12 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight On A Low Carb Diet

There are many factors that go into sustainable fat loss. These factors go far beyond counting calories, macros or whether you are vegan or paleo.

The fat loss war is bigger than just the diet and exercise portion. It is about the signals you are sending to your body on all home fronts that need to be considered diet, exercise, stress, sleep, lifestyle, genetic factors and your hormonal profile are all contributors to the fat loss war. 

Many people see significant benefits in their ability to lose fat by reducing carbohydrates and sugars. It has proven to be very effective for a lot of clients I have worked with.

However just like any other piece in the health puzzle, what fits someone else and helps them attain their goals may not work for you. We are all bio-individuals and have a number of different needs and factors that make you unique, and one of  kind. A snowflake of sorts! 

The individual needs of each person reaches farther than their diet and exercise regime. Many of these individual factors need to be recognized and planned for when waging a war against body fat.

In this blog post I am going to explain the main reasons beyond lowering carbs that you are not losing weight, and what to do about it. 

Too Much Stress In Your Life

The reality for a lot of people is that a healthy diet and exercise alone are not enough to achieve the fat loss they are looking for. We live in a fast paced world packed with unnatural stress.

Our body recognizes stress as a stimulus which it responds to the same  no matter where it  comes from. Whether you are getting chased by a sabertooth tiger or getting reprimanded by your boss, the body reacts the same way.

This stressful lifestyle puts our body in a constant state of fight or flight causing the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

Chronically elevated cortisol can increase unhealthy food cravings, muscle breakdown, fat storage and makes insulin resistance much worse. Sounds like a recipe for fat gain huh ? 

The Fix: Take a step back from your life and honestly assess how much stress you deal with on a daily basis, and what stressful situations could be eliminated. Adopt a stress management technique such as meditation, journaling, walks outside and deep breathing. These simple steps could help your overall health not only weight loss.

Your Carbs Are Higher Than You Think

It is very common to underestimate how much we eat, and overestimate how much we exercise. There is also the fact that some folks are far more sensitive to carbohydrates than others, and it's going to cause them to lose or gain weight much quicker.

The leaner you are chances are pretty good you can tolerate more carbs without fat gain than someone who is very overweight. 

If your weight loss has plateaued  log your food for a day or two and put it into some sort of fitness tracker like Fitday or My Fitness Pal to see where your carbohydrate intake is and adjust to meet your goals from there. 

The Fix: If you are not a hard charging athlete and are taking in over 100-150 grams of carbohydrates per day  dial back on carbs until fat loss begins again. To enter nutritional ketosis where many find accelerated fat loss go for 50 grams of carbohydrates from vegetables,  berries and other lower glycemic load foods or fruits.

You Need To Move More Throughout The Day

The caloric deficit we create daily with exercise is fairly small, and can become caloric excess with a snack or extra helping of food.

You should not be exercising to burn calories, but instead because mentally and physically there are many benefits.With exercise you will be able to create a better metabolic environment, build muscle and improve your mood and feeling of well being.

Not all exercise has to be a sweat drenched high intensity trip to the gym, aim for three to five hours per week of low level physical activity like walking or hiking.

Lift weights to build muscle mass which in turn improves your hormonal profile and helps to burn body fat in the long run. Use some short interval training or sprints as your cardio, it will boost growth hormone and can help to oxidize (burn) fat long after you are done.

The Fix: Incorporate 3-5 hours of low level walking and hiking along with 3-4 bouts of strength training per week. If you really want to make a push to burn extra fat include a sprint session or two. 

You Need More Sleep

Not getting enough sleep causes people to feel hungrier , have less willpower , blood sugar dysregulation, decreased performance in the gym, difficulty losing body fat/ building muscle and can negatively impact your hormones.

Lack of sleep is a stress on the body that can wreak havoc on our health, especially when trying to perform at an optimal level daily. 

