The ketogenic diet, when done properly (that means using no potions or pills, just real food) is one of the most effective weight loss tools and has also proven to have many health benefits. Most people are delighted in the early days of their keto journey when they see that initial weight loss on the scales, even though most realize this loss is mostly water weight. It can, however, be extremely discouraging when the weight doesn’t continue to fall off as quickly every step of the way.
A keto diet weight loss ‘stall’ can be very frustrating, but it’s no reason to give up or even get discouraged. There are some quick ways to troubleshoot your keto and ensure that you on track. First, lets figure out what’s going on and more importantly, is a stall, really a stall?
Healthy (Keto) Weight Loss; It's not a steady downward drop
First and foremost..and this should probably be your main takeaway from this article!!
Keto is primarily a path to optimal health. It isn’t a quick weight loss because you have a wedding on the weekend. It isn’t a crash/fad diet, its a life long journey.
When you start keto, there is not spigot that attaches to your side to magically drain away the fat. You didn’t lose the weight overnight and you shouldn’t expect the weight to come off fast either! Keto is quality and quality takes time. You don’t want to lose weight too fast, its not healthy and it also not appealing. Rapid weight loss can get you into a heap of trouble fast; vitamin deficiencies, muscle loss, headaches, saggy skin, excessive hair loss, dark circles under your eyes, lack of energy/malaise and many other issues. Its just not pretty, is it?
The keyword here is healthy! Especially in the early days of ketogenic living, you have to realize that keto is not just loss of fat. Your body is recognizing that you are taking steps to become healthy and it taking its own steps to help with the process. Your body is working hard behind the scenes to get you healthy!
Losing too quickly can shock the body and throw it into a metabolic spin, which is never a good thing. You want your metabolism to be a highly efficient and stable system, not one that has crazy ups and downs. Keeping this in mind, general recommendations for weight loss are 1-2 pounds a week. This is much easier on your body than dropping weight in mass amounts.
After the initial (water) weight loss, your body is working very hard at reinventing itself and trying to catch up with what you’re telling it to do now. In reality, you’re reprogramming your whole body to work differently and this doesn’t happen overnight. It took years for your body to learn to store its fat, it will take time for it to relearn this new programming. We can’t expect to change our ways and instantly see our body magically transform into a fit and trim version of our former selves.
There will be times that the scales will not move! This is a normal part of weight loss! In fact, the scales may even show a gain, this is okay too and should be expected as normal weight loss.
As long as you’re staying below your daily carb limit with no cheats, you’re avoiding hidden sugars and additives/preservatives,your keto will be successful. Trust the process and keep going.
We need to find better ways to define our weight loss. That number on the scales can be bumped out of line by so many factors; not enough salt, too much water, not enough water, you just ate a meal, you haven’t pooped yet, just to name a few.
In all likelihood, you’ve lost inches off your body, fat has turned to muscle, your pants have gotten too big…things are happening behind the scenes that can not be measured by that scale. Most often, the transformation of getting healthy and losing weight is nothing to do with the number that you see on that scale.
If you’re at the point that it’s been several weeks and the scale still isn’t budging, read on for tips and insight..
Fine tuning your keto
- Carb creeping
Your carb intake may be too high. You have to be really disciplined and aware of all carbs that go into your body. It’s a little nibbling here and there and the little extras that can lead to a carb creep, so make sure you count all carbs.
In the early days we recommend that you track. Don’t worry you don’t have to do it forever, and yes..we know its a pain in the tush. How else can you figure out how much you’re consuming though? Once you get the n hang of it, you can stop . Its also good to check in with your tracker every once in while, to ensure you’re not carb creeping. Its a real thing.
Check out our video on how to set up and use my Fitness Pal HERE
Bonus tip! Even when a label says sugar-free, doesn’t necessarily mean its carb-free! Know the 56 different names for sugar and avoid them at all cost.
- Protein is too low
You don’t have to eat your macro limits daily, but protein is the one you need to ensure you’re eating enough!
