High Ketones, Very low Net Carbs, <600 Calories per day and stalled


Looking for some feedback.
I started this journey of weight loss beginning of Dec 2021. As of this morning I am down 23 Lbs. Goal weight of 190 lbs. In addition to keto I have read to lose weight you must be calorie deficient also. I have managed to keep calories for the day average under 600 and still keep proper ratios of fat, protein needed for keto. Net carbs are very low per day and sometime negative due to daily gym visits and cardio workouts. My Ketones sky rocketed to high levels which I believed to be good.
My weight loss has staled a bit. I would like to know from folks on here if it is critical to hit Macro totals for protein and fat or can I scale that back like I am doing now as long as I have ratios in place on food consumption for the day?

(Eric) #2

It looks like your calories are way too low. Keto is generally not about calorie restriction but keeping your carbs low (ie. 20g or less), moderate protein and fill in the rest with fat. If you restrict your calories too much, you can lower you metabolism and 600 calories seems extremely low. I generally eat 2500-3000 calories a day, sometimes as high as 4000 and I have lost 94.5lbs in 6.5 months and still going. I obviously had a lot of weight to lose when I started so may not be typical, but the advice on these forums is rarely to limit calories, but to eat to satiety. I am sure others on the forum can chime in as well

(Bob M) #3



Thank you Eric for the reply -
First Congrats! Great progress. I am still a little conflicted. From what I understood adding exercise to your weight loss goals and Keto was a much better and faster way to reach goals. If exercise burns calories + what you naturally burn a day you become calorie deficient which makes your body tap into the fats stores for energy. I thought combining the two (Ketosis so your body is burning fat for energy all the time and exercise to lower the caloric intake) would make my body burn the fat sooner then just one of the two options. I figure I have enough fat in my body already ready to be burned for energy so adding more calories would allow my body to burn those before fat in stores already there. Did you combine you diet with exercise
Again great progress on your end - Keep it going!

(Eric) #5

I generally walk between 30-60 minutes 5-days a week. Otherwise I would not say that I am very active. I am sure I operated at a calorie deficit early on when I was usually around 2500 calories a day. Considering I was not active at all, 6’1" tall and 342.1lbs when I started Keto. Lately I am more flexible and if I am hungry I eat more, some days I am below 2000 calories if my appetite is lower. When you are in Ketosis your body is burning your fat reserves so a deficit is really not required at least based on many posts I have seen here. Too much calorie deprivation will likely lower your BMR and can lead to a stall. Just my 2 cents

(Eric) #6

I still am in a bit of dis-belief at the progress. I have to be honest that I have not been perfect, some extra wine here and there, some extra carbs. But, I have not eaten any of the old foods that were problems, like sugar, bread, potatoes etc. I track everything, every day. I weigh myself daily and graph my progress and can see if things trend up and right the ship and tighten up my carbs etc. For me, knowledge of what I put in my body was critical. I never looked at anything as cheating, just a conscious decision to have something more carby but not in the categories listed above (ie. 2 glasses of wine with dinner)


It is a race not a sprint and no one is perfect (well that I know of) - I also track everything I eat, workouts, Ketone levels everything. I use Carb Manager app which personally I have found to be a great tool in this journey. Lets me compare things like weight loss vs net carbs or ketones or any of the macros your tracking.
I think the biggest issue on my end is since starting this diet I have to force myself to eat. I was amazed that I just wasn’t hungry at all. During the day if I have any hunger at all I just drink more water or a cup of coffee and poof! Hunger gone. I have seen many post and on line stuff about IF (Intermittent Fasting) that people use along with the diet to get better and quicker results. There is just so much info on KETO I never know what to believe some days

(Bob M) #8

If you’re really not hungry, you could just fast. I’ve seen some people say that they got busy or were so full they skipped a day of eating. That has never happened to me - while I’ve skipped plenty of days of eating, it’s always been a conscious decision.

One thing you could try is vary your eating patterns. Eat more one day, less another, particularly if that’s what you feel like doing.


