1. You haven’t cut back on carbs enough.
The Dietary Guidelines for America recommend 300 grams of carbs per day. Now sadly, the average person eats well over that 300 grams and that’s not doing their health any favors.
We know that going low carb can help lose weight and burn fat, but how low do you have to go? For awhile, there really weren’t any answers – just cut down. Helpful, right?
But the Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that found that staying below 100 carbs was sufficient to lose fat. But for the majority of folks, the real weight and fat loss benefit came from bing sub 50 grams per day. So if you’ve cut down on carbs but you’re not losing weight, you might need to cut down a bit more.
2. You have high chronic stress.
Stresses messes everything up, even you weight and fat loss. Cortisol, the hormone released when you’re stressed, tells your body to stop burning fat. Think about it like this – say you almost got in a wreck but you swerved at the last second. You go into the stressed out, flight or fight mode. You heart rate boosts and you’re nerves go on edge. Because your body knows you might have to make a break for it (fight or flight), it stops sending energy to the places that it doesn’t need to at that moment, like your digestion. Who cares if you can process that lunch if you might have to fight for your life right now?
When you’re chronically stressed, your body goes into a habitual flight or fight mode meaning your fat burn is stalled to pretty much nothing. At least until you bring that stress and cortisol level back down.
3. You’re eating processed “diet foods.”
Eating anything that’s packaged or processed is likely chalked full of chemicals and artificial sugars – even if it claims to be healthy or free of carbs and sugars (what’s in them anyway?).
But they can still screw with your digestion, stall your fat loss and halt your progress. Instead, stick with real food and eliminate all artificial sugars.
4. You’ve got your fat all wrong.
Cutting back on carbs means your going to have to increase your protein and fat intakes. But because dietary fat can be scary to eat when you’re trying to lose fat, too many people don’t get enough. Fats have to be eaten when you’re going low carb, but you also have to make sure you’re getting the right kinds. Omega 3s, medium chain triglycerides (like coconut oil) and monounsaturated, natural fats like olives and avocados are all good for ya kinds.
Just don’t get tricked into eating too many fats – it’s way easy to overeat on tasty salty nuts. Make sure to measure out your portions before you dive in.
5. You’re not sleeping enough.
The unsung hero of fat loss is sleep. And I know it sounds counterintuitive – I mean laying in bed resting is the best way to burn fat? What about the gym and diet? Those are important too, but if you aren’t sleeping your body isn’t repairing.
Going without sleep (or just not getting enough) makes your hormones crazy and tells your body to keep storing fat. You aren’t giving your body time to re-energize through rest so your body wants to keep all that energy from the food and store it in the fat cells to use later. Aim for 8 hours of sleep, but if that’s not possible, just aim to get more than you do now.
6. You’re eating to much dairy.
Not only can dairy be high in sugar (hello carbs) but it can actually slow your fat burn by screwing with your digestion. Most people, more than you’d think, are very sensitive to dairy. And when they eat it, it disturbs the acid balance in your stomach making it harder for you to absorb any nutrients. But it also slows down the digestion making the nutrients you can absorb get to you much slower.
Try this dairy-free challenge to kickstart your fat loss again!
7. You’re eating too much in general.
Going low carb doesn’t give you a pass to just eat whatever the heck you want that’s not low carb. There’s still a science to it.
Eating too much of anything can stop you from losing weight (or make you gain weight), even if it’s the low carb and healthy stuff. If you aren’t sure how much you should be eating, check out this guide for how to calculate your macro needs.
8. You don’t have realistic expectations.
Low carb diets are one of the best ways to lose fat. But they aren’t magic genies. And there’s no one cookie cutter diet that’s going to work for everyone.
If you’ve been going low carb and haven’t seen drastic amounts of weight dropping, then that’s probably normal. Slow and steady wins the race folks. As long as you’re seeing some progress, even small amounts, then the diet is working for you. Give your body time to get used to the new nutrition plans before you jump ship to another trendy diet. Fat loss is a process – and a slow one.
9. You’ve been low carb for too long.
That’s right, chronic low carb dieting can actually stop your fat loss. Total carb depletion eliminates your energy fueling glycogen stores, depresses your immune function and can actually decrease your metabolism. But this is can be an easy (and delicious) problem to solve – add regular “re-feeds” or cheat meals to keep your metabolism flexible and fat stores burning.
10. You don’t have enough protein.
When you reduce one of your nutrients, you have to make that ground up somewhere else. And that means proteins and fats.
Calculating your macros can give you a good starting place for how much protein to eat. Or you can go by the other rule of thumb -1.5 grams of protein for each pound of lean muscle mass (yes, you’ll need to know your body fat percentage to get this).
But if you’re still struggling to drop that weight, you might need an extra boost in protein. Increase your protein by about 20% more for a week or two and see what your body response is. Then tweak it from there.
11. You’re low in sodium or potassium.
When you jump on the low carb bandwagon, you’re body starts getting rid of more sodium and water than it would on a high carb diet. This is what usually makes people feel tired or groggy.
Fix it with more salt. You can either just start salting your food more, take a supplement, or just chug some salty water each day. But researchers found that people who took about 3 grams of sodium and 2-3 grams of potassium actually had improved circulation and were able to maintain muscle mass better.
12. You’re deficient in magnesium.
Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in your body. If you don’t have enough of it, you simply aren’t functioning well. And being deficient in magnesium can also lead to a whole snowball of other issues like heart issues, weak bones, poor bowel function – yep, magnesium does it all.
But what we care about – magnesium improves your insulin sensitivity. It tells your insulin receptors to switch on or off – and that means it controls our fat loss. Add a mag supplement to your daily intake if you’re low carb diet just isn’t giving you results.
13. You’ve got sneaky carbs in your diet:
Salad dressings, marinades, spice rubs, vinaigrettes, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, bouillon cubes, processed lunch meats, peanut butter, horseradish, ketchup – they ALL have hidden carbs and change your fat loss!
But food isn’t the only source of these sneaky carbohydrates. Prescription and over the counter medications, like cough syrups, even chewing gum can have carbs and sugars that spike your glucose and insulin levels and hurt your fat loss success.
14. You’re cheating on yourself.
If you’ve got all the things above on point and you’re still not seeing weight loss on your low carb diet, then you might just be the problem. The old saying goes – no one ever ate anything by accident. So what are you really eating?
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