So, you’re well into your weight loss journey, and you’ve been doing all the right things. You’ve been eating the right foods, exercising 4-5 times a week, drinking more water, and doing your very best to de-stress and detoxify. You had been steadily losing weight, but now your weight loss has stalled. Despite doing the same things that had previously been yielding results, you seem to have hit a weight loss plateau. What happened?
As it turns out, continuing to do the same things each day for weeks on end may be the real problem. Here are some tips on how you can switch up your weight loss strategy in order to keep shedding those unwanted pounds.
1. Raise Your Calories for a Week
Your body and metabolism adapt to a lower caloric intake fairly quickly. Most people tend to cut too many calories at the beginning of their weight loss program, causing their metabolisms to slow and resulting in the dreaded weight loss plateau. To get out of this rut, simply increase your calories by moderate amounts for about 5-7 days and then, lower your calories by approximately 15% — and your weight loss should pick right back up.
2. Eat More Protein
When you lower your calorie intake, you’ll want to make sure that your metabolism doesn’t slow down as well. Eating a diet rich in protein will keep you feeling full longer and will help to preserve calorie-burning lean-muscle mass. It will also help you burn through calories faster since each pound of muscle burns about 13 calories per day — while one pound of fat burns about two calories per day.
3. Incorporate “Cheat” Meals into your Diet
Being too hard on yourself will surely reduce the effectiveness of your diet. You’ll want your diet to be sustainable, so you should plan for about 20% of your calories to come from “cheat” foods. This way, you can still eat (limited portions of) the treats you love, that may be considered unhealthy choices — without it having an adverse effect on your weight loss. This is called the “80/20 Rule.” Please note that this doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to go out and gorge on fast food or ice cream sundaes. Instead, find “cheat” food alternatives that can still be considered healthy eating, and be sure to monitor the amounts you are consuming.
These “cheat” meals serve several purposes, both psychologically and physiologically. They give you a mental break from restricting calories and they allow you to actually feel full periodically throughout the week; in addition, the increase in calories helps to reset important fat loss and hunger-controlling hormones such as leptin, ghrelin, thyroid, testosterone, and growth hormone (GH). With these hormones properly balanced, you will optimize your chances of seeing fat loss results.
4. Do a New Workout
As we’ve mentioned, your body works very well at adjusting and adapting to change in diet and routine. After every workout, your body becomes stronger and more efficient. It’s great if your workout goals include running a faster mile or lifting