1. Carbs are Too High
Your carbohydrate intake may be too high. Try to decrease your daily carbs limit. Be sure to include olive oil in your diet. Olive oil consists of MCTs (Medium chain triglycerides), which are easily digestible, less likely to be stored by your body and are used for immediate energy. MCTs are converted in the liver into ketones, which helps you enter ketosis. Carbs should not be more than 20% of your daily intake while in Phase I.
2. Protein is Too High or Too Low
Your protein intake may be too high/ low. Protein is the most sating macronutrient and you must include 8 oz. of high-quality, lean animal protein in your diet along with the Ideal Protein meal & snack replacements. If you don’t eat enough protein, you will feel more hungry and most likely eat more. Lack of protein can also lead to muscle loss. However, if you eat too much protein, the excess protein converts into glycogen and disrupts ketosis.
3. Carb Cheating / Carb Creep
Carb cheating / carb creep is another possible reason for weight loss plateaus. You have to be really disciplined and aware of all carbs you eat. It’s a little nibbling here and there of the forbidden foods, leading to a carb creep, so make sure you count all carbs. In this video, Dr. Eric Westman explains the ketogenic diet and emphasizes that even eating mints may affect ketosis and weight loss results. Sometimes, even when a label says “sugar-free”, it doesn’t have to be “carbs-free”!
4. Too Many Calories – Yes, They Do Count
The reason could be way too much fat and therefore calories in your diet. Firstly, it’s indisputable that all calories are NOT equal. Fat contains twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein, so it’s important your fat intake lies between the recommended ranges. There is no diet that lets you consume “unlimited” amounts of calories and still lose weight. Calories from fat should amount to 20% of your daily intake. When it comes to the overall calorie intake, it depends on your individual maintenance level and how active you are. In Ideal Protein Phase I your calories should be a minimum of 850 and a maximum of 1100.
Are you in ketosis but still not losing weight? See the big picture: Ketosis itself will not guarantee weight loss. It’s not just the amount of ketones in your bloodstream. Low-carb diets in general are beneficial for weight loss (appetite suppressing effects + effective way of using body fat as fuel). What this means is that going “zero-carb” will not help you lose more weight – don’t aim for high ketone readings. If you haven’t succeeded by following the ketogenic diet, chances are you need to start monitoring your calorie intake.
5. Too Many Low-Carb Treats
You eat too many low-carb treats, that may interrupt ketosis or cause cravings. Going low-carb doesn’t mean you can indulge low-carb pancakes, cheesecakes or muffins on a daily basis. Although these may be very low in carbs (when you use stevia or Erythritol), they may still cause cravings. You should always treat them as occasional rewards and your diet should be based on real food (eggs, poultry, leafy vegetables). As a guideline, beware of chewing gums, mints or any medications such as cough syrup and others that may contain sugar or sweeteners.
Be careful about products labeled “low-carb”, “sugar-free”, etc. It’s a known fact that some of these products contain more net carbs than they claim. The perfect examples of such advertising are the Atkins products. They contain artificial additives and have a long list of ingredients, which always raises alarm. Additionally, they are sweetened with sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or Maltitol that cause insulin spikes and are definitely not “carb-free”. Not all sugar alcohols have the same impact on blood sugar.
6. Snacking on Nuts and Dairy
One of the common mistakes people make is that some people overeat dairy and nuts when they are trying to lose weight. You may experience weight stalling or even weight gain because dairy will kick you out of ketosis and nuts are calorie-dense and easy to overeat (100 grams of macadamia nuts has over 700 kcal and over 70 grams of fat!) There is no reason to avoid non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers or fruits like avocado or berries. These foods are very high in micronutrients, low in carbs and won’t impair your weight loss efforts.
7. You Are Close to Your Target Weight
Also keep in mind that losing fat gets more difficult as you approach your ideal weight – weight loss is not a linear process. In my own experience, if you need to lose a relatively small amount of weight like 5-10 pounds and your body weight is already at a healthy “natural” level, you will find it hard to lose more weight. The only way is to be careful about your calorie intake.
8. Short-Term Weight Gain and Fluctuations
You put on weight over a short period of time. This could happen if you had more carbs (even once!) than your daily limit (e.g. you went to a party). As you may know, there is a relationship between water retention and glycogen stores. If your body manages to store some extra glycogen, you also increase water retention. This happens literally from one day to the next. Don’t panic, it’s just water. Once you go back to your daily carbs limit it will take 2-3 days to lose the excessive water. Also, there are natural fluctuations related to hormone balance, especially in women.
Don’t weigh yourself more than once a week. There are natural fluctuations related to water retention and hormonal balance. If you are a woman, you will notice these fluctuations more often. If you see no movement on the scales or even if your weight goes up, it doesn’t mean you are not losing fat. If you exercise, you may even see a little increase in weight, as muscles are heavier than fat. The important thing here is to concentrate on losing body fat. Don’t rely just on scales, use body tape, calipers, belts or clothes to see any changes.
9. Thyroid or Adrenal Disease & Weight Loss
You may have a thyroid or adrenal dysfunction and you are not aware of it. It only takes a blood / saliva test to find out – visit your doctor! In case of autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s), a very low-carb diet is not recommended. Dr. Broda Barnes, who spent over 50 years on thyroid research, suggested in his book “Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness” that the minimum amount of carbohydrate intake for patients with hypothyroidism should at least 30 grams of net carbs. If you want to learn more about thyroid / adrenal disorders and what your doctor may not tell you, have a look at Stop The Thyroid Madness.
Stress is a significant factor. When we are stressed out, our body produces a hormone called cortisol, which is responsible for storing fat round your stomach area (visceral fat) and makes weight loss more difficult. Try to relax, don’t underestimate this factor. Find your own way to reduce it: try meditations, take a few days off work, go somewhere for a weekend or go for a walk. Stress is also linked to hypothyroidism and adrenal issues and this badly affects your metabolic rate. As a result of that, you store fat.
11. Lack of Sleep
Lack of sleep and disrupted circadian rhythms may be the cause of your weight stalling. It may sound as cliche but sleep is and absolutely crucial part of fat loss: Maximum fat loss is only achieved with adequate sleep, diet and exercise. Try to fall asleep before midnight and sleep for 7-9 hours.
12. Leptin & Satiety
Leptin and its satiety signalling is another possible factor. Fat is hormonally active and it sends out leptin, a hormone that tells us when we’ve had enough. As you lose fat, there will be less fat cells to do the job. This does not apply just to low-carb, but any diet. The question is how significant this factor is. If you eat food rich in fat and protein, this can be minimized.
13. Too Much Exercise
You exercise too much. Overtraining could be as harmful as lack of exercise. Here is a good article that explains Why You May Need To Exercise Less.
14. Drink Water & Take Your Supplements
Drink water! Make sure you get properly hydrated, it’s vital for fat loss. Water suppresses appetite and helps your body metabolize fat. Take Your Supplements! This will make sure your electrolyte intake is sufficient (magnesium, potassium, sodium). Without them you will not lose and you will experience side effects like headaches, muscle cramping & dizziness.