neurological diseases, is it advisable to reduce carbohydrate consumption.

It is recommended that at least 30% of the calories consumed per day come from foods rich in carbohydrates. [8]

Pregnant woman sitting on the grass.


If you suffer from infertility problems, your periods are irregular, and your sexual libido is on the ground, pay attention to the consumption of carbohydrates in your diet.

Hypothalamic amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods due to a dysfunction in the hypothalamus-pituitary axis) is resolved many times with the increase in this macronutrient. [9]


When we are in ketosis and insulin levels are low, we may experience symptoms of hypothyroidism: low body temperature, cold hands and feet, fatigue, and constipation.

Insulin is a hormone necessary for the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 (inactive) into T3 (active). Still, the levels of this hormone depend on blood glucose levels, which decrease by reducing carbohydrate intake. [10]


Some athletes improve their results by following the keto diet, but others see their performance decrease after a while with this type of diet.

They have trouble training, they need more recovery time, and some athletes can begin to accumulate fat in the abdominal area.

In these cases, an increase in carbohydrates may be the solution to accelerate metabolism, promote physical recovery, and feel motivated to train again.

The increase in fat in the abdominal area is very typical in stressful situations where cortisol levels are high. A clear symptom that the keto diet is proving stressful to the body. [11]

This can be corrected by what is called “refeeding” carbohydrates once per week (1-2 days).

Muscle mass

There are several reasons why the keto diet may not be adequate for people who want to gain muscle:

To gain muscle mass, an appropriate level of anabolic hormones such as insulin and testosterone is necessary. Extreme carbohydrate reduction reduces glucose and insulin levels in the body, making it more difficult to increase muscle. [12]

When glycogen deposits are recovered thanks to the intake of carbohydrates, the body enters an anabolic state that favors the regeneration and creation of muscle.

Otherwise, the organism works at minimum levels in a catabolic state, and it is almost impossible to increase muscle mass.

The brain needs glucose, and if it is not receiving the necessary amount, the body raises cortisol levels.

This hormone will be responsible for generating glucose from the amino acids present in muscle mass through a biochemical process called gluconeogenesis.

The low protein intake of the keto diet forces the body to break down muscle to obtain amino acids necessary for metabolism. And this involves muscle loss.

Richard says: There is a study that says that muscle loss is prevented during ketosis. This is because the ketones provide what is needed, and gluconeogenesis is greatly reduced. Thus preserving muscle mass. [14]


Melatonin is necessary for sleep; this sleep hormone is produced from serotonin.

Tryptophan  uptake by the brain, the precursor amino acid of serotonin, is favored with the consumption of carbohydrates.

This is the reason why many people need to drink something sweet before going to sleep.

If you follow the keto diet, and have difficulty falling asleep, increase the proportion of tubers and fruit at dinner and see if this improves your problem. [13]

I’m so tired but I can’t sleep
Insomnia can disrupt your normal hormone balance. Which can lead to a “keto not working” problem.

HPA Axis Dysfunction

For some people, the keto diet can be a stress factor. Temporarily, this stress may be necessary to enjoy other benefits offered by the diet. However, in the long term, we can cause hypothalamic-pituitary and adrenal axis dysfunction. What used to be called adrenal fatigue.

In these cases, the increase in carbohydrates may be the solution to reduce cortisol levels and reduce stress.

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Summary of “Keto Not Working For You?”

Richard says: So, if the keto diet isn’t working for you, you should:

  • Generally eat less food.
  • Reduce the amount of protein and/or carbohydrates eaten.
  • Eat fewer nuts.
  • Take a ketone supplement  to keep you in ketosis and prevent the “keto flu”.
  • Reduce your stress levels. Better sleep and exercise both help reduce stress.

Check your ketone levels  regularly to see if your eating habits are keeping you in ketosis. If not, then change one or more of your food choices.

Dive into Dr. Berg’s Keto Kit that includes his Keto Plan book, and the Intermittent Fasting book. Also, Dr Berg’s Keto Kit includes the electrolytes, nutritional yeast, and wheatgrass juice powder that your body desperately needs.

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  1. Ketogenic Diet

2. Dietary Proteins Contribute Little to Glucose Production, Even Under Optimal Gluconeogenic Conditions in Healthy Humans

3. Physiology, Cortisol

4. Sleep, obesity, and weight loss in adults: is there a rationale for providing sleep interventions in the treatment of obesity?

5. Acute sleep deprivation increases portion size and affects food choice in young men.

6. Optimizing exercise for fat loss.

7. Exercise acts as a drug; the pharmacological benefits of exercise

8. Nutrition During Pregnancy and the Effect of Carbohydrates on the Offspring’s Metabolic Profile: In Search of the “Perfect Maternal Diet”

9. Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and the Long-Term Health Consequences

10. Hypothyroidism

11. Carbohydrate for athletic training and performance.

12. Effect of testosterone on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis.

13. Dietary factors and fluctuating levels of melatonin

14. Metabolic Effects of the Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Misunderstood “Villains” of Human Metabolism home page

Keto Not Working For You? Here's Why and What To Do Now
Article Name
Keto Not Working For You? Here's Why and What To Do Now
Failing to get into ketosis, or falling out of ketosis is very easy to do, and is the main reason the keto diet isn't working for you. The other main reason is that some medical conditions prevent ketosis.
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Full Stride Health
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