Could weight gain on keto or carni be due to bone density improving?


I have been thinking about how, perhaps, when some people gain weight on keto or carnivore, it can be due to either muscles improving, or bone density improving. I myself experienced some weight gain, scalewise, but not in a way that was mirrored in my appearance. As my muscles don’t seem any better, could it be my bones growing more dense?:thinking:Have any of you experienced their bone density improving on keto or carni?

(Robin) #2

Good question! I have no clue. I do know the scale often tells a different story than the results are witnessing.


Hi Robin, yes, that’s why I wonder if this could be the case. Denser bones would explain weight gain that isn’t mirrored in appearance, or noticeably felt in clothes. Especially if one doesn’t appear to have put on muscle or improved existing ones. That would be pretty amazing if, as one of the first steps in the healing of our bodies, bones could grow stronger and conditions such as osteoporosis, and perhaps even the wearing away of cartilage, to some degree, could be restored/reversed. I don’t have osteoporosis, but this is something we women are especially at higher risk of as we age, and perhaps on keto or carni or ketowore, we may be at less risk of it. I guess if one wanted to test the theory one would have to have a dexa scan for body composition and bone density. Though it wouldn’t be much useful if one hadn’t had a dexa scan done before embarking on the ketogenic WOE.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #4

This is certainly possible. I don’t believe that anyone has studied carnivores specifically, but the phenomenon you mention has been observed in a number of studies of people on a ketogenic diet.

Bear in mind, however, that many newcomers to the carnivore diet experience some gain early on, which disappears after a number of months. So that is another possibility, depending on how long the person has been eating that way.


Unfortunately, because I have lipoedema I can’t afford such weight gain, as it would aggravate the lipoedema, and once the lipoedema adipose tissue has grown due to the aggravation, as far as I understand, it’s impossible to lose again. Lipoedema fat does not function like normal fat, and is believed not to be affected by either exercise or diet. But new research has shown a ketogenic WOE to be beneficial for lipoedema nonetheless. When I was doing carnivore I did notice weight gain on the scale, though I didn’t really see it appearance wise, there was a return of lipoedema tenderness, and perhaps not as good functionality of the lymph as previously. Siobhan Huggins was obese when she embarked on keto, so her situation was different. She had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and was probably only experiencing weightloss and progress, which would have been greatly encouraging. I was slim when I embarked on keto, and am still slim now, and through experimentation I have come to the conclusion keto is a safer bet for me than carnivore. I don’t really have an issue with a few carbs, such as berries, fruit (bell peppers, cucumber, avocado), nuts and vegetables. I discovered through reading how these foods are all beneficial for lymph. As I embarked on keto because of my lipoedema that remains my priority.


Even if it was, it would be incredibly slow and probably not noticeable. Only way you’re building muscle unless you’re actually working out is an incredibly minimal amount that sometimes people can put on (if) they were under muscled for their body type and nutrition and activity when they started.


Hi lfod14, yes, you could be right. But how then does one explain body recomposition, weight gain scalewise, but not appearance wise, and fairly sedentary lifestyle?


People that truly recomp are typically intentionally working towards that, and real recomp is HARD and a very slow process, which is even harder to quantity since the scales not helping you anymore. Small amounts, sure. Best example of people doing (good) recomps is newbie gains in the first year of lifting and cleaning up a diet, the rules basically don’t even apply to them. You can’t replicate that level of awesome even when on drugs to do both!


I only had my MIL’s word that I had streamlined, some shop mirrors suggesting to me the same thing, and yet gaining I think it was 3 kg on the scale, but it’s within normal fluctuation I suppose. But one often hears of weight gain on carnivore, so I wondered if it could be to due to the bone density growing stronger. But I suppose as you say, such changes would be very gradual and over a longer time period.


As it was said, it’s possible but it’s slow and not a big amount. If one gains a lot of weight and it’s not water, it’s fat, what else?

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #11

As I mentioned earlier in this thread (unless you’ve asked the same question in more than on thread), it’s entirely possible that you added some muscle and some bone density on your carnivore diet.

It happened to me. After my initial fat loss, my weight remained stable for the next twelve months but I lost two inches off my waist. In December 2017 I could not get a particular pair of trousers over my butt. However, in December 2018, at the same weight, they fit just fine, perhaps a little bit loose. The only explanation I can think of was fat loss combined with weight gain. I don’t know how else to explain it.

However, my understanding is that people’s weight does tend to go up (whether fat or lean I don’t know) during the first several months on a carnivore diet, and then goes back down again, later in the process.

Which explanation (and they might actually overlap) is the one that applies in your case is, as I mentioned before, anyone’s guess. Once you’ve been eating carnivore for a year or so, then the explanation will likely be clear. I hope this second answer is clearer than my first appears to have been, sorry.

