There is so much noise and confusion out there that it prompted you to write a whole book on stalls. What made you do this?
As a keto-oriented nutrition professional, stalled fat loss is the most common reason that people write to me for help. I realized that instead of writing out the same reply every time or giving some of the same very basic advice, I could put all of it in one place and just point people to this resource. It has everything you need. If you are stalled in fat loss, you are not the only one. It’s definitely a very frustrating thing, because social media is full of pictures of magical transformations which make you think that excess fat is melting off of everybody but you. You’ve watched everything out there and listened to every podcast and you think you’re doing everything right, but that scale still isn’t moving, so what do you do?! I created this resource to try and help people get out of that.
When did you finish writing this book?
How long did it take you to write that book?
Maybe about six or eight months to put the whole thing together, but that was a lot of the design aspects. It’s built on articles that I had already written; I’ve been writing about these issues already for years, but this was the time that I put them all in one place. There is so much misinformation out there. I co-authored End Your Carb Confusion with Dr. Westman, and this book could be called End Your Stall Confusion! There is so much different advice and different opinions out there. Different things work for different people, but I wanted to at least present the most common things that get in the way of fat loss on a keto diet – here are the simplest changes you can make to get things moving. Just like we did in End Your Carb Confusion, I try to cut through a lot of the extraneous noise and the unnecessary over-complication. I wanted to offer the core information you need that will actually be helpful.
What is your definition of a stall?
It’s an important question, I have an entire chapter devoted to this question: ‘Are you even in a stall?’
If you’re worried about breaking a fat loss stall, the first thing to determine is if you are actually stalled. Everybody wants weight loss to happen immediately; we want to lose weight as quickly as possible and, of course, it doesn’t usually work that way. If you’ve been at the same scale weight for a couple of days, that’s not a stall. Even if it’s been a couple of weeks, that also might not be a stall. We don’t define a stall as experiencing no weight loss in a few days or a few weeks – we’re talking many weeks to months. There’s so much that goes into weight loss. It’s very normal to be at the same weight for a while, lose a bit, then stay the same for a bit, then lose a little more. You might even gain a pound or two, then lose a little more. It doesn’t always mean you’re doing anything wrong. Very often, even when your scale weight isn’t changing, very good things are happening on the inside. It just takes a little while for the scale to catch up.
Something that I talk about in The Stall Slayer is that when you were in the process of gaining weight, you didn’t notice it. It didn’t come on really quickly. You didn’t gain 20 pounds overnight; it happened gradually. None of us notice that it happens this way, because we don’t get on the scale every day when we’re not trying to manage our weight, so why do we expect that we should lose it quickly? That it should drop off immediately? It doesn’t. It tends to be a very gradual process. If your scale weight isn’t moving but you’re losing inches, your size and shape are changing, or your physique is changing, then you are not stalled. We really have to change the conversation from weight loss to fat loss. It is very common—especially among women, but it can happen in men too—very often in women, they may go down a size or two with no change at all in scale weight or a much smaller change than you would expect compared to your size change. I recommend that people take their measurements. You cannot go solely by the scale to determine whether or not you are stalled.
Weight loss is not linear. People have unrealistic expectations of how this should happen. They expect a line graph that is consistently going down, but that’s not how it works in reality. Can you elaborate on that?
We all wish that’s how it worked! In the ideal world, if you’re trying to lose fat, you would lose at a steady rate – a couple of pounds a week, a couple of ounces a day – and you would magically arrive at your goal weight. That’s almost never how it happens. Maybe it does for one or two lucky people out there, but it is perfectly normal for it to be a little wiggly. When you’re new to a ketogenic diet, you tend to lose several pounds early on because your body is letting go of a lot of excess water. You drop the water pretty quickly, then you start tapping into body fat, which is a little more stubborn. The day-to-day fluctuations in scale weight are normal. You can weigh yourself every day, but you really have to have an appreciation for the fact that the little blips, the up and down from day to day are normal as long as that longer term trend over time is downward. That downward line in scale weight is not perfectly straight. It’s going to be a little squiggly, but as long as that squiggle is going down over time, that’s what we want. The human body is not a machine. It’s not a calculator or a computer. It doesn’t always respond exactly the way we wish it would to certain inputs. You just have to be patient, even though it’s not in everyone’s nature to have that kind of patience when they want to lose weight.
People have expectations regarding certain body parts and the weight they would like to lose and unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. You don’t have a say in the matter.
Yes, and often the place where you want to lose it from the most is the place where you will lose it from last! You can’t predict it, and you can’t control it. You cannot necessarily control the outcome, but what you can control is your behavior and the actions that are the most likely to get you to the outcome you want.
You mentioned that “fat loss” and “weight loss” are different. Which one should people actually monitor?
This is so critical. I use the phrase ‘weight loss’ sometimes, because that’s what we’re all used to hearing. That’s what people search for online. What we really want to lose is fat. We see this all the time: most people can lose weight, but the reason that it’s so easy to regain weight that you’ve lost (and some people regain even more) is that in most weight loss approaches – weight loss, not fat loss – and very low calorie approaches, you will end up losing a lot of your lean tissue, your lean muscle mass. Muscle mass is the last thing you want to lose, because the more muscle mass you have on your body, the higher your metabolic rate is going to be and the more calories you need. The more energy your body requires just to be alive. If you go on a very restrictive diet and you lose a lot of this muscle mass, your metabolic rate will be lower. What happens is your diet becomes unlivable and unsustainable and you go back. Now, you’re eating what you were eating before, but you’re gaining weight on it, because your body isn’t burning as much energy. We don’t want to lose weight; we want to lose fat. That’s why you can’t obsess too much about the scale number.
If you are someone who’s living with morbid obesity, if you’re very heavy, then we could say you want to lose “weight,” but even then, we don’t want you to be losing muscle mass and bone mass. We want it to be body fat. The scale weight tells you only one thing: your total body weight. A regular, conventional bathroom scale does not differentiate between body fat, water, muscle, bone, ligaments, and all the other tissue in your body. Your brain weighs about two pounds or so! With a regular scale, if you’re losing weight, you don’t necessarily know what you’re losing. We have a colleague who tells a really fascinating story of a female client who was doing very well, everything was going great, but she was gaining weight and she was horrified. It turns out, she had osteopenia or osteoporosis – low bone mass – and when she did a scan, it turned out she was actually rebuilding bone tissue! So, even if the scale is going up, that doesn’t mean you’re gaining body fat. There are perfectly good reasons why you might celebrate the scale weight going up.
The scale weight does not tell you anything about your body fat, which is why we recommend taking your measurements maybe once a month or getting an article of clothing that’s tight and trying that on once a month. It sounds a little strange, but it’s not uncommon for people to get smaller even though the scale hasn’t moved at all.
Check out the full video here.