Making sure your protein level is right is a balancing act to say the least. Too little protein (and the fats from that protein) and your body will not be satisfied and you will be hungry, which often results in a cheat mentality. You should not be hungry while on keto.
If you’re not eating enough high quality, real protein (not processed), your body may turn to consuming its own muscle for a source of needed nutrition.
If your protein levels are too high, the excess protein can convert into glycogen and disrupt ketosis. Keep in mind that eating too much protein is not easy to achieve, you will have to eat enough protein for two or three people. Excessive protein amounts is most often seen in people who consume protein drinks and bars. Eat high quality animal protein and fat, avoid processed drinks and snacks and this should not be an issue.
- Too Many Calories via Macros
While you don’t have to count calories when you’re in Ketosis, keep in mind that not all calories are equal and there’s still such a thing as too many. Fat contains twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein, so it’s important your fat intake lies between the recommended ranges. Learn how to properly eat your macros as described in our keto 101 article. Quality keto isn’t about guzzling fats every day, its knowing how to harness your fat macros to keep you feeling satisfied.
There is no diet that lets you consume unlimited amounts of calories and still lose weight. While a ketogenic diet that uses fat as fuel is also one that will not usually allow you to overeat, is still possible to eat too many calories. This is usually the result of a very high fat intake . Often times because of consumption of bullet proof coffee, fat bombs and also from too much dairy or nuts.
Tip!! Eat your macros, don’t drink them! Stick to food without an ingredients list where possible; Real meat, fish and healthy dietary fats.
The goal of ketosis is to burn your stored fat, not excess fat from your diet. this can be particularly troublesome for those around menopausal age. Determine the amount of fat you need per day by listening to your body, it will tell you by way of hunger. (Read the keto 101 for further info on this)
It is harder to over-eat fat, just because of how filling it is. Its easy to see yourself eating a full bag of potato chips or Doritos (carbs), but if you try to do the same thing with healthy fats, for example bacon, your body will tell you its full way before you eat the entire package. Listen to your body and your own macros, use fat to conquer your hunger. Don’t eat fat just because its there.
On the flip side of this, you may not be eating enough calories. This usually occurs in somebody who is looking at the ketogenic WOE as a quick fix diet and are eating minuscule portions, trying to exist on rabbit food with no fats, or those who are exercising too much.
The body slows down its metabolism in response to a lack of food and/or excessive amounts of exercise. I know this doesn’t fit with the norm of diet and weight loss, but take a look around you to see how the recommended ‘diet’ seems to be working for the planet. If either of these scenarios sound like you, try focusing on your fat and protein macros for a few days, and see what happens.
- Too Many Low-Carb Treats
Carb replacements (cauli, coconut/almond flour recipes, pasta replacements, keto fries and fauxtatoes) seem like a life saver in the world of Keto, but you can easily eat too many low-carb treats. Going keto or low-carb doesn’t mean you can feast 24 hours a day on low-carb breads, cupcakes or muffins.
Learning to recompose your plate is important! Placing a small serving or meat and veggies on a bed of keto pasta or caul-rice would be way too much. If you do eat these foods, opt for a small side portion of no more than 1/4 of your plate.
These items may are considered keto, but they can still be quite carby and should be eaten occasionally and then only in moderation. These foods can quickly add up and they may still cause cravings. You should keep these items as ‘on program’ rewards and not daily food items.
- You’re close to your goal weight
Its harder to lose weight when you don’t have much to lose. Often in the Keto world, you will hear of people losing great amounts of weight in a short period of time, especially in the early days. This is most often seen with a person who has a lot of weight to lose.
Losing fat gets more difficult as you approach your ideal weight. That’s because the deficit of energy needed for fat loss gets smaller as your weight goes down. It doesn’t mean that you won’t continue losing if you have weight to shed, but you may have to have more patience and diligence and wait for it to happen.
