Have you been following a plan or routine that was working, and you seem to recently have hit a wall in your progress? Today, we’ll show you how to blast through weight loss plateau!
Nothing is better than seeing your seriously-hard work paying off. Whether it is reflected back in the mirror or on the scale (or better, both!), working hard and seeing the results is an awesome feeling. This is what keeps us going. And odds are, other people are noticing too. All you have to do is keep up the good work, and you will keep seeing the results, right?
Not necessarily. Why? Because of the dreaded weight loss plateau. It happens to even the best athletes – no matter how hard you try, you just can’t lose the weight or build muscle. Your body is sitting at a total halt.
There are a few different reasons why this can happen.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that there’s a big difference between weight loss and fat loss. Weight loss is flawed term and it’s a bit more complicated, because it doesn’t distinguish between the changes in things like your muscle, your water, or even your fat.
Do you know how to accurately measure body fat percentage? This is an important tool in understanding your real progress.
Everyone has the same goal – lose as much fat as you can, without losing a ton of muscle. This is why we recommend training with a focus on losing fat while building muscle. Of course you’ll also want to keep their water retention healthy but at a minimum.
So let’s say you take a step onto that much loved/hated scale of yours and you see that you’re a pound light from the day before, or even the week before. Congrats!
You’re probably smiling and thinking you ditched a pound of fat. Now, if you weight the same, or even more, you’re probably think you either haven’t lost any fat or that you’ve actually gained fat.
That isn’t always the case. How much do you really know about water retention?
Measuring Weight Loss Plateau and Water Retention
If you take in a lot of carbs and sodium during the day, with basically no water, you might feel what we like to call “puffy” or bloated. The combination of carbs and sodium, mixed with little water, is going to make you feel like that. In fact, it’s pretty easy for you to gain up to five pounds by this method alone!
One thing we recommend, is that if you honestly track your food and water intake, as well as take body measurements.
And obviously, it can be pretty frustrating when you step onto the scale and see this fluctuation effect. If you’ve been working really hard, and see you’ve gained weight, you’re going to think you aren’t going hard enough.
Rather, water retention is the issue that might make you think you’re hitting a weight loss plateau. And it needs to be addressed.
But now take a look at the other end of the spectrum. Let’s say you don’t eat a lot of carbs or sodium during the day. And you’re drinking a ton of water. Well your body is going to be able to flush that water out, which means you aren’t going to be feeling very puffy. Rather, you’re going to feel “hard” overall and have a more defined look. If you’re trying to build muscle and lose fat, this is a great zone to be in.
This might make you think you’ve had an awesome day of fat/weight loss, because you’re looking and feeling good, but it’s also affected by water retention.
Because water retention can be so unpredictable (and let’s be honest, to be such a pain in the ass letdown), this serves as a good reason to limit yourself when it comes to hopping on the scale. Aim for weighing yourself once a week.
You should do this on the same day of every week, and first thing in the morning. If you can, weigh yourself naked to get an accurate reading. If you weigh yourself several times during the week, this is going to take a huge toll on your confidence. Because your weight can go so up and down so often, weighing yourself with less frequency is the way to go.
There are also ways to help you lose water weight in the mean time if this has been an issue for you.
So once you pic this weigh day, make sure it isn’t on the same day as a cheat meal. You want to make sure you have a cheat day and if you aren’t happy with your results on the same day, you’re going to blame that. We’ll talk more about how cheat meals can help you lose weight in just a bit.
What Does Weight Loss Plateau Really Mean?
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can focus on what it really means when you’re dealing with a weight loss plateau. When you aren’t losing fat any longer, that’s the definition of a real weight loss plateau.
Some people believe that when they haven’t lost weight in 2 weeks, that’s a plateau. Now that doesn’t mean you should start panicking if you haven’t seen any movement on the scale for a week. Sometimes, you may be retaining water or not going to the bathroom as regularly as you were. But no change in about 2 weeks is going to tell you one thing – you’re stuck.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind. First of all, weight loss plateaus aren’t uncommon. In fact, they happen to most people. In fact, it’s pretty normal for people to hit more than one plateau on their way to better bodies. Sucks, right? That’s just how the human body is – it’s really really stubborn when it comes to getting rid of fat.
Much of the time what this means for us is a greater commitment to our goals. We reach the peak of what one level of training and dietary discipline can bring us, and we must continue forward if we want to reach our goals. So how do we do defeat weight loss plateau and keep burning the fat?
One solution is smarter training. Have you tried high intensity interval training?
Conquering Weight Loss Plateau with HIIT
If you’re struggling to get below 10% of body fat, you might have to add in some evolved cardio. After all, there’s only so much you can cut back before you start losing muscle. When you hit that plateau, considering switching to a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program. Combine weight training with running, biking or rowing for best results.
Bottom line: high intensity interval training burns a hell of a lot more fat that has us convinced that steady-pace cardio fails. In fact, it does a lot more than that.
Studies have proven that HIIT can increase your resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after the exercise is over, meaning you’re still getting a workout even after your workout has ended. It also helps improve insulin sensitivity found in the muscles, and produces higher levels of fat oxidation in your muscles. Most importantly: It can also help keep your appetite at bay after an exercise.
