There are many reasons why you might be not be losing weight on your LCHF diet. Today we’ll look at two of the biggest ones; Carb Creep and Calorie Creep.
If you hit a stall on your LCHF diet, the first thing to check is that you are keeping your carb levels low enough. Everyone is different when it comes to how much carbohydrate they can tolerate in their diet. Some insulin resistant people can’t lose weight unless they eat less than 20 net g carbs per day. For some people that number may be even lower. To be successful at weight loss you have to work with your body’s unique biochemistry – not the biochemistry you wish you had.
Accept that as you age your tolerance for carbs will also tend to decrease and you can no longer lose weight just by lowering your calories and exercising more like you once did in your 20’s and 30’s. Keeping refined, sweet and starchy carbs out of your diet is the one thing you will need to be quite strict about if you seriously want to drop the pounds AND keep those pounds off.
After a life time of eating carbs this might be hard to face however, if you REALLY want to get slim and healthy and stay that way, you need to make some permanent changes to the way you eat. As with anything, the longer you do it, the easier it gets. We’ve been eating this way for over 5 years now and consider this to be a sustainable and enjoyable way of eating. We believe, that if we can lose weight and maintain our weight by eating this way, that with a little know-how and practice, you can too.
Generally, the more grams of carbs you consume the more you will need to watch your calories in order to lose weight (and relying solely on a calorie reduction to lose weight will mean going hungry which is definitely not what you want! For example, if you keep your carbs at 20g per day you may be able to eat as much as 1500 calories a day and still lose weight. However, increase your carbs to 60g/day and you’ll need to eat considerably less, say 1200 calories in order to lose weight. At higher carb levels, those of you who have insulin resistance, which is another way of saying ‘carb sensitivity’ may completely stop losing weight. You’ll also start to experience hunger pangs as you blood sugar starts to roller coaster. That’s not what you want.
Learn to look at your self with a curious scientific eye. If eating more carbs stalls your weight loss, decrease your carbs and see what happens over the next week. If you are consuming fruit, and you’re not losing weight then drop the fruit for a few days and see what happens. Fructose, the sugar found in fruit, is converted very easily by the body into fat and some people are more sensitive to fructose than others.
Watch out for ‘CARB CREEP’. You may think that you’re taking in a certain number of carbs when in reality extra carbs are creeping back into your diet and you’re inadvertently eating more than you planned.
One way to prevent this is to keep your food sources as natural as possible. Commercial salad dressings and packaged foods often contain hidden sugars (disguised as different names like ‘maltodextrin” and “sorghum syrup” “high fructose corn syrup” or even “honey” and “agave syrup”) that may stall your weight loss. Your body doesn’t care what the label says, it’s all just “sugar” and sugar will stimulate insulin! AND…Insulin makes you store fat. Read labels carefully. Avoid ‘diet’ foods that contain sugar alcohols instead of sugar as these may also raise blood sugar and spike insulin in some people.
One common example of carb creep we see frequently is when people use processed diet bars like Atkins bars and Quest Bars as part of their diet. The sugar alcohols contained in these bars can have a widely different effect from person to person. Even though the wrapper of a Quest “low carb” bar states “5 net carbs”, think twice before you eat it. Elena found that Quest bars stalled her and raised her blood sugar even when she counted the 5 net carbs stated on the wrapper. Closer investigation of the ingredients informed her that it was not known how much of the ISOMALTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES (PREBIOTIC FIBER), “inactive carbs” were being stored by her body. Possibly up to another 10-15g net carbs! She dropped the Quest bars and started losing weight again.
Unless you make them yourself, treat low carb bread products with skepticism and caution too. In the US, Julian Bakery’s “net 1g carb” bread has been investigated and been found to raise blood sugar in many people. Therefore, there is no way it only contains 1g net carbs. Food manufacturers can get away with saying what they like about their products so we have to be smarter than them. The bottom line (no pun intended) is don’t trust that a processed product labelled ‘low carb’ really is low carb. Be wary. Many of these items have turned out to be a hoax, and not low carb at all. When in doubt, leave it out. See some of our legitimate bread products here. They’re easy to make if you have a bag of blanched almond flour. We always have almond flour on hand – its a staple in our kitchen. We order it online from Nuts.com in 25 lb bags but its also available in smaller amounts. Store in the fridge or freezer to retain freshness.
