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 setback 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)
Overeating protein can have the same effect on ketosis as consuming too many carbs, and if you eat too little it may cause muscle loss.
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.
6 Hacks to Avoid a Plateau
Essential Tip #1: Take Your Measurements
Prior to beginning your keto adventure, record your bodyweight and the measurement around your waist. If possible, you should also have your body fat percentage calculated. Do these again at the end of every 14 days. That way you will have concrete evidence from your own body of just what the keto diet can do for you!
Essential Tip #2: Stay Hydrated
It is essential that you increase your water intake when you are eating keto. As you lower your carb intake, your kidneys will start to squeeze out extra water. If you don’t increase your intake, you will start to experience muscle cramps and headaches. Set it your goal to drink 0.75 gallon (3 liters) every day.
Essential Tip #3: Enlist Help
If you can take on your keto experience with a friend, we highly recommend doing so. You will be able to draw strength from each other to push through those tough first few days when you are going through carb withdrawal.
You should also benefit from Keto support groups. There are some good online support groups, made up of people who have been through what you are experiencing. They will provide you with extra tips and support to help you get through.
Essential Tip #4: Don’t Give Up
If you happen to succumb to your carb heavy weakness, don’t view it as the end of the world. Simply get up, dust yourself off and carry on. While you DO NOT want to eat anything that is not on your prescribed food list, it is better to double up and keep moving ahead than to abandon the whole idea. You will still be able to get into keto – and lose a lot of weight.
Essential Tip #5: Don’t Stress
If you are chronically stressed, you will not be able to get into ketosis. Stress induces an increase in your levels of cortisone, which elevates blood sugar levels. This is the exact opposite to what you want on the keto diet. Here are five ways to relieve your stress levels:
Feed Yourself positive affirmations
Around 90% of our thoughts lie in the subconscious part of the brain. These thoughts include the negative feedback that over our lifetime we have learnt to be ‘true’ about ourselves. Daily positive affirmations eventually lodge these thoughts into our subconscious and create an overall more positive mind frame. Statements such as ‘I am good enough’ and ‘I can achieve this’ are a great way to start.
Set Yourself Up for the Coming Day
Buying out a few minutes the evening before to organize the coming day is a smart way to ward off future stress. Lay out your clothes for the morning, make a packed lunch, get your briefcase organized and jot down a things to do list for the coming day.
By organizing ahead of time like this, when your head hits the pillow, you’ll feel in control of tomorrow. That will allow you to relax, get a great night’s sleep, and spring out of bed the next morning ready to seize the day
Single Task It
Many people consider multi tasking to be an admirable skill. It can be, but for many people multi-tasking has proven to chronically increase their anxiety level, with the result that they end up doing a lot of things haphazardly, rather than one thing well.
To relieve stress, don’t try to be a multi-tasker. Focus your energies on a single task at a time. Slow down, clear your mind of distractions and get totally in the moment with that one thing that is on your plate. This will allow you to enjoy a greater sense of accomplishment, resulting in greater self-satisfaction and efficacy.
Laugh It off
It sounds bizarre, but forcing yourself to laugh can actually pull you out of a negative funk. When we laugh the oxygen we breathe in goes deeper in our lungs, which stimulates the heart and muscles and shoots of signals to the brain to produce endorphins. Laughter relaxes tense body muscles, it is next to impossible to have a good giggle with clenched fists – give it a go and feel your body start to relax.
When All Else Fails, Breathe
Our breathing changes when we are feeling anxious. Often our breath becomes short and shallow. It is necessary to increase the length and depth of our breath to ensure we don’t hyperventilate. The best way to do so is to place your hand on your stomach and breathe in through your nose for four seconds. Hold for two seconds and then push as much air as you can for four seconds.
Essential Tip #6: Get Plenty of Sleep
Poor sleep is associated with higher stress levels. It will also cause blood sugar irregularity and interfere with the metabolic changes that your body is going through.
Sleep is a vital ingredient in the body’s rehabilitative process. That’s the time that your body heals itself, repairing muscle tissue and fine tuning your internal engine.
For those who have difficulty getting to sleep, try creating an atmosphere where you feel most at ease. Dim the lights, ensure the room is at a temperature you feel comfortable and leave your electronic devices out of the bedroom – they are not a good sleeping partner.
If you are encountering a weight loss plateau, it’s vital to evaluate the things we mentioned above, take a self-inventory and make changes where you can to get your self-going again.
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!
Avoiding Keto Mistakes Cheat Sheet