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Have you hit the dreaded weight loss plateau? Are you on the same weight loss program that had you shredding pounds effortlessly for the past few weeks, but your results have suddenly stagnated? The average person finds it difficult to understand how everything that was working just fine has suddenly come to an abrupt halt. They assume that they are doing something wrong or that it was all too good to be true and that they are destined to a life of being overweight.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that one can lose weight initially shows that they are doing something right. However, our bodies are highly adaptable. Several processes occur in our bodies that we have no control over.
One perfect example is a weight loss plateau. A plateau is a stage where your body weight does not seem to change no matter what you do. This can be exasperating because you’re giving it your all, but the weight doesn’t seem to be coming off the scales. The most important thing to remember during this period of stagnation is that what you’re going through is normal, and you should not throw in the towel.
So, why do plateaus occur?
Several factors could be possible culprits. Let’s take a look at a few.
Your body has adapted
All the training and dieting have resulted in some weight loss, but your body has simply adapted and reached a stage where it is able to easily handle the stress you are placing on it. In order to break through the plateau, you may need to challenge yourself further.
If you have been walking so far, maybe it’s time to start running. If you have been doing slow cardio, it might be time to ramp up your training sessions and throw in a few HIIT sessions in the mix to challenge your body.
Your body is stressed out
This is a very common reason. Many people try to do too much too soon. They put their body under so much stress by overtraining or excessively cutting calories that it has gone into shock and simply “frozen” to an extent that it no longer responds to any training or diet.
The best remedy during times like these will be to take a 2 to 4-day break to give your body time to rest and recuperate. Sometimes, less is more. If your diet is on point, you will recover and even lose weight during this rest period.
In addition to the disruptions caused by stress, your body’s natural response to stress is altered. A study of 72 women aged 17 to 26 years showed that 81% of them experienced a change in appetite. About six-tenths reported an increase in appetite. In addition to eating more, they also ate more junk food, which may cause weight gain.
Another thing is that as your body approaches your ideal body weight, you may experience a weight loss plateau. It is like the more weight you lose, the more your weight loss slows.
Now that you understand what a weight loss plateau is, let’s explore a few effective strategies to bust out of a plateau and get on track to shredding the stubborn fat. Do remember to exercise patience as you implement these strategies. Sometimes the body just needs time to rest. Our bodies are resistant to change. If changing our bodies was easy, everyone would walk around with a six-pack.
Strategies to overcome a weight loss plateau
1. Re-evaluate and change your food choices.
If you have reached a weight loss plateau, you may need to change your calorie intake to achieve your new target weight. As you lose weight, your body requires fewer calories to maintain itself. You should re-evaluate your calorie intake to determine whether you still need a certain number of calories to maintain your weight. Some examples of potential solutions include eating more nutrient-rich foods or cutting back on fat.
Review your dietary intake and activity levels. You may need to relax some rules, but you shouldn’t reduce your calorie intake to the point where you’re eating more than you burn. Cutting back too far too quickly could result in constant hunger and overeating. Instead, reduce your calorie intake gradually to the point where you’re at a healthy number.
Most people underestimate their calorie and energy intake. However, tracking your calories and macronutrient intake can help you identify what you’re eating and how much you need. A food tracking app can help you determine your calorie intake and diet patterns.
By changing your food, the body will get exposed to different nutrients and may start reacting differently. Swap fish for chicken, try out new veggies, and use olive oil/ coconut oil instead of hydrogenated oils. Switch around your food and see what works for you. Just remember to maintain a caloric deficit as you make changes. It will be a good idea to keep a food journal and keep track of the changes you’re making.
2. Alter and adjust daily caloric intake.
If you have been consuming a fixed amount of calories daily, you need to consider changing your caloric intake to keep your body guessing. Your body will always easily adapt if you continue doing the same routine. You must shake things up a little now and then. Your caloric intake daily should vary so that your body keeps adapting.
You can find out how to vary your calories by visiting http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm
It’s essential that you keep a journal to track your calories, food, training, etc. It will be crucial in monitoring your progress and also serve as a tool to motivate you.
If you are a techie person, you could get a pedometer or a mobile app that will help you log and track your progress daily.
3. Increase physical activity
If your weight loss is stagnant, increasing physical activity can help you get past it. More lean body mass is a better source of energy than fat. Therefore, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn while at rest. Many Americans spend more than twelve hours sitting each day. Increasing physical activity will help you get through this plateau and reach your weight loss goals. By adding brisk walking to your daily routine, you can burn more calories than you currently do.