Not getting enough sleep causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is efficient at helping us store body fat. To add fuel to the fire, our largest release of the  muscle building/ fat burning hormone (growth hormone) takes place while we are in the deepest stage of sleep.

Sleep is not negotiable, and is required for health. your results in the gym, work and life will suffer if you don’t get between 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night consistently.

The Fix: Get to bed before 11:00 and shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. If you have trouble falling asleep clean up your sleep hygiene and start to make a night time routine to help you wind down and get to bed earlier. If you need tips for helping to improve your sleep refer to my earlier blog post “ 10 Ways To Improve Your Sleep”

You Are Eating Too Many Calories

Low carb is an effective strategy for a lot of people, but at the end of the day when you are trying to lose fat calories do matter.

What makes a low carb diet so effective is that it reduces the appetite and naturally makes people consume less calories.

If your fat loss has stalled but you are doing everything else right, look at how many calories you are taking in on a daily basis.

Be aware though that all calories are not created equal, and have different hormonal effects on the body because of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they contain or lack.

As you approach your ideal body composition the small details become a larger part of the picture. 

The Fix: Take a look at some of the more calorically dense foods in low carb diets like nuts, nut butters and cheese that people can go overboard with ,and reduce consumption. Use a calorie tracker like My Fitness Pal or Fitday and see what your calories for three days are. When going for fat loss shoot for the range of 10-12 times body weight in calories. I am not encouraging anyone to count macros or calories long term, but just for a few days to get a realistic idea of how many calories you are taking in. 

You Are Not Eating Enough Vegetables

Many folks who adopt a low carb diet assume that they should avoid vegetables and fruits because they contain carbohydrates, but this is a big mistake.

Plants are some of the most nutrient dense foods and contain vitamins, minerals and lots of indigestible fiber that help with fat loss. The indigestible fiber you get from fruits and veggies helps you to feel fuller for longer and reduces the cravings.

Make sure to consume healthy fruits and vegetables with every meal and avoid the ‘low carb treats” and bars.

You will need to personalize your fruit intake, because some of them are higher in carbohydrates and will prevent you from entering ketosis. Fruits such as berries and other low glycemic load fruits can fit in the low carb diet because they are lower in carbs and higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The Fix: Consume 1-2 cups of low glycemic vegetables at every meal to give your body the nutrients it needs and keep you fuller for longer. Some vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates and can be enjoyed are: spinach, kale, collards, eggplant, broccoli, celery, bok choy, mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, onion, garlic.

You Are Over Consuming Dairy Products

Even though dairy is lower in carbs it does contain a good amount of protein and like carbs,  protein can be insulinogenic.

Protein much like carbohydrates when over consumed can raise insulin levels. This insulin  causes fat storage.  Even if you have no negative reactions to dairy, consuming it multiples times a day can cause extra spikes in insulin shutting down fat burning capabilities, and stalling fat loss progress.

The Fix: If fat loss has stalled reduce and eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt and cream. Because butter is very low in protein and lactose it will not spike insulin, you can also get Ghee which is butter fat with all the milk solids removed.

You Have Restricted Calories For Too Long

Being in a calorie deficit for too long can create some problems with the metabolism and can slow weight loss. When in a caloric deficit for too long it will slow down the metabolism.

The body is very intelligent and realizes that less food is coming in and in response it becomes more efficient by slowing the rate at which we burn calories to prevent starvation.

To prevent the metabolism slowing down people will purposely spike calories from healthy foods, especially from carbohydrates once a week. This weekly spike in calories sends the signal to the body that we are not starving and to  keep the metabolism humming along.

The Fix: If you have kept your calories and carbohydrates restricted for a long period of time and fat loss has stalled you may want to consider picking a meal or day once a week and  eat higher calories especially from carbohydrates at this meal/day. These should still be healthy foods, this is not a license to crush a dozen doughnuts once a week.

You Are Putting On Muscle Mass

Don’t live and die by the scale, while it can be helpful the scale does not tell the entire story when it comes to losing weight.

