As the body experiences a drop in blood sugar and a rise in ketones during the initial weeks of your keto diet, you are likely to lose a significant amount of weight. It’s possible that after this weight loss, your body can plateau and we've definitely experienced the same here at Konscious Keto - you are not alone.
Keto weight loss plateaus can occur for a multitude of reasons. This guide will break down why you can experience a weight loss plateau and the different ways you can break it.
To understand your keto weight loss better, you’ll need to practice patience as well as good tracking and lifestyle habits.
Keto Weight Loss Progress: Patience is a Virtue
Many people experience a rapid weight loss during the first few weeks of their keto diet. In fact, that tends to happen in almost any diet.
The first round of weight loss is your body reacting to a significant change in your diet. However, this typically leads many to believe they will continue losing weight at the same pace throughout their diet. Usually, this is not what happens.
Patience is key when it comes to the keto diet. If you experience a plateau, don’t become discouraged!
The Mayo Clinic suggests the average person lose 1-2 pounds per week. Anything more than that can be considered unhealthy.
You may even have some weeks where the scale shows you haven’t lost any weight at all, and this is okay too! This is why patience is a virtue on the keto diet.
If you go several weeks without losing weight, you may be experiencing a keto diet weight loss plateau.
Read on to find factors that may be decreasing your ability to lose weight.
Tracking for Weight Loss on Keto
An important part of the keto diet is tracking your nutrition on a daily basis. Tracking your keto diet does three main things:
- Monitors how many carbs you’re consuming
- Finds inconsistencies in your ketone levels
- Regulates your calorie intake
Tracking your keto diet has other benefits as well and will also monitor your:
- Quality of carbohydrates
- Ketone levels during fasting
- Overall weight loss
- Sleep patterns
- Stress levels
- Thyroid activity
Below we will cover the three main aspects of tracking your keto diet, as well as why the quality of the carbohydrates you consume matters.
Eating Too Many Carbs
For the average person, no more than 30g of carbs per day should be consumed while on the keto diet. Carbohydrates should make up 5%-10% of your diet, so the actual amount is different for everyone.
Sometimes, if you’re experiencing a plateau, simply decreasing or increasing your carbs can make a difference.
For most, decreasing carbs should help improve weight loss, but you can also plateau if you are not getting enough of a vital nutrient.
Another thing to look for within your diet is hidden carbs. Hidden carbs are carbohydrates that you wouldn’t expect to find in foods that are usually considered “healthy.”
Foods with hidden carbs include salad dressings, sauces or condiments, root vegetables, squash, fruit, and some processed meats.
One more reason that tracking carbohydrates is important is that snacking can be a sneaky way of increasing your macros too much before bed.
If you’ve reached a keto diet weight loss plateau, try cutting out one snack from your day, or choose a lower-carb snack.
Not Testing for Ketones
Tracking your ketone levels throughout your day on a consistent basis is so important. Many people don’t realize just how important it is!
First of all, the keto diet is all about ketones. If you don’t track your ketones, you’re basically leaving yourself in the dark throughout your diet.
Using one of the ketone-tracking methods on a regular basis will let you know if your body is actually in ketosis or not.
Second, knowing your blood-ketone level is a great way to recognize how you are feeling. It’s very possible that your feeling of sluggishness or weight gain could be because your ketones are too low.
As your ketone level fluctuates throughout the day, you can track which hours you are most productive and clear-headed.
From there, you can adjust your diet as necessary to maintain consistent ketosis on a daily basis.
The three ways to test your body for ketosis are:
- Urine test strips
- Breath acetone
- Blood meter
Each method for testing your ketone levels has its own pros and cons, varying in price value and reliability.
Choose the method that is best for your lifestyle, and test for ketosis regularly.
Over or Under Eating Calories
Part of why the ketogenic diet is so popular and helpful for weight loss is because it’s great at naturally reducing your daily caloric intake.
This is due to the keto diet requiring you to eat naturally satiating food instead of “empty” calories.
Even though most of the calories you eat on a keto diet are good, healthy calories, it is still possible to have too many.