Don’t underestimate the role that stress plays in your weight loss. Your body produces a hormone called cortisol when you’re stressed out or worried. Cortisol is also the hormone responsible for storing visceral fat, which is the fat located around your stomach area, this is the most dangerous of fat that can be found within your body.
We live in a stressful world but living in a constant state of upset can wreak havoc with your body and your mind. Try giving yourself a block of time each day to focus on your stressors and for the rest of the day, don’t allow yourself to wallow. Incorporate anti anxiety mind-body techniques into your life, such as yoga, meditation, taking a mini holiday from work and always have fun things to look forward.
- Lack of Sleep
If you’ve ever noticed that you tend to feel energized and drowsy around the same times every day, you have your circadian rhythm to thank. Circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.
Weight can stall if we don’t get enough sleep. Regular sleep interruptions affect our circadian rhythms and can also affect health and weight loss. Lack of sleep can also increase cravings because our bodies are trying to find extra sources of energy when we haven’t gotten enough rest. Maximum fat loss is only achieved with adequate sleep and controlled diet. Aim for 7-9 hours a day, even if this is not your normal amount of sleep.
Progress is progress...
As you can see, the reasons for a the scales not moving can be very complicated. The best place to start is with listening to your body, focusing on whole body health (body and mind) and eating real, healthy ketogenic foods.
Give yourself permission to keto right: to go slow and do it right. Know there will be times when the scales will go up and down a little, this is normal, we all go through it. Its part of a healthy weight loss process.
Sometimes, we just need to be patient with our bodies while our bio-system adjusts. We don’t have a fat spigot! Quality takes time!
Get familiar with the whoosh effect. Often, our body thinks it knows us better than we know ourselves, almost like its lost faith that we’re going to follow through.
It sees us shedding fat and thinks ‘here we go again… this is just a temporary! This person is gonna cave soon, there must be some junk food around the corner’. So, it temporarily replaces lost fat in our cells with water as a placeholder while it waits..for you to fail…
…BUT, we’ve found ketogenic living and this time, we’re not going to fail. After a few days of waiting, your body realizes that the junk food isn’t coming and will release the extra water and empty the fat cells. Whoosh!! We wake up to the surprise of an overnight weight loss .
Change your way of thinking about the scales, they are not your friend and you are so much more than the number it shows you. Your body may be morphing and you may be losing inches while that number on the scales stays the same. You can be losing fat and gaining muscle, which if anything, will show a weight gain on the scales. Judge yourself instead on how your clothes fit you and inches you are losing.
Finally, lose that cheat mentality! It’s the equivalent of a person quitting smoking and then celebrating by having a cigarette. It’s a slippery slope that is counter productive, self destructive and not fair to the new you. Instead find a way to have the food that you want- keto style.
Its Friday night and you want pizza? No problem, fond our Skinny Face pizza crust and make yourself a keto pizza. Craving chocolate? Make our chocolate bark, its delicious! Craving some breaded chicken? We got you with our Best Ever Breaded Chicken.
There is a keto fix for everything!
Find other ways to reward yourself, a good book, take a relaxing bath, a date night, it doesn’t have to be centered around food. Change the way you celebrate and realize your celebrations don’t have to be food based. Realize that you were broken and unhealthy before and going back to your old self will cause you to gain weight and then all your old unhealthy symptoms will return.
After all the work I’ve done you’ve done, don’t let yourself slip back there. Keep ketoing and making good choices for you and your family.
If you are experiencing a weight loss plateau, just hang in there. Evaluate your diet, tweak where you can, and try to wait it out. You are a work in progress and you’re making steps in the right direction. Most of all, be patient and kind to yourself and give your body (and mind) a break. You are so worth it!!
That’s it for this time! Thanks for joining me for another East Coast Keto Life Lesson. There’s still a lot to learn and we’re glad you’re along for the ride!
Keep Keto-ing with one foot in front of the other. Keto seconds lead to keto moments, Keto moments lead to keto days. Keto days will take you on a successful keto journey life time. We’ll meet you THERE!!