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Home » OSL Blog » How to Break Keto Plateau and Maximize Fat Burning

How to Break Keto Plateau and Maximize Fat Burning

July 3, 2019

Hit a keto plateau? Don’t fret. Despite your best efforts, weight loss plateaus are inevitable. The worst part is that they can last for weeks or even months. 

It’s easy to feel discouraged when your weight loss stalls. You eat clean and train hard, but the needle on the scale doesn’t move. But don’t give up yet. Almost every dieter eventually hits a wall. 

Common keto mistakes, such as eating too much protein and too little fat, can stall your progress and make weight loss difficult. Obsessing over the scale is just as bad. 

Bathroom scales don’t tell the whole story. Fluid retention, for example, can cause the scale the go up, but it doesn’t mean you’ve gained fat. 

Don’t let the dreaded keto plateau stop you from reaching your fitness and weight loss goals! From cutting back on keto treats to fasting, there are ways to break through plateaus. If you give up now, you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

Understand How the Keto Diet Works 

The keto diet has emerged as one of the best ways to torch fat and keep the pounds off. Bodybuilding pros and fitness competitors swear by it for a lean, muscular body. 

Classic Physique superstar Breon Ansley, for example, follows a low-carb, high-fat diet year diet — and switches to keto for three or four weeks before competing. 

Breon Ansley
Breon Ansley, a competitive bodybuilder, follows a low-carb high-fat diet.

This diet plan switches your metabolism from burning glucose to using ketone bodies as a source of energy. The key is to get your macros right. 

A typical ketogenic diet requires the following macronutrient ratios:

  • 5-10% carbs
  • 30-35% protein
  • 55-60% fat
keto foods
A keto diet focuses on good quality fats & 5-10% carbohydrates.

Protein boasts 4 calories per gram. The same goes for carbs. Fat, on the other hand, supplies 9 calories per gram. To lose fat, it’s necessary to determine your daily calorie intake and then calculate your macros. 

Limiting Carbs

In general, limiting carbs to 20-50 grams per day is enough to triggers ketosis, a metabolic state that causes your body to burn fat and keto bodies for fuel. Some dieters, though, need to go below 20 grams of carbs a day to enter ketosis. 

Ketone bodies, which are produced by your liver while in ketosis, produce more energy than glucose. When their levels reach about 4 mmol/L, the central nervous system can use them for fuel. You’ll not only experience greater energy but also feel less hungry because dietary fat suppresses appetite. 

Ketones are produced by the liver & they provide more energy than glucose.

Clinical evidence confirms that ketogenic diets promote fat loss and aid in weight management. A research paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows clearly that very-low-carb ketogenic diets (VLCKD) are more effective than low-fat diets for long-term weight loss. 

Why You’re Not Losing Weight on the Keto Diet

What makes the keto diet so appealing is the fact that it provides quick results. Don’t be surprised if you drop 10 pounds or more in the first week! 

However, weight loss isn’t the same as fat loss. You’ll most likely lose water weight during your first week on keto. That’s largely due to carb restriction. 

weight scale
Quick weight loss is one of the pros of a keto diet.

After ingestion, carbs are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Some are used as an energy source. The excess is converted to fatty acids and stored as adipose tissue. 

Each gram of glycogen holds at least three grams of water, according to a 2015 study featured in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. That’s why high-carb foods, such as pasta, rice, or cookies, make you feel bloated and heavy. 

Have you ever woken up with a puffy face and swollen eyelids the day after eating lasagna for dinner? A high sodium intake could be the culprit, but carbs only make things worse. 

On keto, restricting carbohydrates leads to the loss of excess water.

When you’re on the keto diet, your carb intake drops below 30-50 grams per day. Naturally, you’ll lose excess water and look leaner overall. The number on the scale will go down too. If you stick to your diet, you’ll begin to lose fat. 

There’s no way to predict how quickly you’ll achieve the desired weight. Expect your weight loss to slow down a bit or even stall over the next few weeks, which is perfectly normal. However, if this phase lasts too long, you’re probably doing something wrong. 

