If you’ve been seeing some amazing weight loss success on keto, but you’re concerned that you have hit a plateau (aka a keto stall), we take you through everything you need to know. From identifying whether you have hit a keto stall to our top, tried and tested tips on how to get through a keto plateau.
- How Do You Know If You Are Stuck In A Weight-Loss Plateau?
- What Causes a Plateau on Keto?
- How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau on the Keto Diet
- Final Thoughts
How Do You Know If You Are Stuck In A Weight-Loss Plateau?
If you’re stuck in a true weight loss plateau or have seen some weight gain, while following a low carb or ketogenic diet, it might be due to one or more of the reasons outlined below.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight with no success, then chances are that you could be experiencing a weight loss plateau. A plateau occurs when there’s little progress being made towards reaching your goal weight. It doesn’t mean that you have failed; rather, it means that you need to change up what you’re doing so that you can reach your goals faster.
If you weigh yourself on a daily basis, there are naturally going to be fluctuations in your weight. You should only weigh yourself on a weekly basis at the most frequent.
If you are new to the keto diet, it is likely that you have seen some quick weight loss, potentially followed by a period of no, or very slow weight loss.
Don’t worry, this is normal for any change in eating regime, keto is no different. Just stick with it and your weight loss progress will likely start again before long.
If you have been on keto for some time and you have seen no weight loss for over three months, it may be that you are experiencing a keto stall (aka a keto plateau).
What Causes a Plateau on Keto?
A plateau on a keto diet can be caused by several things, identifying what is causing your stall can be difficult. We have highlighted the key issues that most people have experienced when they have hit a plateau.
Too Many Carbs
Remember your carb intake should be below 20 grams per day.
Everybody’s bodies are unique and will have different tolerances to carbs, so everybody will have a unique daily limit.
For me, personally, I know I can manage 22-25 grams of carbs a couple of times a week and still stay in ketosis.
Where possible, I will normally plan higher carb days around lower carb days to minimize the impact.
For more on this tactic check out our guide on surviving a cheat day on keto.
Any more than this and I will see a rise in my blood sugar and I will be knocked out of ketosis.
I have read stories on forums and spoken to people who can eat up to 35 grams of carbs and remain in ketosis. However, some people cannot eat anything over 20 grams.
In short, everybody will have their own levels. The only way you will know what your personal levels are, is by testing your ketone levels.
If you have experienced a keto weight loss stall, it may be that you have inadvertently increased your carb intake beyond your individual tolerance levels. You may have even gone so far as to have knocked yourself out of ketosis.
If you do not track your keto macros, and you’ve hit a plateau, the easiest way to identify if too many carbs are your issue is to track what you are eating.
By tracking your macros, either manually or on an app like MyFitnessPal.com you will be able to see whether you are eating too much or too little carbohydrates.
If you are eating too many carbs, this is likely the reason for your keto stall. To break this cycle, you will need to recalculate your daily macros, using a reputable keto macro calculator, and ensure that you track your carb consumption.
Too Much or Too Little Fat
Some people are really nervous about eating fat, especially at the beginning of their keto journey.
We have been conditioned over the years to view fat as the enemy. This can make it psychologically difficult for people to consume enough fat.
The whole point of the keto diet is that the body enters ketosis. At this point, the body has moved away from burning glucose (carbohydrates) as its main fuel source and is, instead, burning fat for energy.
You need to ensure your fat intake is appropriate to your macros to optimize ketosis.
Remember, your macros are unique to you, based on a number of factors, such as your body weight, activity levels, and weight loss goals.
Too Much Protein
Too much protein is actually one of the most common mistakes people make on keto. We all tend to focus on the number of carbs that we are eating and ensuring that we eat enough fat, that we forget to monitor our protein intake.
Too much protein will reduce your ketone production. You may still be in ketosis, but only just. If your ketone levels are low, this may be causing your plateau.
Like all of us, you were probably very aware of what you were eating when you first started your keto journey, but over time things slip.
I would recommend that you weigh out your protein for a couple of weeks and track what you are eating to ensure you are back within your macros.
TOP TIP: Although protein is filling in its own right, if you cook it or serve it with butter or oils, it will make you feel fuller than eating the protein on its own. This will prevent snacking.
Too Many Calories
Although calories are not a key focus on the keto diet, you do need to ensure that your calorie intake is not too high or too low.
This is something that women seem to need to consider more than men. For men, sticking to the macros is normally enough and they will see consistent, healthy weight loss.
However, women appear to be more sensitive to the calories they are eating.
If you’ve found that you have hit a keto stall, and you have tracked your macros and they are on point, consider reducing the number of calories if you are eating a high number of calories or try eating more calories if they are particularly low.
