7 Reasons You Stopped Losing Weight on Keto and How to Fix it Fast!
Few things are as frustrating as following a food plan and hitting that dreaded keto weight loss plateau. But now your weight loss has stalled while eating low carbs and you want answers! Read on!
Like many people these days, you have discovered the joys of Keto! You get to have bacon so what’s not to love!?
Can You Be in Ketosis and Still Not Lose Weight?
You have been tracking your macros, drinking plenty of fluids, learning the joys of cauliflower rice and other whole foods. Weight has been coming off, maybe fast and furious or maybe your weight loss has been slow and steady.
Until it just stopped. You haven’t done anything differently. You might even be still in ketosis (unless you are stalled because of Keto weight loss plateau issue #1 below). But the scale just will not budge!
There are some obvious reasons why people stall on Keto, and some are not so obvious.
1. You May Be Eating Too Many Carbs
The #1 thing that determines if you go into ketosis is not how much much protein you eat, not how much fat. It’s the reduction of carbs, plain and simple.
Remember that ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body shifts to burning fat for its fuel instead of glucose. And the best way to kickstart that process is to reduce your carb intake to 5% or less of your total calories. The balance of your keto diet will be 70-80% fat and the remaining will be 15-20% protein.
What can happen is that slowly carbs start to creep in and we may not even know it! The biggest source of these carbs is called ‘hidden carbs’. You can read more about that here on Carb Manager.
How to fix this weight stall problem fast:
- If you stopped tracking your carbs, go back to tracking right away
- If you are still tracking your carbs and are over 5%, lower to 5%.
- If you are already at 5%, lower it to 1-2% for 1 week and see what happens.
- Try Carnivore diet for a week, it is basically zero carbs so it might be enough to get you back into ketosis, loosen your grip on those carbs and get you on your way again.
- Try PSMF (Protein Sparing Modified Fast) for a couple weeks. This works for me every time! Read about PSMF here.
2. You are eating too many processed Keto foods
When I first started the Keto diet, the only processed low carb foods available were things like Atkins shakes and bars. They didn’t taste great anyways, so I’ve never really enjoyed them.
Fast forward to today and you can’t even go into a corner store without seeing foods screaming at you that they are KETO! I don’t necessarily think this is good news.
Ok, I’ve been a working Mom for years and so I do understand the time traps we fall into. And I get that there are emergencies that come up and sometimes you just have to make do. I’ve been there and done that. That’s all good.
But what I’m seeing in the low carb and keto groups out there is a reliance on processed keto shakes, bars, magic supplements, packaged keto snacks, breads and pastas. You can apparently now be keto without ever eating any real food.
Apart from the processed keto foods, there are also many other low carb but highly processed foods such as hot dogs and fast food items. Again, think of them as emergency food not daily staples.
How to fix this keto stall fast:
- Go one week with eating only whole, real, unprocessed foods and see what happens!
- Focus on eggs, meats and non starchy vegetables
- Use the tracking app such as CarbManager!
3. Your calories might be too high
Oh right, you were told that calories don’t matter on keto!
This is a huge bubble that needs to be burst! I hate to be the one to do it but no matter what kind of eating plan you are on, you eventually will need a calorie deficit to lose weight. Especially as you get closer to your goal weight.
Yes, you can very likely lose weight with MORE calories than you were eating on just the regular standard North American diet. But in the end, calories WILL matter and if you have stopped losing weight on Keto and the #1 and #2 items do not apply to you then you need to take a closer look at this.
Go into any low carb or keto group on Facebook or follow keto bloggers on Instagram and you will see people going crazy over keto desserts and fat bombs. Keto coffees with lots of butter and cream.
Hey I love my keto cheesecake too but it has to be an occasional thing. Not every day!
Think about all your very favorite keto foods and I’m guessing that many of them involve lots of fats, cream, nuts and cheese. Yummy, I love them too. Those items are low in carbs but the highest in calories. You WILL need to moderate as your initial weight loss slows down or even stops!
How to fix this keto weight loss plateau issue fast:
- Go back to tracking if not already and reduce your calories for the next week
- For fats, stick to avocados, olive oils, the fat in meats for this week.
- Shift the mindset away from “I need to meet my fat target” to “I need to stay below 5% Carbs” (See Plateau buster #1)
- Try Carnivore for awhile. It will release your need for Keto sweets and snacks. Check out these Carnivore resources.
- Try a few days of PSMF which will lower your calories automatically. Read What is the PSMF Diet?
4. You are sensitive to dairy and might not know it
Ladies, especially those of you in mid life and above, this section is for you. This might be an issue. It certainly is for me and I didn’t know because I had no symptoms except for constantly stalling on keto!