(Megan) #12

I’m really glad this didn’t happen for me, given my main reason for starting to eat this way was/is to lose weight. I think @Alecmcq’s journey has been the same: a consistent decrease in scale weight? I’ve heard of people coming from a history of calorie and/or nutrient deficit gaining some weight initially, before the process of fat loss kicked in. I’ve heard of a lot more who’s experience has been like mine tho. Any other carnivores want to chime in here? I think @Fangs gained some initially. Was it fat gain Fangs? Any theory on why it happened?

(Chuck) #13

My thinking is this I will take slimming down over weight loss any day. Because in my opinion that if I am losing inches that I need to and my weight isn’t changing then something good is happening to my body.

(Megan) #14

You lost it very quickly when you reintroduced a few veg yes? If so, it is unlikely to have been either.

(Robin) #15

Maybe there is a technical definition of recomp that I am unaware of @lfod14. My body has drastically redefined itself in the last 2 years, with no effort and incredibly slow weight loss… maybe 10 pounds a year.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #16

I agree. The question I always ask is whether I’d rather stay the same weight and look (say) thirty pounds lighter, or lose thirty pounds and still look the same.

I’m not sure of the logic of any of the speculations in this thread. But we do know that (a) any weight gain when beginning carnivore is only temporary, and (b) people can gain lean mass and lose fat at the same time, especially after years of restricting calories on a high-carb diet. Dr. Phinney had a research subject who was all bent out of shape because she’d lost only half of what the other women in the study had lost. A DEXA scan revealed that she had indeed lost the same amount of fat as the others, but she had gained half the amount back in lean mass. To me, that’s a win.

In any case, the answer to the title of this thread is that only time will tell.

(Alec) #17

Very early on, my weight loss was fast, really fast. My guess is that this was caused by reduced inflammation, and also water weight loss as I was not salting enough. My perception/memory of the 2-3 month period after that first few weeks was that weight loss was a bit slow.

At that point, I stopped measuring. This was game changing for me. What then happened is that the weight just slipped away without me really noticing too much, but next time I measured I was astonished how much I had lost. So easily. Stuffing my face.

I have no doubt that I have gained muscle mass at the same time… how much, really don’t know. I have some excess bodyfat left to lose and the weight loss is now back to slow.

Bone density? My guess is absolutely possible, but without measuring how would you know? What I do know is that I feel strong and fit under carnivore (and the odd bit of running :joy::joy:), and I am convinced that carnivore has fixed many minor ailments I had. If my bones needed more density, I think carnivore would have made it happen. Plants/carbs block nutrients. Carnivore provides all the required nutrients with no blocking or competing for pathways.


Hi Paul, thanks for your reply. Yes, it does appear to be that way on carnivore, and perhaps it’s the body’s way of healing itself, as opposed to my initial theory that the body begins to compensate for the lack of carbs by downregulating the metabolism and storing energy/fat instead of burning it, regardless of insulin staying low. What I think may have caused the slight aggravation of my lipoedema was reduced functionality of the lymphatics which led to water retention. It appears now that I am back on keto, I am releasing more water. I first thought this was due to me falling out of ketosis on carnivore, and getting back into ketosis on keto. But another theory I have is that it was to do with the lymphatics not functioning optimally on carnivore. In any case I’ve closed the door to carnivore. So it’s keto from here on. KCKO.


Hi Megan. When I was eating only a lot of fatty meat, fish and dairy (a WOE I still love) it appeared to clog my lymph which led to my body retaining water. When I added back in specific vegetables, berries and nuts which were known to benefit lymph, the result was my lymph improved, my legs started looking better again, and the water retention went away. It is a complicated issue, the lipoedema. Lipoedema is a loose, connective tissue disorder as well as a fat disorder, the word means fluid in the fat. And you can have lipoedema even if you’re thin, though most patients diagnosed with it are obese. I have been diagnosed with very early stage lipoedema, and secondary bilateral lymphedema, so keeping the lymphatics in best possible condition, is my utmost priority.

One theory about lipoedema is that poor function of the lymphatics leads to water retention that causes the fat cells to swell, and, eventually to become abnormal. And that is what seemed to happen to me on carnivore, which is why I reverted to keto. I am releasing a lot more water now, and simultaneously the lymphatics appear to function better. My next step will be to address the dairy, by replacing it all with just a small amount of raw milk, for better gut health. Dairy is also a known component to clog lymph, as well as fat, and fatty red meat. Instead of stopping eating my beloved fatty meats, I discovered the solution was as simple as incorporating a few lymphatics-strengthening plants.


Hi Shinita. I don’t think it was fat in my case, as it was only 3 kg, but water retention, either due to the lymphatics not working optimally on carnivore, or falling out of ketosis, or both. But water retention will lead to aggravation of the lipoedema. On keto I am releasing water again and the lymphatics appear to be working better (less swelling and inflammation).