Thanks Bob
That is pretty much what I do. I try to listen more to my body telling me what I need. I am just concerned if I don’t eat the recommended levels of Fat & Protein that I will screw up the Ketosis I am in. I have seen many articles about people who are eating too much protein that it can stall weight lose so I make sure at the end of the day my macros are in alignment with 70% Fat 25% Protein and as low as possible carbs. But Calories … I have no idea what impact that has on Ketosis. I have set a goal of less than 1200 per day and blowing that goal out of the water. AS said I average less than 600 per day net. I just assumed my body if it needs energy would run to the fat stores to burn that especially that I am in ketosis already. I am also wondering since starting the cardio and weight training if I am truly still losing fat and gaining some in muscles that it may appear as I have stalled


This isn’t really a thing, unless necessary for therapeutic reasons. Ketosis is driven by how many carbs you eat. But, yes, weight loss is driven by how much you eat.

But being too low on proteins for an extended period is not a good thing. Your need for proteins should be based on lean body mass and exercise level, NOT on caloric intake. With too few amino acids coming in, the body has to get them from another source – that usually means breaking down muscle tissue.

Net carbs is all about intake. They can’t be negative.

Likely mostly of that weight loss was water. As you go into ketosis, your glycogen stores decline. They bind water to them, so release water as they go away.

When you stop keto, those glycogen stores should increase again and once again bind more water to them.


I see keto as simply “Minimal carbs. Adequate proteins. Fats as needed (for satiety).”

First, determine your macros, keeping in mind that the proteins macro is a lower limit, while the fats and carbs macros are upper limits.

So, two priorities:

  • You need to keep carbs low to stay in ketosis.
  • You need to make sure you get enough proteins. Your body needs them. Being significantly low on them over an extended period can cause the body to get it elsewhere. That may mean break-down of muscle tissue. Not good.

After that, ideally , it should be hunger that determines how many fats and additional proteins (and thus calories) that you need to be eating, if only because leaving yourself hungry all the time means keto won’t be sustainable . You don’t need to eat all of the fats macro if you’re not hungry, because the body can make up the difference with stored body fat.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #11

I can’t elaborate right now because I’m at work. So I sincerely hope that one of our ‘big losers’ pipes up real soon and screams ‘STOP’.

Keto is NOT the low carb high fat version of CICO. Eating sub-20 grams of carbs per day - and the lower the better - is the MOST IMPORTANT THING !!!

You ARE NOT EATING ENOUGH. 600 cals per day will wreck your metabolism. There is no FAST track to fat burn. You burn stored fat by reducing carbs. Calories will follow - you will be less hungry as your metabolism accesses stored fat. Trying to force it by starving yourself will ultimately fail. Just DON’T!


Thanks everyone
So next question is why are people pushing fasting with Keto ?
I understand the protein portion of your comment but also I really am not hungry at all most days
So do I eat for the sake of eating and my focus is feeding my body what it needs (ie Protein ) so I don’t start using muscles to feed my body - Then I read if too much protein it will stall weight loss also.
I am not trying to fast track anything just trying to find the balance between working out and eating that works the best for long term goals of weight loss


I track and comment on a CICO site since ages and it’s very very very basic info there that we shouldn’t eat too little calories. I believe we should keep our deficit not too big (what is too big is quite individual and our fat reserves matters a lot) but the experts there says we must stay at least a bit above BMR, that’s stricter.

So even saner people focusing only on calories don’t just starve.
It’s very known it does bad things to our metabolism and not only that.

@Sivart1966, it was quite horrible to read your comment. Stop it. You need to eat way more… I know I need a calorie deficit so I try to eat below 2000 kcal (I am a slightly active overweight 45 years old short woman). But I can’t function below about 1600 and even if I could and wouldn’t feel hunger ever, I wouldn’t go too low (like 1200 as so many woman thinking a female must go below to lose fat. how ignorant is that? it’s super low - but some tiny women may need that. no one needs 600, that’s almost nothing, not even slight starvation than 1200 would be to me).

There is no such thing as proper ratio. If you eat “proper ratios” under 600 kcal, it means you barely eat any protein… You lose muscles due to starvation already but if your protein is super low as well, it’s quicker. Your body need amino acids and your need is in grams. I eat about 600 kcal protein alone, sometimes less, sometimes more. No, it doesn’t even put me out of ketosis and surely don’t make me stall. I always eat high protein, even on my low-cal days, even when I lost fat just fine, it was high. Not crazy high, I wouldn’t like to eat, like, 300g protein but my need is smaller than bigger, more muscular, more active people. Even 300g may be quite okay regularly for someone. But 600 kcal for everything, that can’t give you even remotely good macros. Forget about percentages, grams are way more important. Of course, you may find you like some percentages better but your keto won’t be good because your percentages follow some random fixed idea. Obviously different people need different percentages. Like it’s best if my carbs percentage is 1% and my fat stays below 75%, more like 70% if I want to eat little enough. Would I need 3000 kcal? I would raise my fat percentage as I don’t need more protein (I already eat high protein but it’s the best, easiest, most natural to me) but I gladly eat fattier food. Some people works better with 80% fat - but they need a high enough calorie intake to get enough protein at the same time…