Common Keto Mistakes That Can Lead to Weight Loss Plateaus

The keto diet looks pretty simple at first sight. Cut down on carbs, load up on fats, and avoid hidden sugars. It’s not necessary to cook fancy meals or follow complicated guidelines. 

Like everything else, this diet plan comes with its challenges. You’re going to make mistakes and hit a weight loss plateau. A high protein intake, for example, can throw you out of ketosis. If you eat too much protein, your body will use it for fuel instead of burning fat. 

Let’s take a look at the most common keto mistakes and how to fix them so that you can start seeing results. 

1. Mistake No. 1: Skimping on Fat

Eat fat to burn fat. Does it sound familiar? Contrary to popular belief, dietary fat isn’t the villain in your diet. In fact, it can streamline your weight loss efforts and keep your appetite in check. 

It is vital to consume good quality fats, like avocados, at a 55-60% out of your daily calories.

A 24-week study published in Experimental and Clinical Cardiology confirms these facts. 

Obese subjects went on a ketogenic diet consisting of one gram of protein per pound of body weight and 30 grams of carbs. The rest of their calories came from saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats. By the end of the study, they experienced a major reduction in weight, body mass index, and blood sugar levels.

Surprisingly, the keto diet improved their blood lipids too. Their triglycerides decreased from 2.75 mmol/L to 1.09 mmol/L in just six months. At the same time, their HDL cholesterol increased and LDL cholesterol levels dropped. Furthermore, this eating pattern has been shown to stabilize the mood and improve brain function. 

BMJ Open Study

Another study, which was published in the BMJ Open in 2018, showed that a well-planned low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet provides all of the vitamins and minerals needed for optimum health. 

This eating pattern not only promotes fat loss but may also boost cardiovascular health and protect against diabetes. In the long run, it may improve insulin response and glycemic control. 

As you see, fat isn’t the enemy. Just make sure you avoid trans fats, which cause plaque buildup in the arteries and increase heart disease risk. 

A high fat intake combined with carbohydrate restriction will stimulate the release of ketone bodies and put your body into fat burning mode. Plus, you’ll finally bust the dreaded keto plateau! 

Healthy Fats

Not all fats are created equal, though. To break a plateau, fill up on healthy keto fats like:

  • Coconut oil
  • MCT oil
  • Olive oil and olives
  • Butter and ghee
  • Avocado
  • Nuts (in moderation)
  • Unsweetened nut and seed butters
  • Hemp seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Fatty fish
  • Whole eggs
olive oil
Breaking a plateau on a keto diet requires increasing good quality fat intake like olive oil.

Avocado, for example, provides 19.9 grams of fat per serving. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds boast more than 14 grams of fat, while cacao nibs deliver 12 grams of heart-healthy fats per ounce. The latter makes a great substitute for chocolate and will satisfy your sweet tooth. 

2. Mistake No. 2: Eating Too Much Protein 

One of the most common keto mistakes is eating too much protein. Sure, you need this nutrient to build mass and strength, but try not to go overboard. 

The ketogenic diet is high in fats, moderate in protein, and low in carbs. Protein aids in weight loss due to its ability to suppress appetite and reduce muscle breakdown. It also exhibits a high thermogenic effect, causing your body to burn more calories. When combined with strength training, it promotes hypertrophy and balances your hormones, which further increases fat loss. 

The downside is that when you eat too much protein, the excess will be used for fuel. This can kick you out of ketosis and prevent your body from burning stored fat. 

Eating to much protein to support your bodybuilding goals can result in a keto plateau.

One way to prevent plateaus is to keep your protein intake between 0.7 and 0.9 grams per pound of body weight. A 200-pound man, for example, should aim for 140 to 180 grams of protein per day. 

Keep a food journal to track your macros. Make a list of foods you eat on a regular basis and then plan your meals accordingly. 

Meat, fish, and eggs are not the only sources of protein. Vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain small amounts of protein too, so take them into account when tracking your macros. 

