You were losing weight with the keto diet. But suddenly...the results stopped happening. Maybe it's been a week, three weeks or even three months. Today, we're going to talk about how to overcome a weight loss plateau on the keto diet.
This is really about going back to the beginning.
Back To The Basics
The first thing I would recommend, is to start tracking your food. Now, I know that's annoying...it's inconvenient... but it's POWERFUL.
If you're anything like me, you grew up in the "Fat Free Era". At 14-15 years old, I learned that fat was the enemy. Experts were saying that eating fat was making us fat and causing all kinds of health issues.-Health Coach Tara
So, when I first started Keto... I had never eaten above 30% fat in my diet (on purpose anyhow). My brain said DANGER... because of all the early programming I was exposed to. Does this sound familiar to you?
Whenever I hit a plateau or am not seeing the results I want, I go back to tracking my food until I start to see the results I want to see. I use it as a tool... a way to check my intuition.
More often than not, within a day or two of logging my food, I start to see some patterns emerge and get some ideas on how to fix what I've been doing wrong.
If you have a busy job and don't have time to log your food, there are a few different strategies you can follow.
- Log your food ahead of time. Essentially, you're creating a meal plan that you'll follow throughout the week. Then adjust each evening for what you actually did and review your macros.
- Log what you usually eat in a day or what you can remember eating the past three days. Take a look at the macros and see what you could adjust.
- Log your food at the start or end of your day instead of on-the-fly.
Shake Things Up To Keep Your Body Guessing
When trying to overcome a weight loss plateau on the keto diet... Remember that our body is fantastic at adapting to new situations. When you introduce a new stressor...be it a new workout program or a new diet (keto)...it's primary goal is to re-balance itself.
So, what we like to do is change things up. For example, on Monday I intermittent fast for 14 hours, on Tuesday it's 16 hours, on Wednesday it's 20 hours, on Thursday it's 12 hours.
When we travel, we use it as a way to really extend our fasting and change up the foods we're eating on a regular basis.
You can do this with exercise as well. Don't do the same workout every day. Have a balance of cardio, strength, yoga, etc.
Net Carbs vs. Total Carbs
When you hit a plateau, it's a great time to pause and go back to counting Total Carbs. This will allow you to see where you've let a lot of carbs sneak into your diet.
Often, when we count net carbs... a lot of sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners are present in the diet. For some people, these artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes can stall out weight loss.
Is it worth a week without these additives to see the scale start moving again?
The Most Accurate Way To Calculate Net Carbs
Net carb calculations are often taught in an incomplete manner. I can even admit to misunderstanding how to exclude things like sugar alcohols correctly! So, don't feel bad if you don't already know this.
The thing is, not all sugar alcohols are created equal. To really understand which one's you should exclude and which you shouldn't - you'll need to refer to their glycemic index.
To make things easy for you, here's my master formula:
Do not exclude these sugar alcohols:
Glycerin or Glycerol
Maltitol (granular or syrup)
You may be surprised to see glycerin/glycerol on the list. These are often on a label as "vegetable glycerine" and should not be excluded from net carbs because it does have a glycemic response in your body.
Exclude these sugar alcohols at 50%:
The goal? To shift your tastebuds so you need less and less sugar substitutes. After a year on the keto diet, I noticed a marked decrease in how much sweet I wanted in things. Foods that used to tempt me to cheat on my keto diet all of a sudden tasted revoltingly sweet. It will happen for you too if you give it enough time.
Stop Cutting Calories
If you've been cutting calories for awhile, it's time to stop. Many experts talk about how long-term calorie cutting may permanently slow our metabolisms.
If you've been eating at a large calorie deficit (greater than 500 calories per day) for weeks, to months, to years -- consider cycling your calories.
Let's look at Fred for a case study. Fred started the keto diet in 3 months ago. He needs to eat 2200 calories for weight maintenance so he decided to eat only 1250 calories per day so he could rapidly lose weight. This worked up until now. All of a sudden his weight loss has stalled. Is he doing something wrong?
You probably already realized he's had a 950 calorie deficit each day. The first thing we need to do is re-calculate his BMR (basal metabolic rate) for his new weight. We re-do the calculation and now he needs 1800 calories per day to maintain his new weight.
Next, we'll start cycling Fred's calories:
Monday: Eat at daily caloric expenditure
Fred worked out (strength training) and burned 400 calories. We add this to
his 1800 calories to get 2200 calories he needs to eat today.
Tuesday: Eat 1600 calories (moderate caloric deficit). Light stretching/yoga.
Wednesday: Repeat Monday
Thursday: Repeat Tuesday
Friday: Repeat Monday
Saturday: Repeat Tuesday
Sunday: Fred takes a long walk with his wife, burning 400 calories. Repeat food
plan for Monday.
You can see by the example how we've cycled Fred's calories so that on strength training days he doesn't have a caloric deficit. To build muscle, we need to have enough energy available to repair and rebuild stressed tissue. Over time, this will help Fred build and fire his metabolism and lead him out of his weight loss plateau. Even better, he'll build lean muscle tissue and become stronger and trimmer in his body.
When you're trying to overcome a weight loss plateau on the keto diet...
Remember that you didn't learn to walk in one day.
You didn't create the health issue you may be facing right now in one day.
It took small things...done over an extended time period to get to where you are today.
The same is true in reverse.
The keto diet is famous for FAST results... but at some point we ALL hit a plateau.
More YouTube Videos On Overcoming A Plateau
Here is our YouTube playlist dedicated to tips & tricks to help you overcome a plateau on keto:
What other strategies do you have that you can share with us and other readers? Post in the comments below!