Exercising is incredibly rewarding when you step on the scale and find that you’ve gotten significantly closer to reaching your goals. However, when you see the scale refuse to budge it can be disheartening to say the least.
Unfortunately, that is precisely what happens at times, despite the countless hours you spend on the treadmill and your religious adherence to a diet plan.
Hitting a weight-loss plateau can make you question all the hard work you’ve put in and while this can be immensely discouraging, it’s important to realize how common the phenomenon is. Weight loss plateaus are completely normal and affect most fitness enthusiasts at some point or the other.
So, why does this happen and how can you get past it?
“When you hit that first plateau and you’re not improving as fast as you were before, congratulations! You’re no longer a beginner.” – Diane Fu, weight lifting coach
Why Do We Hit Weight Loss Plateaus?
You hit a weight loss plateau when your weight loss stagnates, even though you’ve been working out diligently and eating healthy. It’s a problem that confounds almost everyone trying to lose weight and it can occur for a variety of reasons.
“Your body metabolism adapts to the healthier lifestyle, improving energy efficiency; the downside is that calorie burn slows down”
It’s usually easier to lose weight at the start, because the more weight you have to lose, the faster it comes off. The closer you get to your goal, the tougher it becomes to drop those extra kilos.
For one, your body metabolism adapts to the healthier lifestyle, with energy efficiency improving – this means your body requires less calories for the same bodily functions. The longer you do the same sort of workout, the less challenging and effective it becomes.
“Your body responds to restrictive diets and extreme exercise with a stress response, and rising levels of the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ promote fat storage”
As we’ve already established, losing a whole lot of weight in the beginning impacts your metabolic rate, slowing it down. If you’re on a restrictive diet or over exercising, your body then begins to fight back, triggering its stress responses.
This elevates levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which is known to promote fat storage.
“The rapid loss of weight at the outset, coupled with a calorie-restricted diet triggers insulin resistance that encourage fat cells to hold on to calories”
Rapid weight loss coupled with a calorie-restricted diet can also lead to insulin resistance in the cells. Excess insulin creates metabolic changes that encourage fat cells to hold on to calories, which the brain is unable to find when scanning the blood stream for free calories.
This makes it especially tough to free those calories and get rid of the fat.
How Do You Move Past The Weight Loss Slump?
Consistency and patience are vital to get past the plateau. This is the point when you feel like throwing in the towel, but it’s also the point when you need to strengthen your resolve and stay focused.
Mix It Up
Being innovative with your workout routine and mixing it up, so your body does not get accustomed to one particular type of exercise and incorporating strength training to keep your metabolism revving are two smart ways to do this.
Eat More Whole Foods
Including more quality whole foods in your diet and keeping your protein intake up helps in inhibiting the spike in insulin levels. This in turn ensures that fat cells don’t store extra calories, instead passing them on to the bloodstream, where they are available for use.
Get More Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is also crucial for kicking the kilos. The lack of sleep is known to cause insulin resistance and drives your hormones into a frenzy, again increasing the possibility of weight gain.
When You Hit The Plateau, Climb Over It!
The silver lining here is that hitting a weight loss plateau can actually be indicative of the progress you’ve made so far. Instead of taking it to heart and giving up midway, accept that it is just a part of the process. In fact, Diane Fu, a weight lifting coach in San Francisco believes, “when you hit that first plateau and you’re not improving as fast as you were before, congratulations! You’re no longer a beginner.”
This also holds true with weight loss: the plateau is just a mark on the road that everybody aiming to shed the fat has to cross.
So instead of taking it as a sign that you have failed, remember that you’re headed in the right direction and with a few tweaks and perseverance you will soon bid goodbye to those extra pounds!
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March 23, 2018