3. Mistake No.3: Not Paying Attention to Your Calorie Intake  

Ketogenic diets emphasize macros, not calories. Their macronutrient composition inhibits hunger, leading to a decrease in food intake. Basically, dietary fat will keep you full longer and suppress appetite, making it easier to create a calorie deficit. 

But not everyone experiences these appetite-suppressing effects, which can result in overeating. If you take in more calories than you burn, the pounds will add up. 

calorie counting
Make sure you are aware of your daily calorie needs relevant to your goals.

While it’s not necessary to count calories on the keto diet, you should have a rough estimate of your energy intake. If you hit a plateau, cut back on keto snacks and other “extras” that add up to your calorie count. Fat bombs (what are “fat bombs”?), almonds, walnuts, and dairy foods are just a few examples. 

Appetite Out of Control? How to with Hunger and Cravings

Feeling hungry or craving carbs? You can satisfy your hunger and cravings without eating more. The Real Keto Fat Burner from Old School Labs is the answer. 

real keto fat burner
OSL’s Real keto fat burner increases fat burning and curbs cravings.

Our latest formula contains a synergistic “super-stack” of lipotropics that will kick start your metabolism and help you break through plateaus. It not only increases fat burning but also curbs cravings and improves appetite control. 

Lipotropics in real keto fat burner will help you feel satisfied & full for longer.

You’ve probably heard that MCTs and exogenous ketones suppress hunger and aid in fat loss. These supplements, though, aren’t really necessary. 

First of all, they add extra calories to your diet — that’s the last thing you need when you’re struggling with a keto plateau. Plus, your body burns fat and produces ketones on its own. 

MCt oil
Although MCTs and exogenous ketones suppress hunger, they aren’t necessary on keto.

The Real Keto Fat Burner contains none of these compounds. Instead, it supplies lipotropics that keep your metabolism up.

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and DL-phenylalanine, two of its active ingredients, balance the hormones that regulate your mood. As a result, you’ll have better control over your eating habits. 

What Research Studies Show

Research shows that 5-HTP helps increase satiety and reduces food intake by counteracting hunger-inducing hormones. This natural compound, which is a precursor of serotonin, suppresses the urge to eat carbs and may prevent emotional eating associated with stress.

DL-phenylalanine, another key ingredient in the Real Keto Fat Burner, exhibits antidepressant and appetite-suppressing properties. This amino acid supports the production of dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and other brain chemicals that regulate your mood. It influences your creativity, alertness, emotions, and mental focus. 

Low phenylalanine levels affect the release of dopamine, which in turn, may increase appetite and food intake. Dieting further affects dopamine production, causing you to eat more. With the help of DL-phenylalanine, you’ll find it easier to stick to your diet and feel less hungry throughout the day.

4. Mistake No. 4: Not Getting Enough Sleep 

Now that you know how to control your appetite, let’s return to the most common keto mistakes. What you eat isn’t the only factor that impacts your weight loss efforts. Sleep deprivation is often the culprit behind plateaus. 

sleep deprived
Sleep deprivation is a symptom of the keto flu & it increases stress hormones.

Most dieters experience insomnia and flu-like symptoms before ketosis kicks in. Lack of sleep increases the stress hormone cortisol levels, which can slow down your metabolism in the long run. Elevated cortisol causes higher insulin levels, leading to hunger and cravings. At the same time, your testosterone levels drop, putting you at risk for weight gain. 

To keep it simple, sleep deprivation raises cortisol levels, which in turn, affects testosterone and insulin production. This causes you to crave sugary and fatty foods, messes up your hormones, and promotes weight gain. 

Your sleep may suffer during the first few weeks of dieting. That’s why many folks hit a plateau when they least expect it. 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Real Keto Fat Burner contains 5-HTP

5-HTP counters hungry induced hormones, increases satiety, & improves sleep.

This compound stimulates the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood and sleep-wake cycles. It also increases the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps maintain your body’s circadian (daily) rhythms. Melatonin supplements have been shown to improve the quality of sleep and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. 

