Low Carb Weight Loss Stalls: Identifying Food Culprits That Affect Your Ketosis Levels


Keto SnacksLast week I mentioned I returned home from my trip STILL in ketosis.

I maintained that all week while doing a series of “clean testing” in an effort to start identifying food culprits that have been affecting my weight loss.

Today, nearing the end of the current 90 day low carb challenge, I weigh exactly 1.5 pounds MORE than I did when this challenge began.

That’s perplexing to me! 😐

Especially since I don’t eat off plan or have cheat days.

That’s why I started doing Ketone Testing while strategically working through a series of “food tests” to see if I can identify my culprits, or what’s causing my weight (and ketone levels!) to fluctuate so much.

I am VERY close to a “goal weight” by the way. I started this challenge at 139.6 pounds and this morning I weighed 141.1 pounds.

Low Carb Weight Loss Success Story


At this point the number on the scale (my weight alone) is such a small piece of the overall picture. What you can’t see in that one number staring back at you is: water weight, inflammation, lean muscle weight, muscle LOSS, body fat, etc.

It’s just a number.

I hit my lowest weight last winter at just under 135 pounds (134.6, I believe) with some pretty decent lean muscle built up. I was down to a very comfortable size 6 (sometimes size 4) and am back up to a very comfortable size 8.

I’ve lost some muscle tone this past year and also had some issues staying in ketosis.

So my two main goals right now are to get back to my regular workouts (toning), and figure out which foods are causing my weight to fluctuate so much.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not unhappy with my current weight or size.

The ketone & food testing I’m doing right now is not just about staying in ketosis. It’s not just about weight loss either. It’s about identifying which “food culprits” are affecting my body and my overall health.

It’s also a means of going a level deeper with the low carb products and foods I review and recommend, and encouraging you to do the same – since we all have different tolerances and sensitivities to certain ingredients.

Plus… you need to know what to do, and HOW to do “clean testing” in the case that you ever find yourself in a frustrating spot with your own weight loss. πŸ˜‰


When Your Low Carb Weight Loss Stalls or Plateaus

It’s one thing when you go a few days without the scales moving, or a full week or two even. That’s not a true plateau, but usually just a normal weight loss trend – assuming you haven’t changed or added anything new.

My own weight has been fluctuating the same 5 pounds, between 139.6 and 144.6, for a full YEAR now.

You can see that in this graph of the last 90 days, which looks pretty much the same if I go back the entire year:

Weight Loss Fluctuations


I use MyFitnessPal to track my daily meals and my weight loss progress.

That ^ is the key to knowing any real facts about your weight loss journey: tracking. If you aren’t tracking, and doing “clean tests” on yourself, you’re basically just guessing or grasping at straws.

* I’m not suggesting you become obsessive about it, especially if you’re just starting out. In the beginning it’s important to focus on changing your habits, changing your mindset and simply losing weight. It’s not until you experience a true long-term weight loss stall or some kind of perplexing issue, that you need to explore deeper.

Being so close to goal weight, I’ve been really lax about this whole plateau thing. It all started a little over a year ago when I got sick with a nasty flu that I just couldn’t kick. Three rounds of antibiotics and two rounds of steroids later, I just continued eating low carb and staying within my keto macros – and figured my body would “bounce back” in it’s own time and went about my business.

That didn’t happen.

Not only did my weight stay slightly up, which is normal for a spell after taking certain medications, I also became less active – and ultimately a bit complacent. Okay, downright comfortable. πŸ˜›

But I started noticing something odd…

It wasn’t just my weight that was bouncing around like a ping pong ball – something else was going on TOO. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it SEEMED like I was having slight “keto flu” symptoms along with it off and on.

At this point I was just guessing (not testing), but I started paying MUCH closer attention to the trend and definitely had the mild keto flu symptoms prior to my weight dipping back down, and slight “out of keto” symptoms when my weight was rising back up.

Odd. I’d only ever experienced extreme IN or OUT with ketosis and keto flu.

Instead of the full-on symptoms though, I might have a relentless headache one day, the rare leg cramp here and there, some irritability and moodiness out of the blue maybe. But hey, I’m a woman – those all sound like normal things you experience now and then πŸ˜‰ right?!

It finally occurred to me that it may be a certain low carb food I was eating that was causing the more recent fluctuations and weird symptoms – and more specifically: knocking me out of ketosis, or at least dramatically affecting my ketone levels.

