In Ketosis but Not Losing Weight? These Foods May be Stalling Your Progress

Foods that Cause Weight Loss Stalls and Plateaus

Stop Stalling Volume Two: Malignant Mouthfuls

Welcome back to the Stop Stalling series! Today, we’re going to take a look at some specific foods that may be causing your stall. These foods may be keeping you from getting ahead. The bad news is that a lot of them may be staples for you. Many of them seem keto-friendly: they’re low in net carbs and should be “safe.” In fact, they are “safe” for plenty of people. However, for some people, certain foods can cause stalls. If you’re in ketosis but not losing weight and have implemented everything advised in Volume 1: Operator Error, here’s a list of the most likely suspects.

In Ketosis but Not Losing Weight? These Foods May be Stalling Your Progress


Dairy is a tricky one. First of all, it’s very energy-dense (i.e. it has a lot of calories). That means that it can be really easy to overdo. Alas, keto isn’t magical, and calories still count. Secondly, it’s often a carbohydrate bomb. A glass of milk has about ten grams. It can have more or less depending on the fat content. It can be tough to tell with yogurt: while the actual carb count is probably lower than what is listed on the label (fermentation consumes some of the carbohydrates), you can’t always tell just how many there are. This is even ignoring the fact that many yogurts contain additives, including starch-based thickeners. Finally, dairy is especially prone to “rounding down”: even though many labels say that a serving of cheese contains zero carbohydrates, chances are that a serving contains as many as 0.7 grams.

It seems like very little, but if you eat two servings (easy to do!), it’s going to add up over time. Many people rely on dairy, and when they drop it, they start losing again.

Seeds and nuts:

Seeds and nuts are horrible bastards. I love nuts, especially almonds. Especially the smoked ones or the spicy ones. And nut butter? Don’t get me started. I can eat half a jar of it in one sitting. I HAVE eaten half a jar (and then some) in one sitting. Do you see where I’m going with this? If not, here’s the spoiler: I can’t keep nut butter in the house because it’s a trigger food for me. I can only buy seeds and nuts in single-serve packages, and even then it’s not advisable. Seeds and nuts are good sources of protein and fat, but they also contain carbohydrates, many of which are sugar and starch and therefore anti-ketogenic. They contain a surprising amount of carbohydrates, actually. Even macademias, which are the most keto-friendly of the bunch, contain about 3 grams in a 2-oz. serving. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that it’s really easy to overeat them. A serving is way less than you think, so all of a sudden, your snack just blew your carb count for the day. Many people find that their stalls go away when they stop eating nuts.


This one’s sad. Very sad, because sugar-free candies seem like such a great way to deal with cravings. You want a Forbidden Treat? If you can find a sugar-free version, no problem, right? Alas, that is very, very wrong. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol, so it does have zero net carbs. However, its glycemic index is 52 for syrup and 36 for powdered. It will cause an insulin response, and it will impact blood glucose. (About half of the calories in maltitol can be absorbed.) Cut the grams of maltitol in your food in half and pretend that it’s table sugar, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of why maltitol is not at all good for people trying to maintain ketosis.

If that’s not enough of a deterrent, consider that maltitol has a laxative effect. Yes, many babes will eat a couple of sugar-free candies when the train is a little bit late leaving the station. Sometimes, this works well. Sometimes, they wind up with a bullet train that leaves without making a last call. (That’s where we get “disaster pants” and why so many women don’t trust keto farts.) Shart roulette is an even crappier game than carb chicken.

Fat bombs:

People often ask, “Why do you hate BPC?” Well, I personally hate BPC because I think coffee tastes vile and is probably the devil’s beverage. (Just kidding. Sort of.) But that’s not what you mean. You’re wondering why Ketogasm and KBB discourage the use of BPC and fat bombs. This is where it gets more complicated. If you are using the ketogenic diet as part of a weight loss program, you should not be going out of your way to eat or drink more calories, whether they are carb-y or not. It is NOT necessary to maintain a ketogenic ratio* for weight loss, and doing so could be a bit part of why you’re stalling.

Remember the motto “Carbs are a limit, protein is a goal, fat is a lever”? That’s what we mean: you should definitely not go above your carbs, you should definitely try to hit your protein, but you absolutely do not need to hit your fat macro. Making it a goal is going to hurt your progress. If you are stalling, try to cut back on your fat a bit. Don’t go below 50 or 60 grams a day of ingested fat (you need dietary fat to absorb certain nutrients, avoid feeling like crap, and maintain skin and hair health), but unless you’re hungry or having trouble focusing, there’s no need to ingest extra fat: your body will “eat” from its stores.

