Weight Loss Plateaus - WTF & What Now
You've been working hard to follow a healthy diet plan and/or exercise regimen, and your reward has been watching your weight go down and feeling so much better. Now, for no reason that you can identify, the scale has stopped budging or your aesthetic changes have stalled. You've hit a plateau!
Don't get discouraged. It's normal for weight loss (or changes) to slow and even stall. By understanding what causes a plateau, you can decide what to do, and how to keep moving forward.
But first!….I want you to understand what a plateau actually IS.
During the first phase of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part, this is because when you cut calories, the body gets needed energy initially by releasing its stores of glycogen, (a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver).
Glycogen is partly made of water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it releases water, resulting in weight loss that's mostly water. I know this sh*#t sounds science-ey, but some info is worth explaining!
As you lose weight, you lose some muscle along with fat. Muscle helps keep the rate at which you burn calories (metabolism) up. So as you lose weight, your metabolism declines, causing you to burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight. Sucks..I know.
Your slower metabolism will slow your weight loss, even if you eat the same number of calories that helped you lose weight. When the calories you burn equal the calories you eat, you reach a plateau. Boom!
To lose more weight, you need to either increase your physical activity or decrease the calories you eat. Using the same approach that worked initially may maintain your weight loss, but it won't lead to more weight loss.
To take a closer look at your particular plateau, you must first remember that we all have different methods for losing body fat and maintaining our muscle. I will go through some various methods, and give you my educated opinion on why you may have hit a wall.
Method #1 - Weight loss through increased calorie deficit:
You’ve decided to decrease your calories to lose fat, which increases your calorie deficit. Either A. Your deficit is too big and you need to close it in a little bit (500 cal deficit a day is a good general recommendation), or B. Read my above info again and either get your daily burn higher, or cut a few more calories. Lastly, you may need to cut the cardio and simply add weight training into your regimen.
Method #2 - Weight loss through “clean” eating:
You started eating more clean, and lost some weight..yay!..but now you’ve stalled. Leaving the crap behind and going clean was a GREAT first step, but now you need to look at your macros (Carbs, fats, and proteins). Keep your protein as high or higher than your carbs, and you’ll see new results. If you need an easy way to track macros…just ask me!
Method #3 - Weight loss through weight training:
While I am 100% FOR weight training, I do see lifters plateau all the time. If this is you, keep weight training!…but increase your protein (look at your macros!) and add in a few 30-60 min cardio sessions of cardio HIIT a few times a week.
Method #4 - Weight loss through cardio training:
Anyone who goes from no exercise to exercising will lose some weight, no matter whether its cardio or not. But i’m not gonna candy coat this…
1.) If you’ve got a ton of weight to lose, and youre doing cardio, and you’ve plateau’d…its your diet. Go fix your macros and calories deficit and get back to work.
2.) If you’re thinner and you’ve plateau’d, look at your calorie deficit, and start lifting weights. Cardio for a thinner person can increase the calorie deficit too much, and further burn out your adrenals. If you want to burn fat, and put muscle in its place, close in that deficit, lead with protein, and start lifting!
I hope this helps shed some light on the various reasons we all plateau. If you need a second eye on YOU, Just let me know!!