Seeing healthy results when trying to reach a weight loss goal is so exciting. The feeling of having hard work pay off is very rewarding. But weight loss tends to hit a bit of a lull, this is what we call a weight loss plateau. When weight loss halts during keto it can be very frustrating, especially when you’ve been working so, so hard and doing everything “right”. There are ways to get through a weight loss plateau, and certain things you should avoid…let’s find out!
Why do we plateau?
It generally comes down to the metabolism and the rate at which it speeds and slows during weight loss. Once you lose weight, especially muscle, your metabolism slows down and you burn fewer calories. You should also take into consideration that when you first cut carbs and sugars, your weight loss is rapid because you lose lots of water weight as the body gets rid of all the excess glycogen which takes water with it when it gets burned for fuel.
Then, the body kind of…adjusts to the new amount of fat and muscle in the body, so you need to shake it up once again to get the pistons firing on all cylinders once more. Also remember that your body actually tries to hold onto weight and be very economic with energy usage when you’ve lost weight. This is because it thinks you are starving and won’t be able to survive the colder months without enough “meat on your bones”. This harks back millenia when we needed to stock up on body fat in order to survive.
How to restart your weight loss
- Adjust your calorie allowance: eat more calories and do more exercise. If you eat even fewer calories (if you’ve already been following a drastic deficit) your body will likely try even harder to hold onto weight as opposed to burning it. It’s far better to start eating a little more and work out a little more (or simply add more activity to your day) than it is to eat very little and try to slog your way through tough workouts without enough energy. Give your metabolism a little push by eating more and workin’ out those muscles more…but that’s further down the list.
- Take a break from keto for a little while: it’s been proven that by deviating from a diet and having a more relaxed approach to food for a small period of time can help to overcome a plateau. Don’t hit the junk food, but add a few more carbs and up your calories a couple of days a week. This can make your metabolism think it doesn’t need to slow down and encourage it to carry on burning energy efficiently.
- Add more weights to your workouts: if your workouts have been the same for a while, or you’re only doing cardio, ADD WEIGHTS. Strength training builds muscle, and more muscle means a faster metabolism. By switching up your workouts and shocking the body with new routines, your body doesn’t get the chance to get complacent. Make your body work hard and always be on the ball, which means more calorie burn and a more efficient metabolism.
- Add a little more protein: don’t go over your protein macros, but adding more protein is a good way to beat a plateau. Protein keeps you full, it helps to pack on the metabolism-boosting muscle and it even takes more energy to digest in your system. Add more eggs, pasture-raised meats and full-fat yogurt to your diet.
What NOT to do
Don’t starve yourself
Don’t be tempted to think “I’m not losing weight anymore so I should eat less”. This leads to under eating and extreme calorie deficits. You’ll end up tired, hungry, weak and ultimately your metabolism will be very upset with you, it may even grind to a halt. And in terms of weight loss…you won’t be any better off than before. Don’t put losing weight above proper nutrition and nourishment!
Don’t get obsessed
Just relax. If you’ve reached a plateau it means you’ve lost weight! You can’t plateau without having a basis of weight loss to plateau from. Remember that your body is adjusting and getting used to the new weight and energy needs. It doesn’t mean you’re putting on weight or that you won’t ever reach your weight loss goals. Focus on your progress and the newfound health and energy you have achieved.
Don’t give up
Don’t take your weight loss plateau as a cue to get disheartened and give up. Your body is still benefiting greatly from your keto diet and exercise routine (assuming you’re doing everything sensibly and nutritiously) even if the scale isn’t budging. Perhaps you can try to adjust your mindset to more of a health and wellness focus as opposed to a weight loss focus? You could say to yourself, “I’ve lost weight and it’s awesome. I’m more energized, clear-headed and I’m much fitter too. I’ll keep going on this journey because it makes me feel great. I’ll start to lose more weight soon, but I’ll give it time!”.
Don’t let your plateau get you down! You’re doing so great, and your body will start to ramp up once again. Eat a little more, add some weights, add a few more protein grams and keep those workouts varied. Keep your head up and remember that the number on the scales is no match for how great you look and how healthy you are thanks to your own hard work and determination!
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