Keto Questions: What Is the “Whoosh Effect”?

Keto Questions: What Is the “Whoosh Effect”?

One of the stranger phenomenon that occurs when you are losing weight is the so-called “whoosh effect” that I really wish had a better or more scientific sounding name.  It’s the name we give to a very common occurrence where you are eating right and doing everything you are supposed to do but no weight loss happens for several days and then all of a sudden, you lose 3-5 lbs in a single night.  Over the course of the 180 lbs I have lost so far it has happened to me so many times that I rarely worry about it anymore, where in those early days it would absolutely mess with my head and convince me I was doing something wrong.

What is Causing the Rapid Weight Loss in a “Whoosh”?

So what’s happening in the days leading up to a “whoosh”?  Here is our best guess because it does’t appear to be something that has been studied a whole lot.

As triglycerides that are in the fat cells are broken down into their component fatty acids and glycerol and moved out of the fat cells to fuel your body, your body begins to fill those fat cells with water.  It’s not absolutely clear why this happens but the prevailing theory is that your body is trying to reach a state of homeostasis and keep your fat cells the same size they were in order to make refilling them with triglycerides easier.  These cells will generally hold that water for a few days and then release it all at once.  You will usually find yourself heading to the bathroom multiple times over the course a few hours and find that you have dropped 3-5 lbs in one night.

While the fat cells are transitioning from mostly fat filled to more water filled, you will find that your adipose fat around your midsection will get “lumpy”, almost like soft marbles are under your skin.  Then when the water is emptied, your fat tightens back up and the process starts all over again.  This is why when you are tracking your weight loss, it is not one smooth slope but almost a stair-step pattern as the weight comes off in bursts.

Can You Speed Up a “Whoosh”?

I have read several blogs that suggest that breaking your diet pattern can cause a “whoosh” to break, so either eating a high carb meal or a high calorie meal can spur one on.  I say that you should absolutely not do either of these things because they will cause an insulin spike which will force fat to be stored back into the fat cells.  While this will absolutely force the water out and “tighten up” your fat cells, you are doing it at the expense of real fat loss.  What sense does that make?

Remember that while I understand that the number on the scale can be a big deal, you need to remember that we aren’t trying to lose weight as much as we are trying to lose fat.  It’s a subtle distinction but a crucial one.  You have to be in this for the long haul and not be willing to break the long term benefits of being in ketosis for the short term gain of seeing the needle on the scale move south a bit.

So what should you do?  Keep calm and keto on.  Stick with highly nutritious low-carb and high-fat meals that will nourish your body, keep you feeling well-fed, and keep you in a state of nutritional ketosis.  Stay the course and you will reap the benefits.

Keto Questions: What Is the "Whoosh Effect"?

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49 Comments

  • Lynn

    March 6, 2017

    What about eating foods that have a natural diuretic effect? like asparagus for instance. Will this help?

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      March 6, 2017

      An excellent question! I haven’t seen any studies that address this question so I’m not sure.

      Reply
  • Allison

    May 6, 2017

    Fat cells get bigger or smaller, they don’t disappear unless you have liposuction. When the fat cells shrink, the body holds on to body fluid around the fat cells to fill up the extra space, you will lose this fluid naturally over time (the blood stream will reabsorb this fluid and expel it through the elimination process). Just like if you were to have surgery and have an organ removed, the body fills that empty space, its like a response to an injury (that’s why people have drains put in after some surgeries, it prevents build up of interstitial fluid). Eating high calorie or drinking alcohol to induce the whoosh effect is counter productive. Keep up with safe and varied exercise along with a nutrient dense and varied diet, and the rest will take care of itself. A fit body is a life style, and a time table should not even be followed. It takes a long time for an extra 20, 30 or 40 pounds to be gained, so just know that it takes a long time to safely and effectively lose that weight. You’ll never have to worry about your weight again if you allow proper time to lose the excess weight!

    Reply
    • Cavalier

      November 10, 2017

      I am just responding to your very first sentence..yes it’s true that your fat cells get bigger or smaller but they don’t disappear…BUT you said UNLESS you have liposuction which is not true..lipo just sucks out the fat it does not suck out your fat cells…you are born with x amount of fat cells and like you said they get bigger and smaller but never go away.

      Reply
      • Aarn Farmer

        November 10, 2017

        So you think liposuction somehow goes into individual cells, removes the fat but leaves the cell itself behind? I’m not an expert but I’ve seen enough YouTube videos to know that is not what is happening during liposuction.

        Reply
        • Teresa

          April 18, 2018

          Holy crap – that looks like an AWFUL thing to have done!

