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Do You Have to Be in Ketosis to Lose Weight?

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  Published on May 15th, 2023
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified April 19th, 2023
Losing weight by being in ketosis

The keto lifestyle is a great way to watch the weight melt away, but many people start to feel a bit restricted by the diet after long-term dieting. They might want to stick with a low-carb diet that feels less restrictive, even though there are plenty of tasty foods available to you on keto. The question is: do you have to be in ketosis to lose weight or will any very low-carb diet work just as well? 

The truth is that ketosis may not be necessary for your weight loss, but it certainly helps and comes with benefits all its own. Here is what you need to know about losing weight and how it is impacted by ketosis. 

Being in Ketosis Speeds Weight Loss

While many people espouse the benefits of the keto diet (and for good reason), the truth is that you may not need to be in ketosis in order to shed stubborn pounds. A plain low-carb diet can do the same. Low-carb–even if you are not in ketosis–still offers some benefits like lower and more balanced insulin and glucose levels. [1] You can still lose weight even if you do not keep track of your macros as strictly as the keto diet calls for. 

That being said, you may experience more rapid weight loss when adhering to keto strictly to ensure that your body is consistently in ketosis. 

Studies show that the ketogenic diet results in more rapid weight loss than a low carb diet. Many people lose up to ten pounds in just two weeks or less. [2] On keto, relatively rapid weight loss could be sustained for as long as two years. While it may be tricky to stick to ketosis for this long and to limit your carbs continuously, it does have benefits, particularly in enabling consistent weight loss while reducing appetite. 

Remaining in ketosis can result in losing two kilograms (almost 4.5 pounds) more than a low-fat diet at the one-year mark. [3]

Ketosis Forces the Body to Fat Adapt

Rapid weight loss while in ketosis is not the only benefit that you will encounter. Becoming fat adapted is also an important aspect of this lifestyle, and it comes with more benefits for your overall weight loss. Once you reach a state of being fat adapted, you might see even more pounds simply melt away–more than you might see with a merely low-carb diet. 

Fat adaptation is key to managing your eating habits. When your body begins to burn fat for fuel and you replenish those fats within the context of your keto diet, you get benefits like decreased hunger and fewer cravings for food. Without those cravings, you may start to consume less food in general.

Being in ketosis helps you become fat adapted

Most diets come with an increased chance of encountering food cravings for all the items that are now off-limits to you. However, sticking with keto allows you to minimize cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods. [4] With this desire removed from your body and brain, you can shed even more pounds.  

Becoming fat adapted also comes with other benefits that can contribute to more rapid weight loss. One such benefit is that it gives you more energy, giving you the impetus that you need to hit the gym. 

Fat adaptation occurs after you have been in ketosis for a while, generally four to twelve weeks after you initially start the diet. This long-term weight loss strategy is the reason that you can burn fat in order to fuel your energy. While you may not need to maintain ketosis for weight loss, being in ketosis can definitely speed it up once your body reaches a point of fat adaptation. 

According to some sources, you can even reintroduce some carbs back into your diet for short periods (usually one week) without sacrificing your fat adapted status. [5] This is great news for those who like to have a cheat day every once in a while, or who may be celebrating a special occasion. 

Upon returning to the keto diet, you can continue to shed those stubborn pounds without missing a beat. 

Of course, being fat adapted also has other benefits that you might want to consider, often including improved sleep and improved focus. If you want all of the benefits of feeling your best, then you may want to consider sticking with ketosis even though it is possible to lose weight outside of this low-carb, high-fat diet. 

Stick to Keto for Rapid Weight Loss

While there are some benefits to a plain low-carb diet, you will see more rapid and consistent weight loss by sticking with the keto diet. Ketosis allows your body to start burning fat for energy. Once your body adjusts to being fat-adapted, you will have more than enough reason to shed weight. If your main reason for dieting is a desire for weight loss, sticking with a strictly keto diet should help you to reach your goals faster.

Ashley Simpson is a freelance writer dedicated to helping people improve their lives -- in every way possible. She understands that food and diet are necessary components to a healthy lifestyle and experiments with both. When she isn't typing away, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son.



U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, January 21). NIH study compares low-fat, plant-based diet to low-carb, animal-based diet. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-compares-low-fat-plant-based-diet-low-carb-animal-based-diet 


Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. [Updated 2022 Jun 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/


Ting, R., Dugré, N., Allan, G. M., & Lindblad, A. J. (2018). Ketogenic diet for weight loss. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 64(12), 906.


Greenway F. L. (2015). Physiological adaptations to weight loss and factors favouring weight regain. International journal of obesity (2005), 39(8), 1188–1196. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2015.59


Wartenberg, L. (2020, March 5). Fat adapted: What does it mean? Healthline. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fat-adapted#fat-adaptation-vs-ketosis 

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