More About Weight Gain on the Zero Carb Carnivore Ketogenic Diet

BMI Chart

By – Dana Spencer

This post is mostly for people who have been on this diet for at least 6 months.  If you have been on the Zero Carb Carnivore Diet for less than that, you just have to be patient.  Removing plant foods from your diet and getting into a ketogenic state is a major metabolic change.  Your body needs time to adapt. 

Most people lose fat right away on the Zero Carb Diet, but some people gain weight.  As frustrating as this is, there really is no quick fix and for some, it may be something you just have to accept if you want to be healthy.

In my 14 years of experience and observation of people on this diet, the body seems to like being in the upper range of normal on the BMI scale.  From an evolutionary point of view, this makes sense.   More stored energy would be beneficial for survival.

If you have been eating Zero Carb and are stuck in the upper range of normal on the BMI scale, you are not overweight.  If you want to be thinner, you are going to have to do something unhealthy like, starve yourself or regularly do some sort of strength training to look the way you want to look.

If you are truly overweight a BMI of 27 or higher and have been eating a Zero Carb Carnivore diet for 6 months or more and are not losing, or gaining, here are a few things to think about.

Were you restricting protein, counting calories, or fasting?  If you came to ZC from a restriction diet you will likely gain weight.  Your body is starving for nutrition and you just have to feed it until it is sure you are not going to starve it again.

Were you vegan? Your body is a mess, it NEEDS the building blocks of animal protein and fat to rebuild and repair the damage done to your body by not feeding yourself the proper human diet.

How much meat are you eating in a day?  It should be at least 2lbs, if you are already eating that much, then first try eating more.  Many people are simply not cooking enough meat.  Try this experiment, cook up 5 pounds of your favorite meat and try to eat all of it.  You probably won’t be able to eat all 5 pounds, but you might be surprised how much you can eat.  Then you will be surprised at how good you feel for the rest of the day since you properly nourished yourself.

You really can’t overeat on this diet if you are doing it properly.* The more you eat, the longer you can go before getting hungry again. It’s like putting gas in your car. If you put 2 gallons in the tank you can drive 50 miles before having to refuel. If you fill-up the tank, you can drive 400 miles. I always stuff myself (fill up my tank) in the mornings so I don’t have to be bothered by having to refuel (hunger) for 10-12 hours, but this is not fool proof, which is why I always have Carnivore Bars on hand in case I get hungry during the day. (Use Code ZCDANA for 10% off your order!)

* Palatability. Some people can eat too much if they use salt and or seasonings. Salt and seasonings make meat more palatable, so you may eat more because it tastes so good or you might be mistaking hunger for salt or seasoning cravings and eating beyond true hunger. To get a true sense of hunger eat unseasoned fresh meat and water for 30 days.

How much fat are you eating?  We don’t normally advocate tracking your food, but if you are not seeing the results you expected, you might want to punch a week’s worth of meals into a food tracker to get a general idea of how much fat you are eating.  If your average is below 70% fat (70% of your calories coming from fat) then you should try eating fattier meats to get that number closer to 80%.  If you are already close to or above 80% then you might want to work in a couple of days of leaner meats or stop adding fat.

Are you adding too much fat, eating fat bombs, or putting butter or oil in your coffee? Stop that.

What are you eating?  Our default is unseasoned meat and plain water.  If you are gaining, then trying 30 days of meat and water is a great way to figure out if those other foods/seasonings (dairy, coffee, spices, salt) are causing problems for you.  Zero Carb sweeteners are not part of this diet, so if you are consuming sweet anything, there’s your problem.

How often are you eating?  If you are still snacking and eating 3 or more times a day, that can be a problem, especially if you are insulin resistant.  Your hunger signals may be off, or you are not eating big enough meals.  Try eating bigger meals so you can naturally go longer before getting hungry again.

When are you eating?  Are you forcing an unsustainable eating window, fasting, or One Meal a Day (OMAD)?  If you are gaining or not losing, then obviously, that’s not working for you.  Let go of trying to control eating windows.  You will never learn true hunger if you are fasting or trying to eat OMAD.  Eat when hungry.  Learn your new hunger signals.

If you are having problems learning true hunger the best thing to do is have set eating times that work for you and stick to it. Have at least 2 or more set eating times. Most of us long term ZC Carnivores settle into 2 eating times per day. With this plan, over time your body will learn to expect food at those times and true hunger is more easily recognized. Kelly Hogan, my friend and a 12 year carnivore, has a new video out “How Leptin and Meat Can Help Us Lose Bodyfat” that explains why this can be helpful.

Our default for any issues on this diet is always “Unseasoned Meat and Plain Water”.  Eat as much and as often as you like, but the meat must be unseasoned.  Many people are addicted to salt, so you may be eating more often or more food than you really need because of the seasonings.

The Zero Carb Carnivore diet is a lifestyle, not a quick fix temporary diet.  If you are genuinely concerned about being as healthy as you can be, then you need to make this a permanent lifestyle, not a temporary diet. Enjoy the journey and just be patient.

For more information about the Zero Carb Diet, please join us in our Facebook Groups ZeroCarbHealth (private) or ZeroingInOnHealth (public).