When you first start a diet, you will see rapid results! But almost everyone goes thru a phase that they are no longer losing weight… Why does this happen? What should you do? Is it normal?
Why are you no longer losing weight?
Let’s first explain why you are no longer losing weight. When you first eat in a caloric deficit, your body will respond really well since that is a relatively new stimulus. Your body doesn’t want you to be shredded, so after a good amount of weight loss, usually around 10-15 pounds depending on your genetics and other factors, your body will actually adapt to the amount of calories you are eating right now. This is due to the survival mechanism, your body will want to make sure you don’t lose any more body fat since you already lost a good amount.
How to lose the last few pounds
You are maybe thinking that you should do the following things:
- Do more cardio
- Eat less
- Take more supplements
- Have more training sessions
But the reality is that you need to do the exact opposite of this….
If you start to eat less or train a lot more you will end up more frustrated and without any significant weight loss. At this point you need to work with your body and do what is known as taking a step back to take two steps forward.
What you need to do is to eat 2-4 weeks at your NEW maintenance calories.
What?? Eating more for a few weeks? What?? I expect you to be a little confused if this is the case but let me explain why this will be beneficial for you.
Eating more temporarily to lose more weight in the future
If you have been in a caloric deficit for a while now, your body is beginning to adapt to the calories you are eating. Your body thinks that it should now maintain its weight and function on this new calories in order to survive, this is why you stop losing body fat!
But when you bump up your calories temporarily, you are sending a message to your body. You basically say to your body that it doesn’t have to worry about running out of food anytime soon. When you shift from your caloric deficit to maintenance calories for 2-4 weeks (the longer the better) your body will “relax” and when you introduce a caloric deficit again it will respond to it. You need to take a step backwards to take two forward.
How to calculate your new caloric needs
One of the mistakes that people make is to not calculate their new calories for their maintenance week. This is not a cheat week by any means, what you need to do is calculate your maintenance calories for your current weight. If you now weight 170 pounds, calculate your calories for that weight.
For this, multiply your weight in pounds times 15, this will be an accurate number for an average person with an average metabolism, if you are very active of have a really fast metabolism, multiply it by 16 or 17. What you can also do is add about 300-400 calories to your diet, this will also likely match your maintenance calories, which can be a lot more simple.
Gaining some weight will be normal
Now, you will likely gain some weight specially the first week. This will be normal since you will be increasing your calories thus you will have more glycogen in your body. When you start to eat more carbs you will store them in your muscles as glycogen and this is why you gain weight even at eating at maintenance. If you start to gain more than 2-3 pounds, you are likely eating a bit more than you think, so just make sure that you don’t over do it. Gaining 2-4 pounds during this time can be normal, but be careful.
What to do after a maintenance calorie diet break?
So 2-4 weeks have passed, you feel a little better and you are ready to get back on your diet. The next thing you need to do is decrease your calories by 500 each day and make sure you are eating around .8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. You will now notice that the weight will be dropping a lot faster and that you will finally see that last bit of fat coming off. If you need to, you can repeat this process but it is very likely that you will just have to do it once, this depends on how much weight you want to lose.
The bodyfat you want to lose more will be the hardest
You may notice that you want to lose belly fat as soon as you start the diet, the reality is that belly fat is typically the last bit of fat to come off, you will first likely lose fat from other areas such as your arms, back, chest and face before you start to lose belly fat, this is completely normal! Some people are just lucky enough to have a lean stomach no matter what, but the majority of us will see the belly fat or the fat we most want to lose come off at the end of our weight loss journey.
Some people may think that diets don’t work because of this common plateau, the truth is that it happens almost to everyone, and rather than working against your body you should try to work with it. Decreasing calories even more and doing more cardio can help you lose those few pounds but that’s definitely not sustainable, realistic or optimal. This adaptation mechanism is one of the things why people give up on diets or thing they don’t work as they should. This will normally happen around 10 weeks after starting a diet, some may experience it later and some sooner, some will actually never experience it (this is a minority).
This is it! This is how to go thru a weight loss plateau. If you have any questions or comments make sure to leave them down below!