Testing with ketone strips confirmed that was indeed the case.

I’m actually more concerned with becoming so sedentary and getting back to my regular workouts than I am with my weight, but…

I definitely wanted to know if there was a food or product I’ve been eating that affects ketone levels (and therefore weight loss) for YOUR sake – and also because randomly getting pissy or weepy is not really pleasant, lol.

Use “Clean Testing” to Identify Your Culprits

You know that saying: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” – I really dislike that saying πŸ˜› lol. Anyway, that’s what usually happens when people start guessing without doing any real testing.

You don’t want to restrict your diet to the point of total food boredom, assuming this or that affects you in a certain way, without any real test to determine that as a FACT.

And it’s not just foods that can cause low carb weight loss stalls. Things like medications, vitamins & supplements, stress, sleep quality etc can all play a part in your weight loss.

In case you missed it, this all started just before my last trip. I opened this discussion and shared my initial thoughts & results here:

β€œHow Do You Know If You’re In Ketosis?”

I started by using the ketone strips I mentioned in that post after talking to the clinical lab scientist that developed them (and scoring us a discount on them!).

I used those strips to confirm my concerns – I was definitely OUT of ketosis:

Ketosis Testing Strips - Ketone Urine Testing
Our coupon code for 15% off is: MEDKETONE15

Step One: Get Back Into an Optimal Ketosis State

The fastest, easiest way to get back into a state of Optimal Ketosis* is to eat super simple and “super clean” with no products or processed foods and as few ingredients as possible – sticking to keto macros of 20 net carbs max and 70% fat minimum.

That means no bars, no products, no processed foods – just meat & greens + healthy fats. I tend to eat simple anyway, but my 3IMAX method is GREAT to break a stall – or get back into ketosis quickly.

*(Read: Optimal Ketosis)

So that’s exactly what I did. I headed out on my low carb trip and ate super clean, limiting “products” I took with me to those I was already super familiar with.

I left in ketosis, I returned in ketosis, and then I started a series of “clean testing” by introducing one “questionable” product back into my diet at a time – and testing my ketone levels each morning along the way.

What I’ve Learned So Far…

I went back to my “usual staples” of low carb foods I was eating last year which includes cheese, cream cheese, almonds, pecans, peanut butter and some of the other “known culprits” that might stall weight loss for some people. In addition to steak, chicken, salads, green vegetables, etc of course. πŸ˜‰

So I ruled those foods out as an issue for ME, because I got back into Optimal Ketosis and my weight started dropping again immediately.

I also continued using my Coffee-Mate Hazelnut Sugar Free Powdered Creamer through this test, so I ruled that out as a problem as well.

*The powdered is lower in carbs than the liquid, and creamier (takes less), and the hazelnut flavor is the lowest in carbs with the best taste of all the flavors. I was sure I would like vanilla better but it has a funky flavor or aftertaste to it, where the powdered hazelnut does not.

Is it a frankenfood with way too many ingredients? YES. It’s also delicious and you can pry it from my cold dead (skinny!) hands. πŸ˜›


My first “big test” when I returned home from my trip was to experiment with the Keto Kookies to see if they affected my ketone levels at all.

In order to make it a TRUE TEST, I ate SIX of them. πŸ™‚

I shared a slideshow of my keto kookie test here:

SCORE! Keto Kookies do NOT affect my ketone levels!

@GrassFedGirl said, “you’re really suffering on this diet! lol” – haha, yes! πŸ˜›

I am totally in love with the brand new Peanut Butter Keto Kookies so I cannot even express the RELIEF over finding they do NOT knock me out of ketosis or even affect my ketone levels. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Yay!!

They were back in stock this morning the last time I checked, btw – but they sell out FAST. The other three flavors are okay, they’re good, but the Peanut Butter is the BEST!;)

NEW: Peanut Butter Keto Kookie - Low Carb, Gluten Free
Our coupon code for Keto Kookies is: LOWCARBTRAVELER

That was my first true “product test” and like I said I ate SIX of the Keto Kookies (my last six, lol) in two days, or more like 36 hours.

I continued to stay in Optimal Ketosis (a deeper purple on the strip) throughout the entire week as I added in other favorite low carb products one at a time and paid attention to how those affected me – positive or negative.

Here’s what I’ve tested and ruled out so far…

Meaning: these products do NOT throw me out of ketosis or stall my weight loss – or have ANY negative impact on me at all.