When you start to incorporate a more active lifestyle with better sleep and better eating habits  an environment to put on muscle mass and improve bone density has been created.

The great thing about  gaining muscle mass is it will help with fat loss. But because muscle mass is denser than fat,  weight on the scale may stay the same or go up.

The Fix: Take greater stock in other measurements that are not related to the scale. Make sure to keep how you look, feel and perform in your mind. If you staying at the same weight but body composition is changing in the mirror for the better don’t sweat the scale.

You Are Not Being Honest With Yourself

A lot of people will tell someone that they want to lose weight, but their actions do not match what they are saying. Everyone has met the person who tells everyone at a gathering they are on a strict diet.

Twenty minutes later the same person is at the food table stuffing their face with cookies, candy and potato chips. When asked  about their “diet” they explain that they are going to restart it tomorrow.

Months later you run into the same person again and ask them how the diet  is going and they respond saying it didn’t “work” for them. I highly doubt it was that the diet didn't work. That person was not ready for the large change they attempted to take on. 

The problem is that most people are not honest with themselves about what they really want in that moment. Delaying gratification is very difficult and can take years of practice.  

There should never be any shame or guilt around food choices, just consequences. If you value eating four cookies every day more than fat loss or getting healthier that is your personal choice, no judgement. However don’t tell people you don’t know why you can’t lose that last ten pounds.

The Fix: Be completely honest about what you value in your life and why that is important to you. Do not beat yourself up over slip ups. Instead recognize in that moment you valued what you chose over the delayed gratification of staying on course. The beauty is that next time you have the opportunity to make a better choice. 

You Are Eating Processed Low Carb Foods, Not Real Foods

There are plenty of low carb bars and processed foods that can be found in the grocery store. Low carb does not always mean it is a healthy option.

When adopting a new style of eating you have to be aware of the buzzwords that the food industry will use to sell you products.

When switching to a lower carb diet replace those carbs with whole nutrient dense food that comes from nature such as fish, meat, eggs, vegetables and healthy fats.

When reducing carbs it is very important to eat more fats. You are taking one energy nutrient away in the form of carbohydrates, and need to replace it with fats for energy. If you try to go low carb and low fat at the same time you will be starving all the time and feel horrible.

The Fix: Eat nutrient dense whole foods that come from nature such as meats, vegetables, fish, fruits, eggs, nuts, seeds and healthy fats such as coconut products, butter, palm oil, avocados and olives and olive oil.

You Are Impatient

One healthy meal will not make you lean, just like one unhealthy meal is not the cause of weight gain. Changing your lifestyle and staying consistent is the key to the battle against fat loss.

Some people are able to lose fat very quickly while others will lose fat slower. If you are someone who loses fat slowly don’t jump ship after a month saying it didn’t work, you need to be patient and adopt a new lifestyle that includes sleep, exercise, stress management and healthy eating. Diets fail but lifestyle changes do not. 

Adopting new habits can be very intimidating and difficult for people. I like the example of the mountain that is made up of pebbles.

The mountain is the persons goal and the pebbles are small habits that will get them to their goal. Most people want to move the entire mountain on the first day, but quickly get discouraged when the mountain doesn't budge.

What works better is to move a pebble a day, and over time you will move that mountain, but one pebble at a time. Small habits add up to big changes and goals being met. 

The Fix: Be patient and know that it will take time, if you stay patient and stick to the plan the reward of that consistency will be looking, feel and performing your daily tasks better. Given a long enough time to make these changes you can lose weight, but not everyone will look like a fitness model with just these tips. Be honest and realistic with yourself about your habits, and learn to love the process.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


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Why Do We Need Protein ?


There is a lot of debate in the nutrition world about  the importance of carbohydrates and fats in the diet, people go to great extents to avoid both.

There is a general agreement by everyone that protein is necessary though. When it comes to losing fat and building muscle the general recommendation is  to eat more protein, and it is a generally helpful strategy.

