7 Tips to Break a Stall on Keto
1. Be sure that you are getting enough sleep.
Sleep is so important! Some of you may be sick of hearing me say it, but it is, so I'm going to keep on talking about it. Sleep is good for so many reasons but one of the main ones is that your body recovers when it's sleeping at night. This recovery is a process, and it takes a while. So, if you aren't getting enough sleep, your body isn't able to recover fully, which means you will be starting the next day only half recovered instead of fully recovered. Also, if you are going to bed on a full stomach, your body is going to spend all of its energy on digesting your food and not on recovery. (Which is why I always tell people to make sure they are done eating at least 3 hours before they go to bed each night.)
Sleep also plays a role in balancing hormones. 9 times out of 10 if you have a bad night's sleep you will notice that your cravings are going crazy the next day! These cravings often drive you to overeat.
Stack up several nights in a row, of your body not being able to recover, experiencing cravings the following days and overeating on most of them, and you can do the math pretty easily on how quickly you can gain weight when you aren't prioritizing your sleep.
Make sure you get your sleep!
2. Track your Macros & count "Total" carbs not "Net" carbs.
Macros or Macronutrients refer to fats, proteins and carbohydrates: our main energy sources in our diet. I don't like to track my macros regularly, because I don't want to feel like I'm on "a diet". I just want to eat healthy and live my life. With this being said, there are definitely times when I've needed to track my macros, either because I started not feeling as good, or I started having weight creep back up, etc...
If you have stalled out and you aren't currently tracking your macros, you should start. Sometimes we think we are doing better than we actually are and you would be surprised at how fast fats and carbs add up throughout the day.
Another important consideration when keeping track of macros is to keep track of and count "total carbs" don't do "net carbs". Fiber definitely has an effect on blood sugars for a lot of people which then effects insulin. Fiber can cause cravings. You have to learn to recognize when certain foods trigger you to overeat them, and what those foods have in common with each other. For me, foods with a lot of fiber tend to cause cravings. Fiber equals calories, too so fiber should be taken into account and kept track of. "Total carbs" is the way to go.
3. Cut out Nuts, Dairy and "Keto" labeled packaged products.
Both Dairy and Nuts are known to stimulate overeating. Many times, if you cut them out of your diet, you will break the stall almost immediately. Same thing with "Keto" products. You will find that not only do you feel a little lighter when you ditch these, but you also may see a decline in your cravings.
Nuts are so easy to overeat! Have you ever put (1) serving in your hand and then put (2) servings in your other hand and compared? There isn't a whole lot of difference in size of these portions. You may think you're only having a serving and before you know it, you've had 3 or 4! Staying away from Nuts when you have weight loss goals is just a good thing to do. When I say "no nuts" I mean nuts, nut flours, etc... Unsweetened nut milks are still fine to consume. They don't have a bunch of fiber and fat in them that would cause the stall. (And I've never had an issue with them causing cravings!) Something else to note: Kite Hill is a company that makes dairy free cream cheese and ricotta cheese, which are made from almond milk, and they would still be appropriate to use, especially if you are going dairy free for weight loss as well. I use the Kite Hill cream cheese instead of sour cream on my taco salads to add a creaminess when I'm not using regular cheese or sour cream.
Alot of people are sensitive to dairy. It's never a bad idea to go dairy free for a month or two and just see how your body reacts. When I first went dairy free, my skin cleared up, I dropped weight quickly and my headaches went completely away. When I started to reincorporate it into my diet, my skin would start to break out if I over did it with the heavy whipping cream or cheeses, so I would have to throttle back again for a while. I can handle dairy pretty well, now but still limit my consumption. If I have heavy cream regularly or overdo it with any dairy product, I will start to gain weight. It's a balance, and you just have to learn to listen to your body. As I mentioned above, the Kite Hill products are great to use when you are going dairy free. I also use Nutritional yeast (which has a cheesy flavor) and butter flavored coconut oil when I go dairy free.
Most "Keto" labeled products have junk ingredients that will prohibit your body from healing. They also usually contain higher fiber content, since most of these products figure Net carbs for you. I have found over the years that majority of the "Keto" labeled products give me cravings, and the inulin fiber that is in a lot of them makes my stomach twirl. (Not in a good way.)
Real food is hands down the best way to eat for health, for healing and for weight loss.
4. Take it easy on the Fat.
Too much of a good thing, isn't a good thing anymore! If you are trying to lose fat, but you are consistently eating too much fat, there is a problem! Now, there is always an exception to the rule, and everyone is different: For instance, if you are just starting out on keto and your hormones are a mess or you have epilepsy or other health issues: higher fat is great because it will help balance your hormones, kick your body into being a fat burner and help promote healing.
If you are in this for weight loss as your main goal, you're going to want to watch your fat intake more closely. Tracking your macros and knowing your correct macros will be incredibly helpful to you. I will provide a link below to a great macro calculator that I use for clients all the time.
