Have you hit a weight loss plateau? It's time to learn why, and what you can do about it.
Fat was practically falling off your body just a few weeks ago, and now you're wondering if your scale is broken because no matter what you do, your weight won't budge.
Why did your routine suddenly stop working, and what can you do to push through this weight loss plateau? Here are three surefire ways to stoke your body's furnace again to keep the fat coming off.
1. Re-Calculate Your Daily Caloric Target
Your metabolism slows down as you lose weight because your body doesn't need to exert as much energy to maintain its now-slimmer physique.
If you don't adjust your calories to account for this, you may hit a plateau. The easy way to avoid this is to re-calculate your daily caloric target after every 15 pounds of weight loss. As you'll see, the target creeps lower and lower.
There are many formulas out there for determining how much you should eat to lose weight, but here's a simple one based on the Katch McArdle:
1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight
1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight
1 gram of fat per 5 pounds of body weight
That simple macronutrient formula will put you in a moderate caloric deficit and allow for steady, healthy weight loss. To turn it into calories, simply multiply the protein and carbs by 4, and the fats by 9.
2. Control the "Hidden Calories"
Most weight loss plateaus are caused by nothing more than "calorie creep"-that is, eating more calories than you think. This, combined with an ever-slowing metabolism, is a guaranteed formula for stagnation.
Calories can creep in from many places. Purposeless snacking, eating out at restaurants (they load calories into meals with butter, oil, sauces, etc.), overdoing it with condiments, and drinking alcohol are all common ways to add enough calories to stall your weight loss without making you feel like you're completely "off your diet."
The sad truth is a mere 200-300 calories too many per day can completely halt fat loss. To put this into perspective, that's only a couple handfuls of nuts, a few tablespoons of fatty salad dressing, or a small bag of chips. Yup, fat loss is that finicky. It's not very complicated, but it requires absolute precision.
So, to overcome the "calorie creep," you simply have to know exactly what's going into your body every day. You can keep a food journal, or you can do what I do: calculate what you need each day, break it down into daily meals, and eat the same thing every day, every meal. I don't have the time or patience to work a bunch of variety into my diet, so I embrace the simplicity of choosing nutritious foods that I like, and eating them over and over.
3. Increase Your Cardio
If you know that your daily caloric target is good and you have absolutely no calorie creep, then you should increase your cardio.
You can add another day if possible (I don't recommend more than 4 days per week if you're also weight training), or add time to each day (I like to add 10 minutes to each session and see how my body responds).
The idea is to just tip the scales a little bit more in the direction of fat loss and observe the results. If the first round of extra cardio doesn't do it, add more (another 10 minutes to each session, for instance), and you'll get there.
Oh and do HIIT cardio, please.
4. Embrace the Cheat Meal
Yup, believe it or not, the cheat meal actually helps you lose fat.
Well, first there's the psychological boost, which keeps you happy and motivated, which ultimately makes sticking to your diet easier.
But there's also a physiological boost.
Studies on overfeeding (the scientific term for binging on food) show that doing so can boost your metabolic rate by anywhere from 3-10%. While this sounds good, it actually doesn't mean much when you consider that you would need to eat a anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand extra calories in a day to achieve this effect.
More important are the effects cheating has on a hormone called leptin, which regulates hunger, your metabolic rate, appetite, motivation, and libido, as well as serving other functions in your body.
When you're in a caloric deficit and lose body fat, your leptin levels drop. This, in turn, causes your metabolic rate to slow down, your appetite to increase, your motivation to wane, and your mood to sour.
On the other hand, when you give your body more energy (calories) than it needs, leptin levels are boosted, which can then have positive effects on fat oxidation, thyroid activity, mood, and even testosterone levels.
So if it's an increase in leptin levels that you really want, how do you best achieve it?
Eating carbohydrates is the most effective way. Second to that is eating protein (high-protein meals also raise your metabolic rate). Dietary fats aren't very effective at increasing leptin levels, and alcohol actually inhibits it.
So, if your weight is stuck and you're irritable and demotivated, a nice kick of leptin might be all you need to get the scales moving again.
Have a nice cheat meal full of protein and carbs, and enjoy the boost in your leptin levels. It can help your weight loss!
5. Lift Heavy Weights
A study published by Greek sports scientists found that men that trained with heavy weights (80-85% of their one-rep max, or "1RM") increased their metabolic rates over the following three days, burning hundreds more calories than the men that trained with lighter weights (45-65% of their 1RM).
So hit the weights and hit them hard if you want to jack up your metabolic rate and in turn, speed up your fat loss.
Article Source: Michael S. Mathewsezine