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Weight Loss Plateaus

Almost everyone I know who has lost weight eventually hits a “weight loss plateau”.  You are doing all the same things you’ve been doing to lose weight, but the scale is no longer budging.  I don’t need to tell you how incredibly frustrating this is!  So, what is a girl to do? Well, I did some research and found the following suggestions helpful:

Problem #1 : You aren’t eating enough calories

Solution : When you decrease your food intake, your body simply lowers its metabolic rate in response.  If you lower your calories too much, you are in danger of losing muscle mass and decreasing your metabolism.  Keeping your calories SLIGHTLY below your maintenance calories will help keep your energy levels and metabolism HIGH.

Problem #2 : Loss of lean muscle mass

Solution : Muscle burns a lot more calories than fat (five times as much!), so it is important to maintain your muscle mass while trying to lose weight.  You can do this by incorporating strength training as part of your exercise plan, AND by making sure you are eating sufficient calories and nutrients to fully nourish your body.

Problem #3 : Now that you’ve lost weight, you need less calories

Solution : As you lose weight, the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight goes DOWN.  If you use a program like “Lose It” for your iPhone, you will notice that as you lose weight, your target calorie count decreases (slightly).

Problem #4 : Your body has adapted to your current exercise regimen

Solution : When you start a new exercise program, your body works hard to adjust to your new routine.  Consequently,  you burn lots of calories.  Over time, as your body gets used to the same exercise routine, it no longer has to work so hard.  Consequently, you don’t burn as many calories.  The solution is the change things up!  Increase the intensity, duration, or frequency of your exercise.  You can also try interval training or a completely new type of exercise.

Problem #5 : Overtraining

Solution : If you go overboard on your exercise, your body may respond by decreasing the amount of calories you burn during the rest of the day.  Working hard during exercise is great, but if you are laying around tired & sore for the rest of the day, it may actually be counterproductive.  If this sounds like YOU, it is probably wise to lighten up your exercise routine and make sure you take time to recover from your workouts.

Problem #6 : You are eating more calories than you think

Solution : Keep a food journal for a while and accurately count your calories. Weigh or measure your food to be sure you are eating the right amount.

Other ideas for overcoming a weight loss plateau:

  • Try eating smaller meals more frequently. People who eat smaller meals use their calories more efficiently as energy vs. storing excess calories as body fat.
  • Adjust the balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat you are eating. People respond differently to these macro-nutrients, so adjusting how many of your calories come from carbs vs. protein vs. fat can sometimes be helpful.
  • Try calorie cycling. Instead of eating exactly 1,600 calories each day, try eating more calories some days and less others. This keeps your body guessing and helps prevent weight loss plateaus.  Here is an example of what you could try:

Monday : 1800 calories
Tuesday : 1500 calories
Wednesday : 1700 calories
Thursday : 1400 calories
Friday : 1800 calories
Saturday : 1600 calories
Sunday : 1400 calories

Small adjustments in your daily calories can help keep your body guessing and pull you out of a weight loss plateau.

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