Weight Loss Plateau

Are you having trouble losing weight?

A few weeks ago, you were almost fat-free, and now you’re wondering whether your scale is malfunctioning since your weight won’t budge.

So what?

What happened to your routine, and how can you break through this weight loss plateau?

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

Weight loss is problematic since it doesn’t distinguish between fat, muscle, and water.

The objective is to lose as much fat as possible but as little muscle as possible. On the scale, a pound lighter than the day or week before implies a pound of fat loss; the same or more implies no fat loss or growth. Sadly, it isn’t that easy.

Water retention, for example, readily swings weight. You will retain water if you consume a lot of salt and carbohydrates and drink little water. This may easily add 3-5 pounds every day, which is concerning if you step on the scale. On the other hand, if you consume minimal salt and carbohydrates and drink lots of water, your body will flush away water, giving you a more defined look and making you think you lost a lot of fat.

Because water retention is unpredictable, I only weigh myself once a week, nude, in the morning. Weighing oneself numerous times per week, or worse, per day, destroys confidence and confuses the mind.

Choosing a “weigh day” without a cheat meal will typically add a pound or two of water that will come out the next day (in my experience, at least).

What is a Weight Loss Plateau?

A genuine weight loss plateau is when you stop shedding fat.

If my weight hasn’t moved in two weeks, I consider it a plateau. However, because I’m just trying to lose one pound of fat every week, no change on the scale after one week doesn’t always cause alarm; I could’ve dropped that pound of fat but been retaining water, or my bowel movements weren’t regular. So no weight loss after two weeks of dieting tells me I’m stuck.

Remember These Fat-Loss Facts?

Before I explain how to break these plateaus, I want you to understand fat loss.

  1. Expect Weight Loss Plateaus

Weight loss plateaus are common. You’re lucky if you have no idea what I’m talking about and can easily attain single-digit body fat percentages. However, people sometimes experience plateaus on their way to a six-pack because the human body is challenging when it comes to fat loss.

If I want to keep dropping weight, I’ve discovered that I need to incorporate cardio into my diet (you can only lower your calories so much before you start losing muscle). I can diet off the first 5% or so of body fat when I bulk, but then I reach a plateau that only 3-4 days of exercise per week can break (20-25 minutes per session). The next plateau for me is about 8%. So I need to do cardio four times a week for 30-40 minutes if I want to lose weight.

Although the thresholds differ, I’ve trained or assisted everyone who has had this experience. People can diet below 10% without exercise, but most people can’t break double-digit body fat percentages without a tight diet and frequent activity.

  1. Losing makes it more challenging.

It takes longer to shed fat as you get leaner. It’s feasible to lose 2-3 pounds of fat per week for the first few weeks if you’re at 25% body fat. But losing 2-3 pounds of fat every week at 10% body fat would require harmful medicines.

I’m glad to lose one pound of fat every week until I’m below 12 percent, but I have to fight for it.

  1. Your “Comfort Zone.”

It’s the only possible way I can express a phenomenon that millions of other athletes have experienced. The body seems to have a preferred weight (hence a preferred body fat percentage). If you consume less than this, you will feel hungry. More than that, this makes you feel pretty full.

Some people find their “comfort zone” to be fat, while others find it to be slim. My body, for example, is most comfortable with around 11% body fat (which would currently put me at about 200 lbs). That means I can eat anything I want and still stay under 11% whenever I want.

Maintaining this weight takes regular effort in calorie restriction and exercise. Getting more significant than this needs common overeating, which extends the comfort zone.

Here are five techniques to rekindle your body’s furnace and maintain fat burning.

1. Calorie Target Recalculated

Your body’s metabolism slows down when you lose weight because your body no longer has to expend as much energy to stay slender.

You may face a plateau if you don’t modify your calorie intake. To avoid this, recalculate your daily calorie target per 15 pounds lost. As you can see, the target shrinks.

Many formulae exist for calculating how much to eat to lose weight, but here’s one based on the Katch McArdle:

1.2 g protein/lb

1 g carb per lb

1 gram of fat per 5 lb

You’ll be in a moderate calorie deficit and lose weight steadily with that easy macronutrient formula. To convert it to calories, multiply the protein, carbohydrates, and fats by 4.

2. “Hidden Calories” Control

Most weight loss plateaus are caused by “calorie creep,” or eating more than you believe. This, coupled with a decreasing metabolism, guarantees stagnation.

Calories may come from everywhere. However, constant snacking, eating out, overdoing it with condiments, and drinking alcohol are all classic ways to add enough calories to slow your weight loss without feeling entirely “off your diet.”

Sadly, eating 200–300 more calories each day can entirely prevent fat reduction. On the other hand, a tiny bag of chips or a small handful of almonds isn’t that much. Fat loss is picky. It’s not hard, but it’s precise.

To avoid “calorie creep,” you need to know what you’re eating every day. Afterwards, it’s up to you whether you keep a food diary. I don’t have the time or patience to try new things, so I stick to eating the same healthy items.

3. Boost your cardio.

You should boost your cardio if you know your daily caloric target is good and you have no calorie creep.

I recommend no more than four days a week if you’re doing weight training. You can even add time to each day (I like to add 10 minutes to each session and see how my body responds).

The objective is to tilt the scales towards fat loss and see what happens. If the first round of extra cardio doesn’t work, add more (10 minutes every session, for example).

Oh, and HIIT cardio.

4. Cheat Meal

Yes, the cheat meal truly aids weight loss.

How?

First, the psychological boost keeps you cheerful and motivated, which helps you stick to your diet.

Studies on overfeeding reveal that it can increase metabolic rate by 3–10%. To achieve this impact, you need to eat between a few hundred to several thousand more calories every day.

Cheating also affects leptin, a hormone that governs hunger, metabolism, appetite, motivation, and libido, among other things.

Eating less and losing weight causes your leptin levels to fall. This slows your metabolism, increases your hunger, decreases your motivation, and depresses your mood.

Conversely, giving your body more energy (calories) than it requires increases leptin levels, which improves fat oxidation, thyroid function, mood, and even testosterone levels.

So, if you want more leptin, how do you get it?

The best strategy is to eat carbs. Then there’s protein (high-protein meals also raise your metabolic rate). Dietary lipids don’t work well in raising leptin levels, while alcohol does the opposite.

If you’re overweight, cranky, and demotivated, a little dose of leptin may be all you need.

Enjoy a cheat lunch rich in protein and carbohydrates and watch your leptin levels rise. It can aid weight loss!

5. Heavy Lifting

If you’ve read any of my stuff, you know I love lifting large weights. Among the numerous advantages of heavy lifting is that it accelerates fat loss.

Research by Greek sports scientists discovered that males who exercised with large weights (80-85% of their 1RM) boosted their metabolic rates over three days, burning hundreds more calories (45-65 percent of their 1RM).

So if you want to speed up your fat reduction, pound the weights hard.

Plus, complex movements like squats and deadlifts burn the most post-workout calories.