So you’re doing a low carb diet like the keto diet, but not seeing the rapid weight loss that you’d like.
Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet plan that was originally designed to help reduce symptoms for people suffering from epilepsy.
In recent years, it has been adopted by many to help those who struggle with obesity or weight management.
In addition to weight loss and burn fat, the keto diet offers a variety of health benefits.
These include reduced cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
If you are familiar with the Atkins diet, the two share many similarities.
The basics of the ketogenic diet say that you should reduce your carb intake to about 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day and eat a high amount of fat.
This way of eating puts the body into ketosis, which means that your body burns fat stores for fuel.
While this should lead to a significant amount of weight loss and reduction of fat stores compared to a low-fat diet, it is important that you are implementing the keto diet in the correct way to reap the benefits of the keto diet.
While you will very likely lose a lot of weight during your first couple of weeks, there are a number of reasons why you may hit a weight loss plateau if you’ve been on the keto diet for a while.
The good news is there are plenty of habits you can switch up to push past a weight loss plateau that doesn’t involve extremes or weight loss pills.
Let’s discuss what the culprit is that might be getting in the way of your weight loss goals.
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The Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight On Keto
1. Eat too Many Calories
Even though the type of food you are eating on keto should aid in weight loss, your body’s ability to lose weight comes down to total calories consumed, versus energy expenditure.
This means you should be eating in a caloric deficit.
If you are eating too many calories, you simply cannot lose weight. We recommend using a keto calculator or calorie count calculator like Myfitnesspal to determine your daily macros and calorie intake and create a keto diet plan from there.
Keep in mind that getting enough calories is also important, as they are the body’s source of energy.
Fewer calories are not always better, and if you aren’t eating enough, your body can go into starvation mode, which causes your metabolism to drop.
Plus you may notice that you have significantly reduced energy levels.
Using a keto calculator will allow you to use some calorie restriction, while still making sure your body has a proper fuel source and avoid experiencing fatigue.
2. Eating too Many Carbs
Like Atkins, high carbohydrate intake is the most common reason why people don’t see the weight loss benefits of a low-carb ketogenic diet.
The number of carbs you eat determines if your body reaches ketosis, which is the key to your weight loss efforts on keto.
During the process of ketosis, your body switches from using glucose stores to using fat cells as a fuel source, but it can only do this if you are eating a low amount of total carbs.
Carb consumption creates glucose in the bloodstream, which inhibits the body’s ability to use fatty acids as energy.
It is recommended that keto dieters eat between 20 and 50 grams of net carbs per day, but it is a good idea for beginners to start on the low end to make sure you reach ketosis.
One common mistake is to think you need to eat zero carbs, but this is not the case.
Eating enough carbs, while still remaining in ketosis is important for energy, and for allowing you to have a variety of foods to eat.
One big downside of eating zero carbs is that you would have very few foods to chose from, and it important to include variety in your diet!
While you may think you are eating a low carbohydrate diet, it can be easy to miss some forms of hidden carbs.
For example, things like low-fat dairy products, different fruits, starchy vegetables, and some beverages like protein shakes can have a higher carb count than you would expect.
The carbs that you do eat should come from whole foods, instead of simple sugars, like small servings of whole grains, starchy vegetables, or low carb fruits, like berries.
Next time you are unsure if a food fits into your keto diet plan, check out a keto food list before you give it the green light.
It may also be helpful to keep a food journal to keep track of your food intake.
That way, you can add up your grams of carbs throughout the day to make sure you are within your carbohydrate threshold.
Use a keto test strip, which tests for the presence of ketones, to determine if you have reached ketosis.
From there, you can play with how many carbs you can eat while still remaining in a state of ketosis.
3. You’re Not Eating Real Foods
Take it from a registered dietitian; while it may be a popular belief that supplements are the key to health, this is definitely a myth.
Eating real, unprocessed foods is essential for any healthy diet, especially a ketogenic diet.
Including things like vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats in your eating habits will provide your body with the essential nutrients that it needs.
Plus, eating real, keto-friendly foods will help increase satiety and allow you to actually enjoy the foods you’re eating.
Including veggies like kale, spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, and broccoli will help keep your calorie consumption down and vitamins and minerals up on your low carbohydrate diet.
You’ll also find plenty of healthy keto recipes that include fatty fish, meat, nuts (like almonds, walnuts, and nut butter), avocado, and tons of other real foods.
