Being stuck at a weight-loss plateau for days or possibly weeks eventually happens to everyone who tries to lose weight. Even so, most people are surprised when it happens to them because they’re still eating carefully and exercising regularly. The frustrating reality is that even well-planned weight-loss efforts can stall. A plateau basically means your body’s metabolism has adjusted to what you’ve been putting it through and now is the time to slowly start adjusting your calories, macro-nutrients and cardio regimen.
THREE REASONS WHY YOU PLATEAU:
1) Dieting for too long which affects your fat-burning hormones.
2) Exercising too much and not feeding your body enough calories, which stalls your metabolism.
3) Stress which has been shown to increase the fat belly hormone Cortisol and put your body physiologically through havoc.
TIPS TO GETTING PASSED A PLATEAU RIGHT NOW:
1) Keep a food journal or start logging your food in a food tracker app. Sometimes we think we’re eating enough, when in reality we’re barely getting in enough calories to get us through the day without feeling like crap. Even worse, we could be eating too many calories.
If you’ve been eating the same calories for weeks, even months, and the scale isn’t budging anymore – have a cheat meal tonight. Cheat meals and all the extra calories that come along with it give your metabolism that little boost it needs and it increases those fat burning hormones again that have been pretty much dwindling down to nothing from dieting for so long.
I’d also play around with your calories and start carb-cycling (I’ll show you exactly how to do it – open the link). If your body knows its only getting in x amount of calories each day its going to eventually plateau. One day consume 1,700 calories, the next day 1,400, and repeat. On high carb days your fat intake will be low. On your low carb days your fats will be higher.
2) I won’t get too scientific here, but you know the days where you’d hear “eat less, exercise more”? Well, it’s not entirely true.
Yes, in the beginning, when you’re just starting off and your calories are lower than what your body’s used to having, you’re eating healthier foods that actually promote weightloss and not diseases, and you’re not sitting on the couch anymore but instead exercising 5 hours a week – you’re going to lose weight and you’ll probably lose it fairly quickly (1-4 pounds each week).
After some time your body will adjust to the stress you’re putting it under. The body is very smart! It tells us when we’re tired and need to rest, when we’re hungry and need food, when we need to use the restroom, when you’re hot and need to cool down, etc. Our body is always working to protect us, heal us and is in a constant battle to keep things balanced in us.
When you’re consuming only 1,200 calories a day, barely any fat and little carbs (the typical diet of beginners – me included) and are exercising for two hours a day (one of those hours being cardio), burning up to 1,000 calories, we barely have any calories and glycogen left over to keep us feeling good.
With this kind of diet style you’ll feel tired all day, moody, irritable, lack concentration and probably want to just crawl under a rock and sleep.
Why would you consume LESS calories and exercise MORE than you’re already doing when you hit a plateau? You’re going to kill your metabolism. Instead, slowly start increasing your calories (by like 150 calories a day) and bump down your cardio by either 20 minutes or get rid of one day altogether (trust me on this). Making these small adjustments will get the scale moving in the right direction and get you feeling back to normal in no time.
3) The body shifts into survival mode under stress, and your digestive tract literally shuts down. This means that there can be a shortage of the necessary enzymes, bacteria and acids required for proper digestion, absorption and metabolism. When the body does not receive the nutrition it needs to function properly it will remain “hungry.” You might be reaching for food out of malnutrition even if your intake is excessive.
Levels of potentially inflammatory cholesterol, glucose, triglycerides, sodium and insulin increase while valuable hormones necessary for weight loss and lean body mass, such as human growth hormone and thyroid hormone, decrease under stress.
Extra stress can also lead to binge-eating and interrupt your sleep, both of which counteract with weightloss.
Find your triggers that make you stress and learn how to avoid them or respond to them differently.
There are going to be some things that we can’t avoid or control such as our family or co-workers, but what we can do is control how we respond.
All of these can contribute to plateaus, in my opinion. Did any of these sound familiar to you? Do you have any questions for me?