Weight plateau or gain on the Ketogenic diet

We’ve heard this time and again “I’m on a ketogenic diet but I’m not losing any weight” Or “I’m keto but I’m gaining weight”. Lets start by saying that the ketogenic diet is the best, healthiest and most sustainable diet for general health and weight loss. But having said that there are several things that can derail your weight loss goals.

Are you in ketosis:

First of all, are you in ketosis? The only way to know for sure is to use a blood ketone monitor. This will also help you find problem foods unique to you. Peeing on sticks only works initially and in some cases it never does.

The best time to test might be in the evening before going to bed. The evening meal is usually the one where we end up “cheating” or “falling off the wagon”. Testing before bedtime might help keep you honest. Also, if you go to bed in ketosis, the chance of being in ketosis in the morning is pretty good. That is 12+ hours of fat metabolism while you are sleeping.
If you’ve “cheated” at night, you are probably not going to be in ketosis in the morning and might need to do a HIT workout the next day to re-enter ketosis

How deep is the ketosis:

Are you just in mild ketosis or deep ketosis? if it is just borderline (0.2-1.0) then the weight loss is going to be slow. You might need to take a look at your carb and protein intake. In case of the author, it was excess protein that was not allowing for sustained deep ketosis. Try Keto Vegan or a “Fat Fast” for a few days and see what it does to your blood ketone numbers.
In their book, “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance”, Phinney and Volek recommend 0.6-1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. Note: make sure you use your approximate lean body mass for this calculation, not total mass.
Try supplementing with ketogenic amino acids like leucine and Lysine, bitter root extract, fenugreek or apple cider vinegar to help you reduce your blood glucose levels which in turn can help you to go deeper into ketosis. When supplementing with leucine, I’ve seen my blood sugar drop 20-30 points within 30 minute of use. Word of caution; if you are not fat adapted, low blood sugar level can cause hypoglycemia which can be a potentially dangerous condition.

Measuring Blood Glucose:

What? Measure glucose and ketones? Blood glucose strips are less expensive than ketone strips so you could measure more than once a day without “breaking the bank”. After a while you’ll notice that blood glucose and blood ketones are inversely proportional. Higher the blood glucose, lower the blood ketones. One exception to this rule is post exercise.
I test my blood glucose often and use it as a tool to identify problem foods and meals.

Calories in calories out:

I’m going to get yelled at for this but at the end of the day it does matter whether the ketones come from exogenous sources or from your fat stores. Maybe you’ve gotten a little carried away with the fat intake. Reduce the amount of fat in your diet. You might need to reduce the protein as well. Are you using MCT oil? If you are, your blood ketone levels could be influenced by this exogenous source.

Calorie intake and Macro Nutrient Ratios:

Use a calorie calculator like http://www.myfitnesspal.com/to log your food intake. This will give you a fairly accurate measure of what you are eating and also the macro nutrient ratios.  Usually, folks are way off when they guesstimate these numbers.

Sleep & Stress:

Are you sleeping enough? Are you stressed due to work or relationships? This can be a huge factor in weight gain in general. Try some stress reducing activities. Cut out the relationships that are stressing you out. Sleep more and try to wake up without an alarm.

Muscle gain:

And now some good news. Maybe your weight plateau or gain is due to muscle gain? Have you been hitting the weights? Do you feel stronger? What does the body fat scale / calculator say? Have you had a Dexa scan done? Might be a good idea to get one every couple of months. They cost $75 here in Colorado. Another option is to measure hips, waist, neck, and bicep and see how they are changing.

Organ weight gain:

You’ve just cleaned up your act. You are eating nutrient dense foods. Are your organs “filling out” or becoming healthier and bigger? Again, a Dexa scan would be able to shed some more light on that.

Good luck with your weight loss goals. You are on the right path. Just need a few tweeks.

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