Last 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.
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. 😉
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:
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. 😛
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 😉 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 😛 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:
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:
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. 😉
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. 😛
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. 🙂
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! 😛
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. 🙂 🙂 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!;)
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.
- Ketologie Chocolate or Vanilla Keto Shakes
- Coffee-Mate Sugar-Free Powdered Hazelnut Creamer
- Keto Kookies (all flavors)
- Legendary Foods Flavored Nut Butters
- My Low Carb Waffle Recipe
- KZ Low Carb “Chunky Musli” Cereal
- Pili Nuts
- Legendary Foods Seasoned Almonds
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! 😉
CLEAN TESTING REQUIRES SERIOUS DISCIPLINE
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):
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 “true fiber.”
“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:
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.
I still have a lot of low carb products to test on myself. 🙂
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!
“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. 😉
Thoughts, Questions… Your Experience?
Leave a comment and let’s chat!:)
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”. 😉
Click the image below to continue…
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. 😉 Enjoy!