Each of us has reached a plateau. Whether it was stagnation in weight loss or gaining muscle mass, there is a period in which we stop seeing results. This can be due to many reasons and is quite demotivating. In my personal experience with clients, I have had cases in which people very quickly lose the motivation to improve and begin to give up. Weight loss plateau is not so terrible and can be overcome with the right approach. In the following lines, I will explain the mechanism of weight loss plateau and how we can overcome it.
Why does weight loss plateau happen in the first place?
Our body is a master when it comes to adaptation. When we start training, for example, the first two or three weeks are hard. When we continue to do the same exercises, repetitions, and sets, however, after a while we stop getting so tired. Our body no longer burns as many calories, and after even more time we may not even be able to sweat from this workout. This means that our body has adapted and we need to change something.
The same thing happens with our diet when we lose weight. Our body adapts and begins to slow or stop the process. This is needed to give our body time to get used to the new weight before it starts to lose weight again. This is the time our body needs to adjust to change.
Many people believe that when they start to lose weight, the process will be linear. We will lose weight every week until we reach the desired weight. This is not so true! There is always stagnation. In some people, after switching to a weight loss regimen or a healthy diet, they start losing weight at the beginning and then a plateau. For others, the opposite may apply. Everyone is different and this is determined by our DNA and the environment.
Another thing to know – for people who lose weight, the levels of the hormone ghrelin are higher than the levels of people who retain weight. This is proven by a study that you can see HERE. High levels of this hormone signal our body to retain more subcutaneous fat. Weight loss plateau is an important period for our body in which it regulates the levels of this hormone.
How to prevent weight loss plateau?
The best way to prevent stagnation in weight loss is to wait. It is good to give our body time to adapt. I know that plateaus can be quite discouraging, but we must remain calm and not fall into despair! There are many ways to overcome a plateau, but as I mentioned above, it is a normal process of the body and it is better not to try stopping it prematurely.
In my practice with clients, when a person comes to a standstill, I wait two to three weeks to see if he will start losing weight again. During this time, I only change the training (progressive load), but without dramatic changes. In most cases, people continue to lose weight after no more than ten days. There are also those in which this does not happen and this calls for more drastic changes in the regime of training and nutrition.
However, I will give you some tips to help you overcome the stagnation of weight loss.
Reduce calorie intake.
The more we lose weight, the fewer calories our body needs to function. If we eat one quantity of calories on the first day of the diet and after a month we eat the same number of calories, most likely we will not lose weight as effectively or we will not lose weight at all. In this case, calories are reduced by 150-200 calories per day. It is not good to reduce too much because the excessive reduction of daily caloric intake can have the opposite effect on weight loss.
In a study done in 2017 by PPS, they examined how reducing different amounts of calories per day affects weight loss. The conclusion is that in people who reduce their caloric intake by more than 50%, weight loss is slowed down and plateau occurs much faster. While in people who reduce their caloric intake to 20% per day, there is a smoother weight loss with less to no stagnation. The bottom line is that these processes are too complex to rely on for quick results. Changing habits and lifestyles is essential to achieve long-lasting results.
Increase the number of workouts and their intensity.
It is known that as weight loss progresses, our metabolism slows down. A 2009 study by PubMed found that for every pound of weight lost, people burned an average of 6 fewer calories. The good thing is that this can be counterattacked with training.
Exercise helps maintain muscle mass when we are calorie deficient. Muscle mass, in turn, is a major factor in how many calories we burn when we exercise. Studies show that weight training is the most effective type of workout for weight loss.
Try to increase the number of workouts per week. If you already train three times, increase them to four or five workouts a week. If for personal reasons you do not have such a possibility, then increase the intensity of training. This can happen by changing the training methodology, the types of exercises, or just strictly following the method of the progressive load.
Increase protein intake.
Protein has the most properties that help us to lose weight compared to other macronutrients. Studies show that increased protein intake helps in weight loss. Protein has the highest saturating effect, stimulates the release of hormones that help reduce appetite. In addition, it has the highest thermal effect, which is the calories burned when digesting food.
Increasing protein by up to 30-40% of your daily caloric intake is a good way to overcome stagnation in weight loss. If you decide to take this method, it is good to keep in mind that as you increase protein, you should reduce your intake of fats or carbohydrates. This should happen so that the caloric intake remains the same as before.
Stress is a major factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The need to learn how to control it is essential. When we are under stress, our body produces larger amounts of the hormone cortisol. This hormone helps us cope with stress. The bad thing about losing weight is that high levels of this hormone cause our body to retain more belly fat.
A 2013 study by the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that practicing stress-reducing therapies helped with weight loss. The study was performed on overweight women and they were subjected to massages for muscle relaxation and deep breathing. They managed to lose an average of 4 kilograms only from the effect of relaxing therapies.
There are many more ways to overcome stagnation in weight loss. Virtually any change in the way you exercise or eat can help. After all, it is best to wait for the body to adapt and then make changes if necessary.
The weight loss process is not very complicated. It requires time and resources. Rapid weight loss is not the approach that will give you long-lasting and satisfactory results. Approach slowly and calmly, do not force your body, and give it time to adapt. This approach will guarantee you long-term satisfaction!
If it becomes too hard to fight stress, try these 5 supplements to help you fight it.
Try these 10 recipes for a high protein breakfast for weight loss that can help you achieve your goals.
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