Today I want to talk about the dreaded issues of not losing weight on a keto diet.
A lot of us start the keto diet and get great results right away. We lose a few pounds almost immediately, and continue to lose great amounts of weight in the first few weeks.
…but then results taper off and we start losing weight at a slower pace…. and over time, it seems like people stall out and hit that dreaded weight loss plateau.
So I really want to address this topic today. I want to give you some reasons why you aren’t losing weight while doing keto.
Just to let you know, I lost about half the weight I wanted to lose and stalled out. I didn’t gain or lose weight for a few weeks and it got frustrating, since I was doing everything right. I was meticulously tracking macros and I was also incorporating intermittent fasting.
I really learned that my body is smart as hell. Remember, weight loss isn’t really natural to your body. It DOES NOT want to lose body fat. Your body fat is reserve energy in case of famine and other crazy reasons why we may not eat for weeks. We evolved this way. And our bodies have learned to let go as little fat as possible if it thinks it’s starving.
Eating in a way that promotes fat loss for a long period of time can encourage your body to find ways to stop the fat burning. It thinks you’re starving is really what’s up. And that’s why a lot of us plateau.
For me, I just tried a lot of different things and eventually figured out that I needed to keep my body guessing. Overall, I stuck with keto and intermittent fasting, however some days I really low calories and other days I ate more. But overall, I kept insulin levels low and maintained a calorie deficit week over week. And that’s how I continued losing fat. It definitely was not at the same pace as when I started losing fat… I’m not sure what else I could do to speed it up. But the scale was moving the right direction. I can’t complain too much about that.
With that said, I want to discuss 9 reasons why you aren’t losing weight in ketosos
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9 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight In Ketosis
Here are some very common reasons why people don’t lose weight on a ketosis diet, or hit a weight loss plateau and can’t seem to lose any more weight.
You May Be Eating Too Much Fat
On a keto diet, you know you have to eat macronutrients around this ratio:
- fats 75%
- proteins 20%
- carbs 5%
Carbs need to stay at 5%. 10% max. You want to keep it as low as possible for weight loss. Carbs are easy to deal with. Basically, only get your carbs from vegetables that naturally contain them. Avoid all other carbs. When you eat this way, it’s fairly easy to consume 20g-30g of carbs or less every day. And maintaining a low carb diet is straight forward.
Protein needs to be at around 20%. It needs to be here because you need essential amino acids to build and maintain muscle. You should be hitting your protein goal every day. Not enough protein can lead to muscle wasting, which means your body will convert your existing muscle mass into energy. This is incredibly awful for your body. Your muscle mass is incredibly precious. It’s like the jewelry of your body. The best way to maintain your muscle mass is to make sure you get enough protein. Which is about 20% of your caloric need. Take your weight and divide it by 2.2. For example, if you weigh 165, divided by 2.2, then you need roughly 75g of protein per day to maintain healthy muscle mass. Generally, you want to keep it around here, not any more, not any less.
Fats! So fats is the only variable that you can go way over or way under. Here’s the thing people mess up on. They spoon feed themselves fat just to hit their macronutrient ratio because they haven’t met their “fat goal” for the day. You don’t need to do this. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat more fat. If your body NEEDS energy, it will get it from your ass. Why spoon feed yourself energy (fats) when your body isn’t hungry for it.
On keto, you know that you are a fat burner instead of a sugar burner. Your body will get its energy from either your diet or your body. If you eat TOO MUCH FAT, you won’t give your body a chance to use the fat on it for energy. Roughly 75% of your calories comes from fat. try to keep it there. If you have a day where you are way under fats – it’s totally okay. As long as your carbs and proteins are at the right grams per day, having fats way under will likely mean your body will tap into your fat stores in your body for energy if it needs to.
You May Be Eating Too Many Calories
A lot of people go on keto and don’t track. This is probably a bad idea. If you’re losing weight then that’s cool… but if you stall out or things aren’t working out, you don’t know how to troubleshoot because you won’t have any data.
I think a lot of people eat more food than they realize. Once you start tracking food, you kind of realize just how many calories are in some foods you had no idea. Like, I had 2 avocados one day, and it gave me a whopping 450 some calories. That’s a lot. I always knew that avocados weren’t a low calorie food, but TRACKING it really put it in front of me and told me just how much energy this food actually has.
If you eat too many calories, you will likely gain weight. It’s pretty much as straight forward as that. The thing is, some people say calories in and calories out don’t matter. It’s all about hormonal control (insulin). I disagree. I think calories absolutely matters. It’s not the ONLY thing that matters. But it matters. If you eat too much, you will likely put on weight. Your body will want to save the extra food for energy for later. It makes every bit of sense your body wants to behave this way.
So make sure you aren’t over eating too often. I recommend a small calorie deficit to lose weight. 10%-20% is a good range.
You May Be Not Eating Enough Calories
On the opposite end is not eating enough calories. When you do this for too long, even just a few days or so, your body is like wtf FAMINE!!! and slows your metabolism down. You may still be losing weight, but it will take less and less calories per day to continue to lose weight because your body is holding on to every bit of fat it can because it thinks you’re in danger of not getting enough food.
Some people start keto and do a huge calorie deficit. It will probably work extremely well initially. Your body will catch on though. And eventually stall you out. You’d have to eat an incredibly low amount of food to make the scale budge.
