Have you ever been in one of those situations where you have been working super hard on your diet and weight loss regime and it’s going really well, until one day… BAM! You hit a plateau and it suddenly feels as though nothing that you try works to help remove the rest of those unwanted pounds. We’ve all been there. But know what? We have also all (well, most of us) beaten the plateau. It is possible; you just need to look at it the right way. When you find yourself stuck in negative-town due to being stuck, here are eight weight loss plateau tips that just might help get you back on track.
Patience, young senshi…
As obvious as it may sound, even the most patient people can find themselves beating their head against the wall when it comes to weight loss. It never seems to come fast enough for most people (but then again, most people are entirely too rushed in the first place…). If it has been a week (or a month) and your weight has just not changed no matter what you try, don’t stress it! Don’t look at getting fit as a destination or a goal; make it a way of life. If you consistently eat right and are relatively active, the body fat will come off (be aware: this does not necessarily mean that your weight will decrease, all it means is that your body will re-distribute its composition to be more healthful. Weight is not the only determining factor)
Although there is no real clear-cut evidence that plateaus actually do exist, anyone who works out knows what they feel like (and yes, I do believe that plateaus are very real). Plateaus can be defined as particular body weights that people seem to have a problem breaking through. They usually last through pretty long periods in your life, and so they often tend to be the weight that people get “stuck” at. Breaking out of a plateau is difficult, but not impossible (the next point elaborates on one way to do it).
Change up your workout
There are many factors in the weight loss equation. Nutrition is only one part (though it is the largest one), but never forget the important role that exercise plays! It is perfectly normal if your strength training process plateaus when you start eating fewer calories. Remember that it is absolutely critical that you maintain as much of your muscle mass as you can while losing weight, or else you risk losing valuable muscle instead of actual weight. If your nutrition is going great but you are not making any strength progress, try using a different exercise routine. Sometimes all you need is something a little different.
Try an increase in calories
I know what you’re saying… “MADNESS! Why would I increase my calories to lose weight?” But sometimes that’s what it takes to assure your body that you are not actually starving and that the extra calories are no longer needed due to a lower body mass. As you lose weight, your metabolism naturally slows down (which is good!). Try giving your body a mini-vacation from dieting and increasing your caloric intake to maintenance levels for a week. Once you return to a hypo-caloric state, you should start seeing progress again.
Sometimes, it’s ok to cheat…
Did you know that eating 50% more calories (for one meal) than you average the rest of the week can reset your metabolism and many of the hormones (such as leptin) that have begun their nasty tricks of making it harder and harder to lose weight? Cheat meals can be tricky, so watch out, but every once in a while they are ok if it means keeping you relatively on track the rest of the time. Just try and keep your fat intake low on this day and shift your focus to eating carbs and protein.
This may be one of the best eating methods for people who are carbohydrate sensitive. The trick is that you still eat just as many carbs as normal… you just switch up the low carb and med/high carb days. Try and reserve your higher carb meals for days when you have an intense workout and then use the low carb ones for the days on which you’re resting. You may find rather quickly that there really is no better way to add muscle and drop body weight than through carbohydrate cycling.
Time when you take in your carbs
Carbohydrate intake and timing are two huge factors in your weight loss equation. Don’t necessarily believe all the rumours though – just as many people can be successful with a high-carb diet as with a low-carb one. Only trial and error will really tell you which is best for your body. The common denominator really is simple – try to time the intake of those carbs to times when your insulin sensitivity is highest (your first meal of the day, and those around your workouts). Sometimes just shifting the times that you eat carbs to those times can break you out of weight loss plateau prison. Give it a try, and watch the magic at work!
Start a food log
I know… it’s a tedious, time-consuming process that few people like and fewer seem to stick to. But starting up a food log (and sticking to it!) can really help you to identify factors that may have caused a plateau and give you ideas on how to end it. Are your calories too low or too high? How’s your macronutrient breakdown? Could you use less carbs? More carbs? Maybe you need more protein. While most people can do a pretty good job guesstimating these things, there really is nothing as effective as just writing it down as you go. The extra work pays off, trust me.
In the end, it’s different for everyone…
No one trick will work for everyone, but there are at least one or two tricks out there that will work for you. Experiment, try new things, experiment with new foods and exercise regimes… and watch as you train your body to break out of a plateaued state faster than you have ever witnessed.