Plateau is a term we often don’t like talking about as fitness professionals.
If someone hits a fat loss plateau, they are likely on the verge of losing that oh so necessary motivation they’ve had thus far.
This scares trainers and coaches!
Unless you know why it happens and what you can do about it;)
Here’s a quick outline of what this article will cover:
- Why weight loss and/or strength gains can be dramatic at the start of your training journey.
- Why do plateaus even happen?
- The best ways to get the ball rolling again.
- Too much overwhelm? Know where to start!
Why does weight loss happen so quickly at the onset of training?
THIS article from the Mayo Clinic says it beautifully:
During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part, this is because when you cut calories, the body gets needed energy initially by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen is partly made of water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it releases water, resulting in weight loss that’s mostly water.
Now that we know why we are able to lose weight quickly at first, let’s look at what a plateau is and why it happens.
Plateaus And Why They Occur
There are likely several reasons that your weight loss has stalled, but one of the main reasons has to do with your metabolism!
We always hear about metabolism, but what is it really and why does it “slow down”?
In short, when we lose weight, our body doesn’t have to work as hard to function or to perform daily activities as it did when we weighed more.
So.. it doesn’t burn as many calories as it once did. Does this mean you should eat less and less??
Not exactly. But we will get back to that shortly!
How To Overcome A Plateau
There are several ways to go about overcoming a plateau without starving yourself or working out until the cows come home.
Here are several to consider:
- Eat right for your body type.
- THIS excellent post from Precision Nutrition discusses the different body types and gives a general idea of how much you should eat based on YOU as an individual.
- Carb cycling
- In general, you should eat less food on the days you are not physically active than those that you do workout. You don’t need as many calories. The best way to do that is to alter the amount of carbs you consume. So eat more carbs on the days you train.
- Get your mind right!
- We all know the psychological aspect of health plays a bigger role than we’d like to admit. If you aren’t prepared for the ups and downs, you will struggle at this point in the process.
- Strength train 2-4 times a week.
- When we consume a lower amount of calories than we are used to, not only do we lose fat, but precious muscle as well:( Maintenance of that muscle can only happen with strength training.
- Non-exercise activity.
- Remember THIS post from last week that talked about physical activity other than exercise. It’s super important. If the only time you are active is your 3 hours of exercise a week, you won’t see the results in a timely manner.
- Sleep 7-9 hours a night.
- No explanation needed. But remember that hormone regulation is altered when you don’t get enough sleep. Which means all of your hard work and dieting could be for nothing:)
- Drink more hydrating fluids.
- Not tea. Not coffee. Not booze. Not soda. Seems like the only other option is water since you shouldn’t be drinking your calories.
- Make sure you are fulfilling all of your nutritional needs.
- If you are deficient in any vitamins or minerals, take care of it!
Lots of things to consider.
Are you consistently doing all of these?
Everyone always says they are eating healthy and working out consistently, but they fail to think about what they aren’t doing.
That is your first step.
Figure out what you can get better at.
Work on ONE thing at a time.
I’ll leave you with THIS VIDEO from the Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition. He gives a simple, yet effective way to break through that plateau.
Regardless of your body type, body composition, or overall health status, your ability to handle carbohydrate-dense foods is greatly improved the more active you are.
If you are looking to breakthrough a plateau or if you want to just feel good again, please reach out!