So make sure you get enough food so your body doesn’t think you’re starving. It will maintain an healthy metabolism. Again, a small calorie deficit is reasonable for weight loss. You can add in an extreme day where you eat a lot less. To mix things up. But OVERALL, week to week, a small calorie deficit will likely work to help you lose fat.
You May Need More Time To Heal Issues First
If you start the keto diet and don’t lose a lot of weight or don’t feel you’re losing as much as you think you should be, it could be because you have current hormonal issues that need to be fixed by your body first before it can effectively lose weight.
The most important hormone for fat burning is insulin. This hormone tells your body to store fat or release fat. If you’re pre diabetic or have been eating a lot of sugar your whole life, you could have an insulin issue called insulin resistance. Which means your fat storing/fat releasing hormone isn’t working optimally. It takes TIME for your body to correct this. And it could be why you’re not losing weight immediately, or not losing as much as you’d like.
Also, there are other hormones at play… and the other big one is cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone that stops fat burning. Stress is a major contributor that increases cortisol levels in your body. Too much estrogen is another hormone that can stop fat burning. Do your best to reduce anything that stresses you out in life, and do your best to get a lot of quality sleep.
You’re Metabolism Is Shot
If you’ve been dieting for a long time, which is based around a calorie deficit, you could have ruined your metabolism. Everyone as a metabolic set point. You can kind of look at it at the rate people use energy. When you diet too long, you ruin your set point.
It takes time to fix your metabolism. It starts with eating the proper amount of foods to get your set point back to normal. Hopefully your body gets used to the larger amounts of food and will start burning food at a more rapid rate. Once your metabolism is more normal, you may find you’ll be able to lose more weight now by continuing to eat a low carb keto lifestyle, and perhaps combining it with intermittent fasting.
You Are Eating Too Much Protein
Did you know your body can convert protein into sugar? It can, and it actually does it everyday if you are keto adapted. Your body needs glucose to function. If it does not get enough of it from the diet, it will convert it from the protein you eat. This process is called gluconeogenesis.
IF you eat TOO MUCH protein, your body can convert that extra protein into glucose…. which basically means you are eating too many carbs. And we know that excess carbs is converted to fat on your body.
So make sure you stick to your protein goal. Don’t sway too much below or above it.
You Are Not Actually Eating A Keto Diet
This comes back to the importance of tracking your macros. You need to track what you eat to make sure you are eating a diet that’s in the keto range.
A lot of people don’t get enough fats in to truly be in ketosis. They are hovering around the almost in ketosis but not in ketosis range. Or the eat too much protein which is being converted to sugar and it’s keeping them out of ketosis.
Some people try and eat keto but kind of just end up eating paleo because their macronutrient ratio is incorrect. Which is not the worst thing by any means, but it’s not keto – which is likely better for fat loss for you.
You Are Eating Too Often
Every time you eat you raise your insulin levels. When insulin levels are elevated in your body, you are only in one state. And that’s a FAT STORING state. And it’s as simple and straight forward as that.
You want to keep insulin levels low and for longer periods of time. This gives your body a chance to tap into it’s fat reserves for energy. To get here, eat less often. If you can, eat 2 meals a day. Some people only eat 1 meal a day. Eating 3 meals a day is fine too. But no snacking between meals. If you get hungry in between meals, try and add more fats to your meal – which should keep you satiated longer.
When I eat 4 pieces of bacon, 2 eggs, 2 sausages, and a healthy dosage of asparagus as my first meal, it holds me over for 5-6 hours. And then I have another meal which is just as big. And then I don’t eat again for the day. This is how I typically eat. I like to do 2 meals a day. This makes eating easy for one thing, but the other big thing is that I give my body a chance to burn more fat because I am spending MORE time with no food in my belly – which keeps insulin low – which promotes fat burning.
You may have been told eat 6 small meals a day to promote a metabolic response to increase fat burning. But that’s crap advice. Your metabolism will get to work, but your INSULIN levels will increase every time you eat – which as I said a few times here, when you are in a state of increased insulin levels, you are in FAT STORING mode. In other words, every time you eat, you will be in fat storing mode. Eating less often will do the opposite. Just make sure to eat nutritious foods and get the right amount of calories + macronutrients in during meal time.
You Are Eating Too Predictably
The biggest thing I learned about my body is to mix it up. Because it’s damn smart and knows how to adapt to whatever it is you’re doing, whether you’re trying to build muscle or burn fat.
Your body really wants to be in this state of homeostasis. It doesn’t like to be in any extremes. When you are trying to lose as much weight as possible, you are trying pushing your body into an extreme end. It will resist. It learns what you’re doing and will combat that.
What I’ve found works, and this is what I do to beat plateaus, is to mix things up a lot.
So some days I will eat a LARGE caloric deficit. Some days I’ll eat NO CARBS. Some days I’ll eat 50% more food than I need. Some days I will not fast. Some days I’ll go crazy with expenditure of energy.
I always eat a paleo keto style though. I could have a potato or something super carby, but it definitely isn’t something like rice or pasta, ice cream or a slurpee.
The overall trend is always a keto diet based around intermittent fasting (not eating for a longer period of time). With a few “weird days” thrown in to keep my body guessing. I’ve found this to be the best way to beat a weight loss plateau.
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