10 Reasons You Have Hit A Plateau On A Low Carb Diet
Have you reached a plateau on a low carb, high fat diet? Here are some of my TOP TIPS to help you break through that plateau and start seeing results again!
Many people are switching to a low carb, high fat way of eating for health reasons. But many people also switch to this way of eating to lose weight..because it works! For many, it works right from the start. But for myself, I lost a few pounds within the first week.
And maybe for others, results may not happen quite as fast. Some people may do great at first and then the results slow down and a plateau is eventually reached.
Here are some things to consider if you’ve hit a plateau in your low carb, high fat lifestyle.
1. Using the Scale to Measure Progress
If you are one of those people who use the scale to measure your weight loss progress, I’m here to tell you – GET RID OF IT!!
I’m not sure if you’ve seen the movie, Office Space? If you have, then you’ll remember the scene where they take the printer machine to a large field and smash the crap out of it with a baseball bat. I recommend doing the SAME thing with your scale!
There are going to be days that the scale goes down and days that the scale goes up (think water retention, bowel movements, hormones, excess sodium, stress, lack of sleep, etc.) When you first start a low carb, high fat diet, you’ll probably notice that you lose a lot of water weight the first week, so it’s best to start measuring and using progress photos to determine your progress.
Use a tape measure and measure your waist, hips, thighs, and arms each month. Take progress photos each month. Get your body fat % tested. And most importantly, see how your clothes are fitting. It IS possible to actually gain weight and get more lean and toned!
2. Don’t Let The Fruit Sneak In
Some people are more carb sensitive than others. While fruit has many healthy vitamins and minerals, it also contains a lot of sugar which which elevates your blood insulin and turns off your fat metabolism.
If you must have fruit, I recommend having berries in small amounts.
You may also want to try cutting back on carbs even more, especially if you know you are insulin resistant. If you were eating 150g of carbs, try cutting back to 100g and maybe even 50g or less. To figure this amount out, you can use a free online tracker.
3. You’re Not Eating Real Food
Avoid those “fake” products like low-carb bread, low-carb pasta, low-carb protein bars, low-carb yogurt, etc. Even treats like Paleo cookies that contain healthy ingredients should be avoided or just eaten as an occasional treat. When you eat those things, you aren’t getting any nutritional value from them whatsoever.
Stick to healthy fats, meat, eggs, and vegetables if you want to see progress again.
4. Check Your Portions For Dairy and Nuts
I’ve seen a LOT of low carb, high fat recipes out there, and so many of them contain copious amounts of cheese! I’m not saying that cheese is bad, but in large amounts, it’s not going to help you reach your goals.
There is a healthy way to eat low carb, high fat and there are unhealthy ways. It would be better to cook your foods in healthy oils like coconut oil or add some butter on top of some steamed veggies. Don’t rely on dairy to help you reach your low carb goals.
The same thing can be said for nuts. It’s so easy to grab a large handful of nuts and just keep eating and eating them. The calories can really add up if you’re eating large amounts of nuts. If I’m going to have nuts, I’ll scoop out 2 Tbsp from the bag. That way I just eat that amount and I’m not tempted to grab more.
5. You’re Eating Too Many Sweeteners
I don’t recommend using sugar substitutes. I know there are a lot of low-carb sweeteners out there, but again, the nutritional value in these is ZERO! Even stevia should be used in moderation.
All sweeteners, whether zero-calorie or not, cause your blood insulin levels to rise which turn off fat burning mode. Sugar and sugar substitutes have also been shown to increase cravings which can lead you to eat more.
6. Your Hormones Are Unbalanced
Unfortunately, eating right and exercise and not the only contributors to weight loss. Your hormones actually play a HUGE roll!
Being stressed all the time keeps our body in a constant state of “flight or flight” which elevates our levels of cortisol (our stress hormone.)
Not getting enough sleep also contributes to raised cortisol levels and weight gain.
When we are stressed and tired, our hunger levels go up and we crave more unhealthy foods. We also feel more tired and less motivated to exercise.
