Or “stall-gains” (as one smart lady on a low-carb board once phrased it). Stall-gains can do a real number on your mindset, as I can personally attest. A stall-gain means that, despite your best efforts at low-carbing and exercise, there is no progress on the scale except an upward trend and little or no progress with inches lost, either.
Whatever one calls it, it’s the bane of low-carbing. For that matter, it's the bane of any healthy eating style in which one aims to improve that health and get a little bit (or a lot of bit!) trimmer. But it is never an excuse to give up!
The definition of a bona fide stall or plateau means no loss in both weight and inches for at least 4 consecutive weeks or longer. (We can “halt” or even increase on the scale, while building up LBM – Lean Body Mass - while at the same time we’re losing inches! That doesn't qualify as a plateau or stall; it would qualify for what I call an "exercise gain," but that's a good thing.)
A halt is just what it seems to be: a temporary "halt" of progress on the scale, usually just a matter of days. Those are nothing to worry about!
When nothing else works to break the true and dreaded plateau, there are other matters to research (but that’s a topic for a future article). If it's not the diet or medication or supplements or exercise, the "trouble" could be something I've not yet found seriously addressed in any of the popular low carb resources: the weather.
Based on my personal experience, as well as observing what is happening to most low-carbers during the winter months, I offer the humble opinion that we either slow down or completely halt if we live where ever there is true winter (snow, ice, freezing rain). The halts and the true plateaus inevitably hit everyone at least once when the inclement weather starts. The “stall-gains” seem to be a matter of adding insult to injury.
In reality, however, there’s no insult and no injury done – as long as we’re sticking to the plan. All of the other benefits we’ve already experienced are still ours...so consider it a rest-stop on the low-carb journey. (You may have no choice on how long that rest lasts; your only choice is to stay on plan and wait!)
Btw: On this topic, I am not taking "cheats" into consideration. Cheats, by their very name and nature, explain gains and stalls. However, as a member of various low-carb boards, I’ve observed that there is more inclination to veer off the low-carb plan during the winter.
It's not only due to boredom, though that's often the case. Suddenly, there are more questions about “falling out of ketosis” or concerns about suddenly increased appetite. We may find ourselves actually wanting more protein, or more fat, or (egads!) more carbs – with the latter being the worst culprit to immediate wt. gain.
It very well may be an instinctual thing to suddenly want to eat more once the winter weather hits. Even though resisting that desire, as I do, the plateaus or bounces (“stall-gains”) may continue.
After literally trying every trick in the low-carb book(s), my conclusion is that the metabolism puts the winter survival mechanism into high gear. That means the metabolism adjusts to keep the fat on the ole bod, in order to help us survive the winter.
Again, that's only a theory (mine) and it’s one I cannot prove, since I don't have low-carb volunteers or a lab at my disposal. Yet it's as good a theory as any.
So what to do?
Stick with it anyway! Using an old maxim but giving it a low-carb spin: We have everything to gain and nothing to lose if we abandon the low carb lifestyle. When we go off plan, we'll very easily gain weight within a day or two (and we’ll keep gaining if we continue veering off the low carb path). We’ll also gain the high blood pressure, the lack of energy, the headaches, the bloated, upset tummies, the GERDS, the over-all “blahs,” etc., etc., etc.!
In other words: When we go off plan, we'll lose every benefit for which we worked all the months before!
Conclusion: It's simply not worth it!
The winter must end eventually...and I choose to greet spring at the same constant wt. (or very close to it) rather than with a substantial regain, not to mention lack of self-esteem, energy that goes with it!
It might be darned hard to wait all these months to break a plateau or see any losses that stick, but I'll be darned if I'm going to give up the race now when I've made 2/3 of the journey!
Not only that, I figure the Whoosh Fairy will have a lot of lost time for which she must make amends. After all, she has not kept to her part of the bargain! (And I fully intend to see she does!) :>