Weightloss plateaus when living the Keto way of life can be frustrating and confusing to say the least. One day, you’re dropping weight and your body is showing some positive changes, and the next all progress is halted. Plateaus have caused so many people to quit, and in doing so they often end up back where they started with all their progress erased. Some even end up worse off than what they were. I don’t want that to happen to you. I don’t want a weightloss stall to cause you to abandon your goals, especially since there are solutions to this problem. The info in this post will teach you what to look at so that you can push past stalls and plateaus free of confusion and frustration. Before we get into all that, we need to go over why stalls happen in the first place.
Why Do We Stall?
The answer to this question seems obvious but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know. The human body is amazing. It can adapt to almost anything if given enough time and consistent exposure. Our bodies are quite efficient as well. I said that to say this. If you consistently expose yourself to the same stimulus, over time, your body will adapt to handle that stimulus in the most efficient manner possible. Take lifting weights as an example. If you go to the gym regularly and do the same exercise, for the same amount of repetitions, with the same amount of weight, (assuming a proper diet) you will see progress at first. The reason is because this activity is new to your body and in turn puts stress on your body in various ways. To deal with and decrease this stress, your body changes itself to better deal with it if it happens again. If you keep doing it for an extended period of time the progress will stop. This happens when the activity is no longer new and becomes routine. At this point your body has adapted to easily deal with the stress placed on it and operates in the most efficient manner.
Compare that to Keto. Most people see quick and amazing results when they first start the Ketogenic Diet. It comes as a huge shock to the body (in a good way) when you change your main fuel source from carbohydrates to fat. Think about it, you’ve been eating a high carb diet for most of your life and then all of a sudden you switch it to fat, that’s a huge change. It causes your metabolism to rev up because internally, your body is doing something it isn’t used to doing. It doesn’t know how to run on this “new” type of fuel as efficiently as it runs on carbs. But, like anything else, if you stick to it long enough your body will adapt to it and become more efficient.
Essentially, if you’ve been on keto for a few months, this is why your progress has stalled. You’ve been on keto long enough for your body to become used to all the changes.
If you’re just starting out and all of a sudden your weightloss stops, then something other than adaptation is halting your progress.
How to Break That Plateau
Now that you have a better idea of what’s going on, we can get into what can be done to get you over this hurdle.
Double Check Your Macros
Being out of ketosis can stall your weightloss progress. I know this seems obvious. Sometimes people don’t consider checking to see if they’re in ketosis or not and being out of ketosis is a symptom of your macros being off. Keeping track of what you eat can be a pain in the butt, so many people don’t. If you’re not sure about the foods you should be eating on keto or their macro profiles, then you really should be tracking what you eat. Many people who don’t, often over eat on their carbs or protein. Eating too many carbs and/or more protein than you need to can put you out of ketosis and keep you out if you aren’t aware of it.
If your weightloss is stalling the first thing you need to do is make sure your macros are right. You should be getting 70% of your calories from fat, 25% from protein, and 5% or less from carbohydrates. If you can’t look back because you haven’t been tracking, then start. And make sure you’re following the macro profile I mentioned before.
Double Check Your Protein Intake
This kind of goes with checking your macros but I gave it it’s own section because people over eat on their protein quite frequently. The low carb aspect is easy to understand but getting your protein intake pinned down can be tricky. The people who make this mistake the most are people who exercise while on keto. It’s only logical to think that because you exercise, you need more protein. And, if you think that, then you are right. You do need more protein if you exercise. Figuring out how much isn’t as simple for a keto dieter as it is for someone on a traditional high carb diet. The main reason is that excess protein is converted to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. Someone on a high carb diet runs on glucose already, so you can see why excess protein consumption is of no real concern to them.
When it comes to protein intake the type of exercise you do, and how frequently you do it, plays a role in how much protein you should be eating. Someone who does cardio predominantly doesn’t need as much protein as someone who does resistance training. At the same time, someone who exercises twice a week doesn’t need as much protein as someone who exercises 5 times a week.
