10 Reasons WHY You Are Still HUNGRY On Keto & Can’t Burn Fat
So you heard about this awesome diet, where you can eat bacon and whipped cream and burn fat in the process.
Sounds like a dream come true.
You are two weeks in, and feel deceived because you are constantlyhungry on keto and fat isn’t going anywhere.
Wasn’t it supposed to be the hunger and craving free diet?
Yep, and it still is.
If you are experiencing constant starvation during keto, then you are definitely doing something wrong.
This article is a guide to troubleshoot your hunger.
Reason #1. The Electrolyte Desert
The most common source of problems for anyone who is starting out with keto is the electrolyte imbalance.
That’s the magic we can all enjoy when we transition into ketosis and it can also be one of the reasons why you are constantly hungry on keto.
You will be lacking electrolytes because your body will reduce less insulin and your glycogen stores are depleted.
As those stores are being depleted, your kidneys go from retaining water to excreting it. And together with that water, your body will excrete important electrolytes for your body.
Electrolytes are specific nutrients that are crucial for our bodies functions. For example muscle contractions, heartbeat regulation, body temperature control, energy production and so on.
The main four are magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium.
The lack of electrolytes and it’s side effects is called the keto-flu and it occurs during the time your body is transitioning from carb burning mode to fat burning mode.
A lot of times, hunger is one way your body is telling you that it’s deficient of a nutrient. It cannot tell you: “Hey my love, I need some sweet sodium today…”
It just sends you different signals like hunger and hopes that between whatever you drink or eat, you will supply your body whatever it is missing.
The problem is that during the keto diet, you won’t get these nutrients from foods, at least not enough.
That’s why a proper electrolyte supplement will come in handy in adapting ketosis, removing your hunger feeling and making you feel like a million bucks again.
Check here to get your electrolyte levels in place
The proper usage of electrolytes will make or break your diet.
Reason #2. The Carb Chameleon
Carbs surround us everywhere. In every corner, found in almost every food.
They convert, they take on different names and aliases to conceal their identity.
If you are not careful, you will be kicked out of ketosis before you can say “carbonara”.
I am implying to hidden carbs and the fact that they are one reason why you probably are feeling hunger.
Hidden carbs are your number one enemy when you start the keto diet and during ketosis.
Carbs itself aren’t necessarily always bad, but they can sneak in from places you cannot expect them and ruin all of your dietary weight loss efforts.
Hidden carbs truly are everywhere. Sometimes they are pretty safe, sometimes not so much.
- You can find them from everywhere labeled “sugar-free” but they are not zero carbs, and some of them are even associated with insulin spikes and increased blood sugar levels.
- Sugar alcohols to avoid are xylitol, sorbitol, splenda, honey, agave. Use instead stevia, pure liquid sucralose or erythritol. Check out our keto sweetener guide.
- Yep, you can mess up because of seasoning. If used in small doses, then they cause no harm, but it’s easy to add up the carb count. So beware when overdoing with seasoning.
- How many carbs are there then? Well, one tablespoon of garlic powder 6g, onion powder 5.4g, cayenne 3g, paprika 3,3g, ground cumin 2,75g, chili powder 4.1g.
- Sometimes condiments can be a lifesaver when it comes to not so favorable foods. At other times they can spice up and add flavor. There are also condiments that may seem safe, yet contain ingredients that boost the carb count.
- How many carbs are in condiments? One tablespoon of Sriracha chili sauce 3g, teriyaki sauce 3-9g, ketchup 5g, balsamic vinegar 3g, seasoned rice vinegar 4g.
- Fortunately there still are several zero carb hot sauces that are 100% keto friendly. You just need to check the label and avoid anything that has carbs in it.
At the end of the day, hidden carbs are your biggest enemy while you are on a ketogenic path.
No matter if you are just starting out or well deep in ketosis for years.
Always check your labels and never trust any product that says “sugar-free” or “low-fat”.
If you are in trouble and unsure if something is keto friendly or not, then 8 times out of 10 it’s not.
Reason #3.The Caloric Jail
The number 1 reason why you are still hungry on keto is that you are not keto-adapted.
