You Aren’t Alone?
Have you hit a keto weight loss plateau sometimes called a weight loss stall? It doesn’t seem to matter what diet you are on, you go along quite happily losing weight on a regular basis then all of a sudden it just stops, and you have no idea why.
You haven’t cheated you haven’t changed anything so what happened? OK you didn’t plan on losing weight indefinitely, but you haven’t reached your goal weight yet, so how do you turn this keto weight loss plateau round and what the heck caused it?
Not that this helps but weight loss stalls happen to most of us especially when you are dieting consistently. It doesn’t mean you did something wrong more than likely you just need to shake up and adjust your eating habits a little.
Now I don’t mean you should jump off your current keto wagon and go from low carb to a high carb or high protein or some other extreme plan. Keep in mind the keto diet has been working well for you so far you just might need to shake it up a bit.
So, the message I am trying to convey is don’t panic, a keto plateau is quite normal and there are several ways that we are going to explore that will help you to break your plateau and get back on track.
Now, let’s take a quick look at some of the possible reasons as to why you have hit this keto weight loss plateau in the first place, so hopefully we can avoid it happening again.
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Why has my weight stalled on my Keto Diet?
There are many aspects involved in weight loss, both achieving it and maintaining it, but since I know you are here for a solution to your keto weight loss plateau, we are going to keep this article simple.
The generally accepted logic is that if you eat less calories than your body requires to maintain its current weight you will lose weight, that makes sense, right?
Initially when you start a ketogenic diet you will see a substantial weight loss in the first few days this is generally down to water loss caused by your new carbohydrate restrictions.
However, this is only short-term and consistent fat loss is dependent on your calorie intake and its reduction.
In the normal course of events when we set out to lose weight, we lose both fat and muscle mass as well. The ratio of fat and muscle mass you lose depends on a number of factors such as whether you exercise, what type of exercise, how overweight or underweight you are, stress levels and a number of other things.
To give you an example if you aren’t stressed, get sufficient sleep, eat the correct amount of protein for your body weight and lift weights, its more than likely that you will lose your surplus fat and maybe enhance or increase your muscle mass.
At the other end of the scale when you don’t sleep well, have a stressful lifestyle, don’t eat sufficient protein, don’t do any exercise, then it is quite possible that you will lose your muscle mass along with your fat.
Given that one of the objectives on following a ketogenic diet or lifestyle is to primarily lose fat you need to take these factors into consideration.
Calorie Deficits & Protein
To get the best possible results you need to set a calorie deficit that is suitable for you and your body and which includes the correct amount of protein for you. (If you aren’t sure what this is check this keto calculator here)
However, common sense and logic should prevail in that people who don’t have a lot of weight to lose should follow a smaller calorie deficit and those with more of a surplus can handle a larger calorie deficit.
But immaterial of which category you may fall into there are two primary reasons as to why you may suddenly plateau and stop losing weight.
- Your body has decreased its daily energy requirement;
- Your calorie deficit needs adjusting because you don’t require so many now you’ve lost weight.
There are a number of theories and studies giving a variety of reasons as to what causes our bodies reaction to less food and I am sure you have heard that we can go into “starvation” mode. Which is another debatable topic for another time.
But since the purpose of this article is to get you kick started back into fat burning mode, I am not going to address them today instead we are going to focus on the best way to get your weight moving in the right direction again and that is “off” your body.
So, let’s go back to the two possible causes being
- a decreased daily energy requirement and,
- a reduced calorie deficit.
The good news is that these are relatively simple to deal with.
Basically, you just need to find the correct strategy for your keto weight loss plateau and get your weight loss in motion again.
We will start with the most effective known methods and then look at some more options that may give you a boost.
Just a word of warning here, if you are still losing 1 or 2 pounds here and there that is still weight loss and NOT a plateau.
The strategies we are going to cover here are only for people that have totally stalled in their weight loss efforts and need some help to get moving again.
So, let’s look at your options.
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1. Re-Calculate Your Calories
Whilst following a ketogenic diet is fairly simple it still surprises me how many people misinterpret some of the guidelines. I have come across quite a number who think that if they just count carbs, they will lose weight.
