Can't get over plateau


(Tiela Marie Wheeler) #1

Hi. Today is my 45th day of logging food and keeping carbs under 25, then 20, and now 15 net a day. I keep lowering it because I lost an initial 15 pounds in the first 2 weeks (water weight, I know) but now I have completely stopped losing weight. As in, since day 15 I have weighed the same as today, 30 days later. I keep the carbs below every day, hit my calories and protein goals ( To make sure that I am neither eating too much or too little) and try to keep fat at or below my recommended amount. I log every single thing I eat or drink into my senza tracking app.

I reached out to them and they said to try and make sure I’m getting enough protein, ok done.
I test my blood levels every day and I’m sitting at a steady .5 (nutritional ketosis but not the weight loss level I’m hoping for). I hit 1.2 ONE time this week.

I read a helpful article about how testing with a lower level doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not producing ketones, but probably means I am using them, so they are not in my blood stream.

So WHY the plateau!? Why haven’t I lost a single pound in a month?

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #2

The basics of a well-formulated ketogenic diet are to keep insulin low by lowering carbohydrate intake, eat sufficient protein, and add enough fat to satisfy hunger. As one professor likes to put it, “Control carbohydrate, prioritise protein, and fill in with fat.”

But keeping your carbohydrate intake below 20 g/day is just the start. Low insulin is a prerequisite for permitting excess fat to leave the adipose tissue (fat cells). But there are other factors involved, such as how much food we eat, and so forth. Cutting calories signals the body that there is a famine going on, and it responds by hunkering down, lowering the metabolic rate, cutting non-essential processes (such as hair and nail growth), and holding on to its reserves (i.e., stored fat) for as long as possible.

On the other hand, given enough calories, the body ramps up the metabolism, possibly even wasting energy, and shedding its excess store of fat. This is why we advise eating fat to satiety, so as to be sure we are giving our body enough resources to do its job.

Note that this advice flies in the face of the nutrition advice that has prevailed since the late 1980’s, so a lot of what we have discovered about how a ketogenic diet works is counter-intuitive. But we find that eating in a way that works with the body’s hormones, instead of against them, makes the absolute amount of food we are eating less relevant than in the standard model of “eat less, move more.” Our model is more like, “eat right, and let the body take care of itself.”

Your situation has a lot of factors that might be influencing how your body is responding on your ketogenic diet. If you like, and if you feel comfortable doing so, you can share your situation and typical food intake, and we can help find whatever might be holding you back. We would need to know such things as your age, sex, weight, height, and a typical day’s menu. The more information you are comfortable providing, the more helpful we can be. If you don’t mind telling us what drugs you may be taking, that is also helpful, as would also be the results of any recent blood work you may have had done.

Another thing to think of is what your body measurements are doing. Some people find that they put on muscle and that their bones get stronger on a ketogenic diet. This means that the scale can be confused, since the weight loss from losing fat can be matched by a weight gain from bigger muscles and denser bones. The way to tell that this might be happening is that you will find your clothes fitting more loosely, even though the number on the scale is not changing.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #3

I’ll add that keto is a metabolic normalization process, not a quick weight/fat loss diet. Excess fat is a symptom of metabolic disorder. Keto addresses the disorder and weight trends towards your normal over time as the metabolic disorder is resolved. But it’s not a simple linear progression. Sometimes other stuff takes precedence. And finally your normal may not be what you thought or wished it would be when you get there.


You’re doing it right! Now that you have over a month of this you can start tweaking and putting the pieces together. What are your stats, your activity level, and what are the macros you’re going by? Also, I’m not familiar with Senza, but does it also give you a micronutrient breakdown of what you’re eating? Always want to make sure you’ve got those bases covered by food or supplements.

There’s no such thing as a weight loss level of ketones. Ketone reading and weight (fat) loss speed have nothing to do with each other. I lost 100lbs in that 0.5-0.8 range, going over that only when I fasted basically.

(Allie) #5

A month is no time at all, your body is likely healing in ways that don’t show on the scale. Relax and trust the process.

What macros are you aiming for and what’s you current height / weight / activity level?


Our body is a very complex system and a single month isn’t much. Your body probably gets better and fat-loss comes later. Or it happens but it doesn’t show on the scale. Or you will need tweaking your woe later. Something may interfere.

Even if you are simple like me :smiley: So only calories matter at fat-loss (probably not only as I am a complex human too and calories work differently in a human than in a calorimeter anyway but according to my experiences in the last decade, at least vaguely this is the case)… So even it things are like this for you, you probably still don’t have a good idea about your energy need in the beginning (and it’s changes all the time, of course. I am at a loss if I have a very active day, at least my metabolism is very stable, it’s not true for everyone). I surely didn’t know my energy need when I went low-carb (I knew that when I went keto but I was hungry so I ate the same amount, stalled the same as my body works like this), I had to figure out myself. Calculators were very much off in my case (my metabolism was way quicker than they thought, fortunately but some poor souls have the opposite). And it’s the simple case.

