One of the more common issues many dieters experience is reaching a plateau. This is the point in your weight loss journey where progress levels off and slows down. You may notice your weight loss stops, a change in your energy levels and food cravings.
If you’ve experienced this while practicing a keto diet, you’re likely familiar with what a keto plateau feels like–and you’re not alone.
Why Does a Weight Loss Plateau Happen?
Keto dieters are often susceptible to plateaus because of the dramatic way they lose weight, which is related to low carbohydrate intake. Low carb intake is associated with water loss, which is a significant part of the initial weight loss a keto dieter will experience.
As your body reaches ketosis (which may take up to a week), it begins to burn fat for fuel. You may also experience minor muscle loss as you lose weight, which may lead to a lower metabolic rate, and thus, a slower rate of weight loss.
This may feel like you've leveled out, but if you’re still noticing steady weight loss, you have not yet hit a keto plateau. A true weight loss plateau occurs when a total halt to weight loss or weight gain occurs, often as a result of changing nutritional or exercise needs.
Here are some reasons you may hit a plateau.
Your Body Is Not in Ketosis
Often, our minds grow accustomed to the little “cheat,” snacks and other indulgences that we lose track of how much is okay to eat. It seems like an obvious reason, but for many keto dieters, they may not actually be in ketosis. They may think they’re in ketosis because they’re eating a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet, which will likely warrant weight loss, but are eating too many carbs to classify as keto.
When you’re in ketosis, your body is burning fat and ketones (created through ketosis), which leads to more dramatic weight loss. To achieve ketosis, though, you have to eat 20 grams of carbohydrates or less a day. That’s a low number and if it’s not met consistently over time, your body may never reach a state of ketosis, thus leading to a keto plateau.
You’re Eating Too Many Calories
Eating too many calories on a keto diet can hinder weight loss. Even though high-fat foods contain significant calories, eating too many may affect some people. Additionally, you may be eating larger portions than you need. If your caloric intake and expenditure don’t add up, you could hit a keto plateau.
You’re Close to Your Weight Loss Goal
If you’re not losing weight on the keto diet, it may be for one simple reason: you’ve reached a healthy weight. As your body gets to its desired happy weight, it has less to burn and weight loss slows down. It’s your body’s survival mechanism to make sure you have plenty of fuel.
You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is important—not just for your mental health, but for weight loss, too. Regular, uninterrupted sleep helps to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm that promotes overall well-being. It also helps prevent cravings associated with feeling overly tired. If you’re tired, your body naturally craves sugar for energy, and possibly larger portions of food, both of which may contribute to a keto plateau.
Underlying Health Concerns
Many people who start a keto diet have health issues that they may or may not be aware of, and which may contribute to a keto weight loss stall. Some common health conditions to get checked for are:
- Thyroid disorders such as an underactive thyroid
- Poor ovarian health
- Poor blood sugar control
If you feel that you’ve hit a keto plateau and haven’t been checked for underlying health issues, it may be a good time to visit your doctor.
Breaking the Keto Plateau
If you hit a plateau, what do you do?
First, don’t worry too much. Your body may just be regulating and settling into a healthy, normal weight loss pattern. You don’t want to be losing more than one to two pounds per week, so it’s fine if your weight loss slows down.
To make sure that you’re on the right track with your keto diet, and to help future keto plateaus, check out some of our tips for a healthy keto lifestyle.
Try Adding Supplements to Encourage Ketosis
If you’ve experienced cravings or appetite changes, or feel like you’re not losing weight on a keto diet, a supplement like KetoLiving’s™ BHB—which supplies 6 grams of delicious Berry Lemonade–flavored BHB ketones per serving—may be helpful.
Keep Track of Your Food Intake
Most people are familiar with tracking calories, but when you’re trying to achieve a sustained state of ketosis, there are other food-related items to be mindful of. For the keto diet to be more effective, keep track of your macros: a breakdown of your calories into fats, carbs and proteins.
Of course, you know that too many carbs (more than 20 grams per day) will take you out of ketosis—but too much or too little fat and protein can also disrupt your diet and lead to a keto plateau. Determining your optimal macros requires a consideration of age, height, weight, activity, body fat and goals, so you’ll want to calculate your macros for best results.
You may also try keeping a food journal or using an app such as MyFitnessPal to keep track of what you’re eating so that you’re aware of how much you’re eating, how you feel and any other relevant information.
Check Your Ketone Levels
If you’re not losing weight on keto, there’s a good chance it has something to do with ketone levels. To effectively maintain the keto diet, you want to track ketones. You can track with a breath test, urine strips or by blood. A blood test is best for the most accurate results,, but most people should use breath or urine strips.
Whatever you use, it will give you an instant reading of how many BHB ketone bodies are present in your blood. The optimal range is between 1.5 to 3.0 mmol/L (keto supplements can promote healthy ketone production*).
Adjust Your Exercise Routine
The initial weight loss on a keto diet is water and will likely occur even without a regular exercise plan, but as you continue your keto diet, you’ll want to make a consistent plan for exercise to burn calories and help you relieve stress.
As you lose weight, you’ll probably lose some muscle, too, so it’s important to add in muscle-building or maintenance exercises, like light weights and core strengthening. To help regulate your blood pressure and calorie burn, and to boost heart health, add in some cardiovascular exercise.
Incorporate Intermittent Fasting
Some people choose to introduce intermittent fasting on the keto diet, which may help with losing fat and reducing cravings. The idea behind intermittent fasting is those long periods without food aid in burning glycogen. The faster your body burns glycogen, the faster you’ll attain ketosis.
Fasting isn’t a solution to the keto plateau for everyone, and should be discussed with healthcare professional first, but is a potential option to help you achieve ketosis quickly.
Know Your Goals
There are several reasons people choose to go on the keto diet, which means that each person’s goals will differ. It’s helpful to establish your goals at the beginning, so you can distinguish between a plateau and having attained your goal.
It’s also helpful to work with healthcare professionals, personal trainers, or nutritionists to help you choose a healthy goal that aligns with your needs.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.