If you’ve ever tried to lose a significant amount of body fat, you’ve likely experienced a stall or a plateau. For the sake of this articles, I’m going to use the term “stall” to mean nothing to do with the scale, because scales are for suckers (and they’re horrible measure of any sort of success…ditch the scale). Instead, when I’m talking about a stall, I’m talking about a period of time when your clothes are not getting looser. Pants, shirts, heck, even shoes. As you lose body fat, the stuff you put on your outside should fit differently.
But sometimes your clothes don’t cooperate. Sometimes you go through periods where your clothes fit just as tight as before. That, my friend, is a stall.
And it’s frustrating. Of course, a lot of the frustration has to do with the expectations you place upon yourself and your progress (that’s a whole separate article), but suffice it to say that the frustration is real.
So what can you do to overcome or break a stall? In general, here’s a list of possible things.
- Cut out dairy
- Cut out nuts
- Intermittent Fasting
- Increase fat
- Decrease protein
- Lift heavy
A lot of people have trouble digesting dairy. The kicker is, many of them don’t even know that they have the problem. But, whether you have a dairy issue or not, eliminating dairy is a simple and easy way to break a stall. Lots of people say they could never give up cheese, but the reality of the situation is: If giving up cheese (even temporarily) is a way to get back on track to achieving your goals, then the cheese has to go. No excuses. Not negotiable. Sure, cheese and cream are great, fatty, keto-friendly foods, but they are not more important than your goals. So try cutting out dairy for a few weeks and see how your clothes start to fit differently.
Lots of nuts are very high in fat (I’m looking at you…you gorgeous macadamia nut). But the problem with nuts is that many of them are also high in carbs. Cashews and pistachios are especially problematic. Because they’re delicious. And addictive.
But they might be the reason your body isn’t letting go of the fat. So cut out the nuts and see how that helps.
One of the great things about keto is that intermittent fasting (IF) is “baked in.” What’s intermittent fasting? It’s a situation where you are designate a brief period of time during the day to eat. Any time before or after that time is spent NOT eating. So, for example, if you do a 16/8 fast, that means you spend 16 hours of the day fasting (not eating anything) and you give yourself an 8 hour block of time, during which you can eat all the keto food you want. It’s simple, really. And there are lots and lots of different kinds of schedules.
The point of IF, though, isn’t to starve yourself, but to get tuned to your body and to recognize when you’re actually hungry. Eating when you’re bored, tired, or emotional is a great way to stall out. So you can try IF and see how that helps.
This one might seem counter-intuitive. But I can speak from experience that this works. When you increase fat intake, you do much to shut down your appetite. Higher amounts of fats trigger higher levels of leptin, which is your “I’m full” hormone. Higher levels of leptin leave you satisfied longer. So you are able to keep a high level of energy, but you are not forcing your body to cling to its fat stores (that is what your body absolutely WANTS to do…everyday). How much should you increase your fat? Well, that depends on you. You have to try a little experiment and see how it goes for you. Remember, that’s part of the fun of it, figuring out how you operate. I’d start with a moderate increase in one meal (the first meal of the day) and see how it goes from there. You just might find that an increase in fat in that one meal will carry you over much longer than before.
Protein is always controversial. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s demand-based. Blah, blah, blah. Listen, protein cannot be digested. Period. It has to be broken down to composite amino acids, and those amino acids are then used to build and repair soft tissue, or they are converted to carbs. That’s it. Those are the two options. So, if your body isn’t demanding all the protein you’re supplying, it’s getting turned to carbs (sugar). And that sugar is going to go somewhere…wanna guess where? It ain’t Vegas, that’s for sure. So try to decrease your protein a bit and see if that helps.
This is the non-dietary one. It’s also, probably, the most important one. Look, I don’t care who you are, what you look like, or how athletic you are, lifting heavy will help you. There’s just no two ways about it. Everyone can benefit from lifting heavy, and the changes it creates in your hormones and biochemical regulators is entirely beneficial. Studies by Phinney and Volek have shown that heaving lifing, combined with keto, is a sure-fire way to change your physique into something you like.
Of course, as I’ve said and written many times, lifting heavy is relative. Start where you are, challenge yourself, and get after it. You’ll stronger and awesomer for it.
Let’s face it, sometimes there’s nothing you can do. Sometimes you’ve tried everything and nothing works. Sometimes your body just needs time to adjust. You have to be patient and trust the process. I didn’t go to bed one night with 12% body fat and wake up the next morning with 28% body fat. It happened over time. It was gradual. And it’s going to take time to get it fixed. So, please, be patient.
It’s important to understand that this is a general list, and should not be taken as an absolute answer to every single person. Everyone is different, and some people will need combinations of things, or something completely different. Part of the fun of keto is the experimentation in figuring how you tick.
If you’re interested in an awesome Facebook group, feel free to join Ketogenic Success. All the cool kids are doing it.