If you have ever tried to lose weight, you’ll probably know that weight loss plateaus can be very frustrating. After all, you’ve been eating well, exercising regularly and seeing the number on the scale drop nicely each week. Then, all of a sudden, the number stops moving. You haven’t changed your strategy, so why isn’t it working anymore?
What causes a weight loss plateau?
When you first start losing weight, there is often a rapid reduction in body water weight. As you restrict your energy intake, your body has to dip into its glycogen fuel stores.
Glycogen contains a significant amount of water which is released by the body when it is used for energy. This effect is temporary, usually lasting only a few weeks.
In addition to your initial water loss, a plateau also occurs because, as you lose weight, you lose both fat and muscle. Your body now requires fewer calories because this muscle reduction lowers the number of calories your body burns.
Your body has now reached a point where the number of calories it burns equals what you consume, causing a weight loss plateau.
So, if you don’t change your plan, your weight loss will slow.
How to break through the weight loss plateau:
1. Don’t give up. The rate of weight loss may have only temporarily slowed. You may notice your weight continues to drop after a period of time.
2. Have your resting metabolic rate tested by your Copeman team. You may need to adjust your calorie intake based on your changing weight and metabolic rate to continue the same rate of weight loss.
3. Track your nutrition.
a. Record food and drink intake immediately after eating by using scales and measuring cups to record everything. Forget nothing! People often get complacent and servings inadvertently grow.
b. Look for patterns:
- Are you eating because you’re hungry or because of an emotion such as boredom or stress?
- Are you getting enough fibre at breakfast? Increasing your fibre may help control calorie intake the rest of the day by keeping you satisfied for longer.
- Too many cravings later in the day? Try redistributing your calories so there are more at breakfast; some studies show that this reduces cravings and accelerates weight loss.
4. Review your exercise (and non-exercise) habits. Are you only doing cardiovascular exercise? It might be time to add some resistance training to optimize calorie burning. Speak with your Copeman Kinesiologist about a personalized resistance training plan.
Looking for other ways to burn calories?
Non exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) represents the calories you burn from all physical activities other than volitional sporting like exercise. It’s the calories burned standing up while you work, pacing, fidgeting, taking the stairs, toe tapping, dancing while doing housework, and walking during your mobile meetings. Because there are a lot of hours in a day, N.E.A.T is a powerful, yet often underused, weight loss tool.
5. Look at your genes. Nutrigenomix testing can identify whether there are specific nutrition and exercise strategies that can help your weight loss efforts.
If you are struggling to break through your weight loss plateau then seek support. Reach out to your doctor, dietitian and/or kinesiologist for coaching that will help you reach your goal weight.
Finally, remember to celebrate your weight loss successes – even modest ones! Losing even 5 – 10% of your intitial body weight can significantly improve high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, sleep disturbances, orthopaedic ailments and other medical problems.