You’ve been doing everything right.
You were losing weight and feeling great.
But now you stop losing.
Let’s go through how you can get your weight loss started again.
Is It Really A Weight Loss Plateau?
Weight loss plateaus do happen but many times when people think they’re in a weight loss plateau, they’re actually not.
So how do you know?
Calorie Deficit And The Weight Loss Plateau
First of all, are you in a calorie deficit?
A lot of people are a bit confused by this.
If you’re not losing body fat, you are not in a calorie deficit.
Let me say that again. If you’re not losing body fat you are not in a calorie deficit.
Setting Up Your Calorie Deficit
And then someone will say, “But I am I’ve I calculated the numbers I need for a calorie deficit and I’ve been doing them.”
If you haven’t set up your calorie deficit correctly in the first place that could be the reason why you’re not getting the results.
These numbers for calorie deficits that you might find from an online calculator are only very rough estimates of what your body might be burning.
They are based on age and gender and physical activity but genetics can play a role. Ao unless you’re living in a metabolic ward you can’t measure the actual amount of calories that you need to be in a deficit or what your maintenance calories are.
The Challenge Of Calorie Counting
Tracking calories is notoriously difficult to do even dietitians have been shown to be off by about 20 percent. So don’t feel bad if you’re not tracking your calories exactly accurately.
But the absolute number doesn’t really matter that much anyway. You just want to know based on how you’re tracking right now how can I take in fewer calories than I have previously been taking in in order to be in a calorie deficit.
Figuring Out True Maintenance Calories
A really useful way of determining your true maintenance calories is to track your calories for a week without changing anything. Just do everything as you would and record everything in an app so that you can get the calories and macros that you’re eating if you track every day seven days in that week you divide the total number into seven and you have your average daily intake what we call your total daily energy expenditure, TDEE.
Now of course you’re going to eat slightly differently from week to week. But measuring it yourself is probably the closest that you can get.
Issues With Calorie Counting
Always keeping in mind that you may not be recording quite that accurately and you do need to weigh and measure. If you’re eating out you need to get as precise as you possibly can.
There are a lot of issues with counting calories but that’s not to say that that process isn’t useful it certainly is.
Why Calorie Burn Reduces As You Lose Weight
but hold on someone’s going to jump in and say, “But I have been following the calorie deficit and I was losing weight so why am I not losing weight anymore? I’m eating exactly the same.”
So here’s what’s happened. If you started off at 200 pounds and now you weigh 170 pounds your body is burning off fewer calories. Larger bodies burn off more calories smaller bodies burn off fewer calories just to sustain themselves.
What was a calorie deficit for you at 200 pounds is probably maintenance for you now that you’re 170 pounds. Now in order to get into a deficit at 170 pounds you need to reduce your calories further.
You always want to remember that as you’re losing weight your body is burning fewer calories. And if you’ve been going through a dieting process for a period of time say a few months there is a metabolic adaptation that happens something called adaptive thermogenesis.
Any form of calorie restriction, whether you’re doing it through calorie counting or keto or intermittent fasting will cause your total daily energy expenditure to fall. This is your body’s protective mechanism against starvation. Usually it’s around a 10 or a 15 percent decrease. So your body’s actually slowing down the rate of calorie burn independent of what size you are. That’s something that you need to overcome.
The Effect of NEAT On Weight Loss Plateaus
Let’s say you’ve been dieting for three or four months and you’ve been getting that calorie deficit you’ve been losing fat and all of a sudden it stops our bodies have a tendency to move less as we become fatigued through that dieting process. It’s been shown that NEAT, your non-exercise activity thermogenesis is will go down in a period of dieting.
So without really noticing you’re moving around less because you’re consuming fewer calories. You’re not as energetic. And all of a sudden you’re burning off fewer calories. You’re not going to be in a calorie deficit.
Counting Steps To Avoid A Weight Loss Plateau
It may be worthwhile to count your steps maybe you’ve got a watch that does that or you can do it on your phone.
