You can’t gain weight whilst on the Ketogenic Diet

by Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

May 23, 2015


  • Carb restricted diets eliminate fruit, vegetables and all other good carbs.
  • The brain needs carbs to survive.
  • In a Ketogenic diet the body goes into ketosis which is dangerous.
  • Muscle wasting occurs in this diet.


  • This is completely false as the Ketogenic diet is a LOW-carb (not NO carb) diet and therefore has people obtaining most of their minimal quantities of carbs from fruit and vegetables.
  • Wrong! Just think, why would we store fat for in times of emergencies (read ‘starvation’) if it was going to be useless to the brain?
  • Wrong again! Ketosis is not dangerous. Ketoacidosis is dangerous and this is a medical emergency seen in Type 1 Diabetics, Type 2 insulin-dependent Diabetics and end-stage Diabetic patients. (consult a physician if you suffer from either)
  • The Ketogenic diet is a ‘High fat-low-carb-moderate-protein’ model and as such there is no reason for muscle wasting to happen at all.


  • Quick weight loss as the body efficiently utilizes fat stores to provide energy for daily functioning. Excess fat metabolites (ketones) are excreted in the urine so you’re actually ‘peeing’ fat!
  • Low carb intake equals low insulin levels which in turn promotes secretion of growth hormone in a negative feedback system.
  • Effective in controlling and lowering sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetics and in the obese.
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease and Hypertension (high blood pressure) which are results of high levels of sugar and cholesterol in the blood.
  • Preserves muscle mass.
  • Ketones blunt hunger thereby reducing your snacking in between meals. Fats and proteins have a positive effect on satiety post ingestion.
  • Excellent in limiting seizures in children and young adults diagnosed with epilepsy.


  • Dizziness, nausea, fatigue, memory loss and constant headache when you start due to the ‘metabolic shift’ i.e. the body switching to using fat as it’s primary fuel
  • Mood irritability because carbohydrates are closely linked to the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter Serotonin and if your diet isn’t properly titrated to the “High fat, low carb, moderate protein” model then psychological disruptions may occur as a result. (“psychoglycemia” I call it)
  • This diet cannot be adopted by people with renal (kidney) disease, Type 1 Insulin-dependent Diabetes and Type 2 end-stage Diabetes
  • Micronutrient deficiencies like vitamins, essential elements and minerals, which are found in carbohydrate sources.
  • Lipid profile can become a potential concern if the fats being consumed aren’t strictly limited to ‘good fats’. So don’t go crazy on that bacon and sour cream!
  • Long-term inactivity and overeating of ‘bad fats’ leads to weight gain and in turn, disease.

My Take
The ‘high-fat-moderate-protein-low-carb’ diet definitely has its appeal. Here you can indulge in all the luscious goodness of butters and fried meat completely guilt-free AND still lose weight. What most don’t know is that the Ketogenic diet has been around for eons, probably since the evolution of Homo Sapien himself. The state of ‘Ketosis’ used to occur frequently in this hunter-gatherer duce to scarcity of food sources whereby the body swapped its fuel source from carbohydrates to fat. The Ketogenic diet works by limiting carb intake to a minimal forcing the body to metabolize and burn stored fat. The metabolites of fat are fatty acids and ketone bodies. Medically these diets have become a therapeutic tool for treating the obese, some Diabetics and patients diagnosed with Epilepsy.  Does the diet work? Yes if you’re looking for a quick fix and want to shed those holiday or festive pounds quickly then Ketogenic diet will certainly deliver. Will you continue to lose weight for as long as you’re on the diet. NO, especially if you continue to be sedentary. There is no shortcut to being fit and healthy folks. So whilst you may shed weight quite quickly on this diet, without exercise your metabolism will soon plateau off and you’ll stagnate. Furthermore, you’ll find that you remain slim but are horribly unfit and that, long-term, is a recipe for ill-health. If you only decide to adopt this diet for a few weeks to squeeze into that dress for the wedding and then revert to your old eating ways, I guarantee you the weight gain will be double what you lost. Such is the way of crash diets; they trick your body into believing it’s being starved and then when it gets food, it stores it all away should ever again you starve (diet) again. It’s also important to mention here that during a diet when you deprive yourself of a large food group (in this case carbohydrates), cravings creep in and that in turn results in overeating of foods you’re allowed to eat. You can’t have chocolate and so you douse and drench your salad in sour cream. More calories eaten and not as much burnt equals weight gain. Not to demonize the it completely, there are several documented studies and cases of both professional athletes and normal people who’ve adopted the Ketogenic diet along with exercise and have found increased energy levels and fitter, healthier selves. In my mind, if exercise is the only factor that determines healthy weight loss then why bother with any fad diet at all? Let’s revert to that food pyramid taught to us in Grade 1 of how to achieve a balanced diet, mix it up with 3-5 sessions of super-sweaty workouts and keep the fitter and leaner bodies for longer. It’s foolproof!

Dr. Daamini Shrivastav


Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

Juggling many roles from physician to writer to pilates instructor to Marketing-PR executive, Dr. Daamini is constantly pushed and inspired to get creative on how to encompass a Retreat into her daily life.
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