Reverse Keto Stall
You’ve been following your ketogenic diet to a T: exercising, losing weight, you start to pat yourself on the back and suddenly it stops. Nothing has changed, but your weight loss stops. This is a Keto Stall, and it can hit anytime during your lifestyle change, but is more common during the first 3-4 weeks. The dramatic drop in weight you experience initially is water weight, water that was previously bound to carbohydrates (stored as glycogen). If you want to continue to facilitate fat loss, below is a guide to help you (1).
Monitor Your Carbs
This seems like a no brainer, but often keto stall is a result of eating too many carbohydrates, most dieters recommend sticking to less than 30 grams per day. Late night snacks and snacking between meals often account for extra carbs, so keep track of your snacking habits. Certain foods, like nuts, are high in fat and welcomed on a ketogenic diet, but do contain carbohydrates and could be a sneaky snack stalling your progress. Using tracking apps like MyFitnesspal will allow you to find sources of hidden carbohydrates or find out where you may be overdoing it.
Decrease Your Protein Intake
Too much protein can cause gluconeogenesis, where our body converts amino acids from protein foods into glucose to use as fuel (2). If you have a protein goal, try reducing it by a few percentages or grams and test your ketones regularly to track any changes. Simple tweaks may help you get there, like shaving off an ounce of protein at lunch or dinner.
Track Your Ketones
Tracking your ketones, calories, and macronutrients are essential to understanding how your body is responding to dietary changes. While it is important to listen to your body and recognize how you feel, ketone levels and macronutrient distributions are numeric ways to track your progress. Record your ketones during your stall, make some of the recommended changes, and record what happens to your ketone levels.
Decrease Your Caloric Intake
While the popular “calories in, calories out” approach is not supported by research or many Registered Dietitians (3), there is something to be said for consuming excess calories. Especially if weight loss is your goal, counting your calories may give you a bigger picture of your whole diet, and where you can possibly cut back. If your energy levels dip and you are hungry, you have likely cut too many calories.
Self care is undeniably the most important part of executing a lifestyle change. Self care does not mean binging on chocolate or cheetos because you are craving them, it means setting time aside to take care of yourself. Stress is the enemy of those seeking to lose weight, but as life continues to become more screen-focused and demanding, it may seem difficult to take a step back. Self care comes best with small changes. Go to bed an hour early. Turn your phone off after 8pm. Apply a face mask after dinner and watch your favorite movie. Little changes will reduce stress levels and allow your body to recover from the hectic nature of daily life. By reducing stress and cortisol levels, your body will be more able to let go of stubborn fat, especially around the midsection.
(1) Mayo Clinic Staff. Getting past a weight-loss plateau. mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss-plateau/art-20044615. Feb. 06, 2018. Accessed Sep. 17th, 2018.
(2) Liangyou Rui. Energy Metabolism in the Liver. Compr Physiol.Published in final edited form as: Compr Physiol. 2014 Jan; 4(1): 177–197.doi: 10.1002/cphy.c130024. June 10th, 2014.
(3) Howell S, Kones R. "Calories in, calories out" and macronutrient intake: the hope, hype, and science of calories. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Nov 1;313(5):E608-E612. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00156.2017. Epub Aug. 1st, 2017.