Strive to eat as cleanly as possible. This usually means not eating at fast food places or purchasing frozen meals from multi-national food corporations. Stick to food that is as unprocessed to avoid ‘carb creep’. Stick to whole fresh foods – real cuts of meat instead of processed cold meats that may contain sugar, real fresh vegetables, and don’t forget to check the additives in products such as sour cream and heavy cream. Manufacturers often add starches such as cornstarch as a thickener to dairy.
Remember – keep it clean and eat REAL food. Our cookbook contains simple, easy, make ahead recipes that will keep you on track and make it easy to lose weight. Everything is calculated for you. All you need to know is what rnage of carbs/calories is right for you. THEN, you can choose recipes accordingly. To purchase our cookbook which is available as a convenient download where you can also read more about it.
Are you eating too many calories and eating when you’re not really hungry?
This is the second major reason people stop losing weight on their LCHF diet.
There is a myth that calories don’t count on a LCHF diet. That’s false. By eating LCHF you will experience less hunger and so you will naturally be inclined to eat less. Eating less is what helps you lose weight. The problem is, most people have a hard time avoiding temptation and end up eating more calories than they need. After all we don’t just eat to satisfy hunger cues – we also eat for many other reasons such as the sheer joy of eating amazing tasting food, boredom, to deal with stress, because others around us are eating etc. So even if you’re eating the right foods from a LCHF allowed foods list (or Green list) you won’t lose weight if you eat too much of any of them. There is a fine line between losing weight and maintaining your weight and that line can be as small as 200 calories for some people. That’s why we say you should be aware of the range of calories you need to stay within to lose weight. If you’re serious about losing weight you should always log your food to see exactly how many calories and carbs you are really eating – don’t just guess. We like the online food log, FitDay. Knowledge really is power when it comes to losing weight.
Based on a series of quick questions we can provide you with the correct calorie and carb range so that you can start losing weight. View our service here. Its the knowledge that most people need to start losing weight.
Remember, even though you can eat a few more calories on a LCHF diet than on a traditional low fat low calorie type diet, remember that there is such a thing as eating too many calories. While a LCHF offers you a slight metabolic advantage, the laws of thermodynamics still do apply. Our experience has taught us that most people have an ideal range of calories and carbs for weight loss. This is especially true if you don’t have alot of weight to lose and as you begin to approach your weight loss goal. If you need help with working out a suitable calorie range for weight loss check out our handy personal calorie and carb calculation service.
What about Xylitol, Splenda and Aspartame?
If you choose to use Splenda, be aware that powdered Splenda does contain carbs so you need to count them. Liquid Splenda (sucralose) on the other hand, is carb-free. While we have found that liquid Splenda (sucralose) doesn’t stall us we no longer use it, as some rather disturbing studies have recently emerged about its long term health effects. Studies in mice show that it can mess with the natural flora in the gut and cause insulin resistance. Our low carb sweeteners of choice are powdered erythritol and liquid stevia, both natural substances. We use these in all our desserts on LCHF Nation. Erythritol and Stevia have the added benefit of not causing digestive distress for the majority of people. We tend to avoid Xylitol for 2 reasons: 1) Its toxic to your pets – esp. dogs!! 2) it contains many more carbs and calories than erythritol and stevia. See this chart here:
The bottom line (no pun intended) is that most people need to pay attention to BOTH carbs and calories to lose weight. If you hit a weight loss stall we recommend you take a close look at exactly what you’re eating. Need help? Email us at email@example.com.
Our Universal Meal Plans are perfect for you if you want an easy diet to follow and you don’t want to count anything. To view our range of meal plans go to our LCHF Nation shop. Our meal plans contain everything you need right down to a helpful weekly shopping list.