There is nothing more frustrating to dieters than the dreaded keto weight loss plateau. No matter how much you try to limit your carb intake, your scale continues to have amnesia. In a case such as this, you are not seeing the expected results despite your strict efforts at following keto meal plans. ‘Am I doing something wrong? Is this keto meal plan working? Is this typical?’ These are some questions you may be asking yourself at this plateau.
The thing is, most of us will reach a keto weight loss plateau at some point in our dietary plan. When this happens, it does not mean that the keto meal plan is no longer effective. In other words, it does not mean that you failed in this dietary plan.
Before discovering how we can correct this predicament, let’s discuss what a keto weight loss plateau is and what are its causes. After that, we can discuss how you could break through this plateau and continue enjoying your expected weight loss results.
What Is A Weight Loss Plateau?
A weight-loss plateau refers to a point in your weight loss program where your weight remains the same despite your exercise and dietary efforts (15). It is indeed frustrating, breaking your back in the gym and restricting your consumption of various foods only for your scale not to change.
This is actually one of the many reasons why so many weight watchers give up on various dietary plans. The plateau can be both frustrating and demotivating, which can explain why you might abandon your weight loss program.
Read More: How To Break A Weight Loss Plateau?
What Causes A Weight Loss Plateau?
No matter how hard you exercise, you will not be able to lose more weight when you reach a weight loss plateau. For the longest time now, many people have believed it had something to do with their bodies causing this plateau.
However, Medical News Today acknowledges that doctors still cannot explain why the weight loss plateau occurs. However, some theories have been developed to explain why the plateau may occur. They include (15):
- Failure to follow a diet plan after a few months of starting it
- Your body’s adaptation to weight loss and its defense against further weight loss
- A slowed-down metabolism, especially if there was rapid weight loss
Nonetheless, these theories are still up in the air. More research is still needed to help in explaining the causes of weight loss plateaus. We can point out that according to Medical News Today, research shows that the plateau occurs about six months after you start following a low-calorie diet plan (15).
The Keto Weight Loss Plateau
If you do not shed pounds while following a keto diet plan, it may be because you have not achieved ketosis (12). Ketosis is the process that occurs when your body lacks enough carbs to burn for energy.
Following this shortage, your body burns fat and makes ketones which can be used for fuel (9). The most common reason you may not get into ketosis is failure to cut back on your carbohydrates.
Remember that the keto diet is a low-carb diet. The typical advice is that you need to eat less than 50 grams of carbs every day to trigger your body to burn fats, but this number may vary by individual (17). For ketosis to happen, it may take three to four days. So, you need to stay on track when you start cutting back on the carbs.
Sometimes you may feel as though you have reduced your carb intake and do not understand the plateau’s cause. In such cases, it may occur if you are still consuming enough carbohydrates for your body to produce energy from glucose. As a result, it hinders your body from burning fat.
Likewise, you may hit a keto weight loss plateau if your food portions have crept up. Remember that portion control is also very important in weight loss. Large food portions can make you unintentionally consume more calories, leading to a calorie surplus instead of a calorie deficit for weight loss (4).
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How To Move Beyond A Keto Weight Loss Plateau
It can be hard to fathom how you were shedding pounds weeks earlier, but now suddenly, your scale won’t budge. As mentioned earlier, this is pretty common and may happen when you are following a dietary plan.
Most people tend to give up on their eating plan instead of looking for strategies to address this plateau. This can be resolved if you implement various plateau-busting strategies. They include:
Understanding The Portion Control Concept
One common reason for arriving at the keto weight loss plateau is due to eating more calories. This happens more often than you think, especially if you disregard your food sizes and portions. Each food contains calories, and eating more than the keto plan recommends will lead to more calories.
That is why you are asked to keep with the recommended food servings prescribed in the keto meal plan. If they have not been provided, remember to consult with your nutritionist on food portions. Here are other practices that can help control your food portion sizes and ratios (11):
- Measuring every food ingredient before you cook.
- Eating from the plate instead of the bag. You are most likely going to overeat when you eat your food from the bag or containers.
- Serving your food on smaller plates. Serving your food on a smaller plate will make it hard for you to consume more calories from the large portions.
- Snacking in between meals. Snacking in between meals can prevent overeating during lunch or dinner. Remember to only snack on keto-friendly snacks. Some of these keto-approved snacks include carrots, green bell peppers, celery sticks, avocados, olives, cheese, nuts, seeds, and plain, full-fat Greek yogurt (2).
- Practising mindful eating. Eating while watching or while distracted on your phone can also make you disregard your food portions. That is why you are advised to practice mindful eating. Mindful eating helps in placing your full attention on your meals instead of other activities. In the long run, this eating habit will help you lose weight due to reduced chances of overeating (8).
Starting An Exercise Program
You can also jump off the keto weight loss plateau by starting an exercise regime. Such a routine can help improve your metabolism and also help with muscle mass development (14). Increased metabolism and more muscle mass will help you burn more calories.
Likewise, starting physical activity can also help push your body into ketosis (5). The more energy you spend on these activities, the more food you will need to eat for fuel. Since you are consuming a low-carb diet, your body will be forced to burn fat for energy.
There is no specific recommended exercise regime that has been set to help you jump off the weight loss plateau on keto. That said, do not limit yourself to gym exercise only. Instead, look for ways in which you can exercise and burn calories. You may start with simple aerobic activities like walking, biking, or jogging.