I wouldn’t worry yet, be patient - but if you aren’t (I understand), maybe look at your food choices, maybe you find something you can do better without a serious sacrifice…? Maybe you like experiments like me… Skip or limit certain items, many cause problems for some people, sweeteners, dairy, maybe processed stuff too…? Just for a while, maybe something help (with fat-loss or with something else, I never really knew until I tried such things. now I know what I should avoid to feel really right and what is fine).

(Tiela Marie Wheeler) #7

Ok, so to answer some of the questions:
I am 33. 5’6" currently 160 but started at 175. 35 of these lbs I put on in quarantine. I have a desk job, and live in a bad neighborhood so I put “sedentary” on my macro page. I know that my daily caloric needs to maintain my weight is around 1700. My target is 1445. Net carbs 15, protein 75 and fat 101. I dont take any drugs, or any meds. I dont use sucralose, t ry to avoid aspartame and typically use monkfruit and erythritol only, but may use stevia sometimes. I avoid maltitol. I use DR price electrolyte mix, 1-2 packets a day and yes, I count them on my tracker.

I eat mostly eggs, nuts, seeds, meats, Franz Keto bread, butter, spinach, kale, cauliflower, and sometimes carrots or onions in small amounts. Lots of bone broth. Sometimes organic broccoli and green beans. Coffee with almond milk and minkfruit. I have enlightened ice cream (1 net carb per serving) after my last meal if I’m short on my calories, to keep at my goal. I also eat chicharonnes (pork skins). Sometimes I use coconut oil or olive oil but mostly real butter. I have minimal excessive opportunities outside of cleaning, and laundry or chasing the kids around. My schedule is pretty packed with working from home and homeschooling 2 kids by myself. Sometimes we have dance parties or work on planking with a cool planking video game set i have.

(Katie the Quiche Scoffing Stick Ninja ) #8

I would cut the nuts, that is only my advice. I also had a desk job and had no exercise. Lost 18kg in my first 7 weeks. I ate very minimally.

(Tiela Marie Wheeler) #9

The nuts are only on rare occasions or in a bar or something and I don’t go over my carb limit. I log everything I eat. :blush:


It seems like the closer to goal weight the more of a knife fight it is.

I am within about 10 pounds of goal, I know this trouble.

I am not at a place where I can tweak much. But here are some ideas,

Intermittent fasting or extended fasting.

Franz Keto bread is full of ingredients that flare digestion troubles. Also soybean oil. One of the best things that you can do for your health is learn how vegetable oils are made. Then give them up. They are not your friends!

Prioritize your sleep. To whatever degree you can. If you have a tv in your bedroom remove it. No screen time within 2 hours of bedtime.

“Movement Snacks” if you have a spare moment do as many squats as you can while you are waiting for the microwave. Push-ups while you wait for coffee. Fidget.

I threw snacks overboard after reading “The Obesity Code” by Jason Fung.

I don’t do any dairy, I don’t miss cheese. I bought a nice chunk of a fancy one. Ate it mindfully and with great appreciation. Knowing it could not come with me where I am going. We broke up. :joy: But it’s fine.


If you are eating nuts in a bar, is there a possibility alcohol might be interfering with your goals?

(Edith) #12

I would drop the nuts, seeds, almond milk. Just stick to meat and veggies. I think that net carbs are just a gimmick to rationalize higher carb intake.

Snacks are bad in that if you are eating you are not burning your own fat. When you are hungry, eat. Then don’t eat again until you are hungry. Having many hours between meals gives your body a chance to use its fat stores.

(Ken) #13

The most relevant question is obvious. Are you actually hungry when you eat? If you are not, you are eating at Maintenance levels. Highly unlikely you are experiencing a metabolic slowdown. Being 160lbs. and only a couple of Months of tracking point more towards overconsumption unless you’re Training. I suggest OMAD and adjusting your food intake so you’re hungry an hour or so before you actually eat. Taking a Walk or doing some exercise while hungry is even better, and that “Hunger is the Best Sauce” is very true. This works, and is much better than advice freely given by Keto Failures who are in long term Stalls while still being overweight.

Tracking aps are merely guides and generalizations. Metabolism is a very individual thing.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #14

I agree that hunger before meals is just the body’s way of reminding one it’s time to eat. When hunger is constant it’s not a good thing, the body’s way of saying eat more. If you don’t heed the warning soon enough, your metabolism will slow to compensate.

Some of us don’t have reliable hunger signals, however, so we have to utilize other strategies. For me it is overall weight. From trial and error I know what and how much I need to eat to maintain stable weight. If I eat below or above that ‘window’ I start to lose or gain.

For example, when I started keto I unwittingly ate a thousand calorie daily deficit for more than 3 months. I did not feel hunger at any time and did not slow my metabolism. I know this because when I slowly started eating more to stabilize my weight my metabolism responded appropriately. That is by the time I eliminated the caloric deficit my weight stabilized and I did not gain. In fact, for another 3 months as I slowly increased my daily intake, I continued to lose weight.