It’s also possible that you are experiencing a keto diet weight loss plateau because you’re not eating enough calories!
If you’re not already, you should absolutely start counting your daily calories, along with your macros and other nutrition. You can do this by utilizing a keto calculator or using a daily nutrition log.
Since all bodies are different, not everyone needs to eat the same amount of calories to lose weight.
Not only are the number of calories important, but how many calories of each macronutrient (carbs, protein, and fat) you eat daily are also vital to your weight loss.
Learn how many calories you require to lose weight, as well as what percentage of each macro should make up your daily nutrition.
Quality of Carbs Matters
Not all carbohydrates are the same! The quality of your carbohydrates can absolutely make or break a keto diet weight loss plateau.
While there are many ketogenic diet recipes that are enjoyable to eat, there is still no way you can “cheat” and lose weight.
This means if you’re often eating too many keto foods that mimic processed or high-carb meals, you’re probably not getting the healthy carbs and fiber you need to lose weight.
One way to understand the quality of the carbs you are eating is by tracking your net carbs.
To calculate how many net carbs you are eating, subtract the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbohydrates. The amount remaining are your net carbs.
If your net carbs are over 5g per serving, or too close to the total amount of carbs, then you are consuming low-quality carbohydrates. The less net carbs you consume, the higher quality your meal is!
Eat Whole Foods
So what is considered a good-quality carbohydrate? Look for whole foods with dietary fiber. Just because something is high-fat and low-carb does not always mean it’s up for grabs.
In fact, the majority of your keto foods should be whole, unprocessed foods. Although some processed foods can be keto, you may be hitting a keto diet weight loss plateau because you’re eating too much of those.
Focusing on consuming whole foods is not only a good way to stay in ketosis, but it also helps to avoid eating too many calories.
If you are still experiencing a plateau, you may need to cut processed foods out of your diet entirely.
Key things to look for in whole foods:
- Quality unsaturated fats
- Organic saturated fats
- Fresh meats (not canned, jarred or preserved)
- Oils with minimal saturated fats
- No added sugars (this includes natural additives too)
- No preservatives
Avoid Processed Foods
Including more whole foods in your diet is one way to break a plateau. However, you also need to avoid processed foods. Even if something is technically keto, additives from the food’s processing can ruin your ketosis.
Sure, replacing typically high-carb meals with recipes made with almond flour or other carb-alternatives is a healthier way to enjoy delicious foods.
However, these types of meals can still put you dangerously close to your carb limit for the day, risking your ketosis.
Things like keto pancakes, breakfast foods, sandwich bread, granolas, and desserts are all yummy treats to have once in a while and still remain in ketosis.
When you have “keto waffles” every morning, though, you will likely reach a keto diet weight loss plateau.
This is why it’s best to stick to the outer aisles of your grocery store when shopping for ingredients.
Avoid the aisles with foods that have already been made for you, and choose whole food ingredients that you can prepare at home yourself without adding sugar or preservatives for shelf stability.
Avoid Fruit & Nuts
You may be surprised to learn throughout your keto diet what foods can kick you out of ketosis and slow your weight loss down. Not all foods that are normally referred to as healthy are keto!
Two foods that need to be consumed in moderation on the keto diet are nuts and fruit. Both can be very nutrient-dense, so a small serving of either can lead to a carbohydrate-overload.
Nuts are okay to include in your diet, as an occasional snack to satisfy your need for something salty and crunchy.
However, not just any nut will do! While most nuts are high in healthy fats, stick to the list below to choose a nut with the lowest carbs per serving:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
Use portion control when eating ketogenic nuts. A 1-ounce serving can add 1-3 grams of net carbs to your day’s nutrition.
Some fruits on the keto diet are okay for you. However, many need to be avoided. Similarly to nuts, a small serving of fruit can add many net carbs. High amounts of natural sugar are in fruit.
Here are some of the healthiest fruits to eat on the keto diet:
If you’re in a keto diet weight loss plateau, and you are including nuts and fruit in your diet, try cutting one or the other out.
