You feel like you’re been following the keto diet to the letter by going very low carb and amping up healthy fats and protein foods. But on weigh-in day, the scale isn’t reflective of your efforts. What’s a keto dieter to do? Take a closer look.
You’re eating too many calories.
If you eat more calories than your body burns, you will gain weight.
If you eat the same amount of calories that your body burns, you will maintain weight. (i.e. not lose weight)
If you eat fewer calories than you burn, then you will lose weight.
If you’re not exercising and over the age of 30, eating too many calories is actually pretty easy to do if you’re not paying attention. Oversized restaurant portions, huge plates, and bottomless glasses may be tricking your brain into eating more than your body needs to feel satisfied. Fatty cuts of meat, cheese, and a spoonful too many of oil can tally up quickly compared to lean cuts of meat.
Give yourself a reality check on your portion sizes and types of foods you’re eating.
You’re not eating enough fiber.
Plants are rich in fiber--cool! Even cooler, fiber largely passes through the body unabsorbed. It’s like a broom, taking some bad stuff with it, like LDL cholesterol—the lousy kind.
Some interesting studies have shown how plant foods rich in fiber aren’t fully absorbed and force the body to burn more calories to digest the food at hand. Boom.
While, yes, it’s good to eat low-carb protein foods like chicken, beef, and seafood, if you don’t eat enough plants like vegetables, nuts, seeds, and some berries, you are sorely missing out on fiber. Animal foods don’t contain any fiber. Man and woman cannot live on pig and cow alone.
You’re not sleeping enough.
I was in disbelief when a good friend of mine confided in me that her New Year's resolution was to sleep less. Sleep less!? My resolution is always to sleep more! I’m still a work in progress, but I always try to prioritize getting more sleep.
Over the years, sleep deprivation has become a badge of honor. “Work hard, play hard—hey, hey!” On the contrary, sleep helps your body recover and repair during the night so it can perform optimally during the day. Just like there is no such thing as multitasking (the brain doesn’t do that too well, we’re finding), we do much better on tasks when we get enough sleep. Weight loss is no exception.
In study after study, we are learning how people who don’t get enough sleep are found to have an increased obesity risk. Sleep can keep cravings at bay and keep us alert naturally, rather than constantly craving caffeinated drinks and sugary foods for quick energy.
Here is the latest scientific look at the relationship between sleep and diet.
- Resulted in participants consuming about 250 more calories per day compared to when they were getting normal sleep
- Decreased insulin sensitivity (how well your body processes carbs)
- Changed brain activity when responding to food stimuli, particularly that related to cognitive control and reward
- Resulted in participants spending more money on food via what scientists believe is a hedonic mechanism
- Resulted in a significant increase in reported hunger
You’ve lost fat but gained muscle.
Over my nearly two decades of talking with clients, I have found that they can be so focused on the number on the scale that they forget to pay attention to how they look and feel. It’s also important to pay attention to factors like how your clothes are fitting and which belt hole you’re using. Muscle is more dense than fat, therefore 1 pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat.
Since it’s excess body fat that can a negative effect on physical health, that is really the number we’re focused on. In fact, I recommend getting body fat measured occasionally by a professional so you can really track progress.
If you’re following the keto diet and not losing weight, get back to the basics—watch your portion sizes, eat your veggies, get enough sleep, and check your belt. You may then get the results that you’re after!