6 Reasons Your Weight Loss Might Have Stalled

6 Main Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight
Why You are Not Losing Weight  On a Low-Carb Diet

When it comes to winning the game of weight loss, being patient is vital.

Impatience and setting up unrealistic expectations is the fastest way to fail.

We all lose body fat at different rates, and each body undergoes different adaptive and protective processes that you have absolutely no control over. Often, the only choice you have is to simply wait it out.

While it's not fair, some people lose weight very quickly. Body fat seems to just fall off without a lot of effort.

Other people lose weight slow and steady, similar to a tortoise.

Still others, lose weight in stages, experiencing a series of weight-loss plateaus that can often feel like the diet has stopped working.

Patience is golden, but if you have crossed over that 4-week line where you haven’t lost pounds or inches, what do you do then? Is there anything you can do to encourage your body to let go of more excess body fat?

That depends on whether you're making one of the following top 6 dieting mistakes and if you're willing to do what it takes to get the scale moving downward again.

1. How Much Fat are you Eating?

There are many reasons why your weight loss might have stalled, and some of them are extremely contradictory. Eating too much fat is one the complex topics that often comes with severe misunderstandings.

While today’s low-carb mantra claims raising the amount of dietary fat you eat can cure everything from weight loss plateaus to the Atkins Flu, before Dr. Atkins passed away, that wasn’t what the Atkins Center was telling folks.

In fact, checking out the amount of fat you’re eating was the first thing they always asked you to look at back then.

When you are in ketosis and after you are fat-adapted, the muscles and most body organs predominantly burn fatty acids for fuel. Your brain, however, burns glucose and ketones, a by-product of fat mobilization and break down.

If you eat more fat than your body needs to fuel its systems and processes, it won’t need to pull fat out of storage.

According to the Atkins Center in 2003, the body uses the fat you eat first and draws upon stored body fat -- second. This is because dietary fat is immediately stored during digestion, and then pulled out of your fat stores, as needed. The body tends to go by the rule of last in, first out.

Fat storage is actually a flux, so you have to eat fewer fat calories than your body needs on a daily basis or weight loss can't happen.

2. Are You Drinking Enough Water?

Three Glasses of Water with a Slice of Bright Red, Green, or Yellow Pepper
Make sure you're drinking enough water every day.
Dehydration can cause your weight loss to stall.

The Atkins Diet has always recommended that you drink at least eight 8-ounce cups of water per day to keep your body working efficiently. That’s about 64 ounces.

However, for many overweight individuals, that isn’t enough.

A low-carb diet is dehydrating by nature. The liver needs a good supply of water to filter out and handle toxins or problematic substances that might have been stored in your fat cells along with the fat. Flushing out ketone fragments also takes extra water.

Therefore, the typical recommendation by health authorities for those attempting to lose weight on low carb is to drink one-half of your current weight in ounces. When I wrote this article, I weighed 180 pounds, so I needed to drink 90 ounces of water per day.

An alternative way of calculating your water is to use 64 ounces of water per day as a baseline, and then drink 8 ounces for each 25 pounds you are overweight.

Personally, I drank three 32-ounce glasses of water per day.

3. Are You Following Your Program Correctly?

Read Your Low-Carb Books
Each Low-Carb Diet Plan is Different

Those who are sensitive to insulin, rather than insulin resistant, might be able to do a relaxed form of carbohydrate restriction and lose those excess pounds, easily and without a lot of effort.

Those with insulin resistance, however, have to be more careful about how they implement and practice low-carb eating.

For that reason:
  • The Atkins Diet
  • Protein Power Lifeplan
  • The Keto Diet
  • Nutritional Ketosis (LCHF)
  • Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF)
and other low-carb nutritional approaches have specific rules about what you can and cannot eat during the first few weeks of the diet.

If you are following the Atkins Diet, make sure that you are strictly following the diet’s recommendations for:
  • heavy cream
  • hard and soft cheeses
  • aspartame
  • and vegetables
Avoid all forms of sugar in your salad dressings, and don’t eat anything that isn’t on the recommended food list.

If you are following the Keto Diet, read the FAQ at Reddit and follow its guidelines. Make sure that you calculate your macros correctly, (link to the calculator is in our sidebar to the right), weigh out and measure your food with a food scale, measuring cups, and spoons.

Keep tract of your protein consumption, carb count, and calories. Carb count is a target, protein is a minimum, (it's okay to go a bit over), and fat is used to regulate your calorie deficit (it's okay to go under).

