It can be hard to imagine that the same workout that has been working in your favor, melting pounds off your body for weeks now, has suddenly hit a halt. It has stopped working completely. Even though you are still repeating each move with the same determination, its as if the moves have suddenly lost its power overnight.
If you are in this position right now, know that you are not alone. This completely normal phenomenon is called a weight loss plateau. The most important thing to remember here is that even though your weight hasn’t budged for days now, just don’t revert back to your old ways.
What causes a weight loss plateau?
In the initial few weeks, you will find your weight coming off rapidly. This is because most of us start to watch our calories, and in the process reduce our daily caloric intake. So our body burns the stored glycogen for energy.
Here’s something important about Glycogen. Every gram of glycogen holds 3 grams of water. When glycogen is burned for fuel, it releases the water it stores. This results in a significant weight loss, that is mostly in the form of water weight.
After a few weeks, as you lose muscle, your metabolism lowers, which means you burn lower amount of calories when you perform the same workout. This creates an equilibrium where all the calories you eat gets used up for fuel. There is no real deficit, which means no more weight loss.
The weight loss plateau can last up to 2-3 weeks. You can always wait it out (please don’t revert back to your old eating habits!), or follow the tips below to get your metabolism back on the fat blasting wagon.
Tip#1 Switch Up Your Workouts
Someone who does the same workout constantly is likely to hit the weight loss plateau sooner that someone who tries out different routines. The reason being that your muscle group tends to adapt to consistency. Adding a little variety, where you target the same muscle group using different exercises, or changing speed, intensity or resistance, will keep your body guessing and active. If your workout isn’t challenging you anymore, it is time to switch it up.
Tip#2 Sneak In A Cheat Day
A cheat meal can actually boost fat oxidation. One reason for this is psychological. A cheat day will act as a reward for being on the right track. It will keep you happy and motivated to work even harder next time. Physiologically, refeeding canincrease your metabosism rate.
During a diet, your body is burns glycogen, which is why you lose weight. After a few weeks when the level of glycogen runs low, your metabolism slows, appetite increases and you start to lose muscle mass. At this point, because of low calories entering the body, the level of hormone leptin (that signals satiety and prevents you from overeating) also decreases, making you susceptible to hunger pangs. Along with leptin, your T3, and IGF-1 levels also run low, suppressing fat loss and causing a plateau.
Refeeding helps us to reverse this process. When you give your body more calories, your leptin levels go up, which increases fat oxidation and stimulates the thyroid.
The best way to up your leptin levels, at this point, is by eating meals very rich in carbohydrates and protein, every 5-7 days. This will help you break that plateau.
Tip#3 Record Every Food and Drink That Enters Your System
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that the participants who kept food diary six days a week, while eating healthy and working out for six months, lost almost twice as much weight than participants who only kept food record one day a week. Being consistent with keeping a caloric deficit is what produces weight loss. If there is no deficit, not weight will be lost and you will hit that plateau fast. It is very important to know how much calorie you are consuming and how much you are losing, and the best way to do that is by recoding every food morsel that enters your mouth.
Tip#4 Cut Back on Sodium. Drink Water. Eat Fiber
Salt (sodium)causes water retention, making you gain water weight. Stay away from salad dressing with high sodium content and also prepacked and canned foods. Up your water intake so that you can flush out not just the water weight but also the excess sodium. A research study found that, despite being on the same low-calorie diet, participants who drank at least 2 cups of water before each meal lost 30% more weight than those who didn’t drink the water.
Increasing your fiber intake is also important because with each gram of fiber, you lose up to 7 calories. The more fiber dense food elements you eat, the more weight you lose through stool.
Tip#5 Lift weights
To bring back that momentum, add weights to your workout routine. This will increase the amount of lean muscles on your body, a process which promotes fat oxidation. With a higher muscle mass comes a higher BMR, which means that a full body weight training routine will rev up your metabolism and burn more calories even during rest.
Hitting a weight loss plateau is very normal, but being stuck there is an option. With the tips above you will be able to cross over that plateau very fast..
In the comments below, tell us: Have you hit a weight loss plateau? If yes, what you are doing now to bring your body back on the weight loss mode.