Thank you for joining us for another week of Easy Keto with Tasha! The focus of today is keto plateaus and weight loss stalls.
While we all hope to never have to deal with this issue, keto plateaus are completely common! However, despite the normalcy, we can always try to understand what is going on with our bodies and alleviate the stress of a stall!
Can you hit a plateau on keto?
A listener recently wrote in, sharing their current dilemma:
"Tasha, I totally love these podcasts. I've been eating low carb since January 14th, 2019. I've lost 65 pounds and love this way of eating. I appreciate the time you spend putting it all together, but I am currently at a standstill. The weight is not budging. Any suggestions?"
Congratulations on your 65 lb. weight loss! It can be extremely frustrating to have weight loss come to an apparent halt. It is completely normal for your weight to come off quickly at first, before slowing down (sometimes stopping!) as you get closer to your goal weight. You very well may be dealing with a keto plateau!
Realistic Expectations for Keto Plateaus
When dealing with weight loss, it is always important to maintain realistic expectations. This is especially true when dealing with a keto plateau.
Sometimes, people think that being in ketosis will make all fat disappear. And while it does aid in weight loss, it is no different than other forms of calorie-restriction. There is no secret about keto that makes it work better! The most magical aspect of keto is that it can be a diet that you enjoy long-term that helps you suppress your appetite.
Our friend who wrote in has been following keto for 44 weeks and 2 days, and she’s lost 65 pounds! Averaged out, this would equal 1.47 pounds lost per week!
It is important to look at the bigger picture, rather than isolating the struggles. Losing one to two pounds per week is healthy and sustainable. This is a realistic expectation! And while it can be frustrating to deal with the ups and downs, you cannot expect weight loss to stay the same rate or be overly consistent throughout your entire journey.
Before you immediately jump into stressing about keto plateau and thinking that keto doesn’t work for you anymore, ask yourself one question. How long has your weight actually been “stalled”? If it’s only been a few days or even a few weeks, then you may not actually be stalled at all!
Body Weight Planner
This is a tool provided by the National Institute of Health. It is available at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/bwp. The body weight planner tool provides the opportunity to better understand the rate at which you should be losing weight in a sustainable manner. And it’s free!
You may find yourself in a position where your weight loss progress has stalled for a couple of months, despite you doing every right. And like many before you, you may be entering keto plateau territory.
An important note to remember: weight loss does not only affect the number on the scale! Your body composition changes, your energy expenditure changes, and your hormones change.
Don’t give up on your diet just yet! Plateaus happen to everyone. Take a step back and evaluate where your body and diet currently are. This keto plateau is signaling that it is time to make some adjustments.
When you find that you are experiencing a keto plateau, look first to your food intake. The most common reason for a weight-loss stall is that you are eating at maintenance levels. After dieting for an extended period of time, your previous calorie deficit is no longer a deficit. As your body gets smaller, it won’t burn as much energy as it once did. Your metabolism slows down a bit, and your metabolic rate drops.
Solving a food intake issue does not have to be difficult! If you’re someone who eyeballs your measurements, take an extra moment to use kitchen tools to ensure your food amounts are accurate. Sometimes all it takes it seeing how much actually fits in a tablespoon to realize your guesses have been way off.
It also doesn’t hurt to track the food you eat. Keeping a food journal can help you realize that you’re consuming a lot more than you initially thought.
As you get more comfortable with your diet, it gets easier to be flexible. Combining measurements and food tracking can help ensure that you don’t lose your flexibility while staying mindful of how much you’re eating.
Carb restriction can get you far, but it might not get you far enough. Eating above your body’s needs will prevent weight loss, even if that eating is low carb.
If your current food intake is the cause of your keto plateau, consider your macros. When weight loss causes metabolic rate to decline, your macros can be affected.
If you’ve been religiously tracking and still can’t get out of your stall, it is time to recalibrate! Going forward, plan to recalibrate at certain intervals. This periodic check-in will help to minimize further stall-related bumps down the road.
For those of you that have avoided macros thus far, it might be time to bite the bullet. Rather than seeing macros as a new restriction, remember that macros are just a reflection of your calorie intake. Adding in an intentional calorie deficit does not have to be forever, but it can help you get to your next phase of progress.
We’ve created a female-specific tool to make this process easier. It is available here, at Keto Calculator: Macros for Keto Women. This was created specifically for the female body.
Keto Plateau or Body Recomposition?
If you have incorporated exercise into your weight loss regimen, you most likely have been building muscle while simultaneously burning body fat. This is something you cannot rely on a scale to see, as your lean body mass and your body fat will be canceling each other out.
Instead, opt for a scan that will measure your body fat percentage and your lean muscle mass. This will provide you with your overall body fat, rather than a single number on a scale. DEXA scans and Bod Pods are a few of the options available, but they can be an investment.
For a more frugal option, use a cloth tape. Measure the different areas of your body. Fat loss can be measured around your body in a way that a scale can’t provide.
Don’t let the number on the scale spoil your success. It is easy to focus on what the scale says; it’s also way too easy to let the scale downplay your accomplishments. Look past the scale to find out if you're actually in a keto plateau.
There is always the possibility that hormones are causing your weight loss stall and keto plateau. If you think this might be the case, don’t be afraid to visit your doctor!
Your cortisol levels tend to elevate after dieting for an extended period of time. If you are experiencing high levels of stress, this can cause elevated cortisol levels to retain water and promote fat storage. If you find yourself under a lot of stress during a keto plateau, try to target those stressors and work on shifting your perception.
Simple tips to reduce stress:
- Breathing exercises
As we know, the foods we eat can affect our bodies. There may be something that is causing inflammation for you. This inflammation could potentially be causing fluid retention and weight gain, which is appearing as a keto plateau. When you’ve managed to get everything else in line and things still aren’t progressing, it may be time to try an elimination diet.
Adding more restrictions is never fun. In many ways, an elimination diet can feel exactly like an enormous restriction. However, it may be key to uncovering a problem food.
1:48 - Can you hit a plateau on keto?
3:37 - Realistic Expectations for Keto Plateaus
7:45 - Body Weight Planner
9:28 - Keto Plateau
10:04 - Food Intake
14:10 - Macros
17:52 - Body Recomposition
21:34 - Hormones
25:50 - Inflammation
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Hi, I'm Tasha–nutritionist, recipe developer, and multi-published author dedicated to helping people thrive and succeed using low carb and keto dietary patterns.