If you are just starting out with your diet, then you have loads of things to worry about: from what to eat to how to deal with the mood changes and much more.
One misconception newbie ketoers often have, is that they need to follow their macros from day 1. Well, you don’t.
Forcing yourself into a caloric jail from day one will create more problems than benefits.
The first goal of the keto diet is to enter ketosis.
This means cutting out all carbs and eating loads of quality fats and NOT worrying about your calorie intake yet.
The last thing you need is some fancy diet that requires you to starve during the first 30 days.
Once you are adapted, you gain extra energy, get more motivated and cut down on the constant cravings, and hunger pangs.
During the first 30 days of the ketogenic diet, don’t worry about calories or macro ratios.
- Just focus on cutting down carbs to less than 20 grams per day and eat LOTS of fats.
- Eat enough fat to reach your fullness to prevent the sudden hunger while on keto.
Depending on an individual, it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, once you are properly keto-adapted.
And then the real party begins.
If you are just starting out and worry about calorie intake and macros, then you should consider the lazy keto version.
It’s way more loose and safe way to test out this new eating style.
Reason #4. The Stress Marathon
Stress remains the number one reason for most diseases out there, aka the stress marathon.
Stress eating can ruin all of your weight loss goals. It’s no secret,that researchers  have found a direct correlation between weight gain and stress. Most people in the USA are particularly stressed. About one-fourth of Americans rate their stress level at 8 or greater on a 10 point scale. This is extremely high!
When we are under stress we make bad and spur of the moment decisions. As a result of s these negative consequences, our food intake suffers.
Everyone has their own ways of how they deal with stress.
- Some of us will use alcohol, to drown bad thoughts.
- Some of us abuse drugs, and
- some of us eat like there’s no tomorrow.
Have you noticed that when you are stressed out about work or family, you find yourself reaching for the nearest chocolate bar?
See where I am going with that?
The more you eat snacks, and whatever you get your hands on, the more you crave these foods and the more you feel hungry during keto.
Some people lose their appetite over stress, but others use the food as the remedy. That’s why it vital to keep keto snack options available.
Stress-eating will start packing on the pounds sooner or later, no matter the diet.
Because of stress, you could end up feeling hungry while on keto.
In order to combat this issue, you need to find the root cause of the stress and deal with it.
In addition, it’s reasonable to find food alternatives for your stress.
Some awesome ideas that keep you from responding to stress with eating are regular exercise, meditation, family time and other mind-relaxing activities.
Understand that starting any new dietary habit, is tough on your mind and body. Like every new skill, it takes time and effort to master it.
The same is true with the keto diet. The last thing you need is additional stress which will impact your motivation and will knock you down.
If you are going through a stressful period in your life, then I would suggest postponing the keto diet until things clear down.
Once the stressful period is gone, it will become much easier for you to start trying out a new diet, such as keto.
Reason #5. The Cheater Fortune
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?
If it’s 10 PM and you have finished your weekend long cheating marathon, but no one saw it, does it count then?
There’s a false understanding that cheat meals (days or even weeks) will be beneficial for you, because you will feel better physically and mentally, and will be able to burn more fat, right?
The ketogenic diet is not like a classical western diet, where you just need to cut down on calories and that’s it, the UPS will deliver your six-pack the next day.
In order to rock the keto diet, you need to cut out carbs and eat tons of fat, which will result in a metabolic state called ketosis.
Your body will then switch from being a carb maniac, to burning fat for fun. This is the place you want to get and stay in as long as possible.
The road to ketosis can be dreadful – insomnia, rash, and hunger are just some examples of the side effects you are experiencing during the transition phase.
Now, everytime you cheat, you will most likely be kicked out of your hard earned ketosis (or you will start over on the ketosis road).
This includes experiencing all the negative side effects of the keto flu all over again.
This is a painful road to walk and mentally hard to accept.
You certainly can do it, but it’s not worth it. In that case, it’s reasonable to consider other diets than the ketogenic one.
Hey, we get it. You will make mistakes and shit happens. You will be cheating one way or another – either knowingly or unknowingly and you need to be prepared for that.
But what to do if you cheated?
In general, if you have fallen off the keto wagon, then just cut out the carbs again, ramp up your electrolytes and fats and wait.
