Why am I stuck at a plateau on keto?

Plateau, stall, being stuck, whatever you want to call it, being stuck in a period of limited progress is frustrating.  I believe that 99% of people who do keto will experience a plateau at some point.

What is frustrating about plateaus is that they can come out of nowhere, last for a long time, and give no hint as to what is causing the hold up in progress.

Whenever we hit a plateau our first reaction tends to be to cut calories.  Of course, calorie restriction plays a key role in body composition, but it is not the only factor and if we continue cutting calories we will eventually get to a point where our metabolism slows down, making progress even harder to see!  There are other ways to bust through your plateau without cutting calories right away.

With plateaus it is important to note that you may not be doing anything that wrong, you just may not be doing the most optimal things, which can interrupt or slow your weight loss progress.  So, why do we plateau?

Is It Really a Plateau?

Before we go too far, let’s discuss if you really are stuck at a plateau. 

When we first start keto, weight loss is very rapid.  In some cases, it is not uncommon to see someone lose between 3-12 pounds in just one week!  However, it is important to note where some of this weight loss is coming from.

Most of this weight loss is actually water loss. As we lower our carbohydrate intake, our insulin levels lower causing an increase in water excretion.  Additionally, during this time we burn through our stored carbohydrates (glycogen) which can also result in some weight loss. While fat burning is still occurring during your first week, the majority of weight being lost is water and glycogen.

Rapid Weight Loss.jpg

However, as we continue following a ketogenic diet, our water and glycogen levels tend to balance out.  This can cause panic because you are not continuing that rapid weight loss you were experiencing at the beginning.  This is not really a stall or plateau, rather a natural cycle that takes place during induction to a ketogenic diet.

So, if you have been following keto for a few weeks and you are concerned at being stuck at a plateau, I recommend sticking to it, you are still adapting!

5 Signs You May Be Stuck At A Plateau

Now you are probably wondering how to know if you are stuck at a plateau.  Here are 5 pretty clear signs:

  1. You haven’t seen any progress in 3-4 weeks

    If you are not new to keto and you haven’t seen any progress is 3-4 weeks, you are probably stuck at a plateau.

  2. You are exercising over 5 times per week and it’s not helping

    If you have been just trying to increase your exercise to see more results and its not working, you are probably stuck at a plateau.

  3. Your blood ketone readings are low and so is your energy

    If you are testing ketone levels and they are below 0.5 AND your energy is low, you are probably stuck at a plateau

  4. You have brain fog

    If you are not going through Keto Adaptation but you have brain fog, you are probably stuck at a plateau.

  5. You feel weak/fatigued

    If you are doing keto right, you should experience some strength endurance when you are at the gym.  If you are not, you are probably stuck at a plateau.

While there are other signs out there, these are typically the 5 most common I hear.  Did any of these sound like you?

Why We Plateau

One reason you may be stuck at a plateau is that your body has adapted.

Our bodies are programmed for efficiency.  It’s a survival technique.  The problem is that efficiency means the body has to work less and that can equal a plateau.

Whether you have been following keto strictly or following dirty keto, chances are your body is going to become efficient and the results will stop at some point.  It is inevitable. 

This just means you need to mix it up a bit. Check out the video below to see the most common reasons why people are stuck at a plateau on keto and what you can do about it!