The Truth About The Dreaded Weight Loss PlateauBy Jared DiCarmine On September 17, 2011 Under Personally Recommended
Everyone including their mother, brother and sister who have gone on a diet, maybe including yourself have hit a weight loss plateau sometime in their life. It absolutely sucks. You’ve been dieting for so long and trying so hard to lose the excess belly fat that no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to break past that sticking point. The scale is not moving down and you’re becoming quite angry and depressed.
Don’t worry because we all have been there before. I’ve been there before and so has many others. The trick is not to get so mad and angry, the trick is to just come up with a new plan, but also to understand why these weight plateaus happen in the first place.
Okay so let’s think back when you started losing weight, losing belly fat or trying to lose your love handles. It seemed like the weight was just being melted off. The scale was drastically dropping every week that you stepped on it. Two to three or maybe four pound losses were quite common and you had a ton of energy, motivation and willpower to keep pushing on. Then all of a sudden the decrease was slowing down. The scale was still going down but maybe only at a pound or half a pound a week. No the darn thing won’t budge. So what do you do?
You cut your calories even more and you up your cardio. You lose maybe a little bit more over the coming weeks, but you’re starving. You hate what you have to do and you’re becoming upset. You’re about to abandon everything. Well don’t! I’m here to tell you that this is normal and by you cutting out your calories even more and upping your cardio, you could be doing more harm than good.
When you go on a calorie restricting diet for long periods of time, your body will naturally begin to lower your metabolism. This is of course to preserve itself so it can “live.” Remember, your body and all of its intricate mechanisms and systems are no different that it was 100,000 years ago. It doesn’t know that you want a six pack and frankly it doesn’t care. All it cares about is survival. That’s why we have body fat and can store an infinite amount of it.
To your body, the more fat that it can pack on, the better off its chances are for survival and reproduction. It’s that simple. So the first rule of thumb is to never cut your calories that drastically in the beginning. My recommendation is to only cut them by around 250 from what you are currently taking in just to maintain weight. This is really easy and won’t leave you starving or craving foods. Plus you’ll be doing some form of exercise everyday in which you’ll burn another 250+ calories a day creating a deficit of 500 calories. Over a period of 7 days this will equal 3500+ calories totaling over a pound of fat loss per week. With that 1 pound of fat loss, you also get around a ½ pound of water loss. You can continue this too for a very long period of time without noticing any weight loss plateau either because the calorie deficit is so small in the big scheme of things.
Now another thing that you have to understand is the when you just started out, you obviously had a lot more mass on your frame. Because of this your body has to burn that many extra calories a day just to move you around. As you get lighter and lighter your body doesn’t need to burn that many extra calories each day right?
So say nothing changes in your diet and training routine, but you’ve lost 20 pounds. Now tell me if that doesn’t make a difference in the amount of calories you burn and total weight loss per week now? Of course it will. A funny thing I like to do with clients if they have lost a lot of weight is have them pick up the amount of weight they lost and carry it around for a few minutes. You should see the look on their faces sometimes. They can’t believe they actually were carrying around that extra 20-30+ pounds. I have one lady whose a sweetheart lose so far up to 80 pounds. Now imagine carrying that extra weight around on your joints and on your heart.
So take this point, when you’re losing weight and nothing else is changing, the amount of total calories you will be burning will be less each week because you are just a lighter human being. Now if you cut your calories slowly in the beginning, then you only need to cut them a little bit more to keep your weight loss progressing nice and steadily instead of hitting that dreaded weight loss plateau.
Oh and let’s not forget the effect of a little known hormone called leptin. Leptin is secreted from your fat cells and it’s positively correlated with metabolism so when metabolism is high, leptin is high and vice versa. Now if you’re wondering if overweight and obese people have high levels of leptin then why are they so overweight. Truth is scientists think there is such thing as leptin resistance. Kind of like insulin resistance with diabetics.
But when you cut your calories drastically for a long period of time, your leptin levels will decrease, therefore your metabolism decrease; another reason why you hit a weight loss plateau. An easy way to make sure this does not happen that is very popular with physique athletes such as bodybuilders, both men and women is to consume some form of high carbohydrate meal once every 7 days or whenever need be. This will help jack up insulin levels which in turn will increase leptin levels and your metabolism. You’ll also top off glycogen stores giving you plenty of energy to get through your workouts over the coming days.
As you can see there are many reasons why a weight plateau exists. But understand it’s absolutely normal for this to happen and everyone goes through it. Hopefully you understand this now and for my next article I’m going to talk about a few weight loss plateau breakers that you can implement so it never happens to you again.