So I see this as a broad spectrum. I don’t think I am lactose intolerant. I have no dairy allergies. But I can assure you that when I eat too much dairy (even with macros being met!) I do not lose weight, I even gain weight.
There could be various reasons for this:
- In some people dairy can be pro-inflammatory
- full fat dairy is very high in calories
- About 75% of the world’s population cannot tolerate dairy! I was surprised to read that but it offers a hint to me that maybe humans were never meant to consume the milk of another animal?
- Many people think Heavy Cream is zero carbs but that is simply not true! It is a form of hidden carbs (see Plateau Buster #1).
How to fix this keto weight loss staller fast:
- Eliminate heavy cream for 1 full week and see how you do.
- Eat a maximum of 2 ounces cheese or other dairy per day.
- Go dairy free for 30 days and see what happens!
5. You are eating meals and snacks all day long
Why should this be a problem if you are still within your calories and macros?
Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.
But if you are sticking to all the guidelines we already discussed, you have tried tweaking your macros, your carbs are below 5%, your calories are at a deficit, you are eating clean whole keto friendly foods, this is worth having a look.
Every time you eat, you are spiking your insulin levels. This could be a problem for some people.
One of the best books I have read in awhile is Dr. Jason Fung’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting.
Now hang on, don’t run away!
Fasting is way easier than it sounds and especially IF or intermittent fasting. You still get to eat meals every day but you restrict them to an ‘eating window’. Many people adopt what is call 16-8 intermittent fasting.
This means they eat in an 8 hour window and fast for 16 hours. So what this might look like is eating your first meal of the day at noon and your last meal of the day before 8pm. Personally, when I do Intermittent Fasting, I like to eat at 11:00am and then again at 6pm and then that’s it.
You are fasting for 16 hours and sleeping through most of it. You can choose whatever time frame works for you and your schedule.
How to fix this keto plateau issue fast:
- Try intermittent fasting for just 1 week!
- During the 8 hour window, do not stuff yourself, just eat until you are satisfied staying within your keto macros. Try to eat just 2 good meals and not snack between.
- Do not worry if your calories are less than normal, we actually want this deficit anyways.
6. You may be having too many ‘sugar free’ sweets
This is another one that is hard for people to accept.
The label says Carbs: 0. So that’s all good right? Maybe. Maybe not!
There are some interesting pieces of information in this Healthline article about why artificial sweeteners may not be the best choice for us. I will let you read that and decide for yourself if they are the right choice for you.
From a practical standpoint when you are in a keto weight loss plateau, it is the hidden carbs that could be a culprit and if you are using the wrong sweeteners, then you could be adding more carbs than you think.
For example, a packet of Splenda has Maltodextrin and Dextrose in it and 1 carb. You can see that it would not take very many packets to completely change your macros if you were not tracking this properly, not to mention the added sugars right there in that packet.
How to fix this weight loss stall issue fast:
- Read labels carefully and stop using packets that contain hidden sugars and carbs
- Stick to natural sweeteners like stevia, erythritol allulose and monk fruit. My everyday use sweetener is this So Nourished sweetener that contains a monkfruit/erythritol blend.
- Read my Guide to the Best Sweeteners so that you know which sweeteners are natural and which are artificial.
7. You are consuming too much alcohol
Alcohol is not forbidden on keto which can be nice when you have a function to attend or maybe just want the occasional drink.
There are some no carb and very low carb alcohol choices out there. But it’s important to know that in this case it’s not just about the carb count.
Alcohol can stall your weight loss on keto because your body will need to burn off that ethanol before it can go back to burning off the fat. One drink might not make much difference in the big picture but several drinks a week certainly will.
How to fix this weight loss stall issue fast:
- The best thing to do would be to eliminate alcohol all together until you start losing weight again.
- When you do have the occasional drink do not drink any of the sweet drinks and have just one.
How do you break a keto weight loss plateau?
- Track your daily eating using any type of system you like best
- Be sure that your carbs are well below 5% of total calories and watch for hidden carbs
- Avoid processed and packaged keto foods
- Adopt a calorie deficit plan
- Cut back or eliminate dairy
- Try Intermittent Fasting
- Cut back on sweeteners and when you do use them stick to the natural ones.
- Try a proven keto plateau buster such as the The Egg Fast
- Read about the Protein Sparing Modified Fast, I did it 3 days a week for 6 weeks and lost 14 lbs after being stalled for 3 months.
- Give Carnivore a try, it could be right for you. (Read about my Carnivore experiment)