Why not being hungry is not a benefit of Keto! (It is actually very dangerous!)

Everyone thinks that losing your hunger on Keto is some magic benefit so the can eat less and therefore lose weight. Or that you aren’t hungry because you are “Eating your body fat” as those other Keto “Experts” would have you believe. This one is by far the stupidest of the theories which unfortunately has been pushed by some of the leaders in the KetoSphere. It is very unfortunate.

There is actually a very logical and Common Sense reason as to why you stop being hungry and rest assured it is not nearly as non scientific as those reasons the other guys would have you believe.

Lack of hunger is a survival response to starvation. In hunter gather times there were many scenarios where food was simply unavailable. If we were to get more and more hungry as time goes by it would make us crazy and not very effective at hunting. If all you can think about is eating, you won’t be a very effective hunter and you would likely perish without being able to get food. This has to do with leptin and insulin.

There are 2 specific states you tend to lose hunger Fasting and Ketogenic diets:

Lets look at what is happening in Fasting:
1.You have low insulin making Leptin easy to hear
2. You are running on fat (because there is nothing else to run on)
3. Ketones rise in order to feed your brain and keep you alert
4. You lose weight
5. Finally, you aren’t hungry

Now lets look at what happens when we eat a Ketogenic Diet:
1. You have low insulin so Leptin is easy to hear
2. You are running on fat (because that is what you are eating)
3. Ketones rise in order to feed your brain (in the absence of glucose)
4. You lose weight
5. Finally, you aren’t hungry!!!!

Now don’t those scenarios sound familiar. So no, not being hungry while on Keto is not some magic way to make sure you are eating at a deficit without trying. It is a malfunction of a basic survival instinct. Basically we are hacking our body to think it is starving and in order to survive and get food it allows us to go without hunger pangs that would make us crazy and gives us focus to properly hunt our next meal.

What losing your hunger while eating Keto actually does is cause people to unintentionally enter into a severe calorically restricted state for a prolonged amount of time. This can cause adrenal issues, hair loss, Amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycle), thyroid issues and a severely damaged metabolism making it much harder to lose weight. Part of the reason some of the Keto “Experts” advocate a “Carb-up” or “Re-Feed” is because they don’t understand that their “Eat only when you are hungry” philosophy is actually causing a starvation survival response that isn’t supposed to happen and the “Carb-up” only works because it resets this process. The leptin signal is restored again by the increased insulin levels and the person starts to eat somewhat normally again for a time and this tends to reverse some of the adverse effects of the chronic low caloric state. If we just ate adequately to begin with none of these issues would actually happen.

So next time some tells you “One of the major benefits of the ketogenic diet is that it controls hunger.” You can tell them no sir. My body thinks I am starving.

Fasting Effects on Leptin

Starvation response

Leptin Response to Stavation

Keto On,

Coach Jack

36 Replies to “Why not being hungry is not a benefit of Keto! (It is actually very dangerous!)”

  1. Love all your info. I’ve been researching soo many sites, Doctors and videos. You align with many of my views. Thank you for all your great work!

  2. I started a zero plant carb, carnivorous way of eating in late August of this year. I’m not sure I’m adapting well to it, or even if it’s healthy for me. I also added intermittent fasting, and now eat only 1 or two meals per day. Usually 1 – 1.5 lbs of ribeye and some extra fat such as grass-fed butter. I have no hunger, I eat because I know I need to. I have also lost virtually all muscle tone and have not much stamina.

    The conflicting dietary information available makes it challenging for me to know how to find my ideal way of eating. I was directed to read your articles by a Facebook post on Principia Carnivora.

    I’m thinking of switching this experiment a bit, I see you suggest eating majority of protein before the noon hour, then eating fat the remainder of the day. What does that look like in a sample menu? Thank you.

    1. You can eat protein later in the day. It is just more optimal to stack not only your protein but all your calories earlier in the day. I usually just have a small piece of meat or an egg for supper with brie, cream cheese or just a shot of olive oil for supper.

      Check this article for more info on the timing of eating. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

  3. The starvation response you refer to only happens when the bodies fat stores are exhausted; around 4% body fat.

    Read the Wikipedia article you linked. “After prolonged periods of starvation the body has depleted its body fat and begins to burn primarily lean tissue and muscle as a fuel source.”

    Do you think it was unhealthy for the guy who fasted for 382 days? What do you seriously think the negative aspects are of calorie restriction? Same thing, no? Do you think the calorie restriction diet is bad?

    1. The calorie restricted diet is a farce and will make for some seriously sick people. Works great in rats. We aren’t rats. Besides the fact that the benefits are more related to reduction in mTOR than actual calories.

      Caloric restriction has not and will not ever work. Ever.

      1. I’ve read a study that it didn’t even work great in rats, that when they are autopsied later, even though they look at a healthy weight on the outside, on the inside, their organs are all atrophied and failing.

  4. I’m finding this more often, a severe lack of hunger at least three days a week, sometimes more. So is the answer to do a “re-feed“ but to do that with more fat? I am being advised by my holistic practitioner to go for three months on keto before I re-feed or have a cheat day with any simple carbs. I am happy about that advice, I have a goal to heal my former addiction to sugars. It has been two months with only one break on Thanksgiving Day. As an added note, I lost my thyroid to do cancer 10 years ago, I have lost 28 pounds, and I need to lose about 15 more. I am turning 50 in January. I am a very active yoga instructor and art teacher. I’m curious about an ideal amount of calories to stop the lack of hunger. I am eatumg 75 percent fat, 20 Percent protein and five percent carbs.

