Troubleshooting Fat-Loss Stall

Rachel Lett

Head of Nutrition & Content

Nutritional ketosis is not only revered for reversing type 2 diabetes, but also for weight management. During the initial phases, weight loss is particualary dramatic when individauls lose water weight, along with fat.

However, over time, weight loss may taper off, or plateau. Our bodies are continually adapting, and you may need to adjust your diet accordingly to kick-start weight loss.

It is important to remember that nutritional ketosis (NK) and intermittent fasting (IF) support an ideal weight, which is different for everyone.

Whether you need to lose or gain weight, NK and IF will help your body achieve a happy, steady weight, that is optimal for you. Bear this in mind, as perhaps you have reached your ideal weight, and don’t need to gain or lose anymore.

Let’s also look at the difference between weight loss and fat loss. Weight loss is a reduction in body mass, which includes body fluids, muscle mass and body fat.

Fat loss, on the other hand, is a reduction of adipose tissue (fat), only. NK and IF promote fat loss, while preserving muscle mass.

It is important to maintain muscle mass for health and wellbeing; thus, fat loss is the goal, rather than weight loss.

Also remember that the rate of weight loss is different for everyone, and often men adapt to ketosis faster than women.

If you’re reading this because your partner is achieving results faster than you, please don’t feel disheartened. Understand that despite following nutritional ketosis by the book, fat loss stalls are common, but there are things that you can do to help.

This article will describe certain factors that may be contributing to your plateau, and how you can fix them.

10 tips for troubleshooting fat loss stall

1. Eating too much protein

If we consume more protein than required, excess protein will be converted into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. This increases blood glucose, and thus raises insulin, which prevents ketosis.

Keep a watchful eye on protein portion size at each meal, and be mindful of snacking on nuts 🥜 and yoghurt, which are high in protein. Food tracking will be helpful in monitoring your intake, and you can adjust accordingly.

2. Not getting enough sleep or feeling stressed

Sleep deprivation and stress can play havoc on your hormones — increasing ghrelin, insulin and cortisol, and reducing leptin. Collectively, these changes can cause you to have increased appetite, cravings and store fat.

One of the effects of stress hormones, is to increase circulating glucose for immediate use. The body converts glycogen (stored glucose), or non-carbohydrate compounds like amino acids (from muscle tissue) into glucose, for instant energy.

This is a useful physiological process that catapults us into fight or flight mode during emergency situations (like running for that bus!). On the other hand, chronic stress, which permanently elevates glucose and insulin is harmful to health, causing weight gain, and preventing ketosis.

Give yourself some time out, and practice some stress reducing techniques such as regular exercise, yoga 🧘‍♀️ or meditation. Commit to a regular routine for waking and sleeping to improve sleep quality, and try to reduce screen time before bed 🛌.

3. Eating too many calories

If you eat more calories than you expend, you will store this extra energy as fat. Intermittent fasting and nutritional ketosis promotes satiety and appetite suppression, so naturally people are in an energy deficit. However, it is important to keep a watchful eye on how many calories you consume.

Tracking food intake and exercise will help you understand your energy balance.

It’s also important to note that as your weight drops, so does your calorie intake (basal metabolic rate, BMR) — you require less energy to sustain your new mass. This is particularly important if you have lost muscle mass — muscle gain increases BMR 💪.

Tune in to your appetite, and understand real hunger from boredom or thirst. It’s ok to skip a meal — I guarantee that you’ll enjoy your next meal ten-fold, when you are ready to eat.

Remember that your macronutrient profile is a limit, not a goal. If you don’t feel hungry, and you haven’t eaten to your limit, that’s ok — you’ll be in a calorie deficit, which will promote weight loss.

4. Not fasting for long enough, or eating too frequently ⏰

In the fed state, the body uses digested food as a primary energy source, and consequently prevents fat liberation from energy stores. Eating too frequently or for a long period of time will promote fat storage.

Condensing your eating window between 8–4 hours, and only eating 2–3 meals is an effective way to reduce body fat, and maintain muscle mass. This type of eating is called intermittent fasting.