Net carbs are never negative. I repeat things from others but maybe it sinks in better? :slight_smile:

There is no such thing as stalling a bit. Your weight is the same or not… Do you mean your weight-loss slowed down? Even if it stops for weeks, it’s not a stall - though at 600 kcal it’s worrying. But again, anything is worrying at 600 kcal as it’s very much inadequate nutrition. Oh yep, calories are one thing. Even if you get a ton of calories from your big fat reserves (I have only 40lbs extra at most, I probably can’t keep a big deficit but very heavy ones have a chance), you still need various nutrients and it’s hard to get from so little food. Even the minimum protein and fat intake is hardly fits…

I don’t know. Maybe because many people like fasting and they can do it better on keto…
I like fasting (mostly IF) but it gets harder when I eat less carbs :smiley:
Some people are natural fasters. Many of us can do at least IF on high-carb just fine, automatically, without even knowing it has a name.
And some people are bad at it, no matter their woe. And there are everything in-between.
Fasting has benefits but I never would advice it if it causes problems. Hardships - it depends. If I get hungry (or just not satiated so well), I eat and I find this right, I have no problem with being a tad pushier but if fasting cause suffering, it’s probably a bad idea.

Do you have some idea about your protein need? Whatever it is, it’s very unlikely 100-150g protein would cause problems and it makes zero sense that it would stall your fat-loss, no matter how I look at it. Especially on keto.

Oh and you need to eat, hungry or not. I am rarely hungry nowadays, it’s good I still feel I need to eat. But if you feel nothing, you still shouldn’t starve. And yep, fasting is better than starving below 600 kcal, it has a different effect on your body - though overdoing it is bad for similar reasons.
I think it was mentioned because you wrote you aren’t hungry. Don’t eat then (for a little while) but don’t do this starvation diet. BUT if you have some eating disorders, maybe not even that is a good idea… And you should be able to eat properly when you stop your fast (maybe not immediately and the longer you fast the more careful you need to be with refeeding) and shouldn’t start a longish fast again immediately. You need your nutrients… A few days fast here and there should be okay if your body can handle it (mine complains, slim people don’t have the reserves to gain energy… it’s not for everyone) but eventually you should eat.
And if you ate very little for a while, I would think undoing the problems (metabolism slowing happens quite quickly as far as I know. but it’s easier to make it okay again after a short term starvation) is more important than doing some fasting. But if you really can’t eat enough sometimes, it may be an option occasionally.


If there was a like button somewhere on this platform I would push it. Thanks for the advice and I think I need to change things up a bit. I am new to this so I appreciate everyone’s feedback.
Guess I will go choke down some steak or something with some avocado.
Quick question - I am a male 55 years old - 6 ft tall started this journey at 250 lbs. I unfortunately have a desk job but started cardio and weight lifting about 3 weeks ago about 6 days a week. Given the natural calories a person burns during the day whats your thought on trying to at least making a goal of consuming at least 1500 calories minimum and still staying as low as I can on carbs to not exceed 30g?


That is a misconception. The liver can produce glucose from proteins (and some fatty acids) in a process known as gluconeogenesis. That’s how the body is able to produce the little glucose it still needs when you are in ketosis.

However, that little fact has been twisted around. Many people teach that all excess protein is converted into glucose. Not true. Gluconeogenesis is a demand driven process, not a supply driven process.

I’ve not really fasted on keto, although my need to eat is down significantly, so I often go 8 hours or more between meals. That never happened pre-keto. Before keto, I was ravenously hungry all the time. Even if I was bursting because I had just eaten two pizzas and a bag of Oreos. Carbs and insulin are no longer driving a false sense of hunger.

(Take time to smell the bacon) #16

While it is true that the First Law of Thermodynamics is unavoidable, the body’s hormonal response to the foods we eat is more important than the actual quantity. As the journalist Gary Taubes put it in a recent interview, our fixation on caloric intake is left over from the the late nineteenth century, when the caloric value of food was all that we were able to measure. Insulin wasn’t even discovered until 1922, and the effects of different foods on our hormone levels couldn’t be measured until the 1960’s, when the radioimmunoassay was first developed.