Just to keep track of whether you’re still moving as much as you were when you started the diet.
The Benefits Of A Diet Break
Sometimes if you get really burnt out on dieting and you’re mentally and physically exhausted it’s a good idea to do a diet break. This is a period of time where you increase your calories. Maybe you give yourself that psychological freedom that I can have more of this I can have a bit more of that.
You can take maybe two or three weeks to do that without going like completely out of control with food you can reduce your training as well if you’ve been training really hard especially with weights or you’re doing tons of cardio and you feel really burnt out on everything then it’s a good idea to reduce that at as well.
And many times you’ll get weight loss again once you get out of that period.
That feeling of being overworked or over trained is why I recommend that you do the minimum effective dose of exercise.
When you’re going through a calorie deficit diet plan because you’re already expending some effort in order to eat a certain way. Stay active of course. Do the activities you enjoy. Ideally you’re doing a bit of weight training.
Managing Your Recovery
You always want to keep it at a level that allows you good recovery. Because if you’re not recovering from your workouts you don’t get the best out of your weight training you don’t get the best out of your cardio you just feel more stressed more tired you’re going to turn to your comfort foods.
It can become very difficult to maintain that calorie deficit.
Some stress is completely normal and actually helpful. But when stress results in you getting frustrated with your diet and your workouts. If you’re sitting around watching Netflix for hours at a time, then it’s not benefiting you.
I recommend that you add exercise slowly into your plan.
If you’re starting out, I usually start my clients with more walking because it tends not to fatigue you. It won’t interfere with your weight training. But it will give you that calorie expenditure that you need to push past that weight loss plateau.
Lifestyle Factors That Can Lead To A Weight Loss Plateau
A lot of people will find that if they switch from an active job to a sedentary job they’re automatically burning off your calories.
So it’s important to take a look at other things in your lifestyle as well that maybe are causing you to be less active overall.
Because even though you’ve been eating the same amount of calories and you’re still working out of the gym if your energy expenditure has decreased for some reason then it’s a problem. Maybe you’re more stresse, you’re not sleeping as well therefore you’re just spending more time sitting than standing or moving around.
That all has an impact on calorie expenditure and it can get you stuck in a weight loss plateau.
The Role Of Macros In Calorie Expenditure
Maybe adjust the macros. Because making sure that there’s enough protein and fiber in your diet as well can have beneficial effects.
0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day at a minimum. You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting the right amount of fiber because if you’re eating more your calories out is a little bit more.
For men we say 38 grams of fiber per day and for women about 25 grams.
Protein is more thermogenic than fat and carbs so it’s burning off a little bit more calories. And the same with fiber. You’re using up more calories in order to digest both protein and fiber.
Is Body Recomposition A Possibility?
You also might want to look at the possibility that you’ve done some body recomposition.
You’ve built some muscle and you’ve lost some fat.
If you’ve been doing weight training and you are relatively new at the start or you had a long break then maybe you have built some muscle.
Muscle has greater density so if you have more muscle you’re going to weigh a little bit more.
But if you notice that you’re leaner around the midsection then chances are you’ve lowered your body fat percentage. Even if there’s no change in the scale.
Measuring Your Progress Without The Scale
That’s the other thing I want you to be aware of. Just in case you are seeing progress in other areas but not necessarily in your scale weight.
Because this scale doesn’t tell the entire story.
Which is usually why I recommend that you have other ways of measuring your progress, including taking a waist and hip measurement.
That’s also a good marker of health.
Reality Check Time!
You may have also gotten to the point where your calorie intake is pretty much as little as you really want to eat. Your calorie expenditure in terms of exercise and moving around is as much as you can realistically do. And that means that that would be the weight that you can comfortably sit at. To go beyond that is going to require a little bit of a further push.
ither going to decide that you’re going to work a little harder cut back on the calories a little or you decide it’s not worth it and stay where you are.
I know it’s hard to figure out sometimes I specialize in helping my clients overcome these hurdles so that they’re losing weight again find out how it works HERE.