          Reply
      • Mike

        May 9, 2018

        Haha no….

        Reply
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  • Marie Mckenzie

    July 26, 2017

    Should i continued with my cholesterol meds

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      July 26, 2017

      I can not give medical advice and you should discuss that with your Dr. All I can tell you is that I would never take a statin myself. I would recommend you read the book Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore. Excellent book that will help you make this decision.
      http://amzn.to/2uyRVZQ

      Reply
  • Jan

    August 7, 2017

    This happened to me today. It was crazy! I bet I lost a bunch. Could not leave the house. Totally makes sense…your description. Lots of water and fat left the building. Lol! Had to google it…thought it was this whoosh people talked about. Thanks for explaining.

    Reply
  • Susan

    September 6, 2017

    I just started Keto a few weeks ago. The first week I lost 10 lbs (I know this was water weight), but I had terrible back pain. So I upped my carbs and the back pain went away. However, this last week or so I am retaining water like crazy. My legs/ankles, feet, and hands are so swollen. Is this my body trying to regulate itself? Do you have any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      September 6, 2017

      It would depend on how far you bumped up your carbs. If they are too high then they could definitely be causing that to happen. Also, certain medications can cause retention. Are you sure you have good kidney function? Barring those factors, then I would say you are going through a transition and if you stick with keto, it should self-regulate within 2-4 weeks. The back pain is odd though because that rarely happens. I know my back pain went almost entirely away once my inflammation decreased and excess weight decreased as well.

      Reply
      • Nena

        November 18, 2017

        I’ve been doing Keto exactly 4 weeks today… only lost 4 pounds .. very discouraged after constantly reading people losing such great amounts in short periods of time.. I feel like at this rate I get the same results with reg dieting.. Also. My back has been killing me too! I was wondering wth??? I guess I’m not the only one!!

        Reply
        • Aarn Farmer

          November 19, 2017

          Thanks for reaching out. Let me see what I can do to help. First let’s tackle the back pain. If I had to guess, I would say it is probably kidney pain from dehydration. The Ketogenic diet is naturally diuretic and requires a lot of water to replace water lost from your muscles. Being dehydrated can lead to over worked kidneys which will start to ache. You are probably also not eating enough salt as your salt stores are depleted as you lose water. I use Redmond’s Real Salt as it is also higher in other minerals besides Sodium (http://amzn.to/2B0HAXJ)

          Now for the weight loss. It is impossible for me to track down the issue here because I don’t know what you are eating. If you think you would benefit from more personalized support, I would encourage you to join our support group. It provides weekly meal plans, ongoing FB Live training videos and a great group of people who are very knowledgeable about the diet and can help in many ways. If you would like to join us, go to MySugarFreeJourney.com/28Day to sign up. Hope to see you there!

          Reply
      • Sasha

        January 19, 2018

        The back pain may have been kidney pain…. I got it day two on keto and needed to up my water consumption. It’s totally gone now after upping water

        Reply
      • Karen

        March 13, 2018

        I had horrible back pain also about 4 weeks into keto. Lasted for a week and finally went away. I suspect part of it was being dehydrated and the rest was my body adjusting to being in keto. Have been fine for 5 weeks now, habe been on the keto diet a total of 10 weeks now and am down 13 lbs.

        Reply
      • Michelle

        July 23, 2018

        May I suggest that you up your water intake. One it will help kidney and liver process but also it will plump up the intervertebral disc that cushion the spine. True about all joint and articulation that have some sort of bursa or disc for cushion.

        Reply
        • Aarn Farmer

          July 23, 2018

          Thanks! I have definitely upped my water lately.

          Reply
  • Kelli Duncan

    October 10, 2017

    I have also been having more back pain. I’ve been doing keto for about 3 weeks now and down 11 lbs. Not sure what’s causing my back pain?

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      October 10, 2017

      If I had to guess, I’d say it has something to do with dehydration. As you keto-adapt, your body sheds water from muscles and sometimes that results in minicramps and pains. I would up your water and salt intake and see if that resolves the situation.

      Reply
  • Trinabart

    October 26, 2017

    So i tried keto bombs today, with coconut oil, and now i jave diarrhea is this normal

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      October 26, 2017

      Yep. Start slow and small. If you aren’t used to it and you eat a lot, it just goes right through you.

      Reply
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  • JoAnn

    February 11, 2018

    Can you have a keto whoosh day? Multiple trips to the bathroom? The first few days of this WOE I felt backed up and now this. I have lost almost 15 lbs in about 12 days. I know it is water weight but still happy that it is gone. I have been in ketosis since the 3rd day. I bought the strips and have tested at least 3 times since I started.

