Low carb diets are all the rage these days, from Atkins to keto and everything in-between.
The idea of lowering carb intake and increasing fat while keeping protein at a healthy balance has many people excited about weight loss and for very good reasons.
Both anecdotal and scientific evidence shows a strong correlation between reducing carb intake while increasing fat intake and weight loss.
Over the past two decades, entire diet cultures and industries have evolved from the low carb, high fat ethos.
You might want to try it, or maybe you already have and have reaped the benefits.
But what if you have tried it and are not seeing any improvements? Or maybe, you saw some initial improvements and have now hit a wall, a plateau so-to-speak.
In order to understand what could be going wrong, let’s figure out how low carb, high-fat diets such as keto work towards reducing overall body fat.
Low carb diets function by making your body burn more fat and fewer carbs by limiting available glucose and glycogen and increasing the amount of fat available.
This causes the body to focus on its internal fat stores for metabolic fuel.
“But if I’m eating more fat won’t my body just use what I’m eating and not what I have stored?” you may be wondering.
Well, another effect of going low carb is the fact that your insulin response is no longer as active.
One of the effects of insulin is to signal your cells to store more fat.
So the combination of less stored fat and fewer carbs to use for energy leads to more fat being burned.
That is the very basic description of how low carb, high-fat diets work.
So what could be the problem when they stop working?
That’s what we’re going to look at in this article, hopefully, we can help you discover a way to beat your low-carb plateau.
Right away, the first thing you need to know about losing weight is that energy balance is the main influence.
Energy balance means calories in vs calories out.
A negative energy balance or caloric surplus where you take in fewer calories than you burn off is the ideal state for losing weight.
So no matter how low your carbs are or how high your fat intake is, if your calorie intake is higher than your expenditure, you won’t lose any weight.
Your energy balance, which we’ve just touched on, is heavily linked to your level of physical activity.
Just as it is important to limit your caloric intake, it’s also beneficial to increase your caloric expenditure.
If you are living a sedentary lifestyle, try up the level of activity in a day. Through exercise or just simply being on your feet more than usual.
While increasing fat intake is a necessary component of a low carb diet, you also have to take the type of fat into consideration.
Excess saturated fat and trans fats will not only impede the fat loss process, but they will also put your health at risk.
The increase in bad cholesterol, inflammation and oxidative stress placed by these fats can affect your heart, immune system, and metabolic rate negatively.
Focus on mainly poly and monounsaturated fats which are shown to be cardio-protective, have antioxidant qualities, and are promoters of fat metabolism.
Fish, nut and seed oils are your go-to sources for healthy fats.
From bad fats to hidden carbs, your low carb goals might be suffering because you’re not actually low carb at all.
Perhaps you’re eating foods that contain carbs without you even realizing it.
Many fruits and vegetables that are healthy by definition, may be rich in carbs.
Things like grains, sweet fruits, some seeds, potatoes, and other tubers are obviously carb-heavy.
There are, however, some lesser-known high carb foods you might want to avoid.
Tomatoes, onions, cashew nuts, green beans, artichokes, turnips, and squashes are examples of foods that may not typically be considered for their high carb content but are in fact quite carby.
Underlying health conditions might also be what’s limiting your ability to lose weight, even on a low carb, high fat regimen.
Thyroid issues, hormone imbalance or metabolic syndrome can all contribute to a declining metabolic function as well as a hindrance to other systems required to activate healthy fat loss.
This is, therefore, a medical issue, and the only way to know for sure is by consulting a doctor or registered dietician.
Other factors such as age and gender play a role in how well one can burn body fat, so take these into consideration too and have your low carb plan modified according to a professional’s recommendations.
Just as with any weight loss plateau, one that occurs on a low carb plan requires the same strategy, reassessment, and modification.
You have to identify what’s not working and either improve or remove it.
We suggest you do this through the guidance of a registered professional.