*A ketogenic ratio is used for people who are treating neurological conditions like epilepsy with a ketogenic diet. In this case, a certain ratio of macronutrients is necessary to prevent seizures. In this case, people must make sure that they eat enough fat to supply their ketones. This type of therapeutic diet is not used for weight loss; it is used to suppress symptoms of an illness. Even if you have more ketones circulating while eating more fat, you will not be burning your own fat stores. This is also why we say no to exogenous ketones.


Drinking alcohol on the keto diet can indeed cause your weight to stall. Be sure to read the keto alcohol guide to understand exactly why this could be contributing to your lack of progress.

Non-keto foods:

This one is bound to ruffle some feathers. Heck, I didn’t like to hear it. There are those of us who are tempted to eat non-keto foods in small amounts, hoping that if it fits our macros, it won’t throw us out of ketosis. There are those of us who can. There are those of us who can’t. There are those of us who can have some non-keto foods in small amounts but not others. Nevertheless, if you’ve been eating small amounts of non-keto foods and hoping that you’re still maintaining ketosis, well, you might want to stop. You see, there are several problems with doing this. Just as you’ve learned that not all calories are the same and that not all carbs are the same, you’ve hopefully learned that not all sources of sugar, starch, fiber, etc. are the same. This kind of sucks, because it makes things confusing. Let’s take sugar, for example. A teaspoon of table sugar might seem like it would affect you the same way that 4 g of sugar in a handful of raspberries would, but it doesn’t. It isn’t tempered with water and fiber the way raspberries are. The same is true for honey. While it may be paleo, it sure as hell isn’t keto.

The Ketogenic Diet goes beyond helping adherents maintain ketosis: it also helps reduce inflammation and maintain general health. Non-keto foods don’t help with that. They can also promote inflammation, which can indeed result in weight gain (or a lack of weight loss). Cutting inflammatory foods may be the key.
In the third and final installment of Stop Stalling, we’ll look at underlying medical conditions that could be causing you to struggle with weight loss. Keto on, babes!

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In ketosis but not losing weight? These foods may be causing you to stall!


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Julia is a teacher, tutor, and educational advisor who resides in Washington State, inconveniently close to Woodinville, where one finds many of the local wineries. She has a deep and abiding love for cats, cheese, spicy food, and pickled things. She someday hopes to take over the world, but in the meantime, is looking into public health. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SWFgoesketo, where she often posts pictures of food and the gym.


  • Thanks Julia. I’ve started hosting low carb weight loss challenges and for people reporting stall outs, they commonly cite cheese, nuts, dark chocolate and pepperonis as the snacks they might be overconsuming to the point that their low carb diet is no longer working.

  • I have only just started, day four for me, have been very careful at calculating and keeping on point. I seem to be more bloated and have lost exactly no weight 🙁 Any advice gratefully received!! I’m feeling very disheartened. I am not looking to keep up fat, just hit my protein target and not going over my carbs. I am exercising. My body fat is 22%. I am sticking to 20 net carbs.

    • It took almost 2 weeks of keto dieting before I started seeing/feeling a change. And then it was dramatic for a while. I lost 27 lbs over the course of about 5 weeks, which is a lot. Then I plateaued for a while (about 3 weeks) and now I’m starting to see a gradual loss again of about 2-3 lbs per week. I was at a significantly higher body fat, being at a 30.9%, so that probably accounts for the fast loss at the beginning. Now that I’m nearer my goal, it’s more gradual. Just keep it up, it will happen. And maybe look at adjusting your carbs. 20 net carbs is quite low, maybe up it to 25 net carbs and see if that helps? You don’t want too many carbs on a keto diet, but too few can have an opposite effect.

  • Thank you so much for providing this.. and for free! Hopefully this will help me out of my rut. It feels a little bit like I’m back to square one now though.. if I need to be careful how much protein I have.. what do you eat?

  • Thank so much for the thorough post and tips! I’ve recently hit a stall, and some members of the keto group I belong to pointed out that I might be overdoing it on some of these things. This post helped me home down on exactly what kinds of things I need to cut out of my keto diet. I’ll try to report back in a couple of weeks on my progress, and whether or not I was able to break my “stall”.

  • Thanks so much for this perspective. I just started keto for the main purpose of weightloss. I have done BPC for two days, and just hate the idea of drinking so many calories!

    I’d much prefer to eat grass-fed butter on steamed veggies or some other keto food that will fill me up.

    You’ve saved me some heartache!

  • Hello,
    I’m so confused now because I’m on a few keto Facebook posts and most of them promote fat bombs and BPC. I never understood why you had to add more fat than what’s already in a low carb/ keto diet. What you’re saying makes more sense to me.

    • Practice the use for yourself and see if there is a benefit for your body. Personally, I don’t have them all the time but I do find them very helpful in accomplishing my health and wellness goals.

  • I just read scientific studies that broke down the concept the more protein that the body doesn’t need will convert to glucose as sugar and affects insulin. They saud keto should now be fat based (‘fat burns fat”) and 2-3 oz of meat at meals.