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      February 11, 2018

      Absolutely. Congrats!

      Reply
    • Vanessa

      March 10, 2018

      Have you heard of the water whoosh?

      Reply
  • Eva

    February 13, 2018

    Today was the end on week 4 on Keto. Weeks 1,2,3 I lost 5lbs each week for a total of 15lbs lost in 3 weeks. Today’s weigh in…..0!!! Too soon to have plateaued. And although I tried a few new recipes I’m still diligently counting carbs and calories. Any advice? Similar experiences??

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      February 17, 2018

      It happens. I wouldn’t worry about it. Just KCKO.

      Reply
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  • Rachel

    March 27, 2018

    I have lost 13 pounds and gained 4 back. Even though I count everything and stay on track to a T I will loose then gain then loose then gain. I feel like I’m not getting anywhere! Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      March 27, 2018

      There are a ton of things you could try. Try experimenting with different foods as there might be a food you are sensitive to like dairy or eggs. You can try working in some Intermittent Fasting or weight bearing exercises. You can just stick with it as is for a while and see if there are other things your body os trying to repair before it deals with losing weight.

      Reply
  • Mary Wilkie

    April 4, 2018

    I have been doing keto for 7 weeks. The “whoosh” effect is definitely something I have experienced especially having a couple of carb free drinks the night before. I am curious about the use of over the counter diuretics just to level out my water retention. Any feedback?
    I have been in full ketosis for weeks now and I sometimes get disheartened when I gain even though I know it’s just water weight.

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      April 4, 2018

      As a general rule, I’m against trying to hack weight loss with pills or supplements. Just stay the course and eat good high quality food. It took you decades to put the weight on, just give your body the opportunity to heal and the weight will eventually come off.

      Reply
  • Diana

    June 14, 2018

    I’m doing low carb/keto and have lost about 40lbs and am now 149ish. I have 15-20 more to lose. I just noticed that my upper arms, which are very fat, now feel lumpy/bumpy like there’s marbles under the skin. If I pull the skin tight, you can see all these lumps. Kinda freaking me out. So are you saying that this is a good thing?? That’s I’m gonna see a woosh and my arms will soon be skinny? lol!

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      June 15, 2018

      Those marbles aren’t a good or bad thing. They are just the subcutaneous fat bunching up because you are losing. Similar to the cellulite you see on the back of legs. Unfortunately it’s just a side effect of age and losing weight. It might smooth out or it might not. The one thing you can be sure of is your overall health will improve with the lost weight. Congrats!

      Reply
  • Louann

    July 4, 2018

    Came upon your site “accidentally “. Enjoying the articles and comments. I’m trying keto again and plan to stick to it. Awaiting the “whoosh” affect!

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      July 5, 2018

      Glad you found us! You might join the FB support group for some help. MySugarFreeJourney.com/28day

      Reply
  • Tiffany

    July 12, 2018

    I had a physician tell me to use Celtic Sea Salt. I take 2 capsules daily. He said that Celtic Sea Salt binds with (something) in the body and helps you retain more water (the good way for hydration). Just a thought.

    Reply
  • Anne

    July 29, 2018

    I’ve been doing this is WOE (under 20 net carbs per day) for 9 weeks and I’ve been on a 3 week stall. When does the whoosh usually happen?

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      July 30, 2018

      I don’t think it ever “usually” happens. It just happens when it happens.

      Reply
  • Serena

    August 29, 2018

    To day will be day 6 of keto for me. I feel like my belly has just gotten bigger. I have neither lost nor gained weight but my upper stomach is definitely more protruding. i’ll give it a few weeks. Could my body be getting ready for this whoosh effect? Like maybe im bloated now because my fat cells have filled witb water? My water and salt intake are fine, fats are high, protein moderate and carbs under 20 net. Shouldn’t I have seen some kind of loss by now?

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      August 29, 2018

      You are only 6 days in. It takes 2 weeks or more to get fat adapted. Don’t worry at all about what the scale is saying or what your belly looks like. Just keep going like you are and let your body adjust to its new reality and then you see the results you want.

      Reply
  • Ana

    September 15, 2018

    Can this happen to smaller people? I have been stuck for 2 weeks being strict keto and working out 6 days a week…. that being said i am about 5 pounds away my WG. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      September 17, 2018

      I think it is less common with smaller people. You will have issues getting those last 5 lbs because with the working out you are doing, you are adding muscles as fat is coming off. Don’t stop the exercise, just know that it will take a while to get where you are going.

      Reply

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