Sleep is one of the MAIN pillars of health! If you’re doing everything right but still not getting enough sleep, then you won’t see anywhere near the results you’re expecting.
7. You Aren’t Exercising Smart
Unfortunately, I know so many women who think they have to burn a lot of calories in order for a workout to be effective. I’m here to tell you that calories burned during a workout are insignificant!
The #1 reason to exercise is for your overall health, both mental and physical. It’s true that exercise can help you lose weight in the long run by boosting your metabolism, increasing your muscle mass, and making you feel more energetic! But it’s important to exercise smart!
Nothing but cardio on the treadmill, elliptical trainer or recumbent bike is unlikely to give you good results, and may even be detrimental to your health. So, how do you exercise smarter?
Resistance Training: I can’t stress the benefits of resistance training enough, especially as an aging woman! It’s not because you’re getting older that causes you to gain weight, it’s because you’re losing muscle! Weight lifting helps to improve your hormonal environment, boost your metabolism, and lose weight. I personally make sure I add some form of resistance training to my workouts at least 3 times a week.
HIIT Training: High Intensity Interval Training is the best way to do your cardio workouts! It improves your metabolism and helps you burn more calories even when at rest! I do HIIT training for 15 – 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
Low Intensity: You don’t have to try and kill yourself during your workout to see results. Just being active during your day and going for a walk is often enough. I try to get up and walk around if I’ve been sitting at my kitchen table working for a long period of time. I also like to take the dog for a daily walk and get some fresh air. If you’re someone struggling with hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue, or have a lot of stress in your life, I highly recommend you stick to low intensity workouts like yoga and walking.
8. You’re Always Eating
If you’ve been reading my blog lately, then you know I’m a big supporter of only eating 3 large meals a day.
Studies show that there is absolutely NO advantage to eating 5 – 6 small meals a day. Humans weren’t meant to be eating that often. We are meant to go through periods of fasting then feasting.
I cannot sing the praises enough of Intermittent Fasting (IF.) With IF, you eat your calories in a shortened time period, typically 8 – 10 hours. Most people have great success when they push their breakfast out a few more hours. This allows the body to tap into our fat stores for energy rather than using the food we just ate as energy.
9. You’ve Been “Dieting” For Too Long
So many women come to me and tell me they aren’t losing weight anymore despite eating healthy and exercising. When I ask them how much food they are eating, many of them tell me they are eating less than 1200 calories..and have been doing this for months!!
I personally don’t believe women should be eating under 1800 calories (and I personally don’t think we should be counting calories either!) If we eat in a caloric deficit for too long, our metabolism slows down because our body thinks we are starving ourselves! So the less you eat, the slower metabolism you have.
I recommend that you slowly start adding in more healthy food to your eating plan. If you were eating 1200 calories, then increase your calories by adding in an extra 200 calories. Then two weeks later, add in 200 more calories…and continue this until you are eating approximately 1800 calories.
You may say, “But I can’t eat that much!” The great thing about a low carb, high fat way of eating is that you can easily add calories without adding in extra “foods.” I love to add more olive oil or coconut oil to my salad dressing. I’ll also add a tablespoon of butter on top of my steamed veggies. And sometimes, I’ll scoop a big spoonful of coconut oil or almond butter right out of the jar and eat that. I’m not shoving more food in my mouth, instead, I’m eating more satiating healthy fats that keep me full and my metabolism rockin’!
10. You Have An Underlying Medical Condition
Maybe you’re doing everything right like I’ve mentioned above and you’re still not seeing any results.
It could be that you are taking medication that prevents you from losing weight. Even birth control can have an effect on your weight loss.
Many hormonal disorders can also cause weight gain, such as hypothyroidism. If your hormones aren’t in balance, it’s going to affect your results.
I recommend getting your hormone and vitamin levels tested to see where the problem lies. It could be as simple as needing more Vitamin D! But you won’t know until you get tested.
I am Heather, mother of three. I am a writer, aspiring math teacher, dreamer, social media enthusiast and erstwhile engineer. You can find me balancing me time equally between writing, spending time with my family, running, or sipping on strong coffee!