Top 4 Tips to Break Through the Keto Weight Loss Stall

Have you ever experienced a weight loss stall with keto?  If not, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of people talking about stalls and what to do about them.  We are going to discuss the top 4 tips to break through the keto weight loss stall.

What happens when you first start a keto or low carb diet is that you see an almost immediate loss of a few pounds and then things stable out and the hard work begins.

There is often this feeling of frustration or statements like “I lost 5 pounds my first week and nothing in the second week”.  So let’s discuss what that initial weight loss is and then discuss what to do next.

The initial weight loss is simply water weight.  The glycogen stored in your muscles (i.e the stored form of glucose) holds water.  When you start the keto diet and restrict your carbs, the body will use its glycogen stores.  When it does this, the water that is being held onto by the glycogen is released.  This is why you pee a lot when your body is transitioning to ketosis and also why it is important to keep your electrolytes replenished.

So, you lose all that water weight and then your body stabilizes, usually in ketosis.  Now what?  Well, not begins the process of burning fat for ketones to use for energy.  There are many things that can affect this or cause a stall.

To be clear, though, a weight loss stall is not where you are at in week 2.  You haven’t really lost any fat yet, it was all water. So was it weight loss?  Well, sure, because the number went down, but that isn’t what we are overly interested in, right?  We want fat loss.

Let’s first talk about what interferes with fat loss and then move onto the top 4 tips to break through the keto weight loss stall.

Top 4 things that interfere with fat loss on keto

Exogenous ketones

This one is HUGE! Some people think (and are told by certain ketone sales reps) that all you need to do is drink ketones and you will be in ketosis and on your way to burning fat!  Woohoo – right?

First and foremost – if you are drinking ketones then your body is using those ketones for fuel instead of breaking down your own fat for ketones.  In case you didn’t know, that is where you get your own ketones – it is a byproduct of the breaking down of fat.

SO…  if you are constantly pumping yourself full of ketone products, then there is no need for your body to burn own fat since it already has a constant supply of ketones.

Ketones are great for energy and focus - but I don't recommend downing them like water.

Stress

I know we’ve all heard this before but stress affects every system in our body. A rise in cortisol has a cascading effect that I’m not going to go deep into today.  I’m going to send you over to Google on this one because it would make this too long!  Just know that increase stress, increases cortisol, which increases food consumption of the “comfort food” variety!

Improper food choices

At the top of my list for improper food choices is the thought that one can’t have veggies because they are “too high in carbs”. Palm.   Keto can be incredibly unhealthy if one enters is with the bacon and butter mindset.  If all you are eating is saturated fat and sugar alcohols then you are not going to see the results you want.  Now, saturated fats are not the enemy, but getting the right proportions of food IS important.

Not moving your body

Another thing I hear is people saying that they don’t have to work out on keto – or even worse – that you shouldn't work out on keto (and you’ll still lose weight). I will say that certainly you can lose weight on keto without working out.  But do you want to be healthy?  If you want to lose weight AND be healthy, then you will exercise.  I wrote an entire article on working out on keto - check it out here!

If you lived a sedentary life up until the start of keto, I’m not suggested you start lifting weight for an hour a day like I do.  But things like walking, swimming, light resistance will do amazing things for your body.  You’ll be burning calories and building muscle. You know what else loves to burn fat? Muscle!  Ok, that isn’t exactly how it works, but your muscles do burn calories at rest.

Top 4 tips to break through the keto weight loss stall

Carb Cycling

If you’ve been around me for any length of time – you know that I am a HUGE fan of carb cycling. I support one carb up day per week.  Now, I am NOT talking about cheating, but rather a day where you increase your healthy carbs with a sweet potato for example.

This is the top thing (in my opinion) that will break you through a weight loss stall.

A common objection is “No way, I cheated the other day with a piece of bread and felt horrible”.  My response is “yeah, no kidding, I’m not surprised”.  People sometimes equate carb up days to cheat days.  The two are very different.  I’m pretty sure the bread eating lady didn’t feel crappy because she had more carbs but because she just ingested a bunch of gluten after her body had finally detoxed from that crap.

Another common objection is not wanting to go through the keto flu all over again.  Well, I can tell you that when carb cycling is done properly, your body gets very efficient at going in and out of ketosis and you barely feel it anymore.  I speak from experience on that.

For women in particular, carb cycling can be incredibly beneficial in other ways too.  It helps with our hormones and thyroid for starters.  And then when it comes to weight loss, carb cycling will keep your metabolism revved up and won’t let it slow down enough to where a stall is often seen.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is often tied to keto, even though they are very different things. Intermittent fasting can offer a bunch of benefits to a keto diet.  A few benefits can be a slight calorie deficit, a longer period where your body is forced to burn its own fat vs run off the fat you eat, and also a massive clean up of crap cells in your body.

In case you aren't familiar with Intermittent Fasting, it is basically having eating windows.  There are many different types, but the most common one is to fast for a certain number of hours and have a window where you can eat.

For example, I fast for 16 hours and have an 8 hour eating window each day.  Today, I ended up fasting for 20 hours just because I wasn't hungry.

Increase Water

A study was done [1] that showed individuals that drank 500ml of water had their metabolic rate increase by 30% for a time after drinking. That alone is huge.  Our bodies are mostly made up of water anyway and keto is very dehydrating so we NEED water.  But it increases our metabolic rate?  Rock on and drink up!

Decrease Stress

We already talked about stress above, so I won’t duplicate it here.

Wrap up

I like to think of weight loss stalls like the stalls I come up against in weightlifting.  When lifting, your body gets used to routines and reps.  If you don’t switch things up after a few weeks, your body will ultimately stall because you aren’t keeping your muscles guessing.  Now, there is a formula to avoid this, but I think of weight loss stalls similarly.

So, in conclusion, it comes down to good choices, keeping your body guessing, using your own fat for ketones, and living a healthy keto lifestyle.

 

Top 4 Tips to break through the keto weight loss stall

References:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14671205

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