Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau
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Pat yourself on the back: You’ve lost weight! Or, at least you had lost weight, but for the past few days or even weeks, the scale hasn’t been budging. You don’t feel like you’re doing anything different with your diet. You’re keeping carbs low, eating the appropriate amount of protein, and you’re moderating all of it with a consistent exercise program.
For most people attempting to lose weight, there comes a time when they reach that inevitable plateau where their motivation is soaring but they’ve stopped seeing results. If you’re nodding right now, don’t worry. What you’re experiencing is totally normal. Plateaus, whether they relate to weight, to your job, or your closest relationship, are a call to charge things up again, refine your strategies and keep moving forward.
So rather than give up and maintain your current weight, or worse yet, drown yours sorrows in a half dozen donuts, there are numerous actions you can take to reignite your program.
Here are our top 4 picks for breaking through your weight plateau:
Write it Down
A slice of bread here, a handful of tortilla chips there – it all adds up. When we start to lose weight, we might be inclined to loosen the reins on what we can eat. Even though occasional indulgences should be enjoyed guilt-free, when you’re still trying to lose weight, those seemingly benign snacks still count.
So for one week, write down everything that you eat. Everything. From the sugar packet you dropped into your coffee to the two bites of of Cherry Garcia you snuck from cousin Sal’s dessert bowl at your niece’s sweet 16, write it down. A food diary is an honest look into what you’re actually eating, not what you think you are eating.
Need more convincing that you might not be being honest with yourself? According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, those who kept a food diary in a 20-week study dropped double the weight of the dieters who did not chronicle their food choices. Keeping a food diary makes you accountable for what you eat because it forces you to consider your actions before you take them. This is an effective safeguard against mindless snacking or emotional eating.
If you’re looking for an online food journal, check out the one at FitDay.com. It’s free and super easy to use.
Switch Up Your Workouts
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 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.
Keep in mind that 80% of your body composition is a result of your diet. The remaining 20% is determined by how you effectively manage your sleeping patterns and stress levels, how you exercise and other lifestyle factors. Increasing your workout intensity is but one way to tweak an otherwise optimized weight loss plan.
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 (we suggest using the .7-1 gram per pound of lean body weight formula), eating the right vegetables and snacking on high-fat foods to keep you feeling satisfied.
Keep on Keeping on
Remember that losing 10 lbs when you are starting at 300 isn’t nearly as difficult as losing 10 when you are approaching your ideal weight (say, going from 170 to 160 for a male). Don’t let this come to you as discouragement. Just recognize that changes might not come as quickly as they once had and resolve to stay the course.