We even recommend digging into some dark chocolate when you have a sugar craving before you reach for sugar alcohol sweetened snack.
While real foods are the best option, you may need to take some dietary supplements based on any underlying health issues you have. Make sure to speak with a nutritionist or medical expert before starting any dietary supplements while on keto.
4. Portion control
Portion control is another key factor in reaching your weight loss goals, especially on a low-calorie diet.
Many of us have had the mentality for a long time that we need to clear our plates, or snack to fill time when we are bored.
These types of habits can mean we end up eating a lot more than our caloric needs, which can lead to a weight-loss stall.
One easy way to start reducing your portion sizes and eat in moderation is to eat on a smaller plate.
This means that you are serving yourself a smaller portion, while still filling and clearing the plate. Just eating on a smaller plate can greatly reduce your caloric intake.
I also recommend pausing during your meal to assess your hunger levels and digestion.
When you’ve reached about half of your food intake for the meal, take a moment to determine if you are still experiencing hunger pangs, or just eating the food because it’s in front of you.
If you’re no longer hungry, box it up and eat it as leftovers the next day!
Remember, just because you ate the whole meal last time, doesn’t mean that you need the same amount today.
Use a keto calculator to determine the number of calories you should be eating each day, as well as your macro ratio.
You can use these numbers to determine what a portion looks like for you and how you can spread your caloric needs throughout the day.
It can also be a good idea to learn what portion sizes look like.
For example, try measuring out a tablespoon of salad dressing, one cup of spinach, or a 3-4 ounce piece of meat.
Seeing these servings can help you better create a balanced meal for yourself.
5. You’re Not In Ketosis
Ketosis is the metabolic state in which your body uses ketones, rather than glucose, as its primary fuel source.
Your body generally gets to this state during the first week of the ketogenic diet.
As you reduce your carb intake, your body will slowly deplete its glycogen and glycogen stores (which come from carbs), and switch to burning fat for fuel.
Carbohydrates are normally the body’s preferred energy source.
When you have a significantly reduced amount of carbs, your body then allows for ketone production (ketogenesis), which is then used as the body’s main energy source (ketosis).
The tricky part is that it can take different levels of carbohydrates for different keto dieters to reach a state of ketosis.
For one person, eating 50g of carbs might work, while for another they may need to reduce their intake to 20 grams.
Eating too much protein and not enough fat can also stop you from entering ketosis.
Remember, during your first week of the ketogenic diet, while working to enter ketosis, you will likely experience some side effects of the keto flu.
These can include things like nausea, headaches, tiredness, bad breath, constipation, and low quality sleep.
While these negative effects and flu-like symptoms are the downsides of starting keto, know that they will only last a short time.
They are also a sign that your body is entering ketosis, which is essential for fat loss!
You can test your ketone levels by using a keto test strip, which tests the presence of ketones in the urine.
You can also test for ketones using a breath test.
You may want to check this periodically to make sure you haven’t fallen out of ketosis.
If you feel you are unable to reach or stay in ketosis on your own, there are some FDA approved keto supplements that may be helpful.
For example, taking exogenous ketones may help you reach ketosis faster.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT/MCT oil) can also be beneficial keto supplements because they can be converted into ketones.
6. You Snacking too Often
If you are not eating nutrient-dense meals as part of your diet plan, your hunger will only be satisfied short term.
This often leads to a lot of hunger pangs and snacking between meals.
While it is important to pay attention to your appetite and eat when you need to, snacking on the right foods is key.
Reaching for empty calorie, high carb options, like ice cream, chips, and similar choices, instead of whole foods, is often the reason people end up getting hungry pretty quickly between and after meals.
A better idea is to pay attention to how much protein and fat are in your keto snacks. This is the best way to make sure you are choosing satisfying options.
The more nutrient-dense a food is, the longer you can expect it to keep you full.
For example, something like an apple and peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, almonds, or even a keto fat bomb will keep you full much longer than something like popcorn, chips, or desserts.
If you are going to eat a packaged keto snack, check the nutrition labels to see how much dietary fat, carbohydrates, and protein are in that snack.
Make sure you chose one that is a low carbohydrate, and high in protein and fat for the best results.
7. Not Getting Enough Exercise
While diet plays a huge role in your weight loss journey, the combination of both diet and regular exercise is what leads to success in the long run.
Physical activity helps you increase your energy expenditure and calorie burn, is great for overall health.