How to Get Over a Keto Weight Loss Plateau
All of the suggestions listed above are changes you can directly make to your diet in hopes of breaking a weight loss plateau. However, you can make changes to other habits as well that could help your weight loss.
One of the most important habits to create is getting quality sleep every night. It’s well known in the science community that sleep duration can affect weight loss and the ability to maintain weight loss.
Not getting enough sleep can also make you more hungry. Since your body didn’t gain all the energy it needs from a good night’s sleep, it will look for other sources of energy in food.
So, if you get your full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, you could be less likely to crave snacks between meals and overeat.
Managing stress is another important skill to learn that could help you break a weight loss plateau.
Studies have shown that stress from paying bills, a lack of authority in making decisions, job-related demands, family relationships, and even your own perception of self can affect weight gain.
Some popular ways of reducing stress are:
- Regular low-impact exercise
- Meditation and breathing exercises
- Giving yourself fun things to look forward to
- Taking breaks from work
Use Intermittent Fasting
Not everyone does it, but intermittent fasting can be a lifesaver on the keto diet. Incorporating intermittent fasting into your diet may put your back on track with your weight loss.
Fasting is all about when you eat, on top of what you are eating. By choosing time windows for eating instead of restricting calories across your meals, you can still lose weight or break a plateau.
There are three main types of intermittent fasting:
- Meal skipping - choose one meal of the day to skip, so you are eating twice a day instead of three times. You may also choose to skip dinner for an overnight fast.
- Eating windows - choose an 8 hour time period of the day to eat your meals. This way, you are fasting for 16 hours of the day (which includes sleep time).
- Fasting alternate days - this route allows you to eat normally some days and fast during different days of the week. This is considered tricky to implement effectively.
Intermittent fasting can result in weight loss because it requires your body to burn your fat stores for energy.
However, make sure you speak with a medical professional first before you dive into a fasting regime. Intermittent fasting is only beneficial if it is done properly!
Use Exogenous Ketones
Another way you can break a keto diet weight loss plateau is by directly adding exogenous ketones to your meals. This may work especially well for you if you feel you have struggled with low energy while on the keto diet.
By adding exogenous ketones to your meal, you are effectively putting your body into ketosis instead of waiting for your body to produce its own ketones.
Exogenous ketones usually come in a powdered form that you can add to shakes and smoothies, or it can be sprinkled directly over a meal.
Keto Activate comes in a chocolate flavor that isn’t bitter tasting and perfectly blends into a shake. It’s non-GMO, gluten free, soy free, hormone free, naturally colored and flavored, and it has less than one carb per serving.
Use a Keto Meal Replacement
If you are looking for a way to cut down on calories and stay in ketosis while losing weight, you may want to try a keto meal replacement.
Keto Shake comes in a strawberry cheesecake flavor, which is all natural. This meal replacement is sweetened with natural monk fruit and made with avocado oil and MCT oil.
These ingredients keep your macros “smart” by including healthy fats and a low-carb sweetener.
Try replacing one meal a day with Keto Shake, and see if you begin to lose weight again as you did at the beginning of your keto diet.
There are many factors that may have played a part in your keto diet weight loss plateau. It’s entirely possible that you need to correct more than one area of your diet to continue losing weight.
Directly changing parts of your keto diet may break a plateau, but you may also need to consider less-immediate habits. Getting the correct amount of sleep and monitoring your stress plays an important part in weight loss.
Make sure the foods you include in your keto diet are whole foods or minimally processed foods. Also, keep an eye out for sneaky “hidden” carbs in your keto foods.
Enjoy treats like nuts or fruits in moderation, as well as keto replacements for high-carb foods.
For a simple solution to a weight loss plateau, try adding exogenous ketones by Konscious Keto to your diet or enjoying a keto meal replacement shake.
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Block, J. P., He, Y., Zaslavsky, A. M., Ding, L., & Ayanian, J. Z. (2009). Psychosocial stress and change in weight among US adults. American journal of epidemiology, 170(2), 181-92.
Yannakoulia M, e. (2019). Sleep quality is associated with weight loss maintenance status: the MedWeight study. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28476339