For Nutritional Ketosis, take the time to calculate your protein needs correctly, according to The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living. Protein in calories should be 15 to 20 percent of your maintenance calories, and not calculated according to how much you weigh today. Everything is referenced by the weight you want to be, not what is going on right now.

If you are not losing weight on your chosen low-carb plan, it is a good idea to double-check yourself and make sure that you are following your low-carb program correctly.

4. How Large are Your Portion Sizes?

Some low-carb diets offer an easier alternative to counting calories, but that doesn’t mean that a calorie deficit isn’t essential for weight loss.

It is.

The main benefit of a low-carb program over other dietary approaches, whether you count the calories or not, is the way it reduces your hunger and cravings. However, even on the Atkins Diet, you cannot eat all that you want and still expect to lose weight.

Although pork rinds are zero carbs, if you eat a whole bag every single day, you probably won’t lose much body fat unless you are extremely active and your present maintenance calories are quite high.

The Atkins Center used to recommend about 6 to 8 ounces (maximum) of protein foods per meal, but more recently, with the advent of Atkins 20 and Atkins 40, Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. has reduced the recommended serving size to 4 to 6 ounces of protein foods per meal instead.

Your carbohydrates should still mostly come from vegetables and a few other low-carb goodies, such as:
  • a spoonful of sour cream
  • a spoonful of real whipped cream on your berries
  • a little reduced-sugar catsup on your bunless burger
Serving size is extremely important, even on Atkins.

As your weight decreases, your body will need fewer calories to maintain your current weight, so your calorie deficit will drop as the pounds do.

If you are still eating as much as you did when you first went low-carb, that is probably way too much food.

Eventually, the number of calories you eat will come into balance with the amount of energy you use each day, and your weight loss will plateau. If you are not losing weight, and everything else checks out okay, you are eating at maintenance, no matter how little that is.

The number of calories you can eat at goal weight won’t necessarily be the number of calories you could eat when you started a low-carb diet.  

5. How Often Are You Eating Out?

Restaurant food can easily contain hidden carbs and sugars you didn’t realize were in there.

While avoiding sauces and breaded foods may be a no-brainer, burgers may have breadcrumbs or oatmeal, salad dressings might have sugar or corn syrup, and even the grilled chicken on your salad might be dusted with white all-purpose flour or cornstarch.

A single meal out won’t ruin your low-carb diet, but if you’re used to eating out several times a week, especially at fast-food restaurants, those extra carbs and sugars can quickly cause your weight loss to stall.

6. Are You Eating Nutrient-Dense Foods?

Dr. Atkins was heavy into nutrition and nutrient-dense foods. He believed in saving low-carb goodies and more elaborate, carby meals for special occasions.

Today, most low-carbers don’t do that.

I see far too many dieters running around looking for recipes that will allow them to imitate the diet that got them fat in the first place. While a special low-carb recipe will go a long way toward making a special occasion or holiday speical, the norm is no longer grilled or baked meat, salad, and veggies.

Today, the norm is:
  • cheese-heavy casseroles
  • fake breads (heavy on wheat protein)
  • cream cheese and bacon loaded dishes
  • and plenty of low-carb desserts
In general, most low-carb recipes are heavy on:
  • wheat
  • corn
  • dairy
  • soy
  • fat
GMO food products are also increasing. Our fast-paced lifestyles entice us to turn to fast foods and microwaves. Grains and excessive omega-6 fatty acid intake, as well as trans-fats in the form of fried foods, easily finds their way into a typical low-carb diet if you aren’t careful.

Food sensitivities and allergies can play a large role in the body’s inflammatory responses, which can then prevent you from shedding the pounds because the body's resources will be spend on something other than mobilizing body fat.

Take a careful look at your diet.

Are you eating a large amount of processed foods?

Many manufacturers add ingredients and chemicals that increase your urge to eat. These tricks are only getting worse. With the help of those who specialize in producing a taste sensation that falls just short of satiety, manufacturers can keep you reaching for more and more food.

Are you getting enough protein?

Are you eating a wide variety of salads and vegetables?

Do whole foods make up the majority of your food choices?

Are you reading the ingredient list when you do purchase a processed food? Or are you only looking at how many carbs a food has?

Just because a food is low in carbs, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.


  1. Hi Vicki, I just happened on to your site - thanks for all the great info! I'll be back to peruse some more.

  2. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the comment.


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