Plus the foods I mentioned above: cheese, cream cheese, almonds, pecans, peanut butter – as well as: heavy whipping cream and sugar free syrups, which I enjoyed at various Starbucks on my travels.

So far so good! πŸ˜‰



In order to rule in or rule out specific foods or products, you have to test only one at a time for ideally two full weeks. I’ve been doing 3-day tests off and on myself for the last three weeks, but only on foods I’m more familiar with – so far.

And then — I ate the No Cow Protein Cookie that came in one of the March boxes and BAM, I was out of ketosis by the next morning.

This one totally surprised me, but…

If you look at the nutrition facts for that cookie it lists a “Protein Blend” as the first ingredient. I totally missed that! My fault, for not reading the label before I ate it.

I have been suspecting (and so far trying to avoid) these “protein/fiber blends” in some products as MY culprit.

These are the protein or fiber blends that jack up the fiber & protein counts – which I’ve been eyeballing a bit suspiciously for awhile now.

Confirmed by a previous test using NutiLight Hazelnut Chocolate Spread, which lists Chicory Root Fiber as the first ingredient – and also knocked me straight out of ketosis (with just one serving).

Here’s an example of what I mean…

Notice that this product has NO sugar alcohol – yet VERY high fiber (and very sweet to the taste):

Beware - Protein and Fiber Blends in Low Carb Products

These are low carb / low sugar gummies, “only 9 net carbs for the entire bag” and apparently quite good. I haven’t eaten any of them myself (I don’t really like gummies), but had a whole box to review – and all my friends love them.

That is the ONE thing that the NutiLight Hazelnut Spread and the NoCow Protein Cookie had in common, a protein or fiber blend as the first ingredient, and both products knocked me out of ketosis with a single serving – in a clean test, with only my usual low carb foods that day otherwise.

These two food tests were four days apart, I experienced the mild keto flu symptoms again, ate “clean” and got back into optimal ketosis, then had the cookie and got knocked back out.

EveryBODY is different…

What affects one person might not affect the other, so you may have no trouble with these various soluble fiber and/or protein blends used to lower net carb counts, increase protein or fiber, and also provide sweeter flavor.

You may also be sensitive to dairy or gluten or get migraines from red wines or dark chocolate. You know your body best, and you’re the only one that can discover your own personal culprits – through mindful clean testing and through the process of elimination.

But read this: Are All Fibers Truly Ketogenic?

“and thus should be viewed as a slow digesting carbohydrate rather than a β€œtrue fiber.”

#eyeopener πŸ™„


“It is important to keep in mind that everyone is metabolically different, so if you are consuming food items with these fibers in them, be sure to monitor blood glucose and ketone readings to find how each of these fibers personally affect you.”


My testing continues…

I said that both products knocked me out of ketosis, but after the NutiLight I still had trace ketones when testing – it simply knocked me out of Optimal Ketosis levels.

After eating the NoCow protein cookie I had no trace of ketosis whatsoever by the next morning.

I find all of this incredibly interesting. Not only is food science something that fascinates me, testing how various products and ingredients affect MY body and my health is very enlightening!

It’s been 2 days since I ate the NoCow Protein Cookie (which was terrible anyway, btw), so I expect I should be back in Optimal Ketosis by tomorrow morning.

I admit that this seems like a good time to take a detour and enjoy a sushi dinner… but I have more testing to do, and am anxious to test that next product! lol


Dealing With Low Carb Weight Loss Stalls & Plateaus

I hope this proved helpful, or at least interesting. I’ll keep you posted of course. I think it’s important NOT to obsess over scales and ketone testing and dieting in general, but to also be mindful and aware of what you’re eating and how it’s affecting both your weight loss journey AND your health.

On that note, here are some good reads:

Not Losing Weight Eating Low Carb? Check These 4 Points First

Struggling With Weight Loss? Try This Simple 3IMAX Rule

Mysterious Weight Gain or Stalls While Eating Low Carb

If you are using any bars or products, try cutting those out for two weeks. Limit nuts, cheese & cream cheese too and eat super simple: just 2-3 ingredients per plate, mostly meat & greens + healthy fats.

Be cautious of hidden carbs like Starbucks “secret sugar water” (or their itty bitty egg bites that are 9 net carbs) and the Tricky Egg Tacos at Taco Bell.


I still have a lot of low carb products to test on myself. πŸ™‚

Honestly I just want to eat steak and drink keto shakes and enjoy my cheesy eggs, but I’ll resume the testing as soon as I’m back in Optimal Ketosis range!