  • I’ve used a keto calculator and based on it I’m suppose to be taking in about:
    135g Protein
    35g Net Carbs
    217g Fat
    2600 Calories
    I’m not sure if the numbers seem right though.. But I’m been hitting close to the daily, tracking them with the Myfitnesspal app.

    Came back from numerous vacations at 240lbs, about a month in, I’m at 230, but seem to be hovering there for the past few weeks.

    I tend to workout M-F, 3 days of weights, 2 of Cardio.
    I’m not sure there cause of the plateau

    • Hey Jason, keto calculators can be a bit tricky to find a good, reliable one. I’ve found that quite a few use different formulas and some are based on medically therapeutic ketogenic ratios versus macros that are appropriate for fat loss/body recomposition. You might want to try plugging in your info into the ketogains macro calculator, their macros are geared towards losing fat while maintaining (and even building muscle). It’s super solid!

  • I think I calculated something wrong because I’m eating 600 calories a day , Maybe that isn’t right? I weight out 1/8 of cup of almonds and eat 3 eggs, a 1/4 c of chickens, 1/4 cup of cheese. and couple pieces of spinach . I do yoga and jump on trampoline for ten minutes That is it.. The ketostix is dark purple it reflect that I’m burning ketones but I feel bloated and full it is an odd feeling for me . I have ten pounds to lose in 14 days but I think I’m gaining .. I don’t own a scale maybe I should get one.

  • This is a great summary. I am about 3 weeks in ketosis (according to urine strips) and have not seen the scale budge much and feel like I’m retaining water not just in my belly but also my face, neck, hands, and legs. I think I need to be honest with myself and cut the dairy for a while.

    Just curious, many resources say to add more high-quality salt for electrolytes. What is your opinion?

      • Salt has nothing to do with the fact that she is not losing weight – don’t listen to that advice! You’re right in saying that you need to cut out milk products. I’ve had the same problem and as soon as I cut out milk, I saw the pounds come off. Remember, milk products like cheese also can be high in protein and definitely calories. It’ll be harder to limit even more your foods, but it’ll be worth it. Unfortunately calories still have a factor to play too – cheese has a ton of calories and it’s easy to overeat. No matter what diet you’re on, the ONLY secret to losing weight is that you must be in a calorie deficit by the end of the day/week. If you’ve had a bad calorie day on day, then just limit extra calories on another day to balance out the week. Keto helps you with staying fuller longer and not being as hungry to help with achieving that calorie deficit. Hope that helps!

        • Sodium is important when restricting carbohydrates regardless of weight loss or not. Balancing electrolytes is important and it’s not bad advice. She specifically asked about adding high quality salts for electrolytes. The article you are commenting on is part of a series for weight loss stalls, the first post focuses on calorie deficit which is linked above.

          • I tried the advice of adding 2 tsp. pink himalayan salt one day. I didn’t have leg cramps, which had been fierce every night, but woke up the next morning with horribly puffy eyes and fingers. The next day I tried 1 tsp. of salt – same results. What has worked for me (no cramps last two nights!!!) is two tsps. (divided) of 40,000 Volts liquid electrolytes. No puffiness.

  • I have been trying so hard for the last two months to stay within macros; the scale is just NOT moving. I feel so good and clothes feeling slightly looser, i did by some keto sticks and showing trace amounts of ketones, I see all these people losing like 20 and 30 pounds in a few months and I lost 10 in July and not a single pound since and i am diligently tracking everything. Macros 10% carbs; under 20 30% protein and 60% fat. What am I doing wrong????

      • I’m the same, Sandy! It’s been 3 weeks, and I dropped some new weight back to my normal plateau, but not a bit lost in last 2 weeks. It’s like none of the success stories ever apply to me. I’m trying not to give up, but I feel destined to live my life in this chubby body. My mom cut just gluten and lost 15 lbs in 3 weeks. I cut carbs, lost zero. Super discouraging.

    • Sandy, I have been doing keto for 3 weeks now and the ketostix show that I am definitely in ketosis but I feel the same as you – feel good and clothes “slightly” looser. but seeing all these others losing 10lbs or more in the same amount of time has me discouraged, also. I think I will cut out dairy and see if that makes any difference.

      How is your diet and weight loss going now?

    • Hey Skye,

      IF you take a magnesium supplement it will help you tremendously with your cramps, among many other benefits. I use one I can drink called Natural Calm, but there are pills and other drinkables out there. I also drink alkaline water, which helps. I’m on my second week, I’m in ketosis and I’ve gone from 140 to 142. Everything I read contradicts itself, it is incredibly frustrating. I have friends who have lost 40+ pounds – they tell me to eat to satiety, eat cheese, eat greens, fat bombs, BPC, etc…they tell me to have my macros at 80 fat, 15 protein, 5 carb. I read this stuff and I feel like I can’t eat anything! Eat too much, eat too little, exercise too much, my hormones aren’t in balance – how many excuses are there for why I’m not losing weight? Like, sooooo many. I’m under 1500 calories a day, I’ve stuck pretty close to those macros – so what? Nada. I’ll probably give it a couple more weeks, but I am currently annoyed.