At first, you may tend to experience fatigue as your body tries to adjust to your keto diet plan and exercise routine (5). Perhaps this may explain why people search for keto side effects, insomnia, and weight loss plateau side effects.
Fatigue is the most common side effect when you are trying to jump off this wagon through exercise. Remember to seek medical advice if the fatigue persists or if you encounter any other side effects.
Reducing Your Stress Levels
Whenever we are stressed, we tend to compromise our weight loss results. In a 2016 review titled “The impact of stress on metabolism and energy balance,” the authors state that chronic stress can lead to over-consumption (of calories) and weight gain (7).
Based on this research, you are advised to manage your stress levels, especially if you are on a keto water weight loss plateau. Sit down with a healthcare provider to determine the best stress management strategy for you. Some of the best strategies include relaxation techniques like stretching, yoga, deep breathing, or meditation (13).
Getting Enough Sleep
Believe it or not, getting enough sound sleep can also help you move away from the keto weight loss plateau. According to research summarized by Medical News Today, poor sleeping patterns may also thwart your weight loss efforts, causing the plateau (10).
The study further found that sleeping for only a few hours may also make it more difficult to reduce waist circumference (3). In light of this we know how essential it is to get enough sleep. There is no one standard answer on how much sleep is enough (6).
Noting this however, some practices are believed to help you get enough and sound rest. These include (6):
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol consumption at least 4 hours before you go to bed.
- Establishing a sleeping pattern. The pattern should help you go to bed every night at the same time.
- Taking a bath before bed. It can help you relax and make you sleep faster.
- Exercising before dinner. Do not exercise after that, as it may keep you awake for longer.
- Creating a good sleeping environment. The best sleeping environment is one that is dark, cool, and serene.
- Limiting naps. You may have trouble sleeping throughout the night if you tend to take many naps. So, try and restrict, especially your afternoon naps. If not, you can limit them to less than an hour.
- Dealing with stress before going to bed. Stress may keep you awake throughout the night. Try to resolve any issues before going to bed, if you can.
Changing Your Snacking Habit
You may tend to have a higher urge to snack, even when you are on a keto diet plan. The issue is not the urge but instead how to control the appetite and limit your snacking. Remember that a snack should help suppress your hunger just before the next meal.
So, if you are over-snacking, you are only piling up on your calories. You may end up consuming more calories, even with low-carb snacks. Remember that each food contains calories that still count in your daily calorie intake. So, be mindful about your snacks.
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Watching Your Alcohol Intake
The keto diet plan allows for the consumption of various alcoholic drinks. These are the drinks with low carbohydrate content. Some of them include champagne, red wine, light beer, mixers, and spirits (16).
Some people take advantage of the fact that they are keto-approved and over-consume them. Remember that although these drinks have low-carb content, they still count in your daily carb intake, which should range between 20 and 50 g (16).
So, if you have more than the recommended servings, you can potentially surpass this range. The effect is going to take you into a keto weight loss plateau as your body fails to reach a ketosis state. Aside from carbs, alcohol also contributes calories to your overall daily intake which could add up and erase any calorie deficit you created. Another thing to remember is that alcohol intake may affect your decision-making.
You may tend to consume high-calorie or high-carb meals while you are intoxicated. Such choices only jeopardize your weight loss results. With that said, be cautious of how much alcohol you are consuming, even if it has low sugar, carb, and calorie content.
Paying Attention To Your Fat And Protein Intake
Some people may feel the need to increase their protein and fat intake due to the decreased carbohydrate intake. The trick is not to increase them too much.. According to WebMD, your fat and protein intake should be “just right” (1).
You may be eating eggs to bust a plateau in weight loss on keto. However, the question remains, are you consuming the right protein content? The thing is, too little protein will lead to hunger pangs, overeating, and over-snacking.
On the flip side, too much protein will give you unnecessary extra calories. It means that you have to maintain a balance in your fat and protein intake. Talk to your dietitian to help determine the correct and suitable protein and fat food ratios to prevent a weight loss plateau.
It is quite possible to find yourself in a keto weight loss plateau. This may occur if your body can no longer reach the ketosis phase. You can reach the keto plateau after a 10 lb weight loss, 20 lbs, or even more.
Despite this, there is no need to worry. There are several practices you can adopt to help you bust off of this plateau. These include exercising, getting enough sleep, consuming the right amounts of fat and protein, and reducing your stress levels.
You can also jump off of this plateau by practicing portion control and adjusting your snacking habits. Remember to seek professional help before making any of the listed dietary changes.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 Ways to Move Beyond a Weight Loss Plateau (2008, webmd.com)
- Best keto snacks: Benefits and nutrition (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- High sleep variability predicts a blunted weight loss response and short sleep duration a reduced decrease in waist circumference in the PREDIMED-Plus Trial (2019, nature.com)
- How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Help Manage Your Weight (2021, cdc.gov)
- How to get into ketosis fast (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to Get the Sleep You Need (2002, webmd.com)
- Impact of stress on metabolism and energy balance (2016, sciencedirect.com)
- Improving Your Eating Habits (2020, cdc.gov)
- Ketosis (2020, webmd.com)
- Poor sleep may hinder weight loss, study shows (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Portion size (2020, medlineplus.gov)
- Reasons for not losing weight on a keto diet (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Ways to Manage Stress (2020, webmd.com)
- Weight Loss: Plateau No More (2003, webmd.com)
- What to do about a weight loss plateau (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about alcohol and the keto diet (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What’s a Ketogenic Diet? (2019, webmd.com)