Weight Loss Stall when Keto

Stopped losing weight with Keto? Struggling with a stall or plateau? Feeling like you are losing too slowly?

When you reach a point where you stop losing weight with keto, there can be any number of reasons why this could be happening.

This article helps you look at some of the causes to work out what the reason might be for you. Prepare yourself! This is a long article, but it is a comprehensive review of the majority of the reasons people don’t lose weight. We suggest you use this list as a list of ideas. Read it through, and see which jump out at you as potential reasons that you may not be losing weight and then focus on one thing for 2-3 weeks at a time to see if that changes things for you.

Remember, a stall is considered over 3-4 weeks without weight loss. Before that, it’s just a wee blip on the journey towards weight loss. On a daily basis, there will be blips up and down. If your goal is weight loss, then there has likely been an upwards trend in your weight over time in the past. The goal then is to see a downwards trend, even if that’s not daily or even weekly.

SOLUTION: If it’s been 1-3 weeks without loss, just have patience and see what happens. Often, it will continue on all by itself with you having to stress about changing things.

Recommended Additional Strategies

Measuring Instead of Just Using a Scale – Sometimes this can help increase the motivation to continue going when the scale is showing little change. We suggest measuring monthly, and in as many places as you realistically can. For instance, when you lose bloating, you might lose a significant number of centimetres on your upper waist, but gain a couple of centimetres on your hips. Measuring in more places helps you account for this and see the real changes. You can also measure your most overweight area weekly or monthly with string and hang it up somewhere to see the real effect of your weight loss on somewhere like your waist or hips. It’s pretty powerful once you have a few months of progress alongside each other. 

Increasing Exercise and Specifically, Strength Training – This has numerous benefits including motivation and health. The strength training also helps improve or maintain muscle mass which means your body needs more (or maintains) calories needed to function each day, which stabilises or enhances weight loss if weight loss is the aim.


THE SHORT LIST OF REASONS (You can see the long explanations lower down) INCLUDE:
  • Week 3 of keto
  • Low-Carb before keto
  • Doing keto for the 2nd (or more) time
  • Still having carbs
  • The “healing” phase (around week 3)
  • Menstrual cycles
  • Starting at nearly goal weight
  • Eating too many calories
  • Eating too much fat
  • Insulin Resistance
  • The “Fat woosh”
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Removing fiber when you shouldn’t
  • Stress
  • You are closer to goal weight now than you were earlier
  • Medications
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Female hormones
  • “Treats”
  • Not eating enough
  • Incorrect tracking of food
  • Intolerances and allergies
  • Inaccurate scales
  • Sleep
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Protein – too little
  • Protein – too much
  • Water
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Exercise
  • Diabetes
  • Recent surgery or injury

We have some strategies at the end which you can use to make changes, but try the things above first before trying one of the things at the end – and don’t use the end ones until you’ve had a significant stall (6 weeks+ ).



The Third Week of Keto – Week three is the typical week where you may stop losing for a week or two on keto. It can also happen in week 2, 4 or 5 as well!

SOLUTION: You don’t need to change anything you are doing, just keep going as you are and you’ll find that everything falls into place again in a week or two. If you are in week three, you might find our book really useful – Kiwi Keto: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Shopping for Keto in New Zealand – It’s to help you get started with keto and it includes a comprehensive shopping guide! Perfect if you are just starting or recently started keto!  https://ketonewzealand.com/kiwi-keto/ 

Eating Low Carb Prior to Keto – If you already were eating low carb prior to starting keto, you won’t  get the drop at the start due to water weight. Carbs hold about 3-4g of water per gram of carbs so if you ate lots of carbs prior to keto, this water retention will drop off rapidly. But, if you were low carb, you don’t have this water retention so can expect slower loss without the initial fast drop that you see about people’s first month on keto. This is a seriously  interesting article on the “keto flush” if you want to read more: https://sci-fit.net/keto-flush/

SOLUTION: Just keep going – You didn’t need that initial drop so should see results before too much longer. Check out others NSV’s (Non-Scale Victories!) to help keep the motivation up.

Still Having Carbs – You haven’t removed all the carbs (but you have added more fat). Fats + Carbs = weight gain and decreased health.

SOLUTION: If you are going slowly into keto, that’s fantastic, but don’t up the fats until those carbs are really low. If you are still eating carbs and don’t want to be, find alternatives to the carbs you are having instead.

It’s The “Healing Phase” – Whilst technically, we haven’t been able to find scientific research that backs this up (or where it came from!), there is anecdotal evidence of a healing phase starting around week 3. People often feel better from health conditions around then, but it also starts a period of no weight loss. The graph about this is below and is an image that is widely distributed without credit to the author. If you find out who made it, I’d love to know!

SOLUTION: Continue keto and have patience – The loss you want will come soon. In the meantime, focus on the other benefits such as the way you are feeling or less hunger.