You lost a lot of weight, even if it was water weight, very quickly, which is not best. If you think about it, you probably didn’t put on 40-50 pounds in a few months, so it shouldn’t take a few month to lose it. If you lose 20-30 pounds PER YEAR, it’s much better. The slower you lose it, the more likely it is to stay off.

I would try to ignore the calories and focus in on the fat. Try to make 75-80% of your intake from fat and 20% or so from protein. The more fat you eat, the fuller you will feel.

I lost 27 pounds in the first 5 months or so, and I have plateaued for the past 6 weeks. I’m really OK with this. A few months ago I started working out much more and I know that I’ve put on muscle and strength. I think that, as someone else mentioned, it’s hard for the body to heal and lose weight all at once. Keto is very healing and your body might be doing a lot of work in that respect.

One way that I look at it is this: If you had told me in January of 2020, that I could finish out the year about 30 pounds lighter, I would have been THRILLED! I am focusing in on that aspect, rather than the plateau. I have about 35 more pounds to lose. If I can take them off by this time NEXT year, I’ll be just as thrilled. I know that it’s going to happen, so I’m trying to relax into the process.

One thing that has helped me is that I do not weigh myself more than 2 or 3 times a month. There’s really no need. When I have dieted, or followed an eating/ exercise program in the past, I have always weighed myself every day. I know that weight fluctuates day by day, hour by hour, and that you might be up 1/2 a pound one day and down 2 pounds the next, but I just had to see the numbers. I’ve always been somewhat obsessed by it. I refuse to do that this time, and over the past 3 months I have weaned myself off of the scale. This has been a VERY difficult habit to break, but it has allowed me to take my focus OFF of the scale and to refocus on how I feel. I feel GOOD. I just remind myself to trust my body and to trust the process. I still track everything I eat using Carb Manager, a free phone app. I have to do this so that i don’t end up eating too much protein and not enough fat. I don’t do dirty Keto, with exception that I do use some Stevia in my tea. I keep to whole foods, pretty much like you do: meat, eggs, butter, ghee, nuts and my one indulgence: Utz’s pork rinds. A lot of people here eschew nuts, or limit them, but I don’t to that. I find them a great way to make sure that I get all of the fat in that I need.

I hope that you can start to relax a bit about the time frame and about the calories. I think that you might benefit from this, but each person’s journey is different. Best of luck.

(Tiela Marie Wheeler) #16

This made me chuckle, bar as in a nut-bar. Not a bar as in a place you go to drink :rofl: I don’t drink alcohol :blush:

(Robin) #17

Hello! You are describing my first 45 days too. I KNEW I should be seeing a loss on the scale because I was following keto protocol to the letter. But more importantly, I FELT as if I had lost weight. I felt lighter. My clothes felt looser. I wish I had taken my measurements, because they would like have told the truth… which would contradict the scales. Your clothes know before the scales do.

I am almost 6 months in now and only weigh once a month at the most. The scale is a cruel mistress. And those numbers can mess with your head.

(I just weighed so I could respond to you. Down 42 pounds now.) Go with your gut. You got this!

(Tiela Marie Wheeler) #18

I have been measuring and noticing a loss of inches so maybe I’m just overthinking it. I’ve also been reading a bunch of articles that talk about fat adoptions and lower ketine levels. As someone that has been fasting intermittently since I was 19, I’m guessing my body was already accustomed to fat adaption and ketone use, so that probably has a big part to play too. I’m think I need to tweak my fat intake goal and that should help!

(Bacon by any other name would taste just as great.) #19

Once we start eating to satiety instead of stinting ourself on calories, our body may decide to add some lean mass and strengthen bones, even while shedding fat. This happened to one of Dr. Phinney’s research subjects, and she was all upset because she only lost about seven pounds, while all the other women in the study had lost around fourteen. But when they did a body scan, it turned out that she had indeed lost about fourteen pounds of fat, but she had put on about seven pounds of lean mass.

Think of it this way: would you rather look as though you’d lost a lot of weight and have the scale remain the same, or have the scale go down by the desired amount and you still look the same?


BTW, after losing 27 pounds in the first 5 months of Keto, I have been at a plateau for the past 6+ weeks. I just finally broke that plateau yesterday. Before I hit the plateau, I was weighing myself every few days. Then, once i hit it, I was all over and around that weight, but not budging from it, so I decided to only weigh myself once every 2-3 weeks. It was REALLY hard to break that habit, but it was a good one to break.

I also decided that not responding to the plateau was the best response. I just ate within the KETO framework that I had set for myself. These goals are: 1) no more than 20 g of carbs per day, with the goal of keeping it between 10-15, 2) eating fat at a rate of 70-75% of my total calories and 3) making sure to get in some exercise, even just walking for 30 minutes, each day. I did this and decided to forget about the scale. I did this and did not concern myself with the calories. I did this just to make it easy on myself, enjoyable and just a part of my day (as opposed to the main focus).

Of course, it worked. I have finally broken this plateau (which is about 1/2 way to my final goal weight) and I’m not stressed out, freaked out and bummed by it at all. It’s just part of the process.

Six weeks at plateau. No problem!