7 Brutal Ways Low-Carb Dieters Torture Themselves

Barbecued Pork Ribs
Can you lose 15 pounds in 2 weeks
eating fatty spareribs?

Did you think that losing weight on Keto was going to be easy? 

Do you feel lost and frustrated like you're caught in a whirlwind of emotion and expectation? 

If so, maybe it's time to reevaluate why you're torturing yourself and take a closer look at your real dieting motivations.

What's up with low-carb dieters these days?

I realize that dieting is difficult. It requires you to give up a lot of your favorite foods, revamp your lifestyle, and substitute those old food habits with healthier alternatives. But c'mon . . .
  • I mean, do you really expect to drop 15 pounds in only a couple of weeks?
  • Do you really expect to lose 5 or 6 pounds week after week, every single month?
  • Do you enjoy the pain and misery you are bringing upon yourself by expecting to lose so much weight?
  • Did someone, somewhere, tell you that low-carb diets are a quick weight-loss scheme?
Where did that idea come from?

Many people believe that if they don't shed a lot of weight during the first week or two, or even the first month, that a low carb diet isn't worth the effort, even though almost of of that weight will be water, glycogen, and a little muscle tissue.

The self-torture that many are putting themselves through, due to their false expectations and fantasies, doesn't make sense to me.

Whether it's three days, eight days, two weeks, or a month, choosing to beat yourself up about what your body is or isn't doing won't make the body fat come off any faster.

Low carb diets are not crash diets!

The only way you might lose 15 pounds in 2 weeks is if you're seriously obese and have never gone on a diet before in your entire life. While some people do experience those types of results, they are the exception to the rule. They are not the norm.

Child Touching a Gigantic Light Bulb
Low-carb diets are NOT quick weight-loss schemes,
so why do new dieters believe they are?

So what's going on with newbies?
  • Are you miserable because you don't like what your bathroom scale is saying today?
  • Are you letting that number on the scale control how you feel and act?
  • Is that number so important to you that you're allowing it to determine your self worth?
This isn't something that just popped up this week. It's been going on for a while now, but I'm really struggling to understand where dieters are getting their ideas about low carb from.

If you recognize yourself in the following 7 brutal ways that low carbers have been torturing themselves lately, please leave a comment below, and tell me why living in the misery of self-pity just for the sake of weight loss is so appealing to you.

I really want to understand what's going on here.

Pinterest Image: Ship on an Angry Sea

1. Set Yourself Up to Fail

A lot of you already know how I feel about setting weight-loss goals. (If you don't, here's a link to our weight-loss goal article.)

The act of goal setting immediately pulls you out of the present and throws you into the arms of the future. The future always robs you of the self-consciousness and presence you momentarily enjoy.

Most of the time, goals are extremely unrealistic and demand more of you than you can give. 

This is because goals are about a destination, achieving something in the future, rather than living for today, so they rip any current happiness out of your arms and hold it out in front of you like a cupcake on a string.

You won't be happy until . . .

If you're setting up unrealistic weight-loss goals, then you are setting yourself up to fail. Fat loss doesn't travel in a straight line. The path is filled with:
  • ups and downs
  • twists and turns
  • small or large setbacks
  • lengthy pauses
While the general trend of fat loss is moving downward, you won't always be able to see that line unless you plot it out on a graph.

And that's going to take more than 8 to 14 days.

Graph Showing Up and Down Weight Loss
Water fluctuations can make it difficult to see
the downward weight-loss trend unless you
take the time to plot it out on a graph.

During the first two weeks on any low-carb diet plan, no matter which program you're following, you're going to lose glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates), tons of water, and only a little bit of viseral fat. 

The latest research on low-carb diets, partially funded by Gary Taubes, clearly showed that you don't lose a single ounce of body fat for the first 7 days.


Any weight you do lose is muscle mass and water.

If you're expecting to drop 15 pounds of body fat during the first month, that's not likely to happen. Weight loss on any diet is a group of very small successes. Enjoying a massive drop on the scale is rare.

Don't self-sabotage yourself by setting up unrealistic expectations of how long this is going to take. 

It took me 2 years to lose over 100 pounds, and I had to pile on additional food restrictions and cut my calories to the bone to make it happen.

If you insist that a weight-loss diet provide you with instant gratification and super-large losses on the scale every single week, then a low-carb diet is not the right diet plan for you. I don't know what it, but it isn't low carb.

