Monday, January 16, 2012

Break that Weight Loss Plateau!

If you're trying to lose weight or if you're experienced in weight loss diets, you might recognize words like 'weight loss plateau'. When you are dieting, you are bound to consume less food that what your body is used to. This works out great the first couple of month: you're motivated and in the same time you are losing weight! Suddenly, your body is in shock, it won't allow you to lose any more weight thinking that you are actually starving it so it decreases your metabolic rate to preserve energy. This genetic mechanism has worked just great for humanity's good when food was scarce and when famines were common, but it is one hell of an enemy now that you are trying to shed off the extra weight! This, in the nutrition world, is called hitting a plateau, an obstacle many dieters face!

So how to break this plateau for a successful weight loss?

1- Be aware of your total caloric intake. You may be having fattening desserts with your diet, eating hidden fats from some kaaks or cooked meals, choosing high fat types of cheeses or cuts. So as a starter, go over what you are eating in general and discuss them with your dietitian, maybe you are missing out on some details.

Mix workouts. Join bicycling classes,
they're my favorite!
2- If all is set, and yes it is the plateau we've been talking about, then the first thing you can do is increase/change your physical activity routine. Many prefer to lose weight without exercise, and this is actually possible. However, with exercise you can burn quicker and tone your body up! So the whole point is to exercise. Now if you already exercise and you hit a plateau, it's because you have been doing the same exercise for quite some time that your muscles got used to such movements and are performing them using way less energy that when you first started. Therefore, change exercises, go for interval training, lift some weights, try some Tae Bo, go for Zumba dancing, just mix cardio, stretching and strength exercises altogether.

3- Another thing you can do is calorie cycling. This can be done with the help of your dietitian. Because your body thinks you are starving it, you may want to change the total amount of calories you are having just to reassure your brain that you're not! So let's say you've been eating around 1700 calories for the past couple of months before you hit the plateau, now you can cycle between 1400, 1700 and 2000. The dietitian can carefully assess whether you can go for calorie cycling to begin with and she must be the one who prepares this diet for you, so don't go cycling on your own.

4- Alter your macronutrient intake - Start off with 50% carbs (half of which are definitely whole), 30% fat (mono and polyunsaturated fats) and 20 % lean proteins (fish, dairy, legumes). When you hit the plateau, change the percentages, but let your dietitian do that as well! You can increase your lean protein intake for couple of weeks for example, this has been shown to help nudge your metabolism up a bit!

When I said smaller meals,I didn't
mean miniature food,
but these look beautiful!
5- You can also have 6 smaller meals instead of 3 large ones! Have more frequent meals, but make sure to go for smaller portion sizes of course! Increasing your meal frequency can help in revving up your metabolic rate, thus helping you burn more.

6- One important thing you can do is hanging in there and not losing your motivation. You are on the right track so losing hope is the last thing you want. You need to maintain for a while , you are probably losing weight but it may not be significant to show on the scale!