Not Losing on Low Carb? Avoid These Mistakes

Not Losing on Low Carb? Avoid These Mistakes

Video | Losing Progress | The Keto-Friendly Trap | Carb Creep | Expectations

Eating a low carb diet puts your body in a state that favors fat burning. But what if you are not losing on a low carb diet? Some stumbling blocks can easily trip you up when you go low carb. In this post, I will show you how to avoid common mistakes so you can get the results you want. 

Not Losing on Low Carb – Summary

  • Taking unplanned days off can cause you to lose progress. Solution: build-in scheduled days off, and you’ll keep your motivation strong. 
  • Just because a product is labeled as keto-friendly does not mean it will help you lose weight. Keto treats can be high in calories and sweet, making you crave more. Solution: cut the sweetness, not just the sugar.
  • As you progress on your diet, it is easy to drop into mindless eating habits, allowing carbs to creep up too high and block fat loss. Solution: track your carb intake. 
  • How fast fat loss happens for you is unique to you. Comparing your results to those of a friend or family member can be discouraging if you are losing at a slower pace. Solution: run your own race. 

Not Losing on Low Carb? Avoid These Mistakes [Video]

In this video, you’ll learn…

  • Four different mistakes people make while on a low-carb diet.
  • Solutions to help you avoid those mistakes!
  • Free resources to help you reach your short term goals!

Taking One Step Forward and One Step Back

Whenever you are working toward a goal, there will be days that it is easy to stay on track. Your schedule works out, your motivation is high, and while you still need to be focused, you know that today was a good day, and you made progress toward your goal.

However, there will also be days that challenge you. You had a restless night’s sleep. You’re being pulled in five different directions at work, and when you open the refrigerator, nothing looks good.

In these times, it’s easy to tell yourself that you deserve a little break and that it’s okay to loosen your low carb rules as long as you get back on track tomorrow when life is sure to be easier. But when you do that, you take a step backward, and instead of seeing your weight go down, it stalls. 

Solution: Schedule a Free Day

The solution is to schedule a free day. I believe that taking a break is a good idea. However, the trick is to plan your free day so that it is built-in, rather than taken on a whim. 

I show members how to utilize 40-day short term goals in my weight loss programs, with every 41st day being a day without rules. If you want to understand why I use 40-day diet cycles, I touch on it in this free video series.

What you’ll find is that your scheduled free day puts you in control rather than the circumstances around you being in control. It creates a target that you want to hit, and having that clear target gives you the strength to say “no thank you” even on the most challenging days. 

low carb mistake - taking unplanned days off

The Keto-Friendly Trap

The next mistake that is easy to fall into is thinking that everything labeled keto-friendly is okay. A keto diet is a very low carb, high-fat diet. Keto has become a buzzword for weight loss because of the popularity and effectiveness of the diet.

As a result, we now see a lot of recipes and packaged foods labeled as being keto-friendly. This is welcome by many because it provides variety, but just because something says it can fit into a low carb or keto diet doesn’t mean it will help you lose weight.

Many of the recipes and products that have been modified to make them keto-friendly do so by keeping the fat content high and reducing the carb content by using sugar substitutes like allulose or sugar alcohols. These modified foods tend to be high in calories, and they are sweet, making you want to eat more of them.  

Solution: Cut the Sweetness

The solution is to cut the sweetness, not just the sugar. Sugar is a diet destroyer. When we eat it, it causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, causing fat to be stored rather than released.

Sugar is an addictive substance that dulls your taste buds and alters your brain chemistry, making you feel like you need more and more of it to feel good. Keto-friendly snacks remove the sugar, but they don’t remove the sweetness. Continued exposure to that sweet quality keeps your sweet tooth alive, making you want to keep eating these high-calorie treats. 

Here is something else to consider: there is a phenomenon referred to as the cephalic phase insulin response. The term cephalic refers to your head. Therefore, in its most straightforward translation, this is an insulin response that is all in your head and has nothing to do with your blood sugar level. The response is caused by having something sweet in your mouth, even if that sweetness is coming from a non-caloric sugar substitute (1) (2)

The takeaway is that “sugar-free” doesn’t mean “care-free.” These substances impact your brain, body, and metabolism, presenting you with challenges that make weight loss more challenging. 

keto mistake - falling into the keto-friendly trap

Carb Creep

The next mistake that is almost human nature is something I refer to as “carb creep.” It is the tendency to allow your carb intake to creep up as you progress on your diet. Low-carb diets work because they rob your body of easy-to-burn carbohydrates, forcing it to burn fat for fuel.

When you first start a low-carb diet, you are keenly aware of everything you put in your mouth. But, humans are creatures of habit, and as you move along, it is easy to drop into mindless eating habits that allow a few extra carbs to creep into your daily carb total.

Solution: Track Your Carb Intake

The solution is to track your carb intake. If you are not losing weight on a low carb diet, take a few days to track how many grams of carbs you are actually taking in, and then reduce the number until the scale moves again. While this can feel like a chore, it can also be a valuable learning experience that helps uncover hidden carbs in foods that shouldn’t have sugar or carbs like salad dressing and beef sticks.

low carb mistake - letting carbs creep into your diet

Manage Your Expectations

Another thing that can derail your low carb diet is your expectations. When you first start a low-carb diet, results come quickly. Some of that initial weight loss is fat loss, and some is water loss. When you reduce the grams of carbohydrates you are eating, your body responds by lowering your insulin level. When insulin is low, your kidneys flush sodium and water out of your body (3)

Water is heavy, so when it is excreted, you notice a relatively quick drop in the number on your bathroom scale. 

It is easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of this fast weight loss and think that it will continue. However, your body will reach a point of water balance, slowing weight loss, but not necessarily fat loss. This presents us with a challenging mental hurdle because it takes longer to shed fat than it does to shed water, making it easy to think that something went wrong. 

How fast fat loss happens for you is unique to you. Factors like advanced age, past dieting history, and certain conditions like insulin resistance, menopause, and hypothyroidism can slow the rate at which fat loss happens. This can be frustrating, especially if you have a friend or family member who is getting faster results.

Solution: Run Your Own Race

The solution is to run your own race. Comparison is a dangerous thing. Whether your body sheds two pounds a week or a half a pound a week, you are moving in the right direction. Your body is the one you’ve got, and it is doing the best it can with the resources it has available to it. Keep your focus, and you’ll reach your goal. 

low carb diet mistake - comparing yourself to others


(1) Dhillon, Jaapna, Janice Y. Lee, and Richard D. Mattes. “The cephalic phase insulin response to nutritive and low-calorie sweeteners in solid and beverage form.” Physiology & behavior 181 (2017): 100-109.

(2) Just, Tino, et al. “Cephalic phase insulin release in healthy humans after taste stimulation?.” Appetite 51.3 (2008): 622-627.

(3) Tiwari, Swasti, Shahla Riazi, and Carolyn A. Ecelbarger. “Insulin’s impact on renal sodium transport and blood pressure in health, obesity, and diabetes.” American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology (2007).

About the Author

Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.

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