2. Punish Yourself for Not Achieving Your Goals

If the inability to achieve your weight-loss goals isn't enough to throw you into the depths of self-misery, then you'll probably impose a few punishments on yourself for failing. The most common punishment I hear goes something like this:

If I don't lose 15 pounds by the end of the month, I'm going to quit low carb.”

Honestly, beating yourself over the head with a hickory stick would probably be less painful than trying to force your body to comply with your demands. When you set up conditions, every day is a form of torture as to whether your body is going to submit to your will or keep on fighting you to save your life.

When it comes to life preservation, there's no bargaining. You are not the boss. You can't force your primal instincts to give up its fat stores if it isn't comfortable doing so.

Throwing a tantrum or blaming Keto isn't going to make you feel better. You're only going to feel worse.

A low-carb diet is not a passing fad, so threatening to run away and try something else isn't going to work either. You can't force success. 

Low-carb works by correcting hormonal imbalances and lowering your cravings and hunger, so eating at a deficit is easier than it is eating just low calorie. 

These corrections take time.

3. Measuring Your Self-Worth By the Number on the Scale

Along with insisting that your body live up to your false expectations, another way of torturing yourself is to measure your self worth by the number on your weight-loss scale. 

While dieting is often a way to improve your physical health and well-being, more often, it's a grab for approval and acceptance from others.

You don't feel happy in your current condition, and you're hoping that losing weight will get you the rewards you're looking for. 

If the number on the scale doesn't go down quick enough, you might be tempted to identify with that number and associate it with your worthiness as a person.

Diet results will always be unpredictable.

Identifying with the number on the scale sets you up to experience disappointment at some point in the process. Disappointment always brings a wave of negative emotions, which in turn, will cause you to start looking for blame.

Blaming yourself or blaming the diet is convenient, but it really won't relieve the torture. 

The only way to get rid of the misery the scale causes is to separate yourself from the number and use a different way of measuring your success instead. While patience can be difficult, a low-carb lifestyle offers you possibilities and healthy benefits you won't get anywhere else.

4. Criticizing Yourself

In fiction writing circles, we used to call the little voice that stepped out during the writing process and started criticizing what we were doing: our inner critic.

After watching the Harry Potter movies, and reading all of the books, I started calling it Hermione. She can be quite rude and cruel once she starts speaking, especially if you listen to her or choose to identify with what she's saying.

If you accept her harshness and judgment of you, you're setting yourself up for some lengthy stretches of misery.

Hermione Granger Public Domain Photo
The inner critic can be likened to Hermione Granger,
so I often call it Hermione.

Like how Hermione often judged Harry and Ron unfairly, your own inner critic's judgment will be just as twisted.

Every single pound you lose is hitting the target. 

It's another pound of butter that's gone, another pound brick you no longer have to carry around with you as you go through your day.

No matter what that voice says, you are not a victim. You don't have to accept what it's telling you. You can clearly tell it to back off or get the heck out of your life. 

I often tell Hermione to go to her room.

5. Comparing Yourself with Others

This is a huge way to torture yourself because no matter who you try to compare yourself to, Hermione is always going to tell you that you fall short of the perfection you believe the other person radiates.

That's bull-crap!

People we look up to can enable us to stretch toward some aspect of them we find admirable or worthy of imitation, but most of the time our image of others is warped. We don't see them clearly because we are not looking at the world through their eyes. 

We are looking at them through our own, and perception can be quite hinky and distorted.

Old Window with a Blurry View
Looking at others is like looking through a blurry window.
The comparison is quite distorted and inaccurate.

Few realize the lengths to which someone else had to go to achieve the weight loss they did. Nor do they understand what it takes to maintain that achievement. Reaching maintenance is the easy part.

Holding on to your weight loss is much more difficult.

Most people can't do it because they aren't willing to pay the price that weight management actually costs. There are no guarantees that the path you're on will end up where you want it to, but you'll definitely not get there if you quit. 

6. Trying to Skip Steps in the Fat Loss Process

If you've never looked at weight management as a process, maybe it's time to start. 

Most of the people torturing themselves while they are on Atkins Induction or during the first month of Keto don't understand how a low-carb diet works. Even those on LCHF diets struggle to understand the basic process.

