Gaining weight on Keto and ZC

(Nera) #1

Hi everybody. I started doing Keto 6 weeks ago after years of calorie restrictive diets, mainly for the weight loss. My weight started claimbing almost straight away, so after 3 weeks I decided to go ZC. First two weeks on ZC I gained another couple of kilos. I started IF 16-8 and I have been following it for a week now, but my weight still keeps going up.
I have couple of coffies with cream in the morning and then two meat based meals with some eggs and cheese for lunch and dinner. I don’t even think I am eating that much. I don’t understand why this is happening and what I am doing wrong.
Any suggestions would be very welcome.

(squirrel-kissing paper tamer) #2

It would help to know where you’re starting weight wise. Are you already at a low weight after years of calorie restricting? Also other stats: age, meds, health issues, etc. If you were eating very low calories and then increased them, even with low carb foods, this could matter. Are you still counting calories? Are you eating more often? More information is needed. Welcome to the forum.

(Carl Keller) #3

Hi Nera.

Are you restricting calories and facing constant hunger and/or fatigue? Are you taking any medications? Is there is a lot of stress in your life?

If you can say yes to any of these, it’s possible that the stress hormone, cortisol, is sabotaging your weight loss goals. If cortisol levels are high, your body perceives danger and increases blood glucose levels. That causes insulin levels to rise and puts us in fat storage mode.

The best example I can give is that people watching horror movies experience a rise in blood glucose levels. Even though the movie isn’t real, our body and hormones still react to the perceived danger.

Anyway, after the final gut-wrenching, heart-pumping scene, I decided to check my blood sugar. I’ll be darned – it had risen about 200 mg/dL (11 mmol) during the movie.

(Edith) #4

I have heard of some accounts listening to podcasts about carnivore where the person being interviewed mentioned that some people gain weight on carnivore at first but eventually the weight starts falling off.

You may want to do some searches on that. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what podcast. The Biohackers Lad has several episodes about carnivore. I might have heard it on one of theirs.

I may have even heard Amber O’Hearn mentioning something like that. You may just need some patience.


I’ve heard several interviews with Kelly Hogan where she mentions an initial weight gain - here is a blog post

(Scott) #6

I hope you are not restricting calories on keto, it can be counter productive. I know, its sounds weird.

If this is heavy whipping cream its okay but all others not so much.

(Nera) #7

Thank you all for your replies. I have checked the posts you mentioned, it is good to know I am not the only person experiencicng a weight gain. I will have to remember that every time I use the scale. :slightly_smiling_face:

I should have put in more details, so here they are.I am 48 and around 15 kg over my ideal weight. As I was getting older I found that al the diets I used in the past were becoming less and less effective and I had to eat less and less to maintain my weight. I come from Mediteranian country, so my diet was always pretty good, or so I thought at the time. I was never a big carb eater, I ate mainly vegetables, some fish, some dairy, not much meat, very few sweets and lots of olive oil. I am not very active, I have an office job and spend on average 1h a day walking.

These are all the pros and cons I have been experiencing since I have started Keto and ZC diet.I am listing them in hope someone else with the similar issue might get to read this and maybe feel just a bit better about it all.


  • Weight gain
  • GI issues I am not having much fun with these ATM. After years of having almost 0 animal fat my body is having real issues adapting. I bought a Lipase supplement online which is still to arrive, and hopefully that will help.
  • Being tired and having no motivation I am super tired no matter how long I sleep and it is sometimes a real struggle to maintain any phisical activity. Writing post this long is a small achievement for me.:upside_down_face:
  • Unability to focus and think clearly This is a big one for me as myjob is all about analytical thinking.
  • Having to eat meat all the time I never was a big meat eater. I do like small goods but in moderation. My current country of residence has quite different fish and meat than I am used to. I eat mainly hot smoked salmon (cheaper than fresh) and free farmed pork. I try to eat some grass fed beef and lamb during the week, but I find the taste too strong.
  • Hot flushes Hot flushes that were under control up until I started this diet came back with vengance a week into it.They are much more frequent, much stronger and last longer than before. I did a full blood test just before I went ZC and everything came back fine. My mum has a tyroid problems, so I check my tyroid often as well.
  • Being able to eat as much as I like It might be strange to put this in the cons section. I find it difficult to accept I can eat as much as I need. I still feel guilty after having a meal that includes fat.This is something that might be relevant to me only.