It helps build lean muscle, which increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and burns fat more efficiently.
While the ideal exercise routine looks different for everyone based on your current activity level, both strength training and cardio workouts should be included.
This holds especially true if the goal is to reduce body fat, tighten your abdomen, and gain muscle mass.
People who weight train as part of their exercise routine build more lean body mass and increase their BMR, leading to long term weight loss results.
Plus, it helps reduce both hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Strength training can include anything from lifting heavy weights to body weight workouts like yoga and pilates.
For better results, make sure you refuel with a high protein keto snack afterward.
Research shows that cardio exercise can also help reduce hypertension and cardiovascular disease, as well as control insulin levels and provide mental clarity.
Cardio is categorized as a workout that increases your heart rate. This can be anything from a walk or run, to team sports, to high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT workouts are a great way to combine both strength and cardio in a short amount of time.
If you are a beginner and are not sure where to start, whether at home on the treadmill or at the gym, we recommend seeing a personal trainer or fitness pro.
They can help create an exercise routine that works for your lifestyle and fitness level.
Finding a web site that has lots of different exercises is another easy way to get started.
Always remember to avoid dehydration and replete electrolytes by drinking enough water after a workout.
This will also help you flush out any water weight that you may be retaining as your muscles recover.
You may want to try a sports drink made with keto-friendly sweeteners after an intense session, too.
These can help you replete the sodium, magnesium, and potassium that you lose from sweat.
Tips to lose weight on a keto diet
6 Best Keto Weight Loss Tips
Try Intermittent Fasting
One really great way to speed up the results of your weight loss on the keto diet is to combine it with Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent fasting involves consuming all of your meals during an eating window and fasting for the remainder of the day.
Typically you eat within about an 8-hour window and fast for anywhere from 14-18 hours.
This can help control insulin and blood sugar levels, increase fat loss and help with weight management.
While many dieters may not want to jump into both keto and intermittent fasting at first, fasting can be a great thing to add to help you push past a plateau.
This can help you stay in a calorie deficit and increase weight reduction on a daily basis.
Follow a Healthy Keto Meal Plan
Following a keto meal plan can be a great choice in making sure you are eating the correct macronutrients during your keto journey.
By following a plan that considers your calorie intake, as well as carbohydrates and fat, you can have a more realistic idea of what your macros look like.
Ideally, this keto-friendly meal plan should include keto macros that are around 20-50 grams of net carbs, 10-20% of your intake in grams of protein, and about 70-80% of your calorie intake in grams of fat.
A meal plan can also allow you to add in small choices that can help lead to your success story.
For example, adding heavy cream to your keto coffee, cooking with olive oil or coconut oil, or adding olives as a keto snack.
These are all great choices that you may not think about on a daily basis if you aren’t following a meal plan.
For the best results, use a food journal along with your meal plan to help ensure that you are sticking with the right food choices for your healthy keto lifestyle.
You can find meal plans on our web site. For a more personalized meal plan, try working with a nutritionist or registered dietitian (RDN).
This can be particularly helpful if you have food allergies or food sensitivities that you’d like to avoid.
Work on Reduced Your Stress Levels
Having chronically high levels of stress is one of the main reasons many of us are not able to stick with healthy lifestyle changes in today’s world, especially here in the United States.
Stress levels can impact weight gain and lack of weight loss in a couple of different ways.
First, stress actually has a big impact on hormones. When we are chronically stressed, the stress hormone cortisol is released.
Chronically high cortisol levels can cause increased appetite, increase carb cravings, and even increased insulin resistance. Cortisol has also been associated with an increase in belly fat.
Additional side effects of high-stress levels can also cause increased inflammation in the body, make you feel more emotionally sensitive, increased blood pressure, low energy, and several other medical conditions.
To reduce your stress levels, do some experimenting to find out what can help you relax.
For many, that might be physical activity, going outside, talking with a friend, taking a bath, taking deep breaths, or a variety of other forms of stress management.
It’s not a bad thing if the first thing you try doesn’t work for you and you still experience some sweet cravings!
Finding your ideal form of stress management may take some time and experimentation.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the main culprit when it comes to imbalances in our hunger and fullness hormones. When you don’t get enough sleep, the hormone ghrelin increases in the body, while leptin decreases.
Ghrelin is typically called the hunger hormone, so when there is more present, it causes an increase in appetite. Leptin, on the other hand, is the fullness hormone.
When that decreases, it can take us longer to feel full.
