Are you following a low carb diet, but not losing weight?
Have you tried a low carb diet and didn’t lose a pound? Or maybe you lost some weight in the beginning, but have reached a plateau?
In this article, I will show you how to blast through that plateau and lose weight again with a low carb diet. I’ll also tell you why measuring your progress by weight loss alone is sometimes confusing and deceptive and maybe even self-defeating.
I’m going to give you a much better way to track progress; one that’s sure to tell the whole story and encourage you every step of the way!
Remember, fat loss is not always the same as weight loss!
Low-carb diets are a strong ally against some of the biggest health problems that plague the world today.
While I like a low carb diet, we all remain unique and it doesn’t always work for everyone.
Most people who give it an honest try do quite well and lose weight without restricting calories or feeling hungry.
However, after a few weeks, some people reach a plateau.
The weight may have fallen off at the beginning, but now the scale won’t budge.
If you reached a plateau or just the results you are harvesting/harvested are not as satisfying as you expected, here are a few suggestions that would explain why:
Are you Eating Real, Whole Foods ?
Eating a low-carbohydrate diet is not just about lowering your intake of carbohydrates. It is about eating real, whole, nutritious foods.
Go through your pantry and kitchen and eliminate all processed foods. This includes protein bars, snack foods, and sugary beverages.
Also read: Sugar Addition […and How To Break It!]
Choose lean meats like chicken or fish, eggs, vegetables and healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado and nuts.
While a certain food such as cookies and brownies may be made with healthy ingredients, they should NOT be eaten every day.
Cutting back on processed carbohydrates is the way to go, however you want to make sure you are eating good fats that will keep you full and satiated.
Weight Loss Is A Process
The human body is made up of many different tissues including the fat under the skin as well as the fat inside the abdominal area.
However, our bodies are made up of 60% water and other tissues such as muscle and bone also contribute to a significant portion of our total body weight.
If you’ve recently started exercising, then good chances are that you’re adding some muscle mass to your frame.
If you’re female, then your weight may fluctuate slightly according to your hormonal cycles.
Your weight may also be affected by what you ate yesterday, your hydration status, how long since you visited the toilet.
All those things can cause minor fluctuations in body weight.
Therefore, even if the scale doesn’t budge a few days or even weeks, it doesn’t mean you’re not losing body fat.
Are You Really Stalling?
While the scale is a useful tool to measure weight loss results, it does not tell the whole story.
In fact, constantly weighing yourself can be self-defeating at best. What you’re after ultimately is burning body fat.
You can have your body fat measured by a nutritionist or simply use a measuring tape to measure your waist circumference, arms and thighs.
Take a picture of yourself every two to four weeks without clothes or in a bathing suit. You will be able to really see the progress you are making.
Some people don’t even use a scale. They go by how they feel, how they look and how their clothes fit.
Are You Really Eating Low-Carb ?
Are you eating fresh, whole, natural foods every day? Are you having a ‘cheat’ meal more often than not? Are you really eating low-carb?
Be honest with yourself – ask yourself these questions and answer truthfully.
It is helpful to use an online log to keep track of your food intake. Many websites, such as Fitday, offer carbohydrate and calorie counts, in addition to protein and fat.
Knowing the amount of carbohydrate in a food may surprise you. You may find that you are eating more than 100-150 grams of carbohydrate per day and this could definitely cause you to stop losing weight.
There are some foods that can be problematic. Nuts and high-fat dairy products such as cheese are acceptable to eat, but they still are very high in calories and easy to overeat on.
If you’re eating nuts and/or cheese every day, between meals, in large amounts, then you should probably cut back and see if the weight doesn’t suddenly start moving again.
I’m personally not against potatoes and some healthy non-gluten grains from time to time, but to break through a weight loss plateau you might want to eat nothing but protein, fat and low-carb veggies for a while.
Cheat meals can be problematic. I’m not entirely against the occasional cheat meal if it is moderate and doesn’t make you go 5.000 calories over your expenditure for the day.