Many dieters expect to see dramatic weight losses when the body is busy doing something else.

Unlike traditional low-calorie diets, a low-carb diet has to balance your hormones and then set up physical conditions that are supportive of fat burning. While all body systems can use ketones for energy, when burning ketones, your body isn't burning body fat for energy. 

It's simply pulling out only enough fat to make the ketones.

Low carb doesn't allow your body to take the easy way out. It has to adapt to what you're eating, so eventually, the body will stop using ketones (except for the brain) and switch to fatty acids. 

This is what you want the body to do because it will produce the greatest fat loss and prevent muscle wasting.

But getting to this point takes a little time.

All weight loss diets set up a famine situation that the body responds to. A low-calorie diet requires fewer adaptions to start using body fat because you are only limiting calories.

When you choose to restrict carbohydrates in your diet, your body has to adapt to both calorie and carbohydrate restriction.

There is no way to skip steps in this process.

Your body won't go from predominantly burning glucose to predominantly burning fatty acids in a couple of days. It doesn't work that way. If you try to rush the process, you're only setting yourself up for misery.

7. Nursing a Deprivation Mindset

This one isn't as evident in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, but I have seen it in those who don't seem to be able to get through the first month without cheating on their diet. While sometimes, this attitude is a misconception about how low-carb diets work, more often, it's the result of feeding your feelings of deprivation.

Looking at foods you use to love and insisting that the scale reward you in exchange for giving up those foods is only another form of self-torture.

Dieting is only as painful as you make it be.

If you consistently focus on what you can't have anymore and long for the eating habits and temporary pleasures that got you fat in the first place, you'll be more likely to jump overboard at the first chance to bail that presents itself.

Human nature seeks to avoid unpleasant situations, and nursing your feelings of deprivation simply fans the flames. This is particularly true if you don't really want to change your eating habits or if you're trying to lose weight for someone else's attention and approval.

Keeping yourself in agony can be a way of getting even with someone else, especially if Keto isn't really what you want to do.

Dieting Without Purpose

Each of these 7 brutal ways of torturing yourself while on a low-carb diet come from a set of misconceptions about life and why you think you're here. If pleasure is your number one purpose in life, then everything you do that creates discomfort will bring misery and pain.

Dieting is painful because you place restrictions on yourself that don't give you the rewards you're seeking after.  Plus, you set up many, many false expectations.

I know.

I was there once, too.

I'm guilty of having experienced all 7 of these miserable states of being at one time or another in my life.

I'm guilty of trying to push my body to do things it didn't feel safe doing, and I'm guilty of failing to achieve what I originally set out to do.

So let's get real for just a moment.

If you've read this far and you're still with me, here's the deal:

Tell me where you're at.

When I first started this blog in 2007, I weighed 256-1/2 pounds. I had numerous health issues I thought I could cure by going low carb. 

I couldn't. 

Even though I lost over 100 pounds in 2 years, and stalled at 145 pounds, I couldn't maintain the loss. Today, I weighed in at 226 pounds.

That's reality. MY reality. No excuses. Just the pure truth.


I couldn't do it.

While low carb is a very healthy way to eat, it's not the only way to eat. In fact, I'm extremely happy just eating a gluten-free diet and making small changes one at a time. I'm not sick anymore. I'm not torturing myself. 

I'm content now.

So tell me where you're at – no matter what that is.
  • What do you struggle with?
  • What are you interested in learning?
  • What do you really want?
And most importantly:

How can I help you be the best that you can be?

(NOTE: If you choose to contact me by email, instead of leaving a comment, that's fine. I may ask you questions that seem strange to you, but sometimes, I need "more" information than what you're giving me before I can help you out.)


  1. I read this article because I'm interested in self defeating patterns. What stood out for me is that these are the same negative behaviors that thwart success in other areas of life:
    Self punishment, self deprivation, self sabotage and self criticism. Then to motivate our self we compare ourselves to others. We even look for shortcuts and tricks to beat the system.
    The question is: What are the real underlying issues that would lead one to use techniques that never seem to work?

    1. Our hidden beliefs definitely spill over into all areas of our lives, don't they. When it comes to dieting, most people haven't reached a point where they are ready to admit that dieting doesn't work. I suppose it's the same for anything we're trying to do. People, in general, fear failure and what other people will think of us if we can't do something.


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