How much should we be consuming daily is another question with a lot of different opinions and recommendations.

With this post I am going further than the typical “build muscle and burn fat” by upping your protein intake explanation.

The goal is to look into role that protein plays in a healthy diet and what we gain besides bigger muscles and flatter stomachs by consuming adequate amounts.

Protein: The Macronutrient Golden Boy

Before we start the nitty gritty of protein, lets lay down some background on what protein is and how it works in the body.

Protein along with fats and carbohydrates  are macronutrients meaning that they are needed by the body in larger amounts. I would also throw water in this category because it is truly essential to our bodies.

Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients meaning that they are needed in smaller quantities than the macronutrients. Both macronutrients and micronutrients are essential, but macronutrients are needed in larger amounts.

Protein is found in the largest concentration in many animal products such as beef, chicken, eggs and dairy. It can be found in much smaller concentrations in other foods such as vegetables, nuts/seeds and fruit.

All proteins are made up of twenty different amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.When we consume proteins they are broken down into amino acids and polypeptides.

When we break down these proteins to amino acids and polypeptides they are absorbed through the small intestine and enter the bloodstream to be transported and formed into new proteins and used around the body for various purposes.

Jobs Of Protein

These newly formed  proteins make up organs, nerves,  bones, muscles, nails, hair and flesh, but are also pivotal ingredients in enzymes, hemoglobin, hormones and antibodies as well.  

Enzymes: Protein molecules that are the managers and stimulus for all biochemical reactions in the body.

Hemoglobin: specially designed red blood cells that deliver oxygen around the body

Hormones: protein molecules that are messengers and coordinate our metabolism, and almost every function in our body.

Antibodies: proteins that are used in the immune system to help us fight infections and other diseases.

Now we know that protein is largely responsible for much more than just tissue regrowth and repair, lets look at what the building blocks of protein amino acids contribute to in the body.

Amino acids are responsible for neurotransmitters, hormones, muscles (your heart is a muscle ), digestion and transport of nutrients between cells.

Essential Vs. Non Essential

All proteins we consume  are a combination of twenty amino acids, think building blocks linked together. Of these twenty amino acids our body can  produce eleven of them on its own making them non essential.

The other nine amino acids the body can not produce and must be obtained from the diet, which makes them essential amino acids.

For muscle tissue, organ and bone repair to happen the nine essential amino acids have to be  provided from complete sources of protein in the diet.

Complete protein containing the ten essential amino acids is is mandatory for optimal health.We require a certain amount of protein and amino acids because they have so many important roles in the body.

Quality Over Quantity  

There are other factors to consider when consuming protein that go beyond how many grams you are consuming. When it comes to protein there are three criteria that help determine the quality of a protein.

  • Amino Acid Profile: Complete proteins are important because they contain all the essential amino acids that our body cannot manufacture. Incomplete proteins lack one or more of the essential amino acids. Without the presence of all the necessary amino acids, protein synthesis (cells generating new proteins) comes to a stop.

 

  • Bioavailability: The protein content doesn’t matter if you cannot properly digest and absorb proteins. Anti nutrients commonly found in grains, soy, legumes and brown rice  prevent you adequately breaking down and absorbing the protein by as much as fifty percent (Note: If you are willing to soak and sprout legumes some of the anti nutrient effect can be mitigated)

 

  • Toxicity: Some proteins are more likely to trigger an immune or allergic reaction. All true allergies are actually an immune response to a protein.

The foods that meet the above criteria and contain the largest concentration of complete proteins  are going to be from animal sources in the form of seafood, chicken, red meat , eggs and dairy for those who tolerate it.

Trying to Fill The Gap

There are other sources of protein that compare to animal products in terms of overall  grams, but when using the criteria above fall short.

Take for example grains and legumes, they seem to have a good amount of protein, yet they lack the complete amino acid profile and have poor bioavailability due to anti-nutrients that prevent digestion.

Combining foods such as rice and beans is a better option than separately consuming them, but they still fall short on the amino acid profile.

