The keto diet “whoosh” effect isn’t exactly something you’ll read about in the medical how-to’s for this diet.
That’s because the concept behind the “whoosh” effect emerged from social sites like Reddit and some wellness blogs.
The concept is that if you follow the keto diet, one day you’ll wake up and — whoosh — look like you’ve lost weight.
In this article, you can read about what exactly is the whoosh effect and if there’s any truth to it. We also share some healthy approaches to eating and reaching your weight goal along the way.
The whoosh effect isn’t well-defined. People have described it in several different ways.
One common belief is that when you start the keto diet, the diet “causes” your fat cells to retain water.
Some people believe this can have an effect that you can see on and feel in your body. These keto dieters say the fat on their body starts to feel softer to the touch.
The concept of the whoosh effect is if you stay on the diet long enough, your cells start to release all the water and fat that’s thought to have built up.
When this process begins, this is called the “whoosh” effect.
Once all that water leaves, your body and skin supposedly feels firmer and it appears as though you’ve lost weight.
Some keto dieters even report they know they’ve achieved the whoosh effect because they start to have diarrhea.
Diarrhea is rarely a positive symptom. It can significantly dehydrate your body. It also robs your body of nutrients because your body doesn’t have enough time to digest them.
Let’s go ahead and dispel the myth — the whoosh effect described above isn’t real. It’s likely the result of some internet folks trying to promote the keto diet or who believe they’ve seen this process occur in their bodies.
But don’t just take our word for it that the whoosh effect isn’t real. Let’s take a look at the science.
The science behind the diet
The “classic” ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet healthcare providers prescribe to help manage seizures in people with epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
A strict ketogenic diet that’s monitored by a doctor and dietician may help relieve epilepsy symptoms in children whose seizures have not responded well to medications.
How the diet works
The purpose of the diet is to induce ketosis in the body. Normally, the body runs on fuel from carbohydrates in the form of glucose and other sugars.
When the body’s in ketosis, it runs on fat. That’s why it’s recommended that people eat a high-fat diet, usually from a variety of sources, on this diet.
They need to eat a low enough amount of carbohydrates to keep the body running on fat and a high enough amount of fat to fuel it.
Why the whoosh effect isn’t real
Here’s the science behind why the whoosh effect isn’t an accurate one. Essentially, those who support the whoosh effect concept are describing two processes:
- first, water weight loss
- second, fat loss
Ketosis causes the body to break down fat cells for energy. The components include:
- carbon dioxide
The rate at which your body breaks down these fat cells depends on how much energy your body uses in a day. This is the same calories in-calories out method that’s used in diets that include carbohydrates as well.
The second effect is that of water retention.
The kidneys mostly regulate the amount of water in the body. Sometimes, like when you’ve had a high-salt meal, you may feel a little more bloated or puffy than usual.
If you drink more water, you can usually “flush” the excess water from your system and feel less puffy.
This effect is similar to that of the whoosh effect. A lot of times, a person will think they’ve lost body fat because the scale reads less, when it’s actually water weight that they’ve lost.
We’ve already established that the whoosh effect isn’t real, so trying to trigger it isn’t a good idea.
Here’s an overview of what some people on the internet are saying about how to trigger this effect:
- On Reddit, one of the ways people say you can trigger the whoosh effect is to perform regular fasting, then eat a high-calorie “cheat meal.”
- Some blog sites say drinking alcohol the night before can help induce the whoosh effect due to alcohol’s diuretic effects. We certainly don’t recommend this.
- Others say typical fasting followed by eating according to the keto diet is enough to trigger the whoosh effect.
Basically, each of these approaches is aimed at dehydrating your body. While it may make you feel temporarily thinner, it’s not a lasting effect.
This is also a very up-and-down approach to dieting. It’s not a consistent approach to weight loss that can help you achieve healthy, long-term results.
According to a 2016 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, noticeable weight loss is achieved after losing an average of about 8 to 9 pounds.
Weight loss can take time. You can’t “whoosh” your way through this process. It involves consistently trying to eat a healthy diet and trying to include exercise in your daily routine.
Many claims made about the whoosh effect do not reflect real bodily processes.
But following a ketogenic diet can actually cause a person to lose water weight.
This is because limiting carbs changes how your body makes energy from food. When you first start on a very low carb diet, your body turns to carbs stored in your liver and muscle to get energy. This carb source is called glycogen.
Glycogen is stored with water in your body. Quite a lot of water, in fact — every 1 gram (g) of glycogen in muscle is stored with at least
When your body uses glycogen for energy, the stored water gets released, and your body expels it in your sweat and urine.
Your body may look and feel somewhat different during this time, but it’s not due to the “fat release” described by the whoosh effect.
There are lots of different diet approaches out there, but every option doesn’t work for everyone. It’s important to evaluate if a diet is offering realistic, consistent results that you can maintain over time.
Some of the ways to do this include:
- Take a realistic approach to weight loss. Try to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds a week.
- Try to eat as healthy as possible and include foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Try to include whole food groups in your diet as often as you can.
- Try to focus on healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as maintaining your energy and incorporating activities in your daily routine that help you feel good.
Getting healthy may require lifestyle changes because being healthy is about more than your waistline.
Try to focus on how you feel, including your mental and emotional well-being, in addition to your physical well-being. Opting for this approach can help you to achieve and to see greater long-term benefits.
The keto diet whoosh effect isn’t a real process. It’s more likely describing a loss of water weight, not real weight that would translate to long-term weight loss.
The keto diet can work for some people, but it’s important to evaluate it with the right mindset.
Focusing on shortcuts and practices that don’t produce healthy results, like dehydrating the body, won’t help you achieve your goals of reaching a moderate weight and enjoying long-term health benefits.