  • Sleeping better In general, I sleep much better.
  • Improved mood I have a history of depression and panic attacks. I think I am finding easier to cope with some issues since I have started ZC diet. This is one of the main reasons I haven’t quit yet.
  • Spending less money on groceries Both my husband and I are currently on ZC diet. We found that although we are buying more expensive items we are spending much less on groceries than we used to.
  • Feeling lighter This is something I cannot explain. Although I am gaining weight I feel lighter.
  • Cheese and prosciutto First diet that allows my favourite foods. :smile:
  • Heavy cream in coffee for breakfast I never used to like heavy cream, but I would not have my coffee without it any more. It is one thing I really look forward when I get up in the morning. I am not sure how much is acceptable amount to have? Can anyone please give me some guide. I am currently having around 100ml on average of heavy cream a day.

Thank you all again. Having someone to talk to who can understand all this really helps. My husband, a former sugar addict, is losing on average 0.5kg a week almost without any side effects.
I appreciate all suggestions and comments.

(Debbiejo Lederer) #8

Read Kelly Hogans story or look her up on you tube, she was very heavy and lost a ton of weight however because her body needed healing from all the dieting (same for me) she initially went up 20 lbs, then dropped like crazy, do not worry, I am in same boat but I know I feel so much better and I have a lot of healing to do. I have been chronically on a diet for 21 years!! I tell everyone I need to get the baby weight off and they ask , oh how old is your baby and I say: old enough to go have a drink with me!!!

(Nera) #9

Lol! :joy::rofl:
Thanks for that. Let me know when it starts happening for you.


If you’re 48 and have lots of past experience w/ calorie restriction and the standard industrial way of eating (low protein high carb) that means that your midlife body probably has waaaay less bone density and muscle mass than is ideal. Keep in mind that your body will prioritize recovery of muscle and bone density and elimination of the visceral fat that you can’t see (in your muscles and organs and wrapped around your gut) before it’s gonna drop anything more than water weight. Gaining healthy mass (bone density and muscle repair) may be well part of this - as hard as it can be to see the scale go up (thus the common advice of ignoring the scale as much as possible).

Also, midlife women do have a tendency towards high cortisol and low nitric oxide. Look to adaptogens and foods that are vasodilators. For me, supplementing with Ginger capsules has been an incredible assistance for both that and for digestive strength and general circulation during so many watery processes.

I know for me, my body weight is substantial (though am not overweight for my waist and waist-to-height ratio) despite very impressive lost inches of fat. In the first 1.5 years of keto I never weighed myself, just used a measuring tape once a month.

Also, as a midlife female, you’re prob in the zone where the body is inclined to keep its weight and simply recompose it (less fat, but more bone density can mean more weight - but it’s lifesaving weight!). There are a number of interesting threads on this forum about keto menopause/midlife female stuff as well as detoxification and hormonal healing (which is commonly ongoing in keto - many industrial chemicals and certain medications can increase negative symptoms of menopause, and hormonal healing is what keto is about).

For this group, it is important to keep a longterm view of Change. While combining keto with Intermittent Fasting/short eating windows can definitely ramp up the positive changes so that you actually lose fat even if your weight doesn’t drop, you may well need to keep calm and keto on for a couple years truth be told. That’s where the measuring tape changes can be very reassuring.

You don’t have to eat meat all the time. Eggs + cheese make a lovely protein serving. I tend towards half my protein from animal products rather than animal flesh.

Keep up your electrolytes - with midlife females, adaptation to the 100% point is a longer process that extends the time you’re sensitive to the slightest electrolyte imbalance. I didn’t feel 100% fat-adapted durable till around the 6 month mark - up till then I had to pay daily attention to making sure I was drinking water with salt/lemon and salting my food generously. I was burning fat and the toxins in the fat - and my brain was recalibrating - it was a wild ride. If I skipped a meal or two due to not being hungry, I had to make up that meal salt with extra electrolytes. Cornerstone LCHF/keto physician Stephen Phinney MD talks a lot about the importance of salt - and how too much is better than too little, and that a good 3-5g sodium per day is worth aiming for. Salt is what helps water be carried deep into our tissues and cells. We’re very electric, even and especially in midlife :zap:

Hope this helps!

(Nera) #11

It helps a lot, thank you very much.