Low Carb Food Products that are Keto Friendly and Gluten Free


“I want to be healthy, happy, lean, more self confident, have a better self image, feel good about my choices (instead of feeling guilty, disgusted or defeated)…”
-source: Weight Loss Motivation: Staying on Track & Sticking to Your Goals


I refrained from starting back up on an aggressive exercise routine this past week while testing, to keep the test as “clean” (accurate) as possible.

I would like to test that separately, given “muscle recovery” can cause inflammation and a temporary “hold” on the scales. I’d like to see whether it has an impact (or not) on ketone levels too. πŸ˜‰

Thoughts, Questions… Your Experience?

Leave a comment and let’s chat!:)

Lynn Terry,
aka @LowCarbTraveler

p.s. Have you had a chance to watch the Keto vs Low Carb video and read my post there? It explains things in VERY simple terms, and I show you just how EASY a low carb lifestyle can be. Plus you’ll get a chance to “meet me”. πŸ˜‰

Click the image below to continue…

Keto vs Low Carb


instagram low carb @lowcarbtraveler @lowcarbtraveler @lowcarbtraveler pinterest low carb

Low Carb Snack Box


Need Help… and a SERIOUS dose of Weight Loss Motivation?
Watch the Low Carb Classes this week!

All five of the Low Carb Classes are now available to stream online, download to watch offline, or stream on mobile/tablet devices. You can currently name your own price before the “set price” of $99 goes into effect next week. πŸ˜‰ Enjoy!

About Lynn Terry

I love making the low carb diet EASY for people with a busy lifestyle (like me!) with my KISS / Keep It Simple method. :) About Lynn Terry: Host of the Low Carb Challenge
This entry was posted in Weight Loss. Bookmark the permalink.


25 Responses to Low Carb Weight Loss Stalls: Identifying Food Culprits That Affect Your Ketosis Levels

  1. Valerie says:

    I think there’s one metabolic factor you may be overlooking. While sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners don’t raise your blood glucose levels, they do provoke an insulin response from your body. Your body perceives β€˜sweet’ and releases the appropriate amount of insulin to deal with it. Because insulin is a fat storing hormone, you may be holding onto a few more of your calories than you would if you didn’t use artificial sweeteners.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Nope. I’m talking strictly about ketosis and weight loss here. I have tested various sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, and products that contain those, and lose weight just fine – and also stay in ketosis, which means no inflammation & chronic pain for me.

      I wasn’t looking into (or overlooking) metabolic factors or calories or anything else. Just ketone levels and weight loss. πŸ˜‰ Thank you for the great input though!

  2. Bridget Hall says:

    Very curious how KNOW cookies affect your ketosis!

  3. Shelby Pritchard says:

    What about stevia or stevia products (erythritol)? I never used much in the beginning but now I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking coffee so I use HWC and stevia in my coffee. I’ve been wondering if that is stalling me. I to have not lost any in about a year and I fluctuate about 5 pounds all the time.

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Shelby,

      I haven’t had a problem with those sweeteners myself, as they are listed as ingredients in the foods I’ve already ruled out in the list here in the post.

      Are you logging your HWC? It’s half a carb per TBSP or one carb per 2 TBSP. All of the heavy whipping cream brands SAY zero carb on the label, but that’s because it’s “less than one carb per serving.”

      That’s usually not an issue, but it can really add up if you’re using a cup of it in a recipe for example.

      I have been “wondering” for a long time now too. The only real way to know for sure is to start doing clean testing with the process of elimination. πŸ˜‰

  4. Elizabeth Scott says:

    Um, actually your line about wanting keto shakes, cheesy eggs & steak sounds like a great idea. Had the Ketologie chocolate shake for first time this week and it is SO good! I’m in a long stall right now, so this sounds tempting to try…

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Those keto shakes are SO good! πŸ™‚ I am making low carb candy (aka fat bombs) this weekend, and I don’t have ANY chocolate in the house that does NOT have chicory root fiber or inulin as an ingredient… so I am going to try mixing the chocolate Ketologie with coconut oil to create my chocolate base for the chocolate cups this time. πŸ™‚ I’ll let you know how that works out!

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Have you tried the 3IMAX method I mentioned to break your stall?? That usually always works!