5-HTP also reduces stress and anxiety levels, helping you relax before bedtime. Some studies suggest that it may also relieve pain, migraines, and headaches. All of these factors contribute to a better night’s sleep.

Break the Dreaded Keto Plateau with These Hacks 

By now, you should have a better idea of how to prevent and break the dreaded keto plateau. That’s not all, though. There are a couple of other things you can do to get faster results and ignite fat loss.

Let’s take the keto egg fast, for example. 

As you probably know, fasting involves abstaining from food or limiting food consumption. An egg fast is a little bit more complicated, but it’s worth the effort. 

Diet Plan

This dietary plan encourages the consumption of eggs and healthy fats over a period of three to five days. The purpose of an egg fast is to help you achieve ketosis and break through weight loss plateaus. 

You can only eat whole eggs, full-fat cheese, and butter or another source of fat. Feel free to drink up to three cans of diet soda daily. The rules are as follows:

  • Eat whole eggs (at least six a day) every three to five hours 
  • Consume a whole egg within half an hour of walking up
  • Each egg should be served with one tablespoon of butter, ghee, or other fats 
  • Stop eating three hours before sleep
  • Do not skip meals
  • Consume up to one ounce of full-fat cheese per egg (optional)
sunny side up
Increase the consumption of high fat foods like eggs in your diet to avoid a keto plateau.

This dietary pattern is low in calories and provides little or no carbs. Eggs, though, are more filling than other foods and promote satiety, making it easy to eat less. 

Clinical Trial Results

A clinical trial published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition has found that eating eggs for breakfast induces greater satiety than eating bagels and other high-carb foods. Another study, which appeared in the International Journal of Obesity, states that eggs support weight loss when consumed as part of a calorie-controlled diet. 

Additionally, this fasting protocol follows the same principles as the keto diet, which further enhances its fat burning power.

If you’re not a fan of eggs, try intermittent fasting. This eating pattern alternates between periods of feeding and periods of food restriction. Clinical evidence shows that it increases fat oxidation, facilitates weight loss, and lowers the risk of chronic diseases.  

intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is another way used to counteract a keto plateau.

Have you ever hit a plateau when cutting? What did you do about it? Share your go-to strategies below!

Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
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  • Great article! I’m so glad you mentioned sleeping as a potential culprit of fat loss plateaus with any diet. Sleep is SO important and so undervalued in society. Sleep is life 🙏

  • Breaking a plateau is always rough, but its nice to have a good article that explains fats aren’t bad if they’re from good sources! Keto is something I just might have to give a try!

  • I have maintained a keto lifestyle for well over two years now. However I hit a plateau a year ago and have not been able to get past it. I have tried everything. The egg fast helped but now I am creeping back to the plateau weight. The other thing that seemed to help was lowering my protein intake. But over time I am again creeping back to my plateau weight. Can you advise me as to how to maintain the low protein intake without tremendous calorie restriction?

    • Hi Jan! Thanks for reading and for your question! We’d be happy to offer some assistance here! Would you mind letting us know how many calories per day and grams of protein per day you’re currently consuming? Feel free to use the contact form if you’d prefer to communicate through email 🙂

  • In my personal opinion, the body is adjusting its metabolism to match the food intake. I think the only real way to get over the plateau is to do weight training to increase muscle mass and increase metabolism. I am currently doing a low carb one meal a day plan (it’s keto but I am not tracking everything rigorously) with the greatly reduced eating pattern I too have hit a plateau (the same plateau as the last time when I backed off from my diet) and as much as I hate exercising that is the only think which can get me back over the plateau.

  • Hi
    I started Keto after I came back from vacation, I did lose about 10 pounds in about 5 or 6 weeks, however, I don’t seem to beyond that and it’s pretty frustrating to see no results after avoiding all the good things I like to eat

    • We’re sorry to hear that! Hopefully this article provided you with some insight on how to break through your plateau and reach your goal!

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