  5. I am starting Keto this week. When I last tried this I lost about 20 pounds but kept getting bouts of diarrhea It seemed to come from all the fat. When I increase my carbs on a regular basis it stops. Any advice sovthis doesn’t happen again?

    1. You will get diarrhea due to the sheer change in diet. It will regulate with time. You are changing the landscape of your gut bacteria which will alter your digestion. You just have to wait it out and ensure you are hydrating enough and getting enough electrolytes.

  6. Wow thanks for that great and scientific explanation. I have heard the term “carb up” used several times on one of the many podcasts I listen to. When I first started this journey back in 2015/2016, I heard the claims of appetite loss being a “benefit” everywhere I turned, but I rarely hear that now. Hopefully people this means the “experts” are becoming more educated.

  7. I had gastric sleeve in 2015 and still need to lose some weight. Not sure how i will be able to eat all those calories and not be in starvation mode. Any suggestion as i am in high ketosis and not hungry for long periods of time?

    1. Just a matter of working it in. eat as large of meals as you can tolerate 3 times a day. 4 times if needed. Just space them out over a 12 hour window. I have plenty of clients that have had gastric surgeries and are able to eat well over 2,000 cals a day.

  8. Can you please help me. I’ve gotten numerous responses from admins etc all with different macro counts. I’m trying to lose 60 lbs. I am 5’6”, 41 yr old, female weighing about 200 lbs. How do I calculate my macros?

  9. Omg! I’m so glad I found this group!! I just started keto but so confused with all the info. After exactly 30 days I’ve lost 9 pounds and stalled and not hungry all most all day and I thought that was a good thing! Thank you for letting me in this group.

    1. Your hunger is shut down as a result of the keto diet mimicking starvation. It is a protective state that was necessitated by evolution to make you an efficient hunter when starved. Mind is clear and not bothered by the aggravating hunger pangs you are able to focus on the hunt rather than the hunger.

      When you start eating the right amount of food these signals reset and hunger returns to a natural state. Especially if you eat a good breakfast.

      1. Sorry if you’ve previously answered this -I’m new to your site but I do intermittent fasting so haven’t done breakfast but maybe 3 days a week. I’m 68 y.o., female, 5’7″, wt. 156, trying to get to 145. I’ve lost 5# since January 2nd this year. I am in good shape, feel great but am hardly ever hungry. Have I ruined my metabolism by years of yo-yo dieting? According to veto urine strips I’m almost always in moderate ketosis. Thank you.

  10. Thank you for this article. I’m 37 5’6” 165lbs. I started Keto last September and lost 40 pounds rather quickly and easily for the first time in my life. But I’ve been stalled since the middle of December and I’ve found my appetite increasing. I had been doing a lot of intermittent fasting, trying to do at least 16 hours hours 3-4 days a week, giving my liver a break and trying to deepen my keto sis. I still believe IF is a good thing to do as I’ve read several studies citing IF as very benefitial in several ways but maybe not as often as I’ve been doing it.
    To understand: In your experience, we should eat 3 meals a day every day, and eat maintainance calories following a pretty standard keto rule: ideal weight in fat, half in Protien and 20 gross carbs? Do you believe there’s a place for IF in Keto at all? Have you seen stalls overcome when people
    Switch from IF Keto to your recommendations? I appreciate your knowledgeable information.

  11. Hi there! New to the group. I did a short stint of keto with great success in December. I tried starting again a few weeks ago without much success. I found this water called Hint. I really like it. It says there’s nothing in it but I am wondering if it is stalling my progress?? Do you have any thoughts on Hint Water?

    1. I’ve never heard of it. Anything sweet tasting can have an impact. I just stick to mineral or plain water just to be safe.

  12. Hello
    I’ve been doing keto since January this year. I am a Type 1 diabetic who was in denial, i weighed 221lbs and was miserable. I gave myself a kick up the arse and have lost 25lb and my hbA1c has gone from 10.2 – 6.7. Yay.
    I eat 20g carbs, 58g protein and about 124g fat a day. Now i have read your info and am confused. Acording to yr Tdee i should be eating about 2100+ a day!! Most of it from fat. I’m petrified of putting the weight back on. Do i NEED to eat that much fat? My ketostix say my readings are about 1.5-4. Also there are some days that i only run on my basal insulin without needing a bolus at all. I want to get this right as a life long way of eating. Thanks

    1. If you want your metabolism to work correctly and get your hormones straight you should. I have hundreds of female clients that have eaten well above 2100 cals and lost weight and felt better.

    1. You are allowed to do whatever you want. I don’t advise fasting. It can be dangerous if not supervised by someone knowledgable and I have yet to see it work over the long term. I truly beleive fasting is a fad and will die off soon. Unless you do it for religeous reasons it is a waste.

  13. I’m not saying this is incorrect but since sugar acts more or less like a drug don’t you think it has something to do with your body not craving sugar and putting you into flight or fight? When I’m strict on Keto I have no more blood sugar swings, so I’m not sure it’s hunger that Keto is getting rid of so much as it is getting rid of the cookie monster that lives inside each and every one of us.

    1. These two things are not mutually exclusive. It gets rid of cravings as well as physical hunger. People often have a hard time eating even an adequate amount of food when they start eating high fat. Just an evolutionary thing. Eating high fat mimics starvation. Pretty well proven. A really ketogenic day of eating appears nearly identical metabolically to a day of complete starvation.

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