Weight loss plan is easy to start with but sustaining it long term (I would prefer it as a lifestyle change) is a challenge i.e. continuing to lose weight for weeks and months. One of the biggest challenges is the weight loss plateau roadblock one faces after few weeks of weight loss. For example, you might be losing 2 pounds every week but after 3-4 weeks, you might not see the weight loss and next week and after. This is the weight loss plateau. The article here discusses reasons for weight loss plateau and how to try and break it. Also it covers my experience with the weight loss plateau and overcoming it.
Suggestions to break the plateau
I suggest starting with easier options to try.
- Try Intermittent Fasting – It works – https://randomvoyager.com/fasting/
- If you are into Intermittent fasting, try over the weekend (Saturday or Sunday – whichever day is convenient) to push the fasting time to 17-18 hours .
- Pick a nice weekend and get some nice lunch/dinner (given the reason below)
- Drink more water/coconut water/rock salt+lime added to water or eat a banana to hydrate well.
- Try to get a good night sleep of 9 hours. If possible take a sleep supplement for a night like melatonin or something to assist with a good sleep
- Increase non-exercise related activities like gardening etc
- Reduce Carbohydrates (if you eat more than 150 grams per day – it is just a rough estimate you need to work out) and increase proteins – it is going to exact swap in terms of calories per gram. Per gram protein calorie is 4 while carbohydrate per gram calorie is also 4. Check sample diet plan of mine – https://randomvoyager.com/diet/
- Get a massage or a weekend away or an activity which makes you relax.
- Try doing the exercise during the Intermittent fasting period (HIIT or weight training after your dinner during your Intermittent fasting period) – I do my dinner by 6 pm. I do my strength training after 7:00 pm when I am done with my work – it reduces stress, increases HGH, testosterone hormones, which are fat bursting hormones. They tend to stay at an increased level for few hours (eating disrupts this high and bring these hormones down)
- Revisit the calorie intake and try to see if you can cut carbohydrate calorie somewhere – check sample diet plan of mine – https://randomvoyager.com/diet/
Now the tough part if the above does not work –
- If you are not doing resistance training, start adding it to your exercise plan (compound exercises only like deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull ups/pushups, glutei bridges, farmer’s walk- start with less number of exercises per session) – form is important not to injure yourself.
- Check with your doctor and test your thyroid gland
Reasons for Weight Loss Plateau
Weight loss plateau can be real or deceptive
When it is real
Reasons can be
1. As you lose weight, your metabolism got adjusted accordingly (it is called adaptive metabolism or thermogenesis as your body adjusts the calorie expenditure accordingly)
Ways to boost it would be
1. Increase protein and decrease carbs/fats to level the calorie intake especially when the body fat % levels for men fall below 20 and for women, < 25%. A thumb rule for protein in take in grams would be 1.0 to 1.2 times your body weight in pounds. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, protein in grams would be 150 gms.
2. Add strength training if you are not going strength training. Also strength training increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) , testosterone levels which are good hormones. Likewise intermittent fasting increases HGH. (HGH is taken by many in steroid form for short-cut muscle/weight gains – not a good thing. Boosting it naturally helps)
2. Increase calorie intake once per day for 2 days with a nice restaurant visit – do not go for simple carbs/sugars – like for example – desserts etc, garlic wheat naan + mutter paneer giving you good fat too (if u eat non-veg, add tandoori chicken or prawns which are good proteins) – you get an increased carbs so your lean body (muscles) can get the depleted glycogen restored and would boost the leptin hormone. (Sugars/simple carbs will inhibit with the leptin sensitivity)
3 Drink more water/coconut water or add a banana than what you do normally. maybe your body is dehydrated slightly
4. If you are not getting enough/good sleep, try to get a nice sleep for 9 hours over the weekend (even if it means taking a melatonin or sleep supplement for a night)
Deceptive weight loss plateau would be
- You are stressed out and you start retaining water as a result (in the stomach especially) as your Cortisol levels can be high due to stress. I take Ashwagantha capsule everyday to reduce Cortisol levels. When I travel for work for a day to a customer place, I tend to relax and I would have lost 2-3 pounds as the body lets go of the water (in the background you might be still reducing the fat). Personally for me, 2-3 drinks of tequila (tequila is 64 calories per drink – so I go for it) with a friend helps as the social life reduces my stress (not the alcohol but the social life) . Even a dinner with a customer (I tend to watch out what I eat though I might indulge a bit) helps – I believe the effect might be because Leptin levels are getting boosted). In short, when the stressful period is over, cortisol reduces and the body releases water.
My experience with Weight Loss Plateau
In my case, I wanted the weight loss to be slow (2 pounds per month) and did not fix a timeline for my target goal of 155 pounds/16% body fat. As I started the journey in November, I was losing 2-3 pounds per week beyond my comfort level as I was afraid of body instability.
But I was not feeling hungry though or had a craving for food. With a target of 2 pounds weightloss/month but actual loss of 2-3 pounds per week, I had that cushion to not to panic when weightloss plateau happened later after 2 months. It was primarily due to work related stress.
My body composition monitor showed my weightloss stopped/ fat% did not move for 2 weeks and when I travel for work every other week, the weight loss happened (2 pounds would reduce roughly) and fat % went down. So I knew stress is the primary factor for me in weightloss plateau.
I started taking Ashwaganda capsules but knew I would lose weight if there is a social activity with friends, massage session (My wife would book me massage services at home – www.zeel.com) or when a travel is involved as it relaxes me.
What I discovered as I hit the 16% body fat mark was that my weight loss slowed down and whatever the weightloss was coming from muscle loss. I adjusted protein in take from roughly 0.5 – 0.6 times my body weight (145 pounds) which was around 100 gms per day to 150 gms of protein. This shaved off 1 1/2 pounds in 10 days.
In summary, weight loss plateau is a challenge which almost everyone would face in their weight loss journey. It can be demoralizing but following the above tips helps.
https://randomvoyager.com/weightloss/ – Beach Body with six pack at 47 years of age? Is It doable?
https://randomvoyager.com/diet/ – The diet plan I worked for weight loss