Keto is known for producing some pretty dramatic results for a lot of people in a relatively short period of time. However, we regularly encounter folks on the Ketogenic Success Facebook Group that have dubbed themselves "slow losers." These are people for whom, for one reason or another, quick weight loss simply does not happen. For some, it's a loss of only a few pounds a month. For others, it takes weeks to months of eating consistently keto to begin seeing progress.
There are a whole pile of reasons why some people take a much longer time to reach their weight loss and fitness goals on keto, and knowing some of them ahead of time can help you to prepare yourself mentally for a bit of a long slog. The reasons for slower loss aren't limited to this list, but these are the five most commonly encountered categories of "slow losers":
There Are Hidden Sugars and Starches in Your Food
In this age of convenience, it's very easy to pick up a packet of taco seasoning and throw it into the crockpot with some meat and sauce and forget about it. You may come home to eat what you think is a perfectly keto meal, but not so fast! In most commercially prepared products there are all kind of hidden sources of blood-sugar- and insulin-spiking ingredients.
Before pouring on your favorite salad dressing or opening your favorite package mix, make sure you look at the ingredients on the label. Corn syrup (and solids) are in "sugar free" coffee creamer, corn or potato starches are used to thicken soup and seasoning mixes, maltodextrin (a starch high on the glycemic index) is used to sweeten and flavor products without manufacturers having to outright say it contains sugar. Etcetera, and so on.
The best way to avoid hidden sugars and starches is to just make your own stuff (and you can head over to My Ketogenic Kitchen to get started!). If you are in a pinch, you may decide to use off-the-shelf products anyway. Just be sure to read ingredient labels and be willing to accept that some ingredients may hold you back from your full keto potential. It's your choice, but if you're using these kind of products on a regular basis and notice that your scale barely inches along, know that these things are a very likely culprit and they will probably need to be eliminated for maximum results.
You've Been a Yo-Yo Dieter and/or Calorie Counter
We've probably all been on-and-off a diet wagon at some point, but people who are always cycling on and off between this or that diet or have a history of calorie restriction do a lot of damage to their metabolism. When we cut food intake our bodies compensate by cutting the amount of energy we burn out of simple self-preservation. This is basic bodily homeostasis.
The problem is that when we increase food intake our metabolism can be incredibly slow to ramp up energy expenditure again. For those who have done a lot of metabolic damage, it can take a very long time for their bodies to catch up. If you fall into this category just know ahead of time you are very likely to be a slow loser. Keto can be incredibly healing to the system, but if you've done your metabolism some serious damage it may take a bit of time for it to straighten out before you see progress. Just hang in there, keto on, and it will come. Patience is your friend and your body will thank you for it... eventually.
You Suffer from PCOS, Thyroid Disorders, or Another Type of Hormonal Imbalance
The metabolism- the system by which we intake, process, and then expend energy- is driven almost entirely by hormones. Thus, if you are struggling with a medical problem wherein your hormones are out of whack you are probably going to be a slow loser. Luckily, there have been a lot of people who have managed to successfully lose weight and alleviate some (at minimum) symptoms of hormonal disorders by living a ketogenic lifestyle, but it may take a little longer than someone who does not have these same issues. Continue to work with your doctors and take necessary medications, but be patient with yourself and your body.
As uncomfortable as this topic may be, the truth is that most common factor driving slow weight loss in elderly persons is the change in production of hormones, particularly sex hormones, that comes with the aging process. Imbalances in testosterone, estrogen, and other hormone levels in the body can slow and stall scale progress. Consider having your levels checked by a physician. If they are in the normal range for your age you may just have to be patient with your body and the scale. If they are well below normal for your age, you may need supplementation.
You're Close to Goal and/or Have a Smaller Amount to Lose
We tend to see this one a lot. No one likes hearing it, but if you're already relatively close to your ideal body weight, your losses are probably going to be slow. We have all seen some amazing stories of people who have dropped tens (and some even hundreds) of pounds on keto in a relatively short amount of time, so it's understandably frustrating when we only have a little left to get off and it takes forever for the scale to move. The bottom line here is that regardless of what way of eating you choose, the closer you get to your goal the slower weight loss will be.
The body likes homeostasis and is always looking to find a set of parameters that are comfortable to maintain... and then stay there. If this is you, just know ahead of it time that this is completely normal and it might take a bit of patiently and consistently plugging away at the keto lifestyle for results to come. If you've already lost a lot of weight but things have slowed way down now that you're so close to your goal, know that this is your body's way of preparing you to maintain the losses you've had. Embrace it and continue to keto on.