In addition to increasing physical activity, you can also add strength training to your routine. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so increasing your muscle mass can help you break through the weight loss plateau. Strength training can help you break through this plateau and maintain your desired weight if you’ve been focusing on weight loss. Strength training will boost your metabolism and burn more calories than fat.
A recent study has shown that moderate aerobic exercise burns the same amount of calories as vigorous exercise. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity each week.
Strength training is recommended two days a week. Depending on your age and level of fitness, you can try other physical activities.
4. Start a new workout plan.
You need to change your workout routine every couple of months to ensure that your body does not adapt to the same old exercises. This ensures that you stimulate your muscles in new ways and will keep your metabolism firing at a high rate.
Try out new forms of exercise that you have never tried. Try and enjoy what you’re doing. Exercise and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can reconcile the two. At least you will be more motivated to engage in activity that helps you drop the pounds.
5. Try not to go into starvation mode.
Your body may have gone into starvation mode because of the reduced caloric intake. This almost always happens to beginners who try to cut their calories drastically. You cannot rush the process. It takes time. Trying to speed things up will have the reverse effect on your weight loss.
While your metabolism will not drop if you skip a meal or two, it will definitely drop if there is a severe sustained calorie restriction. The only way to remedy this situation will be to go on a caloric surplus for 3 or 4 days.
Yes, you read that right. Sometimes the body may have gone into starvation mode despite your best efforts. At times like these, you need a caloric surplus to boost your metabolic rate. It’s okay to take two steps back if it means taking five steps forward later on. A tiger crouches before it leaps.
By eating at a surplus for four days, your body will recover from its starvation mode and get a new burst of energy. Your metabolic rate will start firing away, and then you can return to your caloric deficit and continue doing what you were.
You may indeed gain a pound or two during these four days, but that is ok. You will be able to lose this weight and more as the days progress. If you don’t do it, you may not lose any weight for weeks.
6. Keep an eye out for calorie creep.
The opposite of starvation mode is calorie creep, which occurs when you eat more than you actually think. In cases like this, you may think you are taking 1500 calories while you are actually taking 2000.
It is no wonder that you are not losing weight. You can only lose weight on a caloric deficit. That’s the cardinal rule. Keep an eye on meal frequency and portion sizes.
7. Measuring portions
Oftentimes, people underestimate their portion sizes and eat too much food, which can lead to weight loss plateaus. Measuring portions and keeping a food log can eliminate the guesswork and help you stay on track when it comes to meal plans and portion sizes.
Changing your portion size can be challenging at first, but if you make it a habit, you’ll feel much more motivated and likely to stick with it long-term. Using a measuring cup or a serving size guide will help you avoid overeating and keep your portion sizes in check. It will also help you make healthier choices and avoid portion creep. As you lose weight, you’ll find it easier to control portions and keep the weight off.
Remember, the journey to your ideal body weight is a marathon, not a sprint. Give it the respect and patience it deserves, and you will reap the rewards.
8. Increase your non-exercise activity thermogenesis(NEAT)
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is a method of burning calories that is not considered exercise. It is a large component of your daily calorie expenditure and can account for fifteen to thirty percent of the calories you burn. NEAT is a process in the body that accounts for most of the movement you do throughout the day and can burn as many as 700 calories per day.
While this process does not replace intense workouts, it can still contribute to overall health and help with weight loss. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is not a “quick fix” diet; it requires a small number of lifestyle changes over time.
Inactivity and non-exercise activity are two separate facets of human energy expenditure. Inactive people spend fewer calories than highly active people, and their daily energy expenditure is more variable, often varying by about 2000 calories per day.
In addition, non-exercise activities such as fidgeting and yardwork also contribute to thermogenesis. The factors contributing to the variation in daily energy expenditure include the intensity of activity, the amount of time spent, and the types of physical activity.
Even if you cannot fit into an intense exercise regime, making small changes to your daily routine can burn more calories and help you keep your weight in check. Researchers from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have shown that most overweight people suffer from “sitting disease” and would lose weight if they were more active throughout the day.
When you first start your weight loss journey, it can seem like it’s going really well. It can seem like you’re going to succeed in losing weight really quickly. However, this isn’t the case. It’s important to remember that weight loss isn’t easy or quick. It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.
That’s why you need to stay motivated and keep pushing forward if you want to lose weight. If you use the information from this article and start following the tips we talked about, you should be able to lose weight quickly and easily.
Remember, weight loss takes time. The more you can appreciate that fact, the better off you will be. Put it into practice!