If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight or followed a weight loss plan for a period of time, you know that even if you continue to follow the plan perfectly, most people will hit a plateau about 6 months in. This happens because your body, as Intelligently created as it is, learns to adapt to what you’ve been doing and no longer responds as it first did.
It is recommended that for every 10% of your body weight lost, you consume about 20% fewer calories if you want to continue losing weight. At a certain point if you simply continued doing this you would find yourself ravenous! You can only cut the amount of food so much before that backfires.
You want to continue to burn fat and build muscle, since muscle is more metabolically active and will keep your metabolic rate high enough that you don’t have to cut the amount of food you eat so drastically.
Another tweak you may find helpful is to increase protein intake so you minimize muscle loss. Protein is also more satisfying so you will feel more satiated. When seeking to continue weight loss you might want to increase clean protein to about 25% of your total caloric intake.
Also keep in mind that your body becomes more efficient as your do your regular workouts. Add to that the fact that you expend less energy to do the same workout as you lose weight resulting in fewer calories burned. I always recommend you switch up your exercise routine every 3 or 4 weeks – the frequency, time, type of workout or intensity. Keep your body guessing and it will respond. Many fitness experts believe “confusing” your muscles by varying your exercises from one session to the next forces adaptation to constantly changing demands, thus improving growth and strength and allowing you to avoid plateaus.
While I’m on this subject of muscle confusion, let’s talk about ruts. Maybe you are sticking with the program but feeling unmotivated. Sounds like a rut to me. We all like a bit of variety. Well I believe switching things up – both in your exercise routine and with your diet can just shake things up and renew your motivation as well as shock your body into responding again.
You can change-up your meals. I mention several ways to do this in Today is Still the Day, in the last section, like the progression principle and carb cycling. You could try intermittent fasting and switch up the fasting windows, doing a 16/8 window for a few days or a week and then doing a couple of 14/10 days and maybe a 20/4 day. Your body stays surprised and nothing will lift you out of a rut better than seeing your body respond again. With intermittent fasting, just be sure that you don’t eat less, you just eat less often. Also be sure one meal in your eating window is substantial enough to make you feel full so your body knows you are not starving. Otherwise you defeat the purpose and your body will conserve fat rather than burn it.
Do you have a preferred way of getting past a plateau or avoiding a diet/exercise rut?