People go on diets for a wide variety of different reasons, from the desire to feel better physically and mentally, to the need for a personal challenge. When it comes to keto specifically, however, the main motivation is weight loss.
The keto diet involves putting the body into a state of ketosis, meaning the body stops burning glucose (carbohydrates) for energy and burns fat instead.
While there’s no doubt that keto can be really effective for weight loss, it’s important to understand the keto weight loss timeline so that you can manage your expectations and avoid getting discouraged or making mistakes.
Here’s everything you need to know about the keto weight loss timeline, including what you should expect and tips for making the process of ketosis as smooth as possible!
Keto Weight Loss Explained
We’ve explained that keto causes weight loss because your body begins to burn fat stores instead of glucose, but there’s actually a bit more to it than that.
Many people (understandably) assume that diets that are high in fat must cause weight gain. However, that’s not necessarily the case, and the testimonials from people who have tried the keto diet prove it.
First of all, while eating too much fat can cause weight gain under some circumstances, foods that are high in fat also help to keep you full. If you feel satiated, you’re less likely to overeat.
Secondly, as you start to consume more fat than other macronutrients, your body will begin to burn fat for energy, which makes it easier for you to lose weight.
Thirdly, studies have found that the keto diet can help to regulate your blood sugar. If your blood sugar isn’t constantly rising and falling, you’re less likely to experience sugar cravings, which is really helpful when you’re on a weight loss journey.
The Timeline For Keto Weight Loss
Understanding the weight loss timeline for the keto diet will help you to keep track of and be prepared for the changes in your body.
Knowing when your weight loss will be fastest, and when it might slow down, will also help you to manage your expectations so that you don’t give up prematurely.
Here’s what you can expect in terms of weight loss when you start the keto diet:
When you first start keto, you’ll notice the weight falling off quickly. During the first week, you can expect to lose anywhere up to 10 lbs, although everyone’s body is different, and some people may only lose about 2 lbs.
Even so, losing 2 lbs in a week is still very impressive.
The reason weight loss is so fast during the first week of the keto diet is because of the sudden and dramatic reduction in your carb intake.
Eating a lot of carbohydrates causes water retention, with each gram of carbohydrates you consume causing 2 to 3 grams of water to stay in your body.
So, if you were eating about 250 grams of carbohydrates before keto, that means you could easily have 500 grams (half a kilogram, or roughly 1 lb) of water stored in your body.
When your carbohydrate intake drops, so do your glycogen stores, and your body will release all the water it has been holding on to.
Now, of course, losing stored water is not fat loss, but it still means that you’ll see the number on the scale go down very quickly during your first week on the keto diet.
Weeks 2 – 12
From week 2 of the keto diet to around week 12 (the 3-month mark), your weight loss will slow down. A lot of people see this and assume that the keto diet has ‘stopped working’, returning to their old eating habits.
However, this is normal and doesn’t mean that the keto diet is not working.
After the first week of keto, up until around 3 months, you will be losing a steady 1 or 2 lbs of weight per week.
If you lost 10 lbs in your first week, this can feel disappointing and frustrating, but remember that 2 lbs a week quickly adds up. If you stick with it for just 10 weeks, you could be looking at 20 lbs of weight loss!
Week 2 is when your body will actually enter a state of ketosis. This means that the weight you’re losing will no longer be water from your glycogen stores, but actual fat.
Although this fat loss process may be slower than the initial loss of water weight, it means that this weight will actually stay off.
As you stick with keto for a couple of months, you should notice physical changes in your body, such as a leaner body composition. You will likely also feel better, experiencing fewer cravings and more consistent energy levels.
During this stage, it’s a good idea to track your macros. If you find that you’re not seeing the progress you want, accurately tracking macros can show you where you might be going wrong.
For example, estimating your carbs can lead to you accidentally consuming far more carbohydrates than you intended, which will slow down your weight loss.
It’s also important not to compare your weight loss journey to others. While someone might be losing more than 2 lbs per week during the 2-12 week phase, you might only be losing 1 lb per week.
Although tracking macros can help to rule out an issue with your diet, the fact that you are losing weight more slowly than someone else doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing everything wrong.
We’re all individuals and have different metabolisms, caloric needs, and activity levels. Just focus on staying consistent, and the weight loss will take care of itself.
Week 12 +
After 12 weeks, or 3 months, of doing keto, your weight loss will slow down even further. Again, this is normal, and you shouldn’t take this as a sign that the diet isn’t working.
Most people only lose a couple of lbs every 2 weeks or so, and that’s okay.
3 months is a long time to stay consistent, and it’s possible that you may even have reached your ideal weight by this point. If not, keep going!
It may feel slow compared to the first week, or even the first few months, but keto is not a magical solution for weight loss. Like any other diet, it takes commitment, patience, and consistency.
If you’d like to know how to maximize your weight loss even after 3 months of keto, keep reading for our top tips!
Our Top Tips For Successful Keto Weight Loss
- Be realistic. As the timeline has shown, you can’t expect to keep dropping 10 lbs every single week on the keto diet. The first week should yield fast results, but after that, your weight loss will slow down, and that’s okay. The important thing here is not to let yourself get discouraged into quitting.
- Maintain a caloric deficit. If your goal is weight loss, you will still need to make sure you’re eating in a caloric deficit, even if you are doing keto. You can be in a state of ketosis, but if you’re still consuming more calories than you’re burning, you won’t see your keto efforts reflected on the scale. You can maintain a caloric deficit either by consuming fewer calories or moving your body more.
- Track macros. We’ve mentioned this already, but make sure to keep track of your macros! As you get more accustomed to your diet, you may be able to know fairly accurately what’s in your food without putting everything into a calculator, but when you start, get into the habit of logging your food. This will allow you to make sure that you are eating enough fat, staying within your daily carb limit, and not going over your recommended calories for the day.
- Stop comparing! Comparison is the thief of joy, and when it comes to keto, it can also easily be the thief of weight loss. Thoughts like ‘this person lost this many lbs in week 8, but I only lost this many, so I must be doing a bad job’, or ‘I’m losing weight so slowly, this diet doesn’t work’ will make you more likely to give up. Focus on your own journey and keep a positive mindset. Our bodies are all unique, and as long as you are losing weight, no matter how slowly, you’re making progress!
When you start doing keto, you’ll notice fast weight loss (up to 10 lbs) within the first week. After that, your weight loss will slow down, to 1 or 2 lbs per week up to the 3-month mark, and 1 or 2 lbs every 2 weeks after that.
The secret to successfully losing weight on keto is to track your macros and calories, stop comparing your weight loss journey to others, and most importantly, stay consistent!
You can see some amazing benefits for your physical health from keto if you just stay positive and stick with it.