  5. Rachel says:

    I love your posts but this one was exceptionally helpful. I’m not anywhere near my goal weight and I have only lost 24 pounds over the last 6 months. I haven’t had big swings, I just stay within a few pounds for a long time before I see a definite loss. I bought a keto mojo but just haven’t been disciplined about testing or really understanding what was knocking me out of ketosis. You have inspired me to take that next step to get more serious about staying in ketosis. Thanks so much!!

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Rachel,

      Thank you! I’m really glad to hear it proved helpful for you. πŸ™‚

      It really DOES take discipline and patience. It’s easy to just get complacent, which is fine sometimes – unless you’re stressing over it or considering giving up on your goals – but just keeping it low carb and not stressing over it is not a *terrible* thing either.

      I’m so glad this inspired you to dig in TOO, because it really was starting to bother me and perplex me. Which is definitely when it’s time to take proactive measures. πŸ˜‰

      The first step like I mentioned in the post is to eat super clean and get back to an Optimal Ketosis state, then test one thing at a time from there.

      I recommend at least 3-5 days between introducing new foods or products, testing each morning along the way, because it can take ~72 hours to metabolize any foods you eat. I’m finding that to be a good pace for me so far.

      • Linda says:

        I am having the same issue. I took about a 3 month break and gained 12 pounds. I have been doing keto for 4 weeks and have only lost 1 pound. I still have 30 lbs to go so I’m not close to my goal. I use ketostix and have been in the purple range for the last week and still nothing.

        Do you think the 31maxx is the answer? I enter into my fitness pal everyday and eat 20 net grams everyday.

        • Lynn Terry says:

          Hi Linda,

          If you are eating any bars or other processed foods, I would try dropping those first.

          The 3IMAX method is a great stall breaker because it forces you to only eat whole foods – not even processed meats. πŸ˜‰ It works like a charm!

          What do YOU think the culprit could be for you?

          • Linda says:

            I’m not sure I’m not eating any bars. I do have Lily’s chocolate chips but I measure them and say within my net grams and
            The Ketostix are showing I’m in Ketosis
            Thanks for
            Answering my question before. I am sure you are busy!

          • Lynn Terry says:

            Hi Linda,

            Did you only just start testing with the sticks, or did you only start showing ketosis in the last week?

            Also, what time of day do you weigh yourself? The only true weight is first thing in the morning right after you pee…

            And finally: are you also tracking fat, and getting at least 70% fat consistently every day?

          • Linda says:

            Hi Terry,
            I have been testing for 2.5 to 3 weeks and just got into Ketosis about 1 week ago.

            I test in am after peeing.

            I am getting about 68% fat.

            I am down now a total of 3# but after 4 weeks that could be just so to calorie defecit.

            I am hoping I will see more loss this week. Do you think almond flour is causing anything although I’m still showing I’m in Ketosis.

          • Lynn Terry says:

            Hi Linda,

            Don’t eat low calorie – not intentionally anyway. Eat enough to be satisfied, and eat anytime you’re hungry, within your macros.

            If you just tested as in ketosis a week ago and you’ve lost a few pounds this week, it sounds like you’re doing something right! πŸ˜‰

          • Linda says:

            That’s what I’m hoping too. Thanks

  6. Pingback: Fun, Easy Low Carb Nut Butter Recipes You’ll Love! | Low Carb Diet Tips for Busy People

  7. Nicole says:

    That No Cow cookie in the Keto Krate this month is absolutely TERRIBLE…I tried two bites and had to stop! It was like sheet rock spackle!
    I could not stomach it at all πŸ™

    Definitely looking forward to your KNOW cookie analysis πŸ™‚

    Thank you…you are appreciated TONS!!!

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Thank you, Nicole. πŸ™‚ And YES, I agree – and regret eating the whole thing. I ate with strawberries and cream cheese and pecans, which helped, but it was TERRIBLE. πŸ˜›

      I mentioned that in the March post about the products in each box this month: http://www.travelinglowcarb.com/20725/march-keto-products/ – that I haven’t liked ANY “No Cow” (D’s Naturals) products and was NOT excited to that that cookie either. I wish I had given it to Aaron lol – he doesn’t mind their products. I just do NOT like them!

  8. Pingback: ❤ Legendary Foods Coupon Code: Let’s Have FUN with Special Flavor Requests! | Low Carb Diet Tips for Busy People

  9. Pingback: 4 Ways to Improve Your Ketone Levels for Optimal Weight Loss & More Energy | Traveling Low Carb

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *