You’ve cut out bread, loaded up on avo and become a pro at calculating carbs. But despite the big effort, the results are small. If your low carb weight loss diet isn’t working or you’ve just plateaued, there may be a simple solution.
Does a low carb weight loss diet even work?
If your low carb weight loss diet doesn’t seem to be effective, there could be a very simple explanation. “The first thing to note is that not losing weight according to the scales, does not mean you aren’t progressing,” says THR1VE Founder & CEO Josh Sparks. “Scales are a pretty blunt instrument, simply measuring gross weight. They can’t differentiate between fat, muscle and water, so you could be losing fat and gaining muscle which is a fantastic result, but the scale will indicate no progress. A much better measure is simply judging your progress in the mirror, using before and after photos, or monitoring how your clothes are fitting. If you want to measure it more accurately, try a DEXA scan. This will measure body fat and muscle, so you know exactly how your body composition is improving. Finally, you should also think about progress in terms of how you feel – do you have more energy, are you more focused at work, do you feel stronger when you workout?”
However, if you feel you aren’t progressing on your low carb weight loss diet, no matter how you measure it, there’s a few common issues that could be to blame. Low carb weight loss can be easy with a few tweaks.
Your portions are wrong
“Average plate and serving sizes have grown substantially over the last few decades, as have our waistlines,” says Josh. “When designing your ideal plate, serve up a palm-sized portion of good quality protein. Then fill your plate with non-starchy veggies, like dark leafy greens, two to three palm size serves. Cook and dress with healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil and grass-fed butter. One of the best things about a low-carb or keto diet is that you generally don’t have to waste time weighing food and counting calories. However, if you aren’t making progress, you may want to track your portions and calories for a week. It is of course possible to have too much of a good thing.”
For example, a medium sized avocado is 250 calories. While healthy fats are essential, if you’re having smashed avo at lunch and dinner, you could quickly end up with over 500 calories of avocado without even noticing. This could stall your low carb weight loss diet!
You’re not eating enough vegetables
This is the only part of the plate that people generally don’t fill enough. “People often think of a low-carb diet as a very meat or protein-heavy diet. However, this is a common misconception,” says Josh. “A low-carb diet should actually be primarily plant-based, albeit non-starchy plants. So your plate should be brimming with cruciferous veggies, dark leafy greens, colourful non-starchy vegetables, with plenty of phytonutrient-rich herbs and spices to taste. Plants provide valuable micronutrients and fibre, which is essential for keeping your microbiome healthy. If you fill your plate with vegetables first, you should find that you’re eating more sensible portions naturally, without having to monitor them too closely.”
You’re eating at the wrong times
When you eat could be just as important as what you eat. “If you find your progress is stalling, intermittent fasting can help. A simple way to do this is to skip breakfast and make a normal, portion-sized lunch your first meal of the day,” says Josh. This equates to around a 16 hour fast, depending on when you finish up dinner the night before. This will reduce calories naturally, as well as allowing your body to burn stored body fat. “Human growth hormone is highest an hour or two after falling asleep and upon waking, and is a powerful fat burner. However, production of HGH is shut off in the presence of insulin, i.e. as soon as you eat. So, delaying eating in the morning maximises the window of high HGH production, tapping your stored body fat for energy right through until lunch,” says Josh. Many people eat from early in the morning till right before bed without even realising. Even if they are low-carb foods, it doesn’t give your body time to digest and reset.
You’re snacking on too many “approved” foodsThis is one of the most common mistakes on a low carb weight loss diet. It’s great to enjoy keto snacks like nuts, nut butters and cheese. However, these kinds of snacks tend to be calorie dense, so they can add up pretty quickly. Check your portion size and be wary of snacking multiple times a day. Often, hunger is just thirst in disguise. Try drinking a big cup of water, waiting 15 minutes and seeing if you’re still hungry. Also watch out for highly processed low-carb “treats” and bars. They may be low carb, but many of them are high in calories. Plus, they often are loaded with artificial additives and sweeteners which can confuse your body’s hunger signals.
For portion controlled low-carb meals, try our THR1VE Ready Meals – an solution for your low-carb weight loss diet. Our low-carb meal plan is a great place to start.