This happens to everybody on a weight loss journey: you begin a diet, at first it works perfectly, pounds drop consistently, you can see and feel the changes in your body but then everything STOPS. You hit the wall, nothing happens anymore and that number on the scale just stays the same. And what’s the first reaction? Throwing the towel and giving up.
You start believing that the diet just doesn’t work anymore and might start wondering if there’s any diet that is going to actually work for you. But stop right there, most of the times is not the diet that is not working, more likely it’s just your body that it’s getting used to it and causes what it is usually referred to as “plateau”.
Human body is programmed to adapt
Plateau happens because the human body is a very fast learner and takes little time to adjust to new environments.
Even if the new environment is just a change in your eating regimen: less calories, different kind of calories or more burned calories.
Things change? Then the body adapt to the new setting. It’s a survival mechanisms deeply rooted in our DNA and that finds its purpose in our ancestors’ need to survive in the extreme circumstances that living wilderness entailed.
In other words plateau is a survival mode to which our body resorts to. The thing is that it works against us when we’re trying to make major changes in our bodies.
Trick your body
Your body has adapted to the new diet? Than what you need to do is to make a change and mess up a little bit with your metabolism.
“Trick” is the word you should think about. Do something that is radically different from what you’ve been doing until then.
Let’s say for instance that you’ve been cutting carbs dramatically, when you hit plateau time has come to reinstate them, at least for a day. You’ll feed your body carbs for a full day, making it believe that it can finally rely on an available source of energy and then BAM!, the next day you’re off carbs again. The body will not have the time to react nor to adapt to those sudden changes; and this will just keep your metabolism on a high alert mode.
To make another example, let’s say you’ve been cutting calories for about 40%. Then go back to your 100% regimen on a given day, and only afterwards go back to calorie restriction.
Nutritionists and dietitians around the globe refer to this as the “cheat day”. And it serves a double purpose: not only it messes up your metabolism but it also has a great psychological effect as you ease off on restriction and this might get you in a better mood.
The trick technique is also based on a fat loss strategy commonly used in the bodybuilding world referred to as carb cycling which is built around rotating between high and low carbs days. By doing bodybuilders are able to keep their bodies guessing and this results in an increased metabolism.
Mix-up your workouts
Losing weight is not only about a restricted eating regimen; or at least it shouldn’t be only about that. The most successful weight-loss plans include a strict workout routine as well.
But as with the eating also when it comes to working out your body can adapt to it pretty fast. That’s why you have to change pretty often also in this department. Don’t stick to the same training for more than two weeks. Mix things up. Fortunately nowadays gyms offer all kind of different classes; and trainers have a whole range of exercises to chose from.
You’ve been doing spinning? Then try doing an alternate running on a treadmill. You’ve been pilates try yoga for a change.
Just keep ‘em mixing. Don’t give your body a rest and most of all don’t give it the time to adjust.
Think about long term goals
Losing weight is never a short term objective, is a long term one. Actually is a lifelong goal.
You wanna lose weight and then keep your ideal weight for the remainder of your life. This means that when you start a diet you want to think about long term results.
With this approach, when you hit plateau it becomes just one of the phases towards reaching your ideal weight and health.
It happens, you just have to stay focused, use one of the many tricks up your sleeve and get over it!
The Iron You