Breaking Through Plateaus
I thought this article was appropriate seeing as so many people are trying to get lean for the summer.
Weight loss plateaus can be both mentally and physically taxing for anyone. Progress and results are what drives people and keeps them motivated to continue a healthy diet and exercise regimen. But what happens when you are doing all the right things and suddenly your results become stagnant? Anyone that has lost weight has experienced a plateau in some form or another. Whether these plateaus last a week or a year, breaking through a weight loss plateau is crucial for your physical results and your psychological well-being.
The Science Behind Plateaus
The progression from initial weight loss to a weight-loss plateau follows a typical pattern. During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part this is because when calories from food are reduced, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds on to water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases water, resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water.
A plateau occurs because your metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as you lose muscle. You burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight even doing the same activities. Your weight-loss efforts result in a new equilibrium with your now slower metabolism. At this new equilibrium, calories eaten equals calories expended. This means that to lose more weight, you need to increase 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.
How To Overcome Plateaus
1. Make A Plan And Stick To It
Look back at your food and activity records. Make sure you haven’t loosened the rules, letting yourself get by with larger portions or less exercise. Track everything to ensure you aren’t cheating and you are sticking to the system and keeping yourself honest.
2. Change Your Workout
They say variety is the spice of life, and this holds true when it comes to your workouts. Without change you might find yourself dreading the monotony of regular gym sessions and simply lose motivation. Additionally, your body can become used to the same caloric burn and muscle exertion as it becomes more efficient at completing regular movements. Give your brain and brawn the wake up call they need by shaking up your usual routine with some new additions.
- Try increasing the speed as you exercise and do short bursts of intense exercises (such as sprinting) for one to two minutes followed by small rest periods. These short bursts of anaerobic activity will stimulate your body to release human growth hormone, which helps to burn fat while maintaining muscle mass.
- Maintain your body’s adaptation period by changing the intensity, duration, frequency and/or the mode of exercise and include interval training if necessary.
3. Pack More Activity Into Your Day
Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more and using your car less, or try doing more yard work or vigorous spring cleaning. Little things like this will increase your overall caloric expenditure over an entire day.
4. Calorie Cycling
This technique takes some pre-planning, but it could be just what your body needs. Cycle your calories by toying around with your daily caloric consumption. Maintain the same caloric intake over the course of a week, but eat 100 calories more one day, followed by 200 fewer calories the next day. Some folks call this the “zigzag” method, but no matter what you call it, this method disrupts your body’s equilibrium and will rev your weight loss engine. If you have been losing weight eating 1400 calories a day, eat around that many calories for three days. On the fourth day eat 300 to 400 calories more. Make sure those calories come from healthy foods mixing protein, carbs and fat. Those extra calories should not come from nachos and beer.
5. Spike Your Calorie Intake With One Meal A Weak
The human body will adapt to ANYTHING you do consistently over time. This refers to weight training, cardio conditioning, and nutrition. Over time your body will adapt to the new caloric intake unless some type of adjustment has been made. Try offsetting your eating schedule by spiking your calories one meal a week by 400-600 calories. To increase your caloric intake on those “cheat meal days”, simply eat more nutritious food. This will not only offset your metabolism, but will also keep your digestion and metabolism working optimally, ensuring a greater amount of fat-loss.
6. Cut Carb intake
Try reducing your carb intake to 50-100 grams per day to reduce insulin production and fire up your fat metabolism. Make sure that you’re eating enough protein for your weight (Shoot for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight) eating the right vegetables and snacking on high-fat foods to keep you feeling satisfied.
7. Find Ways To Keep Your Metabolism Elevated
- Eat six small meals a day. Eating small portions throughout the day will help keep your metabolism going. This is an extremely useful tactic in breaking your weight-loss plateau. Eat something when you wake up in the morning, perhaps a small omelet or some steel-cut oats. Pretty much keep your meal times as normal; breakfast, lunch and dinner with a meal in between each and something for the evening. Keep it higher in protein, small in calories, and nutritious.
- Drink cold water. Drinking cold water can elevate your metabolism for several hours following completion.
- Eat metabolism boosting foods. Things like cinnamon, curry, jalapenos, oatmeal, beans, green tea, ginger, grapefruits, apples, coffee, almonds, blueberries, watermelons and turkey can all help boost your metabolism.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.
From South Bend,