November 2, 2022 / by Suzanne Ingleton / Weight Loss
Has this ever happened to you? It may even be happening right now!!
You’ve been following your healthy eating and exercise plan to the letter & you’ve made significant changes to your lifestyle and health regime, and you’ve been watching your weight steadily decrease and you’re feeling pretty good!!
Then out of nowhere… the scales stop moving, you’re not shrinking like you used to…. In fact, you feel like everything has stalled!
Yikes! You’ve hit the dreaded Weight-loss plateau!
This is definitely NOT the time to call it quits and let all your hard work disappear into the twisty bag!!
What is a weight-loss plateau?
A weight-loss plateau happens to anyone who is losing weight…..its very normal and here’s why….
During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is inevitable if you cut calories, as the body switches from using glucose to glycogen, which is the stored form of glucose held in the liver and muscles.
As the body uses glycogen, it also excretes water, so many people experience an initial rapid weight loss as the body loses both fat and water. Once this initial “water weight” is lost, weight loss inevitably becomes more gradual as the body works to burn its fat stores.
Also, as glycogen is stored in muscle, people can experience some loss of muscle mass, along with fat, and recent research has shown that a reduction in muscle mass during weight loss has a connection with the weight loss plateau.
Muscles are a big metabolic calorie burner, so as you lose weight and lose muscle, you burn less calories than you did at your heavier weight.
So, because your metabolism has slowed down, you will burn fewer calories. This is simply because there is less of you, so there is not as much weight to shift as when you started. Even if you eat the same amount of food that helped you to lose weight in the first place, you will no longer lose as much or any weight. Your body has balanced out the equation of the number of calories going in versus the number of calories being burnt for energy.
Put in another way -when the calories you burn equal the calories you eat, you reach a plateau.
How can you overcome a weight-loss plateau?
When you reach a plateau, you may have lost all the weight you’re going to lose on your current diet and exercise plan. If you want to lose more weight, you'll need to change things up, like either increasing your physical activity or decreasing the calories you eat. Using the same approach that worked initially won't lead to more weight loss.
Tips to get past the plateau:
Recheck your program. If you haven’t been keeping a food diary, I highly recommend it. This will help you keep on track in case you’ve strayed – even the tiniest bit. That added a piece of choc each night – because you’ve been good…. may be wreaking havoc with your body. Take a good honest look to make sure nothing has crept in that is not helping you reach your goal.
Portion sizes. Do you need to reduce your portion sizes? This will reduce your calorie intake. However, it’s important not to go too far, which could lead to overeating due to being extra hungry.
Ramp up your exercise. Get at least 2.5hrs of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high intensity aerobic activity a week, or a combination. This should include working with weights to increase your muscle mass. Higher intensity exercise will help your body to burn more calories and, when incorporated with weight training, will increase your muscle mass, so you will burn more calories per day overall. The quickest and most effective way to burn fat is to start a HIIT program consisting of 30sec high intensity exercise to max heart rate, followed by 90sec active recovery - then repeat 8 times. Please make sure you only do this with your doctors approval.
Get more daily activity in. Simply by walking more, taking the stairs, parking the car further away, playing with the kids or going out dancing or getting physical in the garden will help your body to burn more energy (aka calories) so that you can fire up your metabolism and reach your health goal.
Manage your stress levels: You can be doing absolutely everything right, however, if your stress levels are high, your body will be producing stress hormones – Cortisol & Insulin, which tell the body to hold weight, store fat and not build muscle, which is exactly what you DON’T want!
Don’t let it get you down!
Whatever you do, don’t give up and go back to the old ways. Focus on what you have achieved and what you can do!
If you have made all these wonderful changes, then WOW!! Give yourself a pat on the back for being the healthiest version of YOU that you can be!
If, after all your efforts, nothing has changed after several months, then it may be time to re-evaluate the number you want to reach. Remember your health has already improved, and even small amounts of excess weight lost can have significant overall health benefits.
If you’re completely stuck, then it may be time to bring in a coach or join a group to help support, guide and inspire you. Contact me HERE and let's chat!
If you'd like to find out more about how I can help to transform the way you eat, think and live, book in your FREE 30 min chat and let's get you started on being the happiest, healthiest version of YOU!