  • thanks for the motto. I am glad to hear that fat is a lever. I have been trying to hit that daily. nuts are also a trigger for me too. will give those up for a while and see how it goes and report back.

  • I’m a type 1 diabetic for 28 years and have an insulin pump. I’m beginning to believe that it’s next to impossible for me to lose weight because of the constant insulin I receive! I track everything religiously and always show small amounts of ketones on a daily basis. Still, the scale hasn’t moved and my clothes fit the same! My sugars are great not eating all the bad carbs, but please tell me that I’ll eventually be able to lose weight if I stick with it?! Feel hopeless at this point but still hanging on!

  • I am really loving the Keto diet. I struggled with Fibromyalgia for years and when I cut the sugar and carbs the pain has gradually gone away and I am a new person after only two weeks! I have probably lost about 3 pounds. Hoping to continue to lose up to 25 lbs. Thank you for the information about dairy and nuts and also calories. I have been relying heavy on those two and I think I could do better keeping this in mind. Also, I was under the impression that you could eat as much as you want! It’s a wonder I haven’t gained weight with all the cheese and cream I have been eating! 🙂 This article has been very informative, so THANK YOU!

  • Great article. I understand the Keto diet much better.Malitital (spelling)? Is definitely my Nemesis. I’m all about sugar-free, so I’ll pay closer attention to the label. I have POTS,Post Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It is an autonomic disorder that affects my central nervous system. I cut out the sugar 1 week ago.I feel better about that .I wanted to lose ten to 15lbs. ,I’m hoping it will help me have more energy. Thank you again for the article.I am glad that I found it.

  • I am beyond frustrated and not sure I should continue on keto. I was excited about this diet – it is one I think I can keep up, but I’m not happy with my progress and feel like maybe my body just doesn’t like this diet.

    I started Jan. 1 – I gained 5 pounds week one. Given most people have their biggest loss in week one – I was devastated, but I pressed on. 5 pounds down week two so I was feeling a little better – at least I lost what I put on week one.
    zero pounds week 3.

    So 3 weeks in – I’ve lost nothing.

    My body fat % has not declined. I have not lost inches.

    I am religious about it. I have not cheated, have not exceeded 23 grams of carbs in this period at my highest and come in about 16g on a normal day.

    I measure my ketones daily on my Ketostix and have been in ketosis from week 1. I have moderate to high levels of ketones.

    My calorie intake averages about 1200 calories/day.

    I put everything I put in my mouth in My Fitness Pal.

    I am doing cardio 3 days a week and some weight training 2-3 days a week.

    I don’t touch nuts. The only dairy I have is in my coffee – whipping cream and I measure it with measuring spoons and count the calories/carbs.

    My macros are usually in around 5% carbs, 70% fat, 25% protein.

    I also do intermittent fasting during the week days.

    My starting weight is 162 and I want to get to 145. I’m female, 5’7 and considered overweight by any BMI chart. My body fat is 33% – which I measure with a body fat handheld unit.

    So – I have to say WTF?

    I have a weight loss goal for end of March of about 20 pounds, which I thought in 3 months on keto would be achievable. I don’t want to wait another week only to have zero weight loss.

    I have done pure calorie restriction in the past with decent success, slow .5-1 lb/week with body fat losses. It just took a while.

    What do you think?

    • I am in the same boat as you! I am trying to do everything right, have been in ketosis since day 3. My weight dropped 3 pounds but since then it either does nothing or moves up slowly. I’ve cut out all sugar alcohol and dairy now and still nothing. I’m just not sure what else I can do. I got on the scale this morning SURE that it would have moved down because my calories and carb intake was low but it moved up a half pound. It’s so frustrating.

  • Kelly – I have had a very similar experience. I lost about 5lbs, only to gain back to my original weight. It’s been 4 weeks of “by-the-book” keto dieting for me. I attend a support group and so many are excited about their IMMEDIATE (first week) weight loss, and this frustrates me.

    I don’t have a large amount of weight to lose (probably 12-15lbs); I don’t know if this has anything to do with it.

    I exercise 5 days weekly; I drink 60-80oz water daily; I eat absolutely NO sugar; HONESTLY, I do not “cheat”.

    On the plus side, I do feel better, my clothes fit looser, my energy is great, I sleep well.

    Just baffled by the no movement of the scales…

    • hows it going now Mary Beth? I have the same experience month and half and only 5 pounds down, feel great but really discouraged by the lack of weight loss. Looking for some advice that I can try.

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