Try sticking to whole, natural carbs instead of junk food during your “cheat” meals. If that doesn’t work, skip the cheat meals altogether for a while.
When it comes down to it, weight loss is still a matter of calories. Again, try logging your food intake for a while to see how many carbs and calories you are taking in.
If they greatly exceed your requirements, then maybe you’re just eating too damn much.
Are You Exercising?
Of course, what you eat is very important when it comes to weight loss, however regular exercise is definitely part of any healthy lifestyle.
Weight training exercises combined with cardiovascular workouts work best. Aim for strength training at least 2-3 times per week and make a point of walking or riding a bike every day.
If you’re completely sedentary, then you are (in my opinion) effectively broken. You’re not living life even close to your genetic potential. Get moving!
Is Any Medical Condition Getting in Your Way?
It is no secret that many medications can cause weight gain or make it impossible to lose weight.
If you are taking any medication, read the list of side effects. Weight gain may be on the list, and if so, make an appointment with your doctor.
He or she may suggest an alternative drug or perhaps the dosage can be lowered to avoid the weight gain.
If you are eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis and still not seeing results, there may be an underlying medical problem that should be addressed.
There are many hormonal disorders that can make it impossible to lose weight such as hypothyroidism.
Your doctor can rule out any health issues or concerns that might be hindering your ability to lose weight and get healthy.
Do You Have A Healthy Lifestyle?
Are you stressed out? Are you getting enough sleep every night?
Identifying and dealing with stressors in your life through yoga or meditation, for example, is the way to go.
Poor sleep and stress can chronically elevate your cortisol levels, which is bad and can hinder your weight loss.
Turn the computer and television off before bedtime. Read a book, meditate or enjoy a cup of chamomile tea before bed. All of these activities will help calm your mind and body so you can get a good night’s rest.
Losing fat takes time. A pound per week is a reasonable goal. Two pounds per week is perhaps too ambitious for some people.
We’ve all heard stories of those people who lose a ridiculous amount of weight in a short amount of time.
100 pounds in a year? Wow, impressive, but this is the exception, not the norm.
When you get closer to your goal weight, losing those last pounds becomes multiples times harder. Those last few stubborn ounces of body fat over your abdomen may seem impossible to get rid of.
When you reach this point, I think it is time to take it easy. Continue eating healthy, continue exercising, live your life to the fullest and stop focusing too much on those last few pounds. Hopefully, they will go away with time.
We also have to be realistic. Not everyone can lose all the weight they want. People who have been obese for a long time may not be able to completely reverse it.
Perhaps the best thing to do in that scenario is to just enjoy your improved health and wellbeing and maintain this for life.
You will live longer, feel better and have a peace of mind knowing that you did everything you could.
I don’t really talk much about intermittent fasting on the keto diet on this blog, but I do know that it is a technique that can improve health and accelerate weight loss.
If this is something you would like to consider, make sure you do not have any medical issues such as Type-2 Diabetes. Then skipping breakfast and lunch and not eating until dinner one day of the week may make a large difference.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is another technique that can get things moving. Sprints, hill sprints, even rope skipping or cycling, doing these intervals can be very effective.
Also, there are a ton of “low carb diets” and one might suit you significantly better than another. Do some research on the following and see if they might be a better fit. (in alphabetical order)
- Atkins Diet
- Eco-Atkins Diet
- Bulletproof Diet
- Dukan Diet
- Keto Diet
- Scandinavian Low Carb, High-Fat Diet (LCHF)
- Paleo Diet
- Slow Carb Diet
- South Beach Diet
- Whole30 Diet
- Zero Carb Diet
- Zone Diet
When it comes down to it, it is still all about eating healthy, exercising and living a healthy lifestyle.
It’s simple, fun and the rewards are life-long.
If you’re not losing weight or have reached a plateau, then these pointers above should keep you busy for a while trying out new things in order to get that damned scale moving again.
