Can’t lose anymore weight? Well, you’re not alone. It can be really frustrating when you experience a weight loss plateau. You may start looking over what you’ve eaten, or done that week that’s stagnated your weight loss. And the temptation could be there to cut back on food, or worse yet give up altogether. Before it gets to that point, don’t panic! The good news is that a weight loss plateaus doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something wrong. But, before you break a weight loss plateau, it would be a good idea to find out why it happened in the first place.
Have You Hit a Weight Loss plateau?
During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part, this is because when you cut calories, the body gets needed energy initially by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen is partly made of water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it releases water, resulting in weight loss that’s mostly water. This effect is temporary, however.
As you lose weight, you lose some muscle along with fat. Muscle helps keep the rate at which you burn calories (metabolism) up. So as you lose weight, your metabolism declines, causing you to burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight.
Your slower metabolism will slow your weight loss, even if you eat the same number of calories that helped you lose weight. When the calories you burn equal the calories you eat, you reach a plateau.
Why Does Weight Loss Plateau?
How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau And Stay Motivated
Increasing Calories to Lose Weight
Muscle Cannibalization is when your muscles begin to break down in order to fuel the other parts of your body. Drastic calorie deficits will cause this as well as not eating enough protein. Your body will start breaking down one muscle group so it can build and repair the muscle group you just worked out.
A study showed that when the body is in starvation mode, instead of fat loss occurring it’s actually muscle loss. There can also be instances when you are losing both fat and muscle.
To stop this happening a dieter must eat enough calories and enough protein to prevent this from occurring. I’m sure you will agree that it’s far better that your losses to come from fat reserves rather than muscle.
Eat To Break The Weight Loss Plateau
This can be a tough one for some dieters, particularly if they have been doing low calorie diets for most of their lives. Nevertheless, when you can’t lose anymore weight, it’s time to start eating again and come into a better relationship with food. Slow and steady weight loss is the goal with flexible dieting and this, unlike other diets, is sustainable over the long-term because you are able to eat and not feel deprived.
Calorie Cycling For Weight Loss
If you’ve been dieting for more than a month, or two, your metabolism likely slow down below the range it would of you were eating more calories. So the theory is that you manipulate the calories you take in. For example, instead of eating the same amount of calories every day, you cycle your calories so you have low and high calorie days. So you would start looking at your calorie intake over a week instead of day to day.
Lets say you need 2000 calories per day to lose weight, with traditional diets that how many calories you would eat everyday. However, with calorie cycling, you’d alternate days of varying calorie intakes, even so your total calories would still total 2000 x 7 = 14000 over a period of a week.
There is no scientific evidence supporting calorie cycling as the best way to lose fat, but there is a large number of respected experts who support it. The alternate low calorie with high calorie days MAY prevent this starvation response from occurring (i.e. 3 days low, 1 day high). Strategically placed cheat meals may also help break through a weight loss plateau and get you back at healthy weight loss per week
Alternative Exercise Routines
- Scientific References:
- Schwartz, M. W., & Seeley, R. J. (1997). Neuroendocrine responses to starvation and weight loss. New England Journal of Medicine, 336(25), 1802-1811.
- Owen, O. E., Smalley, K. J., D’Alessio, D. A., Mozzoli, M. A., & Dawson, E. K. (1998). Protein, fat, and carbohydrate requirements during starvation: anaplerosis and cataplerosis. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 68(1), 12-34.
- Chaston TB, Dixon JB, O’Brien PE. Changes in fat-free mass during significant weight loss: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity (2005). 2007;31(5):743–750.
- Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDougall, J. D., & Atkinson, S. A. (1988). Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. Journal of Applied Physiology, 64(1), 187-193.
- How to Set a Caloric Deficit for Fat Loss
- Price, T. M., O’Brien, S. N., Welter, B. H., George, R., Anandjiwala, J., & Kilgore, M. (1998). Estrogen regulation of adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase—possible mechanism of body fat distribution. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 178(1), 101-107.
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