Understanding that plateaus are a normal part of any weight loss regime is helpful. Understanding WHY it happens leads to solutions. I will be working my way through double checking each of these in the next couple of weeks.
Here are the top 10 reasons for hitting a plateau in the ketogenic diet:
1 - Hidden Carbs! Are you remembering to count the carbs in your veggies and in your dairy (if you eat dairy). What about the nuts you are eating? Some nuts have carbs! Maybe it is time to get back to basics and start journaling again.
2 - Lack of accountability! Are you tracking your macros? Are your proportions right? Check into one of the many health calorie counting apps out there for your phone and start recording everything you eat! You may be consuming more than you think. I like "Calories! Basic", available at the Play Store.
3 - Exercise! Are you getting enough physical movement in to burn those fat calories? Remember that low carb rarely equates to low calorie! The higher fat intake, the higher energy expenditure you will need. The problem is that for people with a broken metabolism, long, slow exercise doesn't work well - it has to be high intensity exercise, which uses all the glycogen stored in the muscles, and makes them more insulin sensitive. This would be once or twice a week bouts of heavy weight lifting, sprints, etc. Not every day walking on a treadmill.
4 - Low-Carb foods! Yes! Too many low-carb foods can be a problem! I suspect this may be my current issue. Dairy protein (hard cheeses, yogurt and whey protein in particular), sugar alcohols, and other artificial sweeteners are culprits in raising insulin levels.
Since I know that this is the biggest factor in my weight, I suspect that those low-carb protein bars I found at Aldi are not a good thing for me on a daily basis! Net Carbs can be deceiving if you are insulin sensitive!
5 - Eating lots of coconut, coconut oil or MCT oil. Coconut oil has a lot of medium chain triglycerides in it. I added MCT oil capsules to my diet a few weeks ago because I was feeling a bit sluggish mentally. This was all fine and good while I was doing a lot of physical activity and brain work! However, I have slowed down on the physical activity in the last couple of weeks and I should have adjusted my MCT intake accordingly. Learn from my mistakes!
6 - Food sensitivity or lack of micronutrients which is not being addressed. For instance, many people find that dairy products stall weight loss, or perhaps gluten in some form is being eaten (low carb pasta, protein bars or some other processed low carb food). Some people find that nightshade vegetables like tomatoes are a problem. For me it is any Wheat or corn product. Even corn starch as a thickener in soup (the egg drop soup I had) can throw me out of ketosis! And Pop-corn for me is just plain yummy death!
There may be a lack of a micronutrient, especially if you aren't taking any supplements. Try taking a balanced multivitamin once a day. Have your vitamin D levels checked and bring them up if they are low.
7 - Protein intake may be too high. Too much excess protein can have the same effect on blood glucose as carbohydrates. A higher protein intake is encouraged during the first 3-4 weeks of a ketogenic diet. But after the body becomes keto-adapted and is burning mostly ketones for fuel, protein intake should be lowered to between .8 - 1.5 grams per kilogram of lean body mass. (If you exercise a lot, you can go to the higher end of the range.) Try cutting back on protein and adding a little more fat to your diet, while staying at a calorie deficit.
8 - Too Much exercise or not enough calories! - I suspect part of this is true for me as well. The body slows down its metabolism in response to a lack of food or excessive amounts of exercise. You could try adding 300-500 calories of fat and protein to your daily count for a few days, and see what happens. And if you are exercising hard every day, give yourself permission to rest a day or two during the week.
9 - Eating too often! Try going for longer periods without eating. This intermittent fasting works well for some people, as it allows the blood sugar and insulin to return to baseline levels before the next meal. Instead of having 3-5 small meals a day spaced out over 8-10 hours, have most of your calories in a 6 hour window, say from noon until 6pm, and then don't eat again until the next day at noon. Counter intuitive, but then again, a lot of the ketogenic diet is.
10 - You may have very broken metabolism, and it will take time, and a commitment to do whatever it takes to fix the metabolic issues, especially when it comes to improving insulin sensitivity. This includes keeping the amount of carbohydrate consumed very low.
I know I have to stay below 20 grams of carbs per day and I may be adjusting that. Avoiding foods and other substances which are known to spike insulin without necessarily increasing blood sugar, is probably a good idea as well. These include gluten, aspirin, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, casein protein from dairy products and MCT oil.
So out comes the phone to record the chicken broth and tea (with erythritol) I have had today. :-)
And on we go!
I'd love to hear your story!