Breaking through a Keto or Weight Loss Plateau
Have you been following the Ketogenic Diet (read more about it here) and noticed weight loss was much more rapid in the beginning but has since slowed or stopped? Below I have outlined a few tips on handling a plateau and how to breakthrough without giving up and losing your momentum.
1. Ensure natural "Detox"
Sorry to go here first but it is kind of a big deal that you have a normal bowel movement every day! Keep in mind that anytime you lose body fat, you are in a state of detox as your fat cells harbor toxins. Without a healthy bowel movement daily, we are essentially marinating in our own toxins. Not only can this be harmful to our health, but it can also hinder weight loss.
Ensure you are getting enough fiber from non starchy veggies like; broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower, jicama, asparagus etc. Dehydration is also another culprit behind constipation. In a state of Ketosis your body is not conserving as much electrolytes (sodium , potassium etc.) as it would be with a moderate carbohydrate intake. Also it is important to note that fiber has the ability to stop you up or make you go. If dehydrated; fiber is going to make constipation even worse! Aim to drink 60-80 fl oz of water per day as well as eat 2-3 cups (raw) of non starchy veggies daily.
The use of a Magnesium Glycinate supplements can also help ease constipation and promote detox as well. I recommend one scoop of Cenitol by Metagenics in water at bedtime. You can purchase from my Fullscripts online supplement dispensary by creating an account and searching "Cenitol" in the product catalogue.
2. cut back on dairy products
I am a big believer in looking at the source of your food- where does it come from and what has been done from production to now sitting on your plate. Most dairy ( heavy cream, cheese etc.) comes from cows who are not fed their normal diet which is grass. Instead cows are often fed corn to fatten them up quick! From there they are given antibiotics as they are sick and hormones ( like estrogen) to make them even fatter on less food. As you can imagine when we eat these dairy products coming from these sick cows fed corn and given antibiotics and hormones that we get fat too.... If weight loss has stalled I highly recommend trying absolutely no dairy for at least 2 weeks to see how your body reacts. This means no cheese or heavy cream, although Ghee is OK. You might use full fat canned coconut milk or other oils instead. If you notice an improvement in health or digestion or notice increased weight loss, you might consider keeping dairy out a bit longer. When you are ready to add back in dairy, be sure to add in one dairy product at a time and ensure it is grass-fed, organic etc!
3.Make a change to see a change
The body is constantly aiming to maintain homeostasis. Unfortunately for us, this need for homeostasis also translates to the body wanting to defend its weight- even if that weight is unhealthy. If you are used to doing your intermittent fast from 8pm - 12pm the next day; try fasting from 4pm to 8am the following morning and see how that feels and if it translates to any changes. Also, it is important to ensure your diet is varied. If you are doing a whey protein smoothie for lunch and grilled chicken for dinner every single day, you are missing out on tons of other nutrients that you might need.
Another way to evoke change is through physical activity. If you are not already following any sort of exercise regimen, you will need to incorporate something into your lifestyle to continue weight loss. I recommend some form of resistance training (pilates, weight lifting, yoga etc) at least twice per week. Also aim for 30 minutes of some sort of cardiovascular activity 5 days a week. This could be swimming, running, walking, biking, dancing etc. If you are already relatively active; switch up your workout routine! Mix it up by trying a new class or workout or even just try working out at a different time of day. In any case, it is also important to refuel with 15-30 grams of protein within 30 minutes after any resistance training. This will not only prevent over eating several hours later, but it will also help build muscle back up. Keep in mind that muscle is metabolically active. A pound of muscle is said to burn an extra 50 calories a day at rest. This means if you gained 2 pounds of lean body mass, you could essentially be burning an extra 100 calories a day at rest!!!
4. Eliminate "food like products"
Like most things in life; the Keto Diet has much room for interpretation. Though technically a plate of meat and cheese and a side of sugar free vanilla pudding is "Keto"- you won't see me recommending this type of meal ever. As mentioned above; weight loss and the Keto Diet is a form of detox, which requires nutrient dense foods such as; leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli etc. to support the process! Foods that have been altered or processed to be sugar free or contain artificial sweeteners are not only inflammatory but they can also promote toxicity which can both negatively effect hormones. Not to mention artificial sweeteners can negatively impact hormone such as insulin! When insulin levels are elevated ( as with insulin resistance) our body is sent signals to store fat rather than burn it. Insulin resistance has been seen in individuals with excessive carbohydrate intake and those ingesting artificial sweeteners. This insulin response can also cause cravings for carbohydrate foods to which is not helpful on a low carb diet! Although Stevia and Monkfruit are more "natural" forms of non nutritive sweeteners, I still recommend severely limiting or avoiding them as they can still effect insulin levels and promote sugar cravings.
5. Be Consistent- even when your results are not
There is a reason for the phrase "consistency is key". Although we experiment and calculate the rate of weight loss based off of calories taken in and expended, it is important to remember that you are not a perfectly designed scientific experiment. As human beings we are all biochemically unique and there are far more variables in the human body to expect the rate of weight loss to remain constant all the way up until a target weight goal is met!
Just because you have hit a plateau does not mean weight loss will not resume in the future and it definitely does not mean failure! It is important to stick to your plan rather than allow your frustrations to make you feel defeated. As mentioned before, the human body has so many variables; and it is quite possible to go through a 2 week weight loss stall and then the next week break through it without any known explanation. Not to mention the frustration surrounding your plateau is not constructive; in fact it can be very destructive. You know what is worse than hitting a plateau? How about getting frustrated, ignoring all the hard work and energy you have put in and giving up all the progress you have made. If you are in the midst of a plateau, use the tips above and recognize that weight loss or body composition changes are not always predictable but you can make the most of it by staying on track. Focus on all the progress you have made as that is what is going to help you motivated and on the right path for success!