Keto Healing phase

Starting At Close To Goal Weight – You can’t expect the massive losses that others are seeing when you are nearly at goal weight. Lots of people have 20, 30, 50 or 70+ kg’s to lose but you can’t expect to lose weight as quickly when you have only 5kg to lose. A good way to determine this is if you are at a BMI of approximately 27 or less, then you can expect slower results. You can check it here: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi-m.htm .  BMI isn’t perfect, but it does give an indication as long as you aren’t ultra-athletic or extremely solid or tiny build.

SOLUTIONPatience and time 


Eating Too Many Calories – Use the calculator to figure out the macros (i.e. the intake you need) here: https://www.ruled.me/keto-calculator/ . Once you’ve done this, use an app like Carb Manager https://www.carbmanager.com/ to track your intake for a couple of days (you want to know how to do this to check the carb content of a food EVEN if you do lazy keto!). This will give you an idea of whether you are overeating or not. Whilst some say don’t worry about the calories and there is certainly some evidence that calories in don’t need to equal calories out. However, if you are struggling to lose weight, this can be a factor.

SOLUTIONCheck the amount you are eating, then work to make sure you are keeping some calorie deficit so you can burn the fat on your body. Too much of a deficit can be a problem too – So keeping it in that “feeling satisfied but not overstuffed” sweet spot is what you are aiming to do. 

You have done keto previously – We’ve noticed that often when someone has done keto previously, the second time they do it (or more) weight loss can be much slower or even doesn’t come off initially. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but is definitely a trend we see often.

SOLUTION: Keep going as many seem to pass through this stage, but look at the other ideas to make sure nothing else could be doing it too.  

Too Much Fat – Much like the above one, this results in too many calories. There is a picture in the photos on this post to show how you want to think about the three macros, protein, fat and carbs. The absolute minimum fat you want each day is 50g in the mid-term. The majority of people will have quite a bit more than this .

SOLUTIONCheck the amount you are eating, then if needed work to make sure you are keeping some calorie deficit so you can burn the fat on your body.

Insulin Resistance – Many with insulin resistance find that weight loss is slower, but also that weight sticks especially on your tummy more. Fasting is one way to help overcome this as is just eating keto. You can find out more about intermittent fasting here: https://www.dietdoctor.com/intermittent-fasting and an amazing group for more info here https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheJasonFungFanClub/  

SOLUTIONContinue eating keto, have patience and look into whether fasting could be useful for you.

The “Fat Woosh” – There is limited to no scientific evidence for this, but anecdotally, lots of people experience it!
The photo below shows what it “looks” like.  At 1, Your cell is filled with fat. In 2, you are losing fat and it’s being replaced by water, ready to be filled again if needed. At 3,  The fat is continuing to decrease, the cell is slightly shrinking, and it’s keeping on filling with water. Then BAM! You are at 4 – The weight drops off super fast for a day or two and then slows down again. 

SOLUTION: Keep on going, soon the woosh will come (hopefully!).

Artificial Sweeteners – Being aware of which artificial sweeteners are more keto friendly or not is a great starting point. The list we’ve made of the GI values of sweeteners (glycemic index) is in the photo below. Some people seem to be more sensitive than others, and they can “kick people out of ketosis”.

SOLUTIONIf you are struggling or having lots of sweeteners, try eliminating these to see if it makes a difference.


Fibre – Fibre in NZ is already subtracted from packet foods on the nutritional label so you can take the “Carbohydrate” section/line on the nutritional label as net carbs. If you remove the fibre from this, you will end up with a lower net carb value than it actually is (or negative, which is impossible!). Net carbs are the total carbohydrate minus fibre (which isn’t absorbed by the body for energy). Also, some people find that subtracting all the carbs from artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols doesn’t work for them as their body is more sensitive to them. Try adding all or half the carbs from these to see if it helps.

SOLUTIONLearn how to calculate the net carbs correctly to make sure you aren’t overeating carbs. Try adding half of grams of sugar alcohols as net carbs if you’ve tried everything else or suspect you are more sensitive to these.

Stress – Higher levels of cortisol which stress can cause can slow or halt weight loss. This is because, historically, when you were stressed it caused flight or fight response, and holding onto weight was useful for survival in these situations. This can also happen by having too much coffee.

SOLUTIONThis is hard! Start by trying to remove stressors, one at a time. This could be anything from reducing commitments, getting off social media and engaging with family and friends, to seeing a counsellor and your doctor. Also, it’s worth removing or reducing stimulants which increase cortisol such as coffee.

