You are making awesome changes in your body when suddenly your progress grinds to a screeching halt. Those pounds of fat that were once falling off effortlessly are now clinging to your body for dear life.
Believe me, this is when frustrations set in, and you’re contemplating just giving up.. don’t!! No matter what you do, nothing is working. Maybe it’s been a week, or two, or even a few months, but your weight is not budging. All you wanna do it quit. Sound familiar?
A weight loss plateau is a period of time during which your body weight remains at the same level. So if your weight doesn’t change for 2 weeks, does that mean your results have stalled?
The phrase “weight loss” does not differentiate between changes in fat, muscle, and water. The primary purpose of tracking your body weight is:
- for accountability
- As a proxy for measuring fat loss.
When you get on the scale and the reading goes down 1lb, the hope is that 1lb represents pure fat – not muscle, or water. But if you are weighing yourself every day, or multiple times per day, you probably notice your weight can fluctuate substantially by 3-5lb. Most of this weight fluctuation is due to changes in water retention.
This is why… in my opinion. The scales should not matter. You should look to how you feel, progress pics etc rather than relying on that damned weighing scales.
If you do not experience a weight loss plateau as you approach your ideal body weight, consider yourself very, very lucky. Weight loss plateaus are to be expected as you are losing weight. Our bodies are resistant to change. So what is very important to remember is that your body will work harder to hold on to your fat stores the leaner you become. Which leaves us with the very frustrating fact that – the ability to lose more fat decreases and it becomes even harder to do so the leaner you become.
So if you experience this problem, here are some tips to follow to help break through the toughest plateau.
Step #1: Re-evaluate Your Calorie Intake – This one is self explanatory.
Step #2: Control the “Calorie Creep” – eating more calories than you think you are eating.
Step #3: Progress Your Body, Don’t Confuse it – While nutrition is likely the culprit for the stall in your weight, making sure you are progressing the intensity of your workouts can only help improve your results.
Now if you still feel you cannot break through, the chances are very likely if you follow the preceding 3 steps, you will be able to break your plateau. Again, 90% of the time it’s a matter of not balancing calorie intake with calorie burn.
But for those in the 10% category, here are some issues/solutions to consider:
1) Starvation Mode– The opposite of the calorie creep is not eating enough calories to help sustain your body. If you are chronically in starvation mode, it’s advisable to up your calorie intake.
2) Calorie Cycling – If you are in starvation mode, or have just been dieting for more than a month, or two, your metabolism can and will likely slow down above and beyond the range if you were eating more calories. This is where strategically placed treat meals are helpful.
3) Hormones – There is a vocal contingent of nutrition experts who describe a stall in fat loss not as a calorie in/out issue, but as a “defect in fat metabolism”. The total amount of calories burned and how those calories are burned (fat loss vs. muscle loss) can be affected by hormonal imbalances. What’s the solution? Unfortunately, a simple answer is not possible, other than to seek medical assistance and test your hormone levels such as adrenal, testosterone etc. If you are taking medications, you may want to check to see if that medication can actually prevent weight loss because some do.
As you continue on your journey to reach your ideal weight, keep in mind that changing your body is a marathon, not a sprint and takes time and patience. I’ve been dieting for over 24 months, and have often been left frustrated and feeling that my efforts are not being rewarded. The sooner you can appreciate this, the better off you will be in the short and long term.