Watch Those Sugar Substitutes
There are some foods out there that don’t contain sugar, but contain sugar substitutes to make them sweet. Sugar substitute is a broad term referring to sugar alcohols and artificial or natural sweeteners, that are not sugar. Most often they contain little to no calories, but that doesn’t mean you can eat as much of them as you want. They can still be detrimental to your weightloss goals if you eat too much of them by triggering an insulin response. Worse yet, they can knock you out of ketosis. If you’re stalling and you eat a lot of
- Sugar free candies
- Sugar free syrups
- Atkins bars (and similar products)
- Sugar alcohols
- Splenda, Sweet and Low, etc.
They are a big reason why you are stalling. Limit them as much as possible.
If you do get the urge to eat or drink something sweet, stevia or erythritol will be your best bet.
Eating Dairy Products
Many people say that eating dairy can cause a weight loss stall on keto. For me personally eating dairy isn’t a problem. I’ve seen results on keto while both including and excluding dairy. This is something that is more specific to the individual person. Your body might react differently to dairy than mine does so the best thing to do here is experiment. Of course, if you are lactose intolerant, you’ll want to avoid dairy altogether.
Changing Your Routines
As I mentioned before, a big reason we stall can be attributed to our body’s ability to adapt to our habits and routines. The rest of the solutions in this post will be more about combating your body’s ability to adapt, and less about specific dietary solutions.
Change Your Meal Frequency and Timing
Your routine of when you eat can play a factor in stalling on keto. To put it simply, if you are stalling and you eat small meals frequently throughout the day, try eating bigger meals less frequently. Those in a stall who eat bigger meals less frequently throughout the day should try eating smaller meals more frequently. Another thing to do is adjust when you eat. If you are someone who eats first thing in the morning, try pushing back your breakfast time by an hour or so. Think about when and how you eat and think about what you can change to combat your body’s ability to adapt.
Pay Attention to How Much You Eat
The amount of food you eat can certainly play a factor in your weightloss progress. Sometimes when people decide they want to lose weight, they cut too many calories. At first they see some progress. When the progress slows or stops, they reduce their calories even further but still don’t see any results. Confusion sets in, then frustration, and nine times out of ten they quit. The thought behind it makes sense. If you eat less calories than you burn, then you should lose some weight. So why aren’t you? It’s because there is a limit to how low you can set your calorie intake. Instead of cutting calories when you stall try increasing them slowly. Doing so will give your metabolism a boost. I’d say a good rate is one to two hundred calories per week and remember to pay attention to how your body reacts to the increase.
On the flip side you might be eating too much. Keto is just like any other diet where if you eat more than what you need, you will stop losing or even start gaining weight. If you can, look back at how much you were eating before you realized you were stalling and begin reducing your calorie intake by about one to two hundred calories per week. Monitor your body’s response and if you start to make progress don’t cut any more until your progress stops. Then, once again, adjust accordingly.
Increase Your Metabolism
Your metabolism can be the cause of your weightloss standstill. A slow metabolism will put a stop to any progress you’re trying to make. Fortunately, there are things you can do to rev up that metabolism and get back on the weightloss track.
The biggest booster to your metabolism is exercise. All the extra activity and the subsequent bodily repairs that come after it will put your metabolism through the roof. But, like I said before, you’ll need to change up what you do after a while to combat your body’s adaptive tendencies. That change can come in the form of distance, time, intensity, reps, type of activity, etc. Also, the rise in metabolism you get from exercise is only temporary. So to keep it up, you’ll have to exercise regularly.
Another way to boost your metabolism is to gain muscle. And yes, I know that gaining muscle could make that number on the scale go up. I understand that you’re giving keto a shot because you want to lose weight but hear me out. You have to look at weight loss and health in general in the long term and the short term. Having more muscle on your body will make your resting metabolic rate go up. Which in turn, will raise the amount of calories you can take in for weight loss and maintenance, making it easier for you to stay leaner in the future. Having more muscle on your body will make life easier for you down the road whether you choose to stick with keto or not.
The strategies in this post are strategies I’ve used in the past and present to break stalls. A big reason people give up when faced with a problem is that they don’t know how to begin correcting it. My hope is that this post will be helpful, at the very least, in giving you a starting point when trying to reverse a stall. In the best case, it will help you to learn a little more about your body and actually help you to break stalls and reach your goals.