Closer To Goal Weight Now Than Before – Weight loss is slower when you are closer to normal weight . At 100kg with 30kg to lose, it’s going to come off quicker than it will at 75kg with 5 to lose. And this is equally true for someone who was at 100kg, but is now at 75kg, it’s going to be slower than it was initially. If you don’t know what “normal” weight is, it can be useful to calculate your BMI to give an idea of if you are in the “healthy” range or not (IF you aren’t an athlete/high activity/very large or small build) – the “normal” range is 20-25 approx, and if you are over this, aim for around 25, then aim for the right size/health after that (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi-m.htm).

SOLUTIONPatience and time.

Medications – Some medications such as steroids or insulin can make it harder to lose weight. It’s still possible to lose weight whilst on these, but it is often slower.

SOLUTIONChat to your doctor regarding the weight effects of the medications you are on, and recognise that whilst the weight loss may be slower, if the medication is needed then it’s something you just need to come to terms with.

Health – Recovery from an injury or surgery will slow weight loss as the body is working to heal itself first.

SOLUTION: Patience. Keto will be helping your body heal, but increasing the protein a little can be useful to give your body the building blocks to ensure it recovers as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Thyroid Conditions – Those with thyroid conditions can still lose weight with keto. However, there are things to look out for which are generally the signs that the thyroid hormones are out of alignment.

SOLUTIONYou just need to be aware that if you stop losing (for more than 3 weeks), it could be an indicator to see your doctor. And keep on getting those thyroid hormones checked regularly. This is an interesting article regarding the thyroid and keto: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/keto/thyroid/

Female Hormones – Monthly hormonal cycles can lead to gains and losses at various times of the month with no other reason than “hormones”. We most commonly see this in the last week of the monthly cycle. Menopause can also make it harder to lose weight, especially so during early menopause.

SOLUTION: Just run with it and watch your trends over a period of a month rather than day to day. You can do this by tracking your weight, then looking to see when it generally averages out at. If this is causing other issues or an extended period of not losing weight despite doing everything “right”, especially around menopause, see your doctor for advice.

Treats – Some of these baked goods or sweet or savory “treats” are high calorie and have inflammatory ingredients. If you’ve stopped losing, some find it is the culprit.

SOLUTIONTest what happens when you cut them out. Not everyone needs to, but it’s a place to start if you are not losing anymore.

Not Eating Enough – We recommend that you have a minimum of 1200 calories a day unless you are extremely short (under 5 foot or 150cm – and that is the time to get expert advice if you think you need to lower it). Generally, eating less than 1000 will result in muscle mass loss which makes weight maintenance long term much harder. This is relevant for the longer term and we still recommend checking out things such as Michael Mosley’s “The Fast 800 : How to combine rapid weight loss and intermittent fasting for long-term health” https://thefast800.com/ for short term periods, but long term, keep the calories high enough that you aren’t losing muscle mass (which results in your body needing less calories to function, and harder weight loss). If you are breastfeeding, you need to adjust for this and KetoGainsBaby https://www.facebook.com/groups/KETOGAINSBaby/  is a great place to start for more information on breastfeeding or pregnancy and keto.

SOLUTIONEat MORE than 1200 calories a day for most people. Check your macros based on your activity and body using the calculator above.

Incorrect Tracking of Food – This can often be from weighing the food correctly (half a cup pressed down is a lot different from a loosely measured) so weigh don’t just measure. It’s also important to note that protein doesn’t mean “meat” but the protein in the meat. For example, 100g of meat may only contain 20g protein (track it to see how much the meat you are eating varies from this). This is the same for “carbs” and “fats”. This could also be not being honest with yourself about the amount you eat or not tracking the small snacks or bites you have.

SOLUTIONTrack your food accurately if you track it, even if this is just for a few days to see where you are tripping up.

Intolerances and Allergies – When you are intolerant/allergic to something, and you aren’t removing that from your diet, your body may be  constantly in a state of inflammation and trying to heal the damage from it. Two of the common ones with keto are almonds (or just nuts!) and dairy and some people are intolerant and haven’t realised this. If you have tried everything else, try removing one and/or both to see if it makes a difference.

SOLUTIONStop eating the things you are intolerant or allergic to. If you suspect you are intolerant, try without it to see if it makes a difference.

Inaccurate Scales – Whilst many say to stop weighing, that can be hard! If you choose to weigh, check your scales accuracy.

SOLUTION: You can do this by checking at home, then at a shop where you can try them (Briscoes for instance), but make sure you do it in the same clothes/shoes and without drinking/eating or going to the toilet in between. You can also climb on and off the scales a few times to make sure each time is within 100g of the last, and then pick them up and move to another hard surface (always use a hard surface!) to see if they change weight. If they do, it might be time to go without for a while or get a new set.

Sleep – The big thing here is that when you don’t get enough sleep, you tend to lose less weight.

SOLUTIONAim to get 8 hours where you can, and try to get the best sleep (less disturbed, earlier to bed etc) you can. The Circadian Code by Satchin Panda is a great book to read about this.