5. Eating too much dairy, nuts or fruit 🍒

When people omit dairy, nuts or fruit (speaking of berries, other fruit should already be omitted), their weight often drops. This may be due to a food intolerance, or too many calories, carbohydrates and protein from snacking.

A splash of cream in each coffee, or nibbling on cheese, nuts and berries throughout the day can significantly contribute to your daily macronutrient and calorie limit. Not to mention, that they’re very moreish and easy to overeat when you’re not hungry.

By process of elimination, remove or limit one of these products for at least 2 weeks, at a time, and observe fat loss. It is easy to overeat these foods without realising, so keep track with a food log 📝.

6. Incorporate exercise or change your exercise routine

Incorporating more exercise into your daily life is a great way to reduce stress (which is always a good thing!), and enhance fat burning.

Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the type and frequency of exercise. Endurance training, like long distance running 🏃‍♂️, or training too frequently can promote stress.

As described above, stress can adversely effect health and promote fat storage. Choose low impact exercise like weight training 🏋️‍♀️and HIIT, which enhance muscle mass and promote fat loss.

More muscle means improved insulin sensitivity, increased resting metabolic rate, and enhanced fat burning.

7. Use other measurements for progress, instead of scales.

As we discussed earlier, fat loss is more important than weight loss. Weight is easily influenced by muscle gain, water retention and even menstruation, for women — weight is not a true reflection of fat loss.

Rather than using scales, evalutate your fat loss through other measurements like photos, body measurements 📏 and notice how your clothes fit. These are accurate markers for progress and health.

8. Check blood ketones and glucose levels

You might be following nutritional ketosis by the book, but until you check your blood glucose and ketones, you won’t really know for certain if you’re in ketosis, and burning fat. Optimal range of ketones is between 0.5–3mmol/L.

Some people are fine with all foods on the nutrtional ketosis list, and may even be able to eat higher carbohydrate. While others, are more sensitive. Monitoring blood glucose and ketones is the best way to figure out youroptimal diet, which promotes ketosis and stabilises blood sugars.

9. Avoid alcohol 🍷

Low-carb, alcohol consumption won’t necessarily kick you out of ketosis, but it will stall weight loss. This is because the body uses alcohol for energy, over food consumed, or energy stores.

Also, keep in mind that alcohol consumption can affect your appetite and hunger, causing you to overeat, or eat the wrong foods. If you have reached a plateau, it is best to completely abstain from alcohol. If this is not feasible, choose low-carb alcohol in limited amount.

10. Avoid or limit artificial sweeteners

We recommend you remove artificial sweeteners (even natural ones) from you diet.‘ Feeding’ the sweet tooth can increase appetite and cause cravings. Instead, we encourage you to adjust your palate and find enjoyment in savoury food.

Our understanding of the health effect of ‘natural’ sweeteners (like stevia, erythritol and monk fruit) is limited at this time. We know that synthetic artificial sweeteners have an adverse effect on health, modulate the gut microbiome, and effect hormones, so why take the risk? Alternatively, enjoy the natural sweetness of real food — in time you’ll think there’s nothing sweeter than ox cheek!

Persist and stick with it

In essence, weight is hormonally regulated. If you’re following a well formulated diet, which is nutrient dense and promotes nutritional ketosis, then you’re on the right track to balancing and restoring these hormones.

Yes, fat-loss stall is incredibly frustrating, but with a few adjustments you will see improvements.

The bottom line is that you are feeling well. Fat loss will be an extension of this, that may need some time to show. Fat gain didn’t happen over night, and it will take time for your body to heal.

Span are always here to help you find a solution and adjust your plan, so don’t hesitate to get in touch! We will work through it together!

Like what you’re hearing?

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks to help you with your health journey.

If you’re interested in joining Span, download our mobile app on www.span.health or contact us at team@span.health to learn more.

Ciao 🙌🏽
Rachel

I’m sure you’re curious about the science behind all this 🔬 Here are some recent medical publications about this topic:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6363527/
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190318084153.htm
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13668-018-0235-0
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/90/3/519/4597025
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378398/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2858344/
https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-016-1044-0