In your macros you will have a calorie limit, a protein goal, a carb limit and a fat limit based on the goals you have checked in the questionnaire. Limits are what you are not to exceed, but either hit this amount or come in slightly under. Your protein is a goal, which means you should at least hit this number or higher for the day. With that being said, if you are still feeling hungry always reach for protein. Protein is much more nutrient dense and satiating than fat.
Think of fat as a leveraging tool. If you want to gain weight, your fat macros will be a little higher. If you want to maintain your weight your fat macros will be more averaged. If you want your body to burn the fat that it already has, you need to eat a little less of it. If you eat more fat, your body will use the fat you eat for energy instead of tapping into your body's fat stores. Your fat macros should be a little lower to be sure that you are tapping into your body's supply daily.
Interesting fact: Your body needs 30-40g of healthy fats per day for healthy balanced hormones. For an example I did my personal macros with this calculator, and I have a fat limit of 89g to still be in Fat loss mode. I'm 5'5''. So, this should give you an idea. I feel like this is quite a bit of fat per day that I am able to have while still sticking to my goals.
5. Incorporate Intermittent fasting or PSMF days into your routine.
Intermittent fasting is such a great tool to break stalls and reach your goals. It is so helpful if you have issues with overeating or late-night binge eating. Some people do very well with eating within the proper window and then being done for the rest of the day. There are so many different ways to intermittent fast. I suggest that you do some research and figure out what works best for your body and your lifestyle and schedule. I will say whatever you do, try to be done eating at least 3 hours prior to bedtime. That way your sleep will be much better and effective for you. I don't intermittent fast very often, but I do try to make sure I'm not eating at night before bed. This alone is very helpful to me. When I do fast, I notice better results if it's at night instead of the morning. Like if I stop eating after 4pm and then don't eat breakfast until 8 or 9, I notice a much bigger difference than if I go from 6pm -10 or 11 am. For whatever reason, that is what my body likes. You will have to figure out what works best for you.
Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF) days are also very helpful with breaking stalls. Unlike its name suggests, these days are days where you focus on ramping up your protein (not sparing it) and considerably lowering your carbohydrate, fat and overall calorie intake. For example, my everyday fat loss macros are: 1,174 calories with up to 89 grams of Fat, 84 grams or more of Protein and 20 grams or less of Carbs per day. My PSMF macros are 718 calories with up to 30 grams of Fat, 102 grams of Protein or more and 10 grams of carbs or less. Your macros will be a little different, but I hope this helps give you an idea anyway.
You can do 1-3 days per week of PSMF. If you do 3 days, you should incorporate an "over-eating" day to help offset the calorie deficit on these days. On an over-eating day you can add anywhere from 400-600 additional calories from Fat and Protein (Note: not additional carbs.) You do not have to do the over-eating day if you are only doing PSMF for 1 or 2 days per week.
There are many other health benefits to fasting, so if you are doing it to break a stall be prepared for other benefits besides weight loss.
6. Check your coffee consumption.
Can I just say, "I love coffee." I am a Scandinavian girl through and through, and coffee is wonderful to me, period. With that being said:
Coffee unfortunately can also work against your weight loss and health goals. Caffeine has been found to suppress hunger only to cause major cravings as you come down from it later in the afternoon. If you are that person who drinks coffee all morning and doesn't eat until 1-2 in the afternoon, but then find that you want to eat and eat all afternoon and evening, it just might be from the coffee. Caffeine can also mess with your hormones which can cause weight gain, it is dehydrating and sodium depleting which causes water retention (weight gain) and many other icky side effects. If you struggle with anxiety, caffeine makes it worse, etc...
It may be worth it to give up coffee for a month to see if there is a difference in your health. Nobody is making you, but it would be interesting to see at least, right?
If you absolutely think you cannot give it up right now, how about making some changes like switching to a decaf organic espresso or Swiss water process coffee and wean yourself off the caffeine. (Always make sure that you are using quality coffee, many coffees are full of mold and mycotoxins that are harmful to your health.)
When weaning myself off caffeine, I bought a quality caffeinated coffee and a decaf coffee, and I mixed them half and half to start and slowly used less of the caffeinated coffee and more of the decaf until I wasn't using caffeinated coffee at all anymore. (No caffeine withdrawal headaches with this method) Once you are weaned off of caffeine, you should be able to more easily give up coffee for a month or so to see how your body reacts. (Note: There are many people who don't go back to coffee, because they find that it was the cause of some of their health issues.)
When cutting coffee out completely I like to replace it with a warm Chocolate LMNT drink in the morning. It gives you that warm beverage that you crave while also adding in electrolytes that your body needs.
7. Get a coach, find a support group, or meet with a friend. However you need to do it, just get some accountability & encouragement.
Don't try to do this alone. Reach out to someone for advice, accountability and encouragement. On the hard days it is so much easier to stick with something and keep going when you've got someone in your corner listening, cheering you on and giving good advice. I would encourage you to have support in place regardless of if you have reached a stall or not.
Last but certainly not least: know that God is your biggest support! Where the rest of us humans fail, He always comes through. He sees where you're at, and He knows your heart and your goals. Bringing Him into the equation always elevates the game.
"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'"