Have you hit the dreaded 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 very fact that one is able to lose weight initially shows that they are doing something right. However, our bodies are highly adaptable. There are several processes that take place in our bodies which we have totally 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 the towel.
So, why do plateaus occur?
There are several factors that could be possible culprits. Let’s take a look at a few.
- Your body has adapted.
All the training and dieting has 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. The put their body under so much stress by overtraining or excessive cutting of 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. You will recover and even lose weight during this period of rest, as long as your diet is on point.
Another thing is that as your body approaches your ideal body weight, you may experience a weight loss plateau. It is like 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 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 then everyone would be walking around with a six pack.
- Re-evaluate and change your food choices.
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, use olive oil/ coconut oil instead of hydrogenated oils. Switch around your foods and see what works for you. Just remember to maintain a caloric deficit as you make changes. It will be good idea to keep a food journal and keep track of the changes you’re making.
- Alter and adjust daily caloric intake.
If you have been consuming a fixed amount of calories every day, you need to consider changing your caloric intake so as keep your body guessing. Your body will always easily adapt if you continue doing the same routine. You must shake things up a little every now and then. You 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 the techie kind of person you could get a pedometer or a mobile app that will help you log and track your progress daily.
- 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 doesn’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.
- 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 give your metabolic rate a boost. It’s okay to take two steps back if it means taking 5 steps forward later on. A tiger crouches before it leaps.
By eating at a surplus for 4 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 go back on your caloric deficit and carry on doing what you were.
It is true that you may gain a pound or two during these 4 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.
- Keep an eye out for calorie creep.
The opposite of starvation mode is calorie creep and this occurs when you eat more than you actually think you are eating. 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.
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.