If you are eating too few calories, your body may slow down your metabolism in order to function on fewer calories, this is known as adaptive thermogenesis.
How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau on the Keto Diet
Weight your Food & Track
We have touched on this above, measuring out the food that you are consuming to make sure that they meet your macros goals is one of the easiest ways to break a keto stall.
Whenever any of us start a new ‘diet plan’, we’re full of enthusiasm and will weigh out or measure anything, over time this ‘weighting and measuring’ will soon wain. We start to ‘guestimate’ the amount of food we are consuming, and guess what? We normally underestimate.
Moreover, if you have been in an emotional state out of the norm, i.e. stressed with work or family life, or, a bit busier than usual, you may have made a few poor choices that have affected your macros.
Getting back into the habit of weighing/measuring your food to accurately track what you are eating is always a good idea.
When people do this exercise, a lot of people are surprised at how much their food consumption has ‘crept up’, leading to a keto plateau.
Try this as your first tactic in overcoming your keto stall.
Recalculate your Macros
Recalculating your macros is something that people often forget to do. In the beginning, we’re all keen and will calculate our macros, then as we lose weight, we forget to recalculate.
What this means is that your body is getting enough fuel for its previous weight and not its current weight. This may lead to a keto stall.
As a general guide, I recalculate my macros every time I lose around 10 lbs (4.5 kg). Once I have been eating these new macros for a couple of weeks, I normally see the weight loss start again.
Recalculate your macros every time you lose around 10 lbs (4.5 kg)
For more detail check out our article on recalculating your macros.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting allows you to eat only at certain times, this can be anything from not eating a few hours a day to fasting for days at a time.
People approach intermittent fasting in different ways, there is no one size fits all.
When I have worked with people in the past and they have made great progress with fasting.
Some people will do 16:8 or 18:6 daily or a few times a week. What this means is that you would fast for a 16 hour window and only eat within an 8-hour window, i.e. between 11am and 7pm.
Others will fast for 18 hours and only eat food within a 6 hour window.
For the more hardcore, some will do a 24-72 hour fast to ensure that all carbs that are left in the body are used up and their body goes back into a state of ketosis.
I’m not going to like, the longer fasting is hard initially.
There are also health benefits that can be attributed to fasting.
- Assists the body to enter ketosis
- Can help you lose weight (or break a keto stall)
- Can help hormonal issues by rebalancing them
- Reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance
- Lower risk of type 3 diabetes (linked to insulin resistance above)
- Reduce inflammation in the body
- Reduce blood pressure
- Assist autophagy (cell repair)
- Improved mental clarity
- May extend life span
There are also studies that indicate the intermittent fasting (IF) can have a positive impact on chronic diseases.
The most important of these for a keto plateau is kick-starting weight loss. Some people will intermittent fast as a one-off, whereas others will build it into their daily or weekly keto regimen.
Try Skipping the Alcohol
Stay with us!
Here we do practical keto, we know that never having a drink again is not an option for a lot of people, me included!
A keto plateau and alcohol can come hand in hand. Alcohol can have hidden carbs, and for most people, if you are drinking your carbs as opposed to eating them, you are less likely to track these macros.
Also, we all know that if you are out drinking, you can soon lose track of what you are drinking.
Furthermore, I know I am personally guilty of this one, when I am out drinking, I can get the ‘munchies’ and be tempted to eat whatever is available, which is often not keto-friendly.
Learn from our keto mistakes and check out our ultimate guide to drinking alcohol on keto.
This will take you through our 5 P Plan for drinking alcohol on keto and minimizing the impact of this, including preventing a keto stall.
5P Plan for Enjoying Alcohol on Keto
1. Plan Carbs
2. Plan Alcohol
3. Plan Water
4. Plan Snacks
5. Plan Recovery
If you are following our guide of what to drink and not to drink on keto and you’re still experiencing a plateau, try cutting out or at least cutting back on alcohol for a period, this may be just what your body needs to get through a stall.
Add in Exercise or Switch up your Workout Routine
If you were already an exerciser pre keto, why not switch up your exercise routine?
If you have previously been more of a cardio person, why not try to switch this up by replacing one of your weekly workouts with some weight training, or vice versa?
If you have never done exercise before, this does not mean that you have to start going out and running 5k every other day. It just means doing something a bit different.
It could be parking your car at the other end of the car park at work or at the supermarket. Or could be something as simple as doing a beginner’s home workout.
Increasing your level of activity will have positive physical and mental wellbeing.
Check out our article on exercising on keto for our top recommendations, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer.
Get Enough Sleep
There have been a number of studies that have shown that a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on weight loss.
If sleep is something that you struggle with, try addressing this issue as it may be negatively affecting your weight loss journey.