Weight loss plateaus are quite common while on a ketogenic diet. 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 4 weeks, I hadn’t seen the scale move at all. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering I wasn’t gaining weight and besides it’s not just about weight loss, but ultimately how great we feel.
Realistic goals are going to serve you best in the long run both physically and mentally. Remember the scale might not move much every time you step on it but you’re losing inches, and maybe you are only losing a pound or two each week which is actually pretty impressive. If this sounds like you? Then you should just stay the course because you’re crushing it!
Now on the other hand if you are falling short of your goals, hit a weight loss plateau or are gaining weight here’s a few solutions that might help get you back on track.
Be Honest With Yourself
I can’t stress enough how important being honest with ourselves is when examining where we might be faltering and what we are eating.
The quality of food and how much you eat is critical to navigating the keto waters and your ultimate success.
Unfortunately, there’s a tremendous emotional component involved when it comes to tracking what we eat. All of us are probably a bit guilty of making our diets appear better to ourselves and others than they really are at times.
That raises the question are we sometimes intentionally lying to ourselves about what we eat? Or just maybe are we subconsciously guarding our emotional state by not tracking or ignoring just how many carbs we consumed each day?
It’s probably a combination of both which is ok, after all, we are only human and trying to overcome a lifetime of eating habits along with our emotional ties to them.
One way to shift away from this behavior is by paying attention to mindful eating, keeping your focus on nutrition and holding yourself accountable to your choices.
Maintaining Consistency While On A Ketogenic Diet Is Key
If you want to succeed on the ketogenic diet or anything in life for that matter, you need to be consistent.
One of the reasons consistency is so vital to keto is that if you keep falling in and out of ketosis because of eating the wrong foods, cheat days or maybe even cheat weeks your body needs time to get back into ketosis. To become keto-adapted again after a set back it can take anywhere from a few days to a week. So how do we stay consistent?
Counting Calories and Tracking Macros Helps
Tracking your food intake and daily macros helps you stay consistent and accountable because the numbers never lie and it helps to pinpoint the areas where you might be falling short.
There are many ways to approach keto in regards to counting calories. Many people don’t pay any attention to calories and think just counting carbs is enough to sustain long-term fat loss.
For some paying attention to just carb intake works for a while, but at some point, you will need to look a bit closer at what your eating overall regarding calories to have the best success.
Simply put, if you are eating more calories than you are burning, you will end up with excess calories.
The issue with excess calories is they are stored for later use and that usually leads to weight gain or at best maintaining your current weight.
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. Speaking of macros are you eating too much protein?
Too Much Protein Can Keep You Out Of Ketosis
Protein consumption should be kept moderate while on keto depending on your individual needs based on how active you are.
A good rule of thumb is typically 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 180 pounds and your body fat is 25%, your lean mass weight is calculated using the formula below:
Weight – Body Fat % = Lean Body Mass Weight
180 lbs – 25% = 135 lbs
Therefore, your protein intake should be between:
135 x 0.6 = 81 g of protein (minimum amount)
135 x 1.0 = 135 g of protein (maximum amount)
Without getting too technical when you eat too much protein, your body starts to create 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.
Hidden Carbohydrates Will Hinder Your Weight Loss Results
You want to try and stay below 25 grams of carbs each day although this will vary person to person it’s a good general guideline. If you’re not reading food labels or maybe you’re eating out often you can be caught off guard with hidden carbs that can add up quick and exceed your daily carb limit.
Many whole foods and everyday foods can have your daily carb limit in a single serving.
You want to watch out for the following foods:
Salad Dressings: Dressings can be full of added carbs and sugars. Not to mention most people use way more than the suggested serving sizes so make sure you are reading the labels and counting accurately based on your intake.
Nuts: Watch out for nuts with higher carb counts and limit your intake to small portions if you decide to eat nuts of any type. Tasty Cashews, for example, contain more than 8g of carbs per 1oz. serving. If you’re going to eat nuts, make sure and stick to the low carb nuts like Macadamias or Pumpkin Seeds and limit your portions to avoid overdoing the carbs.
Sauces and Gravies: Many of these contain sugar and flour especially if you are eating out. Example Chinese food and BBQ sauces are loaded with sugar and thickening flours.
Starchy Vegetables: Not all veggies are the same and many especially those grown underground and those that contain a lot of starch, are generally much higher in carbs. For example, 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: Often processed packaged deli meats like ham, turkey, sausage, and bacon, usually have extra sugar and starch added, so make sure to read the ingredient labels and avoid meat with extra carbs.
Fruits: I suggest steering clear of fruit entirely since most fruits are packed with natural sugar, and it can add up quickly even in very small portion sizes. A single banana has over 25g carbs. If you are going to eat fruit stick to berries, which typically contain 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
Some people find they might be sensitive to certain foods like dairy (cheese) or foods that contain gluten like protein bars or processed low carb foods and these might just be stalling your weight loss.
If you suspect these foods might be an issue for you try removing them from your diet for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference.
A quick recap of suggestions to get past your weight loss plateau:
- Be Honest With Yourself
- Maintain Consistency
- Count Calories and Track Your Macros Closer
- Watch For Hidden Carbs
- Decrease Your Protein
- Don’t Snack Between Meals
- Remove Foods You Might Be Sensitive Too
- Stay Positive!