Have you ever gone through a weight loss plateau and managed to break through it successfully?
Please tell us all how you did it in the comments because, in the end, it’s really all about what works for you.
15 thoughts on “Not Losing Weight on a Low Carb Diet? [Here’s Why]”
God i am blessed to read your articles. Thanks for these gems. Lots of motivation here!
WOW…..I was put on prednisone and gained 70 lbs! I am on low carb and losing intermittantly.
I dieted for a year on Atkins! In preparing for my sons wedding. A month before the wedding, my doctor put me on prednisone,for a medical issue. I gained 30lbs in one month. I was devastated! But I got through the wedding ok with a nice cocktail dress! I will never take prednisone again!!
Good post John – there is no question from my own experience and those of friends who have faced plateaus that doing an intermittent fast 1-2 times per week is a GREAT way to keep the metabolism high. My favorite way to do this is to have a good size piece of protein for dinner at night and then not eat the next day until I’m hungry (which usually is not until after 1 or later) and then I break the fast with a salad full of veggies or a bowl of low carb chili. This never fails whenever I feel like I’m not moving at the rate I think I should be !
I love your articles. It is soooo very true that many people are struggling on low carb diets and I think that you offer some great suggestions to people who are dealing with the ups and downs of this diet. I also believe it can be an explosive catalyst to fat loss when paired with a good training regimen. They key is to find other sources of energy to train at your peak while minimizing carbohydrate intake.
In my opinion, if you are on a low carb diet QUINOA is one of the best things to eat to keep you energized and give you muscle building benefits.
To overcome my plateaus in the past I just eliminated junk food and decrease my calorie intake.
I want to start back with low carb dieting and g “Atkins or Paleo..I am interested in intermitten and keto..dieting…I am 77yrs old and over weight and desperate to start a program of weight loss…Ant advice would be appreciated..
I’ve done all these diets! Paleo was the best. And Suzanne Somers diet works wonders! Her books are amazing! But, Paleo is my first choice out of all of them!
Just a little info: Kraft mayonnaise does not contain sugar! Hellmanns does! Always read labels!!
I have been extremely low carb for 7 weeks, intermittent fast 16/8 six days a week and exercise for about an hour 6-7 days a week. I’m not losing weight and frustrated as heck. I’m type 2 and that has improved some (no meds), 56 yrs old male. I don’t know what to do, I do have shoulder pain that I’m sure keeps my cortisol up. What do I need to change? Help!
When I first started Atkins four years ago I lost so much weight, got a lot of compliments and felt great. I’ve been on and off ever since. I keep saying “I am going to do it this time” and I am, I keep trying. I still think it’s the best diet out there. I know how to start it, get in ketosis. This time I won’t quit. Thanks for your help
U am trying the low carb diet. I lost 48 lbs now kind of stopped what do u mean get in to ketIsis.
54 and in menopause since 47 years old. Prior to menopause followed the eating every 3 hrs for almost 20 years. Not really a sugar person, more salty but still basically followed low carbing and was able to maintain my weight between 130 and 135 eating that way. THAN MENOPAUSE HIT, I have now put on almost 30 lbs, last 3 months been attempting KETO AND IF 16/8…..SCALE NOT MOVING! Maybe because I only need to lose 25 or less pounds, KETO /IF not working for me ? I am a bit frustrated, have not had BREAD/RICE/POTATO for MONTHS!! Only cheating with , I know not good but, WINE, PINOT GRIGIO …IS THAT MY CULPRIT ???
Ditto everything you said right down to age and weight. HELP ME TOO!!
Hi Jacqueline – I am experiencing the exact same issues as yourself. Have you found anything that works for you? I feel very frustrated and not sure what to do.
Thank you so much for your concern for others to be healthy. You can really feel the genuine passion that you have for others to lose weight, stay and be healthy. Stumbled upon your website and I am so glad that I did. Blessings to you and stay healthy.