Unfortunately, that is not true, remember we mentioned earlier that weight loss will depend on total calories consumed?
If you consume more calories than your body burns that will result in a surplus of calories. Since those excess calories need to go somewhere, they get stored as fat.
This will happen immaterial as to whether those surplus calories are carb, fat or protein.
One of the primary reasons that people can lose so much weight on low carb diets is that fat and protein tends to be very filling, so you aren’t tempted to overeat as you get satiated a lot faster, than when you are eating lots of sugar and carbs.
But when your weight loss stalls one of the first places you should start looking is at your calorie intake. It is quite common when you lose weight for this to need adjusting periodically.
The primary key to maintaining a keto diet or indeed any diet is to ensure that you are maintaining a calories deficit.
If you aren’t sure how to calculate this correctly the easiest way is to use an online keto calculator, there are many of these available online but the one I used can be found here.
The calculator will tell you total calories, fat, protein and carbs you need each day based on a number of factors such as your age, weight, height and lifestyle.
Once you have that figured out, I suggest you try using an app to track your daily calorie usage. Again, you will find lots of apps available but the one I found easiest to use and accurate was MyFitnessPal. There is a paid version available but the free one suited all my needs just fine.
Once you get yourself back on track with the right number of calories, carbs, proteins etc you can get yourself ready for your next stage of fat fighting weight loss.
Don’t forget however as you continue to lose weight you will need to keep revisiting and checking and adjusting your total calorie requirement.
2. Give Yourself an Occasional Diet Break
You may find that no matter how well you follow your keto diet without cheating or exceeding your macro allowances your weight loss will slow down or stop.
This doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong, in fact its quite normal and can be caused by several things.
Your metabolism could have adjusted to your new lifestyle and slowed down. You may be struggling to be as active or even feel the desire to eat more. This does not mean you are doing something wrong, but what it does imply that you just might need a break from your diet.
If that sounds confusing let me put it another way that might make sense, maybe your body has become too complacent with your lifestyle in terms of food and exercise and you just need to break the pattern it has become used to.
Whilst there are no guarantees this will work for everyone, it is not going to do you any harm to try and let’s face it if you aren’t losing weight currently what harm is it going to do?
However, you should still monitor your weight and eating habits I am not suggesting you go crazy eating foods you know are bad for you, I am simply suggesting you not be so rigid with your low carb high fat regime.
3. Reduce Your Carbs
Another method you can try to break through your plateau is to reduce your calorie and carb deficit. But a word of caution here is to do this carefully if you are already at the lower end of the calorie scale you need to ensure you are still eating sufficient to maintain your health.
This is one method I can actually speak to personally given I have had a couple of plateau incidents during my keto weight loss and adjustments.
I hit a plateau about 4 months into keto and for 6 weeks just nothing moved in the weight loss department. After talking to Aaron Day from fatforweightloss.com.au he suggested I try cutting out dairy.
I also started following his new keto weekly plan which dropped my carbs to 10 or under per day.
My calorie deficit during that time was around 1200 calories per day. But you need to keep in mind I am 163 cms tall, weigh 76 kgs and have a fairly sedentary lifestyle.
Sounds radical I know but it worked for me busted my stall and within 3 days I was back into losing weight.
4. Protein is Important!
It doesn’t matter what diet you follow eating the correct amount of protein is critical. The most obvious reasons being that if you don’t eat sufficient protein you will lose muscle mass plus you will run out of energy very quickly.
But having said that overeating on protein isn’t good for you either. Especially if you are trying to stay in ketosis (click the link if you want to know more about ketosis).
Excess protein will slow down or halt your ketone production and put you right back into the sugar burning mode, which you’ve worked so hard to get out of.
Calculating the right amount of protein, you need isn’t complicated. Again, it will depend on your exercise levels i.e. more exercise = more protein required. But this is where the keto calculator will do the hard work for you just input your
5. Consistency is the Key!
Its important to be consistent when you are following a ketogenic diet. If you consider that your body has taken a few days or weeks to get keto-adapted, as well as probably fighting off the keto flu, do you really want to set that back with a cheat day?
