If you have ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably experienced a weight loss plateau and know how frustrating it can be. You’ve been eating well, exercising regularly and seeing the number on the scale drop nicely each week. Then, all of a sudden, the number stops moving. You haven’t changed your strategy, so why isn’t it working anymore?
WHAT CAUSES A WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU?
When you first start losing weight, there is often a rapid reduction in body water weight. As you restrict your energy intake, your body has to dip into its glycogen fuel stores. Glycogen contains a significant amount of water which is released by the body when it is used for energy. This effect is temporary, usually lasting only a few weeks.
In addition to your initial water loss, a plateau may occur because, as you lose weight, you can be losing both fat and muscle. Muscle burns a lot of calories so with a reduction in muscle mass, goes a reduction in number of calories your body burns each day. This can bring your body to a point where the number of calories it is burning equals what you are consuming, resulting in a weight loss plateau. At this point, if you don’t change your plan, your weight loss will slow.
FIVE STRATEGIES FOR BREAKING THROUGH YOUR WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU:
1. Don’t give up. The rate of weight loss may have only temporarily slowed. You may notice your weight continues to drop after a period of time.
2. Track your nutrition. Record food and drink intake immediately after eating by using scales and measuring cups to record everything. Forget nothing! People often get complacent and servings inadvertently grow.
3. Look for patterns. Are you eating because you’re hungry or because of an emotion such as boredom or stress? Are you getting enough fibre at breakfast? Increasing your fibre may help control calorie intake the rest of the day by keeping you satisfied for longer. Too many cravings later in the day? Try redistributing your calories so there are more at breakfast; some studies show that this reduces cravings and accelerates weight loss. Have you optimized the amount, type and timing of protein you are consuming? Paying attention to details like this can help minimize and perhaps even increase muscle mass during calorie restriction.
4. Review your exercise (and non-exercise) habits. Are you only doing cardiovascular exercise? It might be time
to add some resistance training. A combination of aerobic and resistance training can help produce high quality weight loss, minimizing muscle loss and maximizing fat mass loss. Looking for other ways to burn calories? Non exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) represents the calories you burn from all physical activities other than “exercising”. It’s the calories burned standing up while you work, pacing, fidgeting, taking the stairs, toe tapping, dancing while doing housework, and walking during your mobile meetings. Because there are a lot of hours in a day, N.E.A.T is a powerful, yet often underused, weight loss tool.
5. Look at your genes. Nutrigenomix® testing can identify whether there are specific nutrition and exercise strategies that can help your weight loss efforts.
If you are struggling to break through your weight loss plateau, consult with your Medisys dietitian and/or kinesiologist to develop a healthy, high quality and individualized weight loss plan that maximizes fat loss and minimizes muscle loss, keeping you strong and healthy. Click here to learn more about our nutrition and preventive health services.
Finally, remember to celebrate your weight loss successes – even modest ones! For individuals who are overweight, losing even 5 – 10% of your initial body weight can significantly improve high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, sleep disturbances, orthopaedic ailments and other medical problems.