Thursday, October 24, 2013

KETO: Low Carb Diets and Plateaus.

One of the most frustrating things about trying to get healthy is hitting a plateau. For those who haven't heard the term, a plateau in weight loss refers to the unchanging weight for an extended amount of time. As always, I highly recommend pictures and measurements over using the bathroom scale for progress. If you are building muscle, that weight could very well increase while you are trimming down.

 Here are a few  things you can try to break out of your plateau.

If you are not to your goal weight/shape, and can't seem to drop any weight for weeks at a time, the first things you need to do are:

Hit Your Macros.
For the ketogenic diet, your daily caloric intake should be around  5% carbohydrates, 65% fat, and 30% protein.

Adjust as you see fit, depending on your goals or personal experience with ketosis. Some people can consume up to 100g of carbohydrates in one day, while remaining in ketosis, and  if you are eating 2000 calories per day, that is actually 20%.

Check Your Water Consumption.
Especially while in ketosis, your body will quickly flush out water. Make sure you are drinking lots and LOTS of water each day. It's getting colder outside, and broth is really helping me - especially when I'm fasting.

Which brings me to the next steps in overcoming a plateau:

Intermittent Fasting (IF).
Fasting can be very beneficial. In my experience, it has helped me feel better after an "off" weekend (sometimes I consume a few carb-laden foods over the weekend). It helps put me right back on track and go into the work week feeling good again. Fasting, by definition, is consuming fewer than 10 calories in an hour. That means you can eat a pickle, or drink some broth, black coffee or tea if that's what you like. If you are okay with using sweeteners there are a number of sugar-free drinks to choose from (although, check my final list item on this topic).

Fat Fasting.
A fat fast is when you consume a total of 1000 calories per day, and 90+% of those calories come from fat. This can be a challenge, but it is a short-term plateau-breaker. You shouldn't have to have such a deficit for long. Good foods that are high in (the right kinds of) fat include: almonds, nut butter, macadamias, cheese, avocados, olive oil, cream cheese, heavy cream, and coconut oil.

If you are already doing a regular workout routine, try switching it up. Add more strength-building exercises in if you generally only do cardio, or the reverse if you only ever do strength. If you are doing neither, try something active and get your blood pumping! Even if it doesn't end up breaking the plateau, you start to feel good after exercising, and it is great for your heart.

Check Your Calorie Count.
      Consume More Calories.
If you are restricting your calories too much, it could potentially cause a stall in your weight loss. Rather than jumping off of the keto bandwagon, try consuming 200-400 more calories each day for a couple of days. See if it helps.

     Alternately, Consume Fewer Calories.
If you aren't having enough water, or aren't quite hitting your macros, you might still be feeling hungry after consuming plenty of calories. And what happens if you eat more fat than your body will burn? It stops using your fat stores and stops losing you weight. So keep careful count (MyFitnessPal is great for this) and see what exactly you are eating.

Cut All Sweeteners.
So you've tried all of these. You're hitting your macros, chugging water, exercising, you've tried fasting and even a few fat fasts and your calories are in check. Try to cut all sweeteners (even the "good" ones) from your diet. That includes diet soda, sugar free flavors in coffee, and many (many) low-carb alternative foods. I recently did this and it absolutely helped me. In fact, this is the first thing you should try, listed last only because it took me so long to try it. After removing sweetener from my day, I find that I crave fewer sweets. At first I didn't care for unsweetened coffee, and sparkling water had no taste. But after just a few days, I began to prefer coffee without sweetener, and I can hardly drink diet soda as it is so darn sweet to me now.

Got any corrections? Questions or comments? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. Fatty meals will have a negative impact on your body for example they may lead to inflammation of the body system, high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol in the body.

    Kopi Luwak

    1. Hi there,
      Could you provide a couple of sources for your claim?

      I do realize there seems to be an obsession in the USA with low-fat foods and diets. People have made an association between consuming fat in their diet and becoming fat when in reality there is little to no correlation between the two. People can (and do) gain weight consuming low-fat foods.

      Here is an article addressing, specifically, the myth that eating fats will raise blood cholesterol:

      Especially in a ketogenic diet, where you are literally training your body to use fats as fuel, rather than the easy-to-digest carbohydrates, consuming dietary fats is necessary.