You will be soon again in sweet sweet heaven we call ketosis.
There is no real reason to cheat. The hardest part of the diet is probably the first 30 days when your body is adapting to the new situation.
Like with anything else in this life, it gets much easier with practice.
Once you are in ketosis, EVERYTHING will become easier.
You experience more energy, you have higher levels of mental power, you are able to focus properly and also eat to your full capacity.you are satiated.
Oh and you don’t have any cravings anymore.
It’s worth the wait.
Reason #6. The Sweatmaster
One of the best things about the keto diet is that in order for your body to lose fat, exercising isn’t a prerequisite.
If you follow the diet correctly, you can lose a lot of fat without actively pushing the sweat.
But training during keto has its own advantages:
- It helps to deplete glycogen stores
- It makes you feel better and energized
- It helps to build and maintain muscle.
Now, the more you train, the more you burn calories.
That’s especially true if you love high-intensity training or engage in physical activities for longer durations, such as marathon training.
Individuals who regularly exercise at a high intensity of longer durations tend to have greater appetite and metabolism. 
Thus, they may experience more frequent hunger.
The keto diet was not meant to be supporting this kind of training.
Brisk walks yes, but not a 2-hour long bike ride.
The other side of the coin is that people often overestimate their energy expenditure during training by 3-4 times and overestimate their exercise with food intake 2-3 times more. 
If you love harder and longer workouts and still want to try out keto, then I would suggest considering to follow either the targeted ketogenic diet or cyclical ketogenic diet.
What’s the difference?
- The standard ketogenic diet is what most people think when they talk about the keto diet. It’s very low in carbs (less than 20g), has moderate protein and is high in fat. If you want to burn fat quickly and only do moderate activities (walking, yoga, jogging), then this is the way to go.
- The targeted ketogenic diet consists of eating carbs around workout times. Its main goal is to help your body with high-intensity exercises and performance, promoting glycogen replenishment without kicking you out of ketosis. It’s usually meant for people who need carbs to fuel their exercise performance but will not want to follow long carb loads.
- The cyclical ketogenic diet is an approach that combines carb loading with standard keto. It’s usually meant for high-level trainers like high-intensity fans and bodybuilders. They are the target group because high volume and intensity are needed in their training to optimize their performance. With that kind of volume and intensity, it’s almost impossible to get high-end results without the help of carbs.
Reason #7. The Carb Divorce
It’s like that ex that you probably will never get over.
Every now and then, when you feel beaten up and down, you start thinking about him/her.
What if I call him/her? And start rationalizing. One time doesn’t change anything, right?
Well, every (well, most of them) cheat week, usually starts like that while you are on keto.
Ketogenic diet scientific studies confirm that there are no cheat days (or meals, or weeks, or months) during the keto diet.
And the reason is very simple, in order to rock the keto diet your body needs to be in ketosis. And getting your body into that stage takes time and somewhat suffering (keto-flu).
- If you are cheating then you are constantly hopping in and out of ketosis, and knowingly making your life miserable. This in turn will make you feel constantly hungry.
- The hunger pangs are as a result of the carbs from your cheat meals, that spikes your blood sugar, sending you right back to level zero again.
Everyone will make mistakes sooner or later, and that’s okay. If really, stuff happens and you have cheated then no problem. Just get back on the keto wagon and cut out carbs again.
The problem becomes where we do not take the keto diet seriously, and keep allowing ourselves regular cheat meals. In some cases, sometimes even following the diet only half of the week, and bulking with carbs the other part of the week.
- See, keto gets very unbearable and not fun very quickly. Cheating causes carb hangover when you feel even worse than with classical hangover.
- And the constant keto flu side effects will take you down sooner or later. That’s why it’s vital to support your diet with electrolytes.
It’s just not worth the hassle.
If you want to start keto but are not too excited about counting macros, then no worries.
The easiest way to start keto is by doing the lazy keto version. Its simple, just eat loads of fat and don’t eat carbs.
No tracking, no thinking, just good old bacon, and whipped cream.
Reason #8. The Bedtime Procrastination
Yep, that’s a thing at its exactly what it sounds like.
Science clearly suggests a correlation between weight gain and sleep deprivation.