The other important thing to remember is the more weight you lose, the harder it gets to continue losing more weight. Doesn’t really seem fair, does it? But it’s true. The leaner your body becomes, the longer it’s going to take you to get rid of fat in a healthy manner. By that we mean keeping your muscle and strength high while losing the fat.
Let’s say your body fat is currently at 25%. It should be pretty easy for you to lose 2 to 3 pounds every week for the first couple of weeks. If your body fat is around 10%, 2 to 3 pounds a week might be hard for you.
Keep Your Body Guessing to Beat Weight Loss Plateau
Next, remember that your body has its own comfort zone. Your body seems to have made up its mind – it has a weird that it’s comfortable at and the appetite your body puts forth naturally will help maintain that. If you eat more than what your appetite is giving off, you’re going to feel super full. If you eat less, you’ll feel hunger.
Obviously, this whole zone depends on the person. Some people might have a comfort zone that’s made up of mostly fat and others have a weight that’s healthier and leaner. Of course trying to keep a weight under what your body wants isn’t going to be without its challenges. It means you’re going to have to keep an eye on your calories and add in some cardio to lose weight. On the slight chance you want to gain some weight, you’re going to have to overeat on a regular basis. Just remember if you keep this up, your whole comfort zone is going to keep getting higher and higher.
Think you got it? OK, let’s get into the different methods to keeping your body physically guessing, but full of nutrients and ready to burn fat and defeat weight loss plateau.
First, look at your daily caloric target and get ready to revamp it. As you continue to lose weight, your metabolism is going to slow down. Why? Because you have a leaner physique, which means your body doesn’t need to use as much energy.
So if you don’t tweak your calories while this is happening, it’s likely you’ll hit the dreaded plateau. The best way to get around this is to recalculate your daily caloric target for every fifteen pounds you lose. You’ll see that the target continues to get lower and lower.
Targeting Optimal Calorie Intake to Beat Weight Loss Plateau
The Katch McArdle calculator has a formula to find out how much you eat in order to lose weight. Here it is: You should have 1.2 grams of protein for every pound of body weight you have. For carbs, go for 1 gram for every body pound. As for fat, go for .2 grams.
Pretty simple formula to give you the results you want. If you want to turn it into calories, just multiply the protein and carbs by four, and the fats by 9.
Next, get a grip on the calories that seem to hide in foods. Often times, weight loss plateau is caused by eating more calories than you think you are. This on top of a slow metabolism is what’s going to cause the halt.
Hidden calories come in a lot of different shapes and colors.
One of those shapes could be from unnecessary snacking. A big one – eating out often or overloading your food with condiments. Alcohol counts too. These are all harmful habits that are going to stand in your way of getting what you want.
Unfortunately, all it takes is an extra 200 to 300 calories a day to bring your fat loss to a complete stop. That means a few handfuls of nuts, extra salad dressing or even indulging in a snack bag size of chips. Yes, losing fat can be that big of a pain in the butt. Sure, it isn’t necessarily complicated but it definitely takes precise actions and commitment.
Simple way to get away from these hidden calories – know exactly what you’re ingesting every day. You can do this easily by keeping a food journal. If that isn’t something that’s worked for you in the past, then try calculating exactly what you need each day and break it down per meal. You can then print out guidelines to keep with you, or stick on your fridge.
Use Cheat Days in Your Battle Against Weight Loss Plateau
Here’s one thing you aren’t going to hate us for – we’re going to tell you to take advantage of your cheat day! First and foremost, having a cheat day is going to have you feeling good. It makes you feel happy and gives you the motivation you might need after having a hardcore regimen.
Get this: there’s also evidence that shows overfeeding can give your metabolic rate a big boost, from 3 to 10%.
The effects of cheating are big on a hormone known as leptin. This hormone keeps an eye on your hunger, as well as your motivation, your appetite, metabolic rate and libido. So when you’re dieting and cutting back on calories, your leptin levels are going to decrease, meaning your appetite is going to increase. So when you give your body the few extra calories, these levels shoot up, which has awesome positive effects on your body.
Some have even asked, are leptin and ghrelin the keys to weight loss? And they certainly are playing a major role.
It turns out when you’re going to have that cheat meal and boost your metabolism, eating carbs (in a controlled manner) is the best way to do this. The runner up is eating meals high in protein, because they’re really good at raising your metabolic rate. Fats aren’t really great at boosting your leptin levels and unfortunately, alcohol can even prevent it. Sorry about that.
Our last tip? You guessed it. Start lifting some heavy weights. A study done by Greek sports scientists showed that people who trained with heavy weights majorly increased their metabolic rates over three days, and burned a lot more calories than those who used lighter weights. This also goes to explain why we recommend HIIT, because steady cardio fails you!
In conclusion, yeah weight loss plateau is a tough hand to play, but it can be beaten. Be realistic about tracking your food intake and exercise. If you measure your body and your food and track accurately, you will be able to identify the problems. Never forget the difference between weight loss and fat loss. You can gain weight and look excellent, or lose it look worse. Backing your fat loss with a fit body to create body recomposition is your best bet. Stick with it, and remember to keep moving!
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