Weight Loss Plateau
A weight loss plateau is when you are making great progress changing your body and suddenly it stops. It was easy at the start then it got a lot harder to keep dropping the unwanted fat. Whether it has been a week or over a month, a weight loss plateau can be fixed by understanding what is really happening with your body.
Fat Loss Plateau versus Weight Loss Plateau
A weight loss plateau is when your body stays at the same weight for days or weeks at a time. This type of loss does not indicate what was lost – water, fat or muscle. Tracking your weight gives you a basic understanding of whether your body is changing overall and it helps keeps you accountable. The major problem with weighing yourself every day is that it can fluctuate by as much as 5 pounds depending on what your activity level is. Most of this is due to water loss or retention. ideally, weigh yourself once a week first thing in the morning. This is a far better measure of success or not. You can weigh yourself every morning if you need it for motivation but take it with the understanding that it may not be accurate. Weighing yourself several times a day at different times can really throw you off. What and how much you ate or drank and your exercise level can change your weight drastically.
Fat loss is different and harder to determine. Weight is one indication of fat loss but not always. Weight can fluctuate for other reasons. Taking body measurements is a better way as is taking a body composition test. This is tough as they are hard to find – try your local gym.
A fat loss or weight loss plateau should only be considered if there is no change in weight for 3 weeks. The two weeks may be due to water retention.
Weight Loss Plateau Facts
1. Weight Loss Plateaus Happen to Everyone
Your body is gong to fight you when you try to change it. Getting to your ideal weight is not easy. It takes lots of hard work and being disciplined in your approach. Having 2-3 plateaus that can last several weeks s not uncommon. f it were really easy, nobody would be fat!
2. Losing More Weight is Harder
The more you lose, the more your weight loss slows down. The mathematics behind this is easy to understand. A large athlete at 300 lbs can lose 1% of his weight in a week and be down 3.0 lbs. The same loss of 1% for a 250 lb athlete would only be 2.5 lbs. As your weight drops, you lose less weight for the same effort simply because you now weigh less.
3. Starvation Mode
Decreasing the calories you eat will trigger your body into survival mode to avoid losing fat due to the starvation it just experienced. The more fat you lose, the more your body tries to hang onto what it has. The most common plateaus for guys are at 20-22% body fat and again at 12% body fat. FYI – normal body fat for guys is around 15%. For athletes it can be as low as under 5% for extreme sports like wrestling and bodybuilding.
Breaking a Weight Loss Plateau
Tips on how to break through plateaus:
1. Calorie Intake
Weight loss will result in a drop in your metabolism. A slower metabolism does make sense – less body mass, less energy needed to keep it going. This why you need to take a look at what you are eating every 10-15lb you lose. Eating the same amount of food all of the time regardless of your overall weight is not good. You WILL be eating too many calories. Your calorie intake should always be less than what you are burning.
2. Hidden Calories
The major cause of a weight loss plateau comes from “hidden” calories – the calories you do not realize you are eating. These calories come from mindless eating:
– eating at a restaurant with large portions
– condiments like sauces, dressings and spreads
– a small bag of a healthy snack says 100 calories – but that is for ONE serving, not the entire bag
– alcohol can add up in a hurry
Suggested solution: Keep a food journal or follow a nutrition plan and do NOT add extras to it. I offer Nutrition Coaching that has gotten very good results with my clients. Tracking your nutrition intake for even a few days is one of the most important steps to take to improve your health.
3. Starvation Mode
Not eating enough calories can cause your body to store all of the fat it can from your calorie intake. This will rob your muscles of much needed nutrients to help build your strength and stamina. With extended low calorie days, your metabolism will also drop causing more issues. Research has shown that a drop of 40-50% in metabolism can be quite common. The solution? Follow a nutrition plan with a set amount of calories and adjust by no more than 500 calories per day for a few days if you do not see results. “Crash” dieting by starving yourself will get you results initially but the weight always come back when you start eating more food again. This causes the yo-yo effect on your weight.
4. Progress Your Workouts
Nutrition is really important but so is doing your workouts properly. Choosing a different workout each time you go to the gym is not helping you track improvements. By watching what weight you use for each exercise over time will help to increase the intensity of your workouts. Stagnating in the weight that you use will slow your progress with weight loss as well. You can change some of the exercises every two weeks or every month but do not change all of them. Consistency is the key.
A weight loss plateau is almost inevitable and is the way your body tells you that something needs to change. Getting down to your ideal weight is a journey that will take time to do it with lasting results. Be patient and it will happen for you.
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