Pushing past weight loss plateaus
If you’ve been on a fat loss journey for a few months, you may have been the victim of a plateau, or stalled progress. Most dieters experience a plateau at some point, and it can be very frustrating. If you haven’t, consider yourself very lucky.
Plateaus normally occur nearer to your goal weight, and can last for several weeks. It is a discouraging experience for those who follow a diet and exercise routine religiously. But, do not despair. You can overcome a plateau by making a few changes.
Let’s delve into some solutions and important facts to help you break your weight loss plateau.
Record Every Food Morsel You Drink, Eat,Taste, or Lick
An extra bite of chocolate here and a tablespoon of mayonnaise there might push you over your daily calorie limit, and if you’re not expending more energy than you take in, your progress may stall. If you are following a calorie restricted diet, it is wise to keep a food diary to make sure you eat the right amount of calories. If calorie creep is the cause of your plateau, a food diary will point out where you are going wrong.
Up the intensity
If you’ve been hitting the gym for some time and kept your workout routine more or less the same, it’s time to switch things up. Your body adapts to a routine very quickly, and becomes efficient at doing the task at hand. Keep your body guessing and perform the ultimate calorie burn by varying your physical activity. If you’ve been walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes each day for the last few weeks, up the intensity by walking on a higher gradient at a faster speed, or adding a few high intensity sprints every 2 minutes. If you’ve been doing resistance training, add more weight and work at a higher intensity as well.
If your body is in starvation mode, or you have just been dieting for more than a month, your metabolism can and will likely slow down above and beyond the range if you were eating more calories. There isn’t much scientific evidence supporting calorie cycling as a superior way to lose fat, but alternating low calorie with high calorie days may prevent this starvation response from occurring.
Eating less than the prescribed minimum amount of calories is not only dangerous to your health, but will push you into starvation mode. If the body thinks it is in starvation mode, metabolism comes to a grinding halt. For women, the minimum amount of calories to take in per day is 1200, for men 1500. Add a bit of extra energy, say 100 calories, by eating something extra, like a grapefuit each day. Your metabolism will fire up again.
Have a cheat meal
Most people cannot stay on a diet that severely restricts calories for long. Once a week, you eat what you want. Studies show that a cheat meal can increase metabolism, which could jump-start weight loss. It’s not only good for your psyche, but also it probably ensures that you get certain fat-soluble vitamins that you may not have consumed during the week. A cheat meal is also good for restoring leptin levels if your metabolism has slowed down to a crawl. Be cautious, though: keep it to one meal, and don’t make it a cheat day!
A thyroid disorder, insulin resistance, or polycystic ovary syndrome could all be making your body hold on to those extra kilos. Don’t immediately assume this is the problem, but if you have truly tried everything else, it might be worth exploring the issue with a medical professional.
Let us know what you’ve tried and how it helped you.
By Letitia Kleynhans