The reason I am bringing that up here is that we often fool ourselves by saying I only cheated a bit, shouldn’t make any difference. But in actual fact that one “little” cheat could have possibly kicked you right out of ketosis and you are right back where you started without realising.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to check for ketosis, some people use urine strips like these or alternatively you can invest in a keto meter like this one from Amazon.
If you weigh yourself daily, you may even see you’ve gained weight again because the water weigh has come back or just no more losses. So, what might appear to be a weight loss stall is just your body trying to get keto-adapted again.
6. Don’t get carried away with Exercise
Studies have shown that exercising too little or too much can affect your metabolism and cause it to slow down. Is this something you might have been doing?
The theory is that over exercising for more than an hour a day can cause your metabolic rate to drop. But if you don’t exercise enough this also causes a decrease in your metabolic rate.
Much as I don’t want to say you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t, it seems you need to find the right balance between the two if you want to avoid that dreaded weight loss plateau.
7. Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
If you have been doing keto for any length of time, I suspect you will have read or heard of intermittent fasting.
The principals behind intermittent fasting are that by depriving yourself of food for a specified window of time your insulin and blood sugar levels will drop to a base level which in turn puts your body into a fasting state able to burn ketones and fat for fuel.
You might question why that is any different to a normal keto diet ketosis and burning fat for fuel.
The reasons given are that it accelerates the fat burning process because your body isn’t being inhibited by food during the intermittent interval period.
Another bonus is that once your body has adapted to fasting your craving and hunger will lessen.
There are a number of variations on how intermittent fasting is practiced. But the one thing they have in common is that no food is eaten during a certain window of time.
The most common method is 16/8 this means for 16 hrs no food is consumed then the 8 hr window is when you eat.
Other variants can be a 24 hr fast, 5/2 days fasts where you eat normally for 5 days and fast for 2, it is up to you to determine what suits you and your lifestyle if you want to try this.
Some people choose not to eat at all during the fasting period and only drink water whilst others will have a bulletproof coffee and maybe bone broth during the abstaining period.
It is however important to stay well hydrated during your fasting period.
To sum it up by intermittent fasting for whichever period you might choose you are varying your routine which in turn might help in turn with breaking your weigh loss stall.
8. Minced Beef Fat Fast
Another method you might like to consider to break through your plateau is to utilize what is called a fat fast.
Whilst it sounds a bit ominous its actually quite straight forward, meaning that you will only eat fat usually in the form of cooked mince for 3 days.
So basically, you are on an extreme calorie restriction as your breakfast, lunch and dinner will consist of minced beef. You can cook this with some onions and seasoning for flavour but no vegetables or other side dishes.
This will put you into a calorie deficit hopefully resulting in a fairly fast weight loss, as well as increasing your ketone levels.
I tried this and yes it certainly caused me to lose weight, but I couldn’t sustain for 3 days, two was the most I could manage.
Once you’ve done the fat fast re-weigh yourself and recalculate your macros to put yourself back into a normal keto routine.
9. Be Vigilant About Carbs
Watching and counting your carbs might sound obvious but they are sneaky little things and worm their way into all sorts of things.
Get into the habit of checking labels especially when you are out shopping, and make sure you weigh and measure portion sizes.
I learnt this lesson the hard way, and I think it was the primary cause for my weight stall twice, but I am wiser now and far more careful about what I prepare for my meals.
Its been quite an education learning just how much sugar and other nasties are hidden in store bought foods and drinks.
Even learning which vegetables aren’t keto friendly, you have to watch out for those carbs they add up quickly and can wreak havoc with your keto plan.
Your Weight Plateau Buster Plan
There is no denying that hitting a keto weight loss plateau or weight loss stall is frustrating, but you can choose whether to bemoan the fact or set about busting the stall its all up to you.
I’ve given you some ideas and suggestions here which hopefully you will be able to take away and adapt to make your own plateau buster plan.
On a positive note, plateaus in any diet happen, the thing is not to let it get you down but to take control and get past it and get back on track.
You are wished every success with your kick starting your keto diet back into gear.