Sleep affects the body’s rate of energy use and release of hormones. Leptin says that yep the body has plenty of energy in reserves and brain should produce the feeling of fullness.
Ghrelin is a hormone secreted by the digestive system when there is little food in the stomach. It tells the brain to make the person hungry. 
When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood levels of leptin drop. Sleep deprivation also increases levels of ghrelin which stimulates your appetite.
If you don’t go to sleep around the same time every night, it’s likely that during the time you can develop keto insomnia. 
To prevent any potential sleep issues, added bodyweight, and increased hunger, it’s important to go to sleep at the same time every night.
- Postponing your bedtime daily and going to sleep at random times every day will contribute to sleep deprivation.
- Sleep deprivation will promote weight gain and will cancel all your dietary efforts in the end.
- Sleep deprivation can progress into keto insomnia, which is not a fun thing to experience.
If you don’t have a bed routine, then create it.
There is no downside to that but the potential benefits are big.
Reason #9. The Dehydration Decoy
You know that upstairs neighbor Paul? The guy in sweatpants who is always mumbling to himself and looks like he has not had a shower since before 2010.
As it turns out, he is just in a very bad place in his life and is fighting severe depression.
Wait what dehydration has to do with some random neighbor?
Both of them have two faces, and it’s easy to judge and diagnose the situation, while the reality is often different.
Dehydration is a somewhat similar side-effect of the keto diet. In 8/10 times you are just simply dehydrated.
Once you start the keto diet, you will end up dehydrated pretty quickly.
This happens because you excrete minerals from your body and so your body retains even less water.
So the key factor in making keto sustainable is to drink lots of water during it.
The issue with the dehydration is that our sense of thirst is easily muddled with hunger. The same part of your brain is responsible for interpreting hunger and thirst signals.
This can be one reason why you wake up crazy hungry and often feel hungry at night.
This is so small and stupid factor and it’s sooo easy to ignore it, but it’s a deal breaker.
Ask from any long time ketoer, they will tell you about it.
On keto, you are chronically dehydrated and you need more water and salts to manage your electrolyte levels.
Anytime you feel suddenly hungry, no matter the diet, first drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes.
Then ask yourself if you are still starving or it was a false alarm.
Reason #10. The Yawning Marathon
I am talking about eating because of boredom, not because you are suddenly hungry.
In that sport, many of us are elite level athletes.
It’s 9 pm on a Sunday night. You have already eaten dinner, binge-watched a whole week’s worth of tv shows and you know you really really should get started on that essay, presentation or your business.
There’s nowhere to postpone that, the deadline is tomorrow.
But you start rationalizing because you really don’t want to do it. It’s boring.
And in the next moment, you are in front of the fridge. Wait, what?
And you are opening the door and hey look, here are some cheese cubes, wait, I think I had some Quest bars somewhere here.
Of all the reasons why we need to put food into our bodies, boredom is the least helpful and probably the most harmful in the long term.
It almost always happens when we physically don’t need food and there is a lot of stuff that we should be working on.
More often than not, after the first bite, you understand that it’s not as satisfying as you hoped.
It’s especially hard if you work from home since the kitchen is always one step away.
Boredom eating is a real thing and one of the hardest things to master for me was to learn the difference between hunger and the need for the sensation of eating.
What I have learned is that the hunger will keep nagging you if you sit tight and don’t do anything.
You need to keep yourself busy.
You need to have goals, towards what you work on.
You need to have hobbies that help you deal with stress and make you happy.
Boredom eating will not become only a habit, after some time, it will contribute to poor health and bad choices.
Break the downward spiral and go for a walk, find a hobby, make your dreams come true.
Oh and the last thing, patience is huge in keto.
Either you wait until the ketosis kicks in, or when the last pounds will be burnt out.
You need to give your body some time, but at the same time, you need to do its thing and keep your mind busy.
Alex is the founder of Bodyketosis, an author, low-carb enthusiast, and a recovering chubby guy who reclaimed his health using the ketogenic lifestyle. The need for the keto life began after his aunt and cousin were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and he was next in line. Through personal experience and extensive scientific research, Alex offers insightful tips for everything keto.