Q: I was losing weight at a rate of one to two pounds per week but now it seems I've hit a plateau. Even though I am not cheating on my diet and have continued with exercise it seems like my weight loss has slowed. Any tips?
A: Some people describe the weight loss plateau as being attributable to what has been named the body's "set point".
This is the point where your body reaches a stop phase in weight loss, where it needs time to reset and readjust before continuing on with weight loss.
You'll find more detail in the following article:
The idea is that things such as your past eating and exercise habits plus your actual genetics determine the point at which your body begins to think it is starving and slows down your metabolism to try and hang on to fat stores after you've changed to healthier eating practices and increased exercise with the intention of creating a calorie deficit.
It is possible to adjust the point at which your body decides to stop burning calories as efficiently as you would like in order to lose weight.
But there must be a kind of rest period where your body resets to the "new normal'' as it is referred to in the article linked, before you can continue losing weight as you were prior to having hit the wall so to speak.
Q: What is the metabolic cause of the weight loss plateau?
A: It is said that the weight loss plateau has to do with a lowering of our BMR or basal metabolic rate.
BMR is the amount of energy our body requires for basic functions such as breathing and digestion when at rest.
When our basal metabolic rate lowers, our thyroid activity slows, fat oxidation rate reduces, and body temperature drops.
Q: What can you do to move past a weight loss plateau phase?
A: Sometimes your body needs an adjustment period after you've lost a certain percentage of weight including body fat reduction.
When you've set weight loss goals for yourself and have been seeing steady progress, this plateau phase where your progress seems to halt can be frustrating. But if you ride it out with some weight maintenance, you'll soon be back on track with steady weight loss.
Here are some tips.
Keep an eye on portions. The amount of lean protein consumed with each meal should fit into your palm. Protein is important for muscle formation but since you are also watching calories you want to moderate and space out protein consumption throughout the day.
Lower carbs. Carbohydrates that come from colorful, non-starchy vegetables can be eaten in abundance. Carbohydrates that come from starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, cooked carrots and from grains should be reduced.
Try varying up your exercise routine. If we do the same exercises all the time we can let some muscle groups go neglected. Or we might reach the point where the exercise becomes easy and our body requires a greater challenge in order to keep moving forward with our weight loss progress.
Manage stress. Stress wreaks havoc on our hormones. Too much cortisol causes our body to hold on to fat.
Reduce sugar intake. It is all too common for people on a weight loss plan to get caught up in low-fat foods but continue to eat sugar. Sugar raises insulin levels which causes the body to store fat around the middle and develop visceral fat around the organs.