Many keto dieters worry about stalling or plateauing. First, I would like to point out that if you are losing weight at any pace, you have not stalled. At some point or another, weight loss will slow down and even go in spurts, and this is normal and to be expected. Don’t worry, you’re still doing great, my keto friend!
I like to teach the 1-month rule; If you haven’t lost any weight for an entire month, then you can officially state you have stalled. And if so, here’s a few reasons why you may be stuck, as well as tips on how to bust through the plateau.
1. Food grazing.
Insulin is elevated every time you eat, even with keto foods. This can tell the body to store fat rather than burn it for fuel. Grazing also leads to increased cravings. If you find you are hungry between meals, consider adding a bit more fat to your food to keep you full until the next meal.
2. Not being “all in” with keto.
If you find yourself bouncing back and forth with keto and allowing multiple “cheat-days”, your body will not adapt to use fat for fuel. Remember, living keto is a healthy lifestyle, not a temporary quick-fix. Commit!
3. Consuming too many carbs.
Everyone has a different level of tolerance to carbohydrates. Try dropping your carbohydrates by 5-10 gm a day for a couple weeks to see if this helps.
4. Overdoing it on protein.
Excessive protein can be turned into glucose (sugar) and kick you out of ketosis. Aim for 3-6 ounces per meal. If you are at 6 ounces, then cut it back to 3-4 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards).
5. Eating too much fat (after becoming keto-adapted).
Typically, I am educating about not adding enough fat, especially in the beginning stages of adopting a keto lifestyle. But once your body has adjusted to burning fat for fuel, you may need to cut it back just a bit to allow your body to burn its reserves.
6. Not incorporating Intermittent Fasting (IF).
Although IF is not required to do keto, you’re missing out on some incredible health benefits, including fat loss. Intermittent fasting can definitely help to break through weight loss plateaus. Start shrinking the eating window and watch the fat melt away.
7. Too much stress.
Keto or not, your ability to burn fat is highly impacted by stress. Stress increases a hormone called cortisol, which inhibits fat breakdown. Find ways to minimize the stress in your life. Even developing a plan to reduce stress can actually help minimize levels of stress.
8. Experiencing poor sleep.
Studies show poor sleep is associated with weight gain and increased hunger during the day. Lack of sleep also increases overall stress, again leading to a decreased ability to burn fat. Tips for better sleep include: developing a consistent bedtime routine, incorporating white noise, making the room dark with black-out curtains, minimizing screen time (phones, tv, etc.), and keeping the temperature cool.
9. Not exercising enough.
If you have been doing keto for a while, hopefully you are feeling more energetic. Start incorporating physical activity on a daily basis. Exercise can help decrease stress and increase metabolism, which in turn, burns more fat.
10. Consuming too many “keto-friendly” sweeteners.
Many people report increased hunger and cravings when consuming alternative or non-nutritive sweeteners. This, in turn, may lead to over-eating. If you are using sweeteners on a daily basis, try cutting these out for a couple weeks and see if it helps.
11. Carb creep is setting in.
Sometimes after eating keto for a while, carbs tend to creep back in, pulling you out of ketosis and slowing weight loss. If you have stalled with weight loss, double-check that you haven’t become too complacent with keto and monitor your food labels.
12. Other medical reasons.
If all the above are ruled out, it may be time to check in with your doctor. Certain medical conditions can interfere with losing weight. In addition, certain prescription medications may result in changes in metabolism, elevation in blood sugar and insulin, and increased hunger.
In the end, remember there is no “one-size-fits-all” to keto, and each one of us will lose weight at a different pace. Adjust, commit, and push forward. As always, keep strong and keto-on!
Tara Finnerty RDN, CSP, CD — is a ketogenic specialist and fat-fueled enthusiast. Tara is a registered dietitian in Utah and owner of Sugar House Nutrition LLC. Her aim is to provide nutrition support for people wanting to reap the many health benefits of the ketogenic (keto) diet. Her expertise in the keto diet was initially working with children who have uncontrolled epilepsy. Tara supports nutrition diversity and works toward helping people find an individualized approach to make healthy eating sustainable.