This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
So you’ve been doing the ketogenic diet and up until now, things were going great. However, now your weight loss has stalled on keto. What to do next?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein diet. It’s been rising in popularity primarily in the weight loss world.
This diet is a great way to lose weight but chances are your weight loss slows down or even stops sooner or later.
How does this happen and how can these 8 solutions solve your stalled weight loss on keto?
1. Too many carbs
It can feel like you’ve already cut out a lot of carbohydrates but that doesn’t mean you’ve cut out enough carbs.
You don’t have to grab the scale every time you eat just yet. Select one day you will measure just how many net carbohydrates you approximately eat in a day.
If it’s less than the 5% recommended on the keto diet (or a little more if you’re very active), good. If it’s more this can be the reason you’re not losing weight.
Pay attention to the “net” part. Fiber is technically a carbohydrate but your body doesn’t absorb it as calories so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar. On the contrary, it can help reduce spikes in blood sugar from other foods.
Finding all the carbohydrates in your diet can be a challenge. There are a lot of sneaky ones. Using a food calorie and macro tracker for a while can really help out.
If you notice this is your problem you can follow a few steps to get back into ketosis faster.
Solution 1: Re-count your net carbohydrate intake and make sure it’s below (or at least not too far off) 5% of your daily calories. Don’t forget the sneaky ones.
2. Nutrient-poor foods
There are all these keto-friendly things like muffins, waffles, pancakes, etc.
These foods can be great every once in a while but if they make up the biggest part of your diet you’re going to have a bad time.
Your body benefits from all kinds of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other micronutrients. It’s a lot easier to get these from whole foods.
The relation of these substances to weight loss is not always clear but chances are that they do influence it. In the worst case, you’re improving your long-term health a lot by consuming more nutrient-dense foods.
The extra additives and such in the earlier mentioned keto replacement foods are also just not good for your health.
Solution 2: Consume more keto-approved whole foods instead of “keto replacement” versions of processed foods.
3. Calorie overdose
One reason the ketogenic diet is so helpful when you’re trying to lose weight is that you’ll be a lot less hungry than on refined carb heavy diets.
Fats and protein are generally the more filling macronutrients. Because of this people often automatically start consuming fewer calories.
However, some people see the ketogenic diet as a dreamland where calories don’t matter anymore. This is not the case. You still need a calorie deficit in one way or another.
Things like fat bombs and 80%+ cacao dark chocolate are fun and tasty but they also contain a lot of calories for a very small volume of food.
You can again choose a regular day on which you will count your calories. With that knowledge, you can change it up if needed.
Solution 3: Following the ketogenic diet and being in ketosis does not mean that calories don’t matter. Make an estimation of how many calories you are consuming and see if you need to make any adaptations.
4. Expecting results too fast
It’s a familiar story. Someone starts the ketogenic diet and starts losing a lot of weight in a short amount of time.
This is common because when you first start keto you usually eat a lot fewer carbohydrates than before. Carbohydrates retain water.
That’s alright, it just gives people a misguided idea of how much weight in how much time they can expect to lose.
You inevitably won’t keep losing weight so fast. A general healthy weight loss rate is about 1 pound of fat a week. If you’re below that for multiple weeks you might have a real weight loss plateau.
Solution 4: In the early stage of keto you lose a lot of water weight. Keeping up this speed is unrealistic. If you’ve been below losing 1 pound a week for multiple weeks you might have a real weight loss plateau.
5. Not paying attention to other areas of your health
What you eat is obviously important for weight loss. However, other areas of your health still have a big impact too.
One example of that is sleep. It’s just not something you can forget about when you’re trying to lose weight. No matter what diet or exercise routine you are on.
Solution 5: No matter what diet or exercise routine, you need to pay attention to certain aspects of your health.
6. Not moving enough
It’s most likely still possible to lose weight with activity levels than that but you are leaving a lot of weight loss results and health benefits on the table.
Solution 6: Exercising is not required to lose weight. However, increasing the amount of movement throughout your day can provide you with extra weight loss results and health benefits.
A good ketogenic meal should leave you full for a while after you eat.
Snacking is still allowed on the ketogenic diet but if you overdo it you can consume too many calories.
Eating snacks on the ketogenic diet is also usually more out of boredom and the emotional value of food rather than actual hunger.
Solution 7: Snacking on keto is usually not out of hunger. Overdoing it can make your weight stall on keto due to excess calories.
8. Not the right protein intake
It’s easy to forget that the ketogenic diet is both a high fat diet and a medium protein diet.
Both too much and not enough protein can mess up your weight loss results.
In terms of weight loss, not enough protein can make it so your body breaks down muscle and cause the negative consequences that come with that.
Muscle is extremely helpful for losing weight since it increases the number of calories you burn 24/7.
Too much protein on the other hand can kick you out of ketosis. Excess protein gets converted into glucose to be used as fuel.
The right amount of protein for the ketogenic diet is a rather personal number. Some people get kicked out of ketosis with 25% of their calories coming from protein.
Others can go higher than this keto stat without a problem. In general, the rule is 20-30% of your daily calories from protein.
Solution 8: Both too much and not enough protein can be bad for your weight loss and health. The general rule for keto is between 20-30% of your daily calories coming from protein. The exact best number is different from person to person.
Why you get weight loss plateaus even if you do these things right
Even when you do all these things right you will inevitably hit a weight loss plateau sooner or later.
How much you weigh is an important factor in how many calories you burn a day. Your body just needs more energy to do the things it does if you weigh more.
The thing with losing weight is that you lose weight. That means that even while eating and doing the exact same things you will start burning fewer and fewer calories.
When you’re sure you’ve hit a real weight loss plateau it’s time to change things up.
Take a good look at your habits and find out where you can absorb fewer calories or burn more.