Age – The older you get, the harder it can be to lose that weight in our anecdotal experience! However, research has shown that people who are older than 50 need to have increased protein as their bodies don’t process it as effectively, so it could be worth starting here.

SOLUTIONKeep on going. It didn’t go on in a day, and won’t come off in a day, but if you are 50+ try upping the protein as losing muscle mass will mean it’s even harder to lose weight. Research shows that protein isn’t metabolised as effectively as you age. 

Gender –  Men seem to lose weight easier and quicker than women.

SOLUTION…. Just keep going. There’s little you can do to change this one (though try not to compare if you are doing it with a partner!).

Protein (Not Enough) – Not eating enough protein can mean you lose muscle mass. The more muscle mass, the more calories your body will need in a day.

SOLUTIONBy keeping protein levels moderate (check to the see the ideal amount for you using this calculator: https://www.ruled.me/keto-calculator/), you will minimise muscle loss to help you continue to lose (and increasing muscle through strength training is worth it to increase the calories your body burns).

Protein (Too Much) – There are some people that find that if they have significantly too much protein, their body stops losing weight. Scientifically, the protein isn’t turned into glucose the way that some say, but for some, it does seem to have an impact. This article explains why this is doesn’t happen the way that some suggest: http://www.tuitnutrition.com/2017/07/gluconeogenesis.html

SOLUTIONTry keep protein to a moderate level (as in the calculator above) after you’ve tried other things.

Water – When you aren’t having enough, it can cause the weight loss to slow down. This is often because you eat instead of drinking when you mistake thirst for hunger.

SOLUTIONCheck how much you are drinking, and make sure you drink a bit more if you don’t have much water. It’s possible to over consume water, so don’t drink more than 1 litre per hour at any stage, and generally, drink to thirst (Regarding water intoxication: https://draxe.com/fitness/news-and-tips/water-intoxication/).

Diabetes – It can take a number of weeks to lose after blood sugars start to be lower and get closer to “normal” and the losses tend to be slower long term. However, some do start losing again more quickly as time goes on – It seems that there is a healing process at the start (non-medical hypothetical idea here!) possibly which is why you will have a while of no loss initially before losing.

It is important to check in with your doctor to ensure you don’t need to reduce the medications you are taking when doing keto to reduce the chance of having hypoglycemia. However, don’t reduce medications without the supervision of your doctor. Whilst we understand that some people with diabetes have been given permission to do this by their doctors – We consider this to be with doctor supervision.

SOLUTIONHave patience, keto is healing the negative effects of diabetes as well where it can. It may reduce the symptomatic effects of type 2 for many and reduce insulin requirements for many with type two and type one, it doesn’t cure it and you need to stay under your doctors supervision. It’s said to reverse diabetes (symptoms and damage) rather than cure it. People with diabetes still lose weight, it just can take longer.

Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol has high calories and gets processed first and in addition to this low carb beers and wines still have some carbs.

SOLUTIONMake sure to track the alcohol you have if you track your food and see how it affects you by reducing or eliminating alcohol.

Frequent or Intensive Exercise – Whilst we don’t understand the exact reason for this, there has been a recognised trend of people that people who are exercising relatively heavily when they start keto are not losing as quickly (or sometimes at all) as those who aren’t exercising to the same extent. 

SOLUTIONExercise has health benefits of its own, so don’t stop the exercise, but just be aware that you may lose slower due to this. If you specifically have to lose weight (not just size) rather than get fit, then you may want to look at reducing the exercise during this time. One of the big reasons we see for this need is those who have to be under a certain weight to undergo certain surgeries or for things like knee pain where the weight impacts the pain levels.


Carb Cycling – Whilst this isn’t recommended other than a last ditch strategy or for those who are doing intensive weight training, cyclical keto diet (https://www.ruled.me/cyclical-ketogenic-diet-indepth-look/) or a Targeted Keto Diet (https://www.ruled.me/targeted-ketogenic-diet-indepth-look/) are worth looking into. Some suggest a cheat day to break an extended stall, though as a rule, we don’t suggest this other than a last-ditch option.

Fasting – Intermittent fasting can be a useful strategy to break a (3 week+) stall. You can see more info on this here: https://www.dietdoctor.com/intermittent-fasting. An interesting book recently released as well is “The Fast 800 : How to combine rapid weight loss and intermittent fasting for long-term health” https://thefast800.com/ by Michael Mosley. We frequently see people who are fasting and not losing weight, partly due to not getting enough calories. It’s definitely worth stopping fasting if you are fasting and struggling to lose. 

Finally, have patience. The majority of us didn’t get here quickly, so we can’t expect that it’s all going to disappear in a short few weeks. Celebrate the achievements along the way, and enjoy the food whilst getting closer to your “end” goals!