Your metabolism may be trashed from years of too much caloric restriction. Happened to me WHILE eating keto. Been keto a couple years and my satiety signals basically had me never hungry, I still ate but it took very little to satisfy me for someone my size. Had my RMR tested and it was at a little over 1700cals/day. That’s for me being a 5’9" dude, 210lbs, with 180lbs of it being muscle which should have helped me and lifting 4x week and cardio 2x/week! I should have been WAY higher than that… but I wasn’t. From that point it took calorie tracking and using my RMR test as a starting point. Sure enough, slightly below the number they gave me I started loosing again. Once I found that line I’m still in the process of SLOWLY upping calories every other week to get my metabolism up and running again. So far it’s still working.

(Nera) #13

I was considering calorie tracking but I was always advised I should not restrict calories on ZC and just eat until I am not hungry any more. I am not eating a lot but most of it is high calories food like heavy cream, cheese and such. I do not think all the weight I am gaining is going to muscles, as my measurements have started to creep up as well.
I can’t see my weight ever going down if I just carry on and pretend the weight gain is not happening. I might have to do something similar to waht you did and start tracking the calories I am eating and piossibly restricting them until my weight is at least stabilized.
I am getting more and more demotivated and it is getting harder and harder to keep up with this way of eating.


The advice to not restrict on ZC may work for some people, but as a post-menopausal female (significantly weight reduced), I need to be careful of portions to avoid weight gain. Eating until I am ‘not hungry any more’ just doesn’t work for me, and it may be that my satiety signals are broken because of my history of weight issues. ‘Hunger’ can often just be psychological, so it’s easy to eat too much if ‘hunger’ is the standard.

(Boston_guy) #15

That’s a great list of pro’s!
Weight is a weird metric because you don’t know if it’s muscle or fat. Waist circumference is a better indicator, and tracks linearly with insulin resistance.

(mole person) #16

A lot of zero carbers never lose weight until they give up dairy. It’s extremely insulinogenic. The reason we restrict carbohydrates is to reduce our insulin so that we can have access to our fat stores but we tend to ignore how insulinogenic the proteins in dairy are.

(Rachel) #17


I can’t add about keto as it’s all new to me, but I know you said your thyroid has been tested and told it’s ok, but, that means absolutely nothing.

What you may have been told is it’s in the lab ranges.

I would suggest getting a copy of your lab results, and joining a thyroid forum. I speak from my own experience of thyroid issues, being told it’s ok (within lab ranges) when in fact it wasn’t.

Weight gain, lack of sleep can result in thyroid issues and if your mum suffers then you may too. I also have an autoimmune disease (Hashimotos) this attack my thyroid, and high cortisol levels, again can make weight loss very difficult. I would guess your T3 thyroid results are low, this controls metabolism, energy levels. Try and get your TSH, T3 & T4 tested.

I’m in the UK and I pay privately for those tests as my doctor refuses to test T4 & T3.

I’m on keto now and I feel so much better, but, I do have to watch my calorie in take as I’m not classed as overweight.

Best wishes


Ya, don’t do what I did and let months and months pass and set yourself back. If you start watching your intake and it doesn’t matter, no harm done. But I’m still pissed at all the lost time I had because I was so convinced I was doing everything right. Depending on how much it costs in your area may want to have your RMR checked. I would have never though mine was as low as it was. You can figure it out either way, just takes some playing around and I’m pretty impatient.

(Veronica) #20

Are you on any kind of medication?

Your WOE sounds very much like mine. But you’re not saying how much you eat. Your metabolism may have taken a tumble if you’ve not been eating enough. I make sure to eat to satiety, and if my body is hungry, I feed it. But typically I don’t feel the need to snack on carnivore, unless I count coffee with cream. I have lost a total of 13 pounds, not really bothered about any further weight loss. I am 5.2, 110 pounds.

If you were calorie restricting for a long time you may have done some damage to your metabolism and it may be a matter of letting that heal first.

If you are on any kind of medication, that can very well impact your weight loss/health goals as well. I experienced this recently when my pharmacy gave me a different brand than my usual of Tamox. I had experienced issues with it before, but I thought my WOE would protect me from those issues (water retention, inflammation). But not so. Whilst on this other brand, I experienced both, possibly because something in the drug affected insulin, raised cortisol? I really have no idea. My body would not release the water it had previously done whilst on my WOE, on my regular brand.

Now you may not be on any medication in which case this won’t apply to you. But I believe there could be similar issues with a damaged metabolism as the side effects I was experiencing? And one WOE, as we are all individuals, definitely does not fit all.

I am back on my regular brand now, but I believe had I continued the other brand I would have been experiencing weight gain, due to the retention of water and inflammation.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #21

Be aware that the OP hasn’t been seen in three-and-a-half years, so your chances of getting a reply are nil.