To get adequate protein from a rice and beans combination you will need to consume large amounts. The problem with this strategy is you will get more starch than protein causing blood sugar surges and fat storage in the long term.

Because of the indigestible fiber some folks with compromised digestion don’t tolerate large quantities of legumes in the diet.

I think variety is necessary, and both plant and animal proteins are important to health. We should strive to get protein from both animal and plant sources. 

Protein Recycling  

Not all the proteins in your body have come from what you've eaten today, or even this week. Because the body is such an efficient machine we have a built in protein recycling mechanism.

We use old proteins that aren’t in demand anymore to help build new proteins that the body has a demand for. Some of the amino acids that are in your muscles could have once been a digestive enzyme or a part of another muscle in the body that was recycled, such as the heart.

Your Context To Consider

This is where the plot only gets  thicker, there are too many considerations and factors that go into giving a blanket statement or recommendation of how much protein to consume.

Lets take a look at some of the considerations that should shape your protein consumption:

  • Goals: What you are trying to accomplish will shape your protein needs. If you are trying to recover from intense exercise and gain muscle mass your protein needs will be higher than someone who is obese and sedentary looking to lose weight.
     

  • Activity Levels: Someone who works in a manual labor job for eight hours a day or an elite athlete will have different protein needs than an office worker who spends all day sitting at a desk.
     

  • Genetics: We are all bio individuals with a unique fingerprint and genes. Our genetics  will determine how we metabolize and react to certain foods that we eat.
     

  • Health: The body has different needs in different physiological states. A pregnant woman woman compared to a person with  thyroid problems will both have different needs based on their health. Just like someone who already has kidney damage probably should not embark on a high protein diet, while an elite athlete might benefit from a high protein diet.
     

  • Climate/Season: During different seasons of the year we crave different foods. We also have different foods available based on the season and region  that you are living in.


The above factors need to be considered when thinking about the protein level that will be appropriate for you.That being said there are a few different ways to calculate the amount of protein you should aim to get daily.

Play With The Numbers  

There are no hard and fast recommendations that are accepted across the board by everyone. These ways of calculating protein intake do have wide margins and a number of factors to consider.

Chances are the best way for you to find your personal protein need is to play around with these numbers and see how you look, feel and perform with more or less protein in your diet.

  • The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) set by The Institute of Medicine says based on lean body mass and the number of calories you are eating protein should make up 10%-35% of your diet. This range does leave lots of room for variables, but no real way to determine where you fall on that range.
     

  • 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight or 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight per day.This is a good range for those that are sedentary or not interested in gaining muscle mass, and at no health risk of health issues threatening lean body mass.
     

  • Those who are highly active and looking to retain or build muscle mass  benefit from more protein in the diet . 0.9-1.3 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day for these highly active individuals would be appropriate.
     

  • Elite athletes or bodybuilders can go even higher consuming 1.5 grams +  of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day to meet their needs for exercise and recovery.
     

  • Dieters or those looking to lose fat will need to be in a caloric deficit to accomplish this. Those  looking for fat loss would do better to consume more protein. The range appropriate for this is from 0.7 -1.0 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

Protein is vitally important to our skin, nails, bones, hair, muscle mass, hormone production, neurotransmitters and overall health.

We are made up of over fifty thousand different proteins that contribute to our structure from head to toe, and everything in between. What is still up in the air is the recommendation of how much protein to consume.

Something to keep in mind is to not force consumption of protein. There are going to be days where you crave less protein because you need less, and days where you crave more.

We have built in mechanisms that regulate our craving for protein based on our needs. Let your cravings guide how much you will eat. Be smart about it and listen to your body.

I have yet to see a formula that accounts for the complexity of the human body and takes all the necessary factors into consideration.

The above recommendations are a good place to start, but not a strict recommendation. As always, experiment and  tweak how much protein you’re consuming based on whether you are reaching your goals or not.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


Name *
Name
Phone *
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