Exercise has been shown in a number of studies to have very little effect on fat loss. It is impossible to out-exercise the effects of a bad diet. However, exercise does promote general health and well-being. It’s just not a good tool for fat loss.

What makes the body tap into its fat stores is lowering the insulin level. And the easiest way to do that is to avoid eating carbohydrate, which causes a major insulin response by driving up blood glucose levels. Insulin causes much of the excess glucose to be stored as fat, and then works on the fat cells to keep them from letting the fat back out. In the context of a low carbohydrate intake, the insulin level is low most of the day, and the body has access to the fat stored in the fat cells and can use it as an energy source. In the absence of dietary carbohydrate, the effect of protein and fat on insulin is minimal, thus permitting ketogenesis and the freeing of fatty acids from fat tissue to be metabolised.

Eating too little food lowers the metabolic rate over time, making it increasingly difficult to maintain a caloric imbalance. Fortunately, giving the body enough food on a ketogenic diet causes the metabolic rate to increase and promotes the efficiency of fatty acid metabolism. This is why someone like Eric, who posted above, can eat as much as he does and still lose fat. There are quite a few documented cases of this in the scientific literature, as well as plenty of anecdotes on these forums of people whose fat loss didn’t get started until they increased their food intake.

As Dr. Stephen Phinney, a well-known researcher into the ketogenic diet, says, “We are not what we eat; we are what our body does with what we eat.”

(Take time to smell the bacon) #17

The body’s response to fasting is different from its response to short rations. Cutting calories says to the body, “There’s a famine going on; conserve all the energy and resources you can.” Fasting says, “We’ve run out of mammoth; time to go hunting for more, so please fuel all the necessary running around.”

However, while many people feel that they derive a benefit from fasting, it is not an essential part of a ketogenic diet. In fact, as the researcher Benjamin Bikman says, from a hormonal and metabolic point of view, being in ketosis is very similar to fasting, but without the hunger. This makes sense, because our ancestors’ diet contained very little carbohydrate (as shown by radioisotopic analysis of the bones of hunter-gatherer societies), so whether eating or fasting they would have been mostly in a state of ketosis. Dr. Michael Eades, a physician who promotes low-carb eating, has a fascinating series of lectures on the effect the discovery of agriculture 12,000 years ago had on human health. (Spoiler: It isn’t good.)


The individual posts can be liked, that’s the little heart below is for (it took me several weeks to notice).

Oh, lifting is great, I do that myself :wink: And I don’t mind eating more on those days, hoping some muscle gain will happen even if I can’t lose fat…
You need more energy if you exercise so easier to eat too little.
But our energy need can’t be calculated, just guessed from data (and I don’t know how muscular you are), it’s often very off especially only using height and weight and age and sex…
You definitely shouldn’t go below 1500 kcal I think but it may be way too little for you. But definitely way better than 600 and it may work… But as you lose fat, it easily can become too low even if it works in the beginning (and I don’t know if it does). I would try something between 1500 and 2000 and listen to my body (it’s not hard for me, to put it lightly, mine is pretty communicative if it doesn’t get its food) but it probably doesn’t work for everyone.

Where does the 30g carbs come from? 20g is the advised safe limit that puts almost everyone into ketosis (some poor souls must go lower and many of us can afford much more but 1. we can’t know that before we try 2. being in ketosis may be not beneficial enough. I have to go way lower to get positive effects, mere ketosis did nothing beyond fat adaptation. that was cool, sure but not enough).

(Take time to smell the bacon) #19

You are a very new user. Keep reading and posting, and soon you will move up a level and be able to like posts.

(Robin) #20

GOOD GRIEF! 600 calories! Your body will never let go of an ounce as long as you are starving it! You should be at LEAST double that! Your body does not trust you. Why should it? You have starved it and stuffed it and abused it. Feast or famine. Let go of thinking you can starve yourself to lose weight. (I am talking to my old self too… been there down that.)

When I first started keto, I thought “if Keto is so good, heck I’ll starve myself too! That will double the weight loss!” NO! That shuts down your metabolism. trust me. EAT. Keep your carbs under 20. That’s all you really need to know in the beginning. You can tweak as you go along. Just eat more. I’ve been there. It works. Crazy? yes, crazy good!