These things combined mean that lack of sleep can have serious adverse effects on appetite, and therefore body weight as well.
There are a lot of reasons you may experience sleep deprivation. Everything from insomnia to stress, to having too much to get done in the day can lead to lack of sleep.
However, there is a good chance you can get a better night’s sleep.
Having a regular workout routine, turning off technology, and avoiding caffeine in the later hours of the day can be a great way to increase the hours of sleep you are getting and move closer to your goal weight.
Watch Your Daily Calories
Part of the reason you may be experiencing a plateau is that you are eating the wrong foods.
An important part of achieving significant weight loss is eating in a calorie deficit.
The easiest way to make sure you are doing this is by using a calorie counting app, like Myfitnesspal.
Follow a keto meal plan can ensure you are getting enough calories, but still staying in a calorie deficit for your current weight and activity level.
You can stick to your personal calorie count by eating nutrient-dense foods that act as appetite suppression, keeping you more full for a longer amount of time.
Eating nutrient-dense, low calorie, low carb foods like vegetables, some fruits, and lean protein can add a lot of bulk and fiber to your meals without any extra calories.
Avoid high carb, high-calorie foods like pasta or cereal, and stick with healthy options like smoothies, greens, or seafood.
Check the food label to make sure the meals you are choosing fall into your macros.
Get Enough Protein
Protein intake is an essential part of weight loss, especially on a low carbohydrate diet.
Protein not only provides the amino acids that build muscle, which leads to an increase in fat burning and metabolism but also helps reduce appetite and keep you full longer.
Eating too little protein can leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied throughout the day.
One simple way to increase your protein intake is to make sure you have a healthy source of protein at every meal.
Making lean protein the central part of your keto food for each meal, whether that means seafood, lean meats, eggs, or legumes, can help boost your metabolic rate and avoid ever having that starvation feeling.
However, I do want to caution you against excessively high protein intake. Sometimes eating too much protein means you are not eating enough fat, which can make it difficult to enter ketosis.
Protein intake should make up about 10-20% of your daily caloric intake.
Protein is 4 calories per gram, so if you are eating a 2000 calorie diet, that means you should be eating 50-100 grams of protein per day.
How Much Weight Can You Lose on Keto?
The average weight loss on keto is different for every dieter, so it is a bad idea to compare your weight loss to someone else’s.
Typically, initial weight loss is significant. It’s normal to lose about 10 pounds in the first week.
However, how much weight loss you see over a long period is different from person to person.
Ketosis tends to have a diuretic effect since many of us have quite a lot of water retention.
In the first week of keto, you lose quite a lot of water weight, which will not be the case once your body sheds that water loss and switches to fat loss.
However, how much weight you lose can depend on the different foods you’re eating, your starting body mass index and body composition, your net carbs, how much fat you eat, and your activity level.
Like I said, keto weight loss is different for everyone. While this is a weight loss diet, it can also be used to maintain a healthy weight as well.
This type of diet has been shown to improve glycemic control, and help reduce symptoms of health conditions like Parkinson’s disease, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides.
While keto can be very beneficial for many people who struggle with obesity or weight management, if you have a history of disordered eating, this may not be the best diet for you.
There are also some underlying health problems and medications that should avoid keto, particularly those with issues in the kidneys.
Be sure to speak with a dietitian or health care practitioner before starting a strict keto diet.
I hope the takeaway of this article is that there are many effective ways to push past a plateau while following a keto lifestyle.
While it may be frustrating to encounter a stall in your great results after experiencing steady weight loss, it often just takes switching something up to get back into your keto journey.
No need for extreme restriction or weight loss pills!
Healthy weight loss that lasts long term is not a myth!
It includes a combination of a healthy diet and a workout routine.
If you do hit a fat loss stall, try switching your mindset to how this new way of eating is helping improve your overall health.
While you may experience a keto weight loss stall, you are also working to reduce your cholesterol, triglycerides, and risk for heart disease, control your blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Even reduce symptoms of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), epilepsy, or hypothyroidism.
It may also be a good idea to measure inches lost, rather than weight, as well.
To increase your keto weight loss, focus on eating in a calorie deficit, decreasing your carb consumption, and focusing on protein and fat intake.
This combined with regular workouts and building lean mass will lead you to your keto weight loss goals!
Make sure to check out some of the similar content on our web site and blog to get a complete guide to keto-friendly foods and how to follow a healthy keto diet.