Weight loss plateaus are quite common while on a ketogenic diet, just like any other eating program. It’s not if, but when you are going to hit one.
In fact, I recently hit a plateau myself after steadily losing weight for months. Over the course of 2 weeks, I didn’t see my numbers move at all. Believe it or nor, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since I wasn’t gaining weight. Ultimately, it was about how I was feeling, and I was feeling better than I had in decades.
Realistic goals will help you both physically and mentally. There’s a point where the scale might not be moving like you hoped, but you’re losing inches, and maybe you’re only losing a pound or two each week which is still amazing. Does this sound like you? Then you should just stay the course because you’re crushing it!
Let’s say you’re beyond this and not hitting any of your goals, or you’ve started gaining weight. Keep reading, because I’ve got a few solutions to get you back on track.
Be Honest With Yourself
This is important. Are you faltering because you’ve deviated from what you should be eating?
Quality of food and quantity are critical to keto success.
Are you tracking what you eat? Yeah, I know, it gets old, but if you’re tracking what you eat, you can see where you went off the rails, or if you did.
Sometimes we intentionally tell ourselves stories we want to hear about what we eat. This is usually done to guard our emotional state. We stop tracking, or just plain ignore the number of carbs we’re consuming.
Unfortunately, our emotional state can sabotage us. After all, we’re only human, and we’re working to overcome a lifetime of poor eating habits that many times have emotional ties.
Shift away from the emotional by paying attention to mindful eating. Focus on your nutrition and hold yourself accountable for your choices, then be honest with yourself about those choices.
Maintaining Consistency Is Key
Succeeding on at the ketogenic lifestyle requires you be consistent.
Consistency is vital to keep you from falling out of ketosis. Cheat days, or even cheat weeks take you out of ketosis, and you need to give your body time to adjust back. After a setback it can take days to weeks to get back into ketosis. So, what are some ways to stay consistent?
Count Calories & Tracking Macros
As you did in the beginning, track your food intake and daily macros. If you’re doing lazy keto, keep a close eye on your carb intake, and watch those calories. The numbers don’t lie, and by tracking you can pinpoint where you’ve fallen short.
You may not count calories, you just pay attention to carb intake. This will work for a while, but at some point you’ll hit that plateau. This is when you’ll need to take a closer look at the calories for long term, sustainable fat loss. It’s this simple, if you’re eating more calories than you’re burning, you’ll stop burning your current fat stores because the excess calories are being stored for later use. This is when your weight plateaus or you start gaining.
If weight loss is your goal, you want to achieve a calorie deficit each day to see consistent results.
Using a macro tracker will help you not only figure out your macro percentages but also calorie targets.
Too Much Protein Can Keep You Out Of Ketosis
Speaking of macros are you eating too much protein?
Remember your macros: 65-75% healthy fats, 15=30% protein, 5-10% carbs.
Make sure your protein consumption is moderate. You can increase this consumption based on your physical activity.
Consider a good rule of thumb: around 0.6 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass if you are sedentary to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass on the high side if you are extremely active.
Example: If your weight is 170 pounds and your body fat is 30%, your lean mass weight is calculated using the formula below:
Weight – Body Fat % = Lean Body Mass Weight
170 lbs – 30% (51) = 119 lbs
Therefore, your protein intake should be between:
119 x 0.6 = 71.4 g of protein (minimum amount)
119 x 1.0 = 119 g of protein (maximum amount)
Your body creates glucose within the liver via a metabolic pathway called gluconeogenesis (GNG), and if you break down the term, it simply means the “creation of new sugar” (genesis) new (neo) sugar (gluco).
Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is how your body transforms protein into glycogen that can be used as glucose to fuel your body. This process primarily causes higher blood glucose levels, intensified insulin stimulation, and that excess glucose in the cells can be stored as body fat and can inhibit ketosis.
Your goal is to stay below 25 grams of carbs daily. This number may vary for people, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Eating out, and not reading nutrition labels can catch up to you, and suddenly you have hidden carbs creeping into your daily intake.
Keep in mind, many foods will have your daily carb limit in just a single serving. This is another reason to track your macros.
Beware of the following:
Salad Dressings: Read the labels! Skinny Girl Raspberry Vinaigrette is is one of my favorites and it’s only one gram of carbs per serving.
Nuts: Some nuts have higher carbs per serving: Cashews have more than 8g of carbs per 1oz. serving. Try sticking to low carb nuts like Macadamias or Pumpkin Seeds and limit your portions.
Sauces and Gravies: Make your own or pay attention to labels. So many contain sugar and flour. Chinese food and BBQ sauces are loaded with sugar and thickening flours, so avoid these when eating out.
Starchy Vegetables: Not all veggies are the same and many contain a lot of starch and are generally higher in carbs. One medium baked sweet potato has 20g of carbs which is a full day of carbs for most, and a regular potato has over 50g of carbs.
Even some of our healthy vegetable favorites like broccoli or brussels sprouts can add up quickly if your portion sizes are too big.
Meats: If you’re eating packaged deli meats like ham, turkey, sausage, or bacon, make sure you read the labels. Some companies add extra sugar or starch to their meats.
Fruits: I love fruit, and it’s probably the one thing I truly miss with keto. But fruits are packed with natural sugars and the carbs add up quickly even with small portions. A single small banana can pack more than 25g of carbs. If you really want fruit, make berries your go-to choice, since many are less than 5g of carbs per serving.
Are You Eating Too Often?
Excessive snacking will raise your blood sugar and create an insulin response which will keep you from a semi-fasted state between meals where your body is using fat stores for fuel instead of the food you’re snacking on in between meals.
If you find you’re always hungry between meals, you may consider looking at your fat intake as you may not be getting enough fat to stay satiated between meals.
You Might Be Sensitive To Some Foods
If you are sensitive to some foods, like dairy or gluten, these may stall your weight loss. If you suspect a sensitivity, try eliminating them one at a time to find the culprit.
A quick recap of suggestions to get past your weight loss plateau:
- Be Honest With Yourself
- Maintain Consistency
- Count Calories and Track Macros More Consistently
- Watch For Hidden Carbs
- Decrease Your Protein
- Don’t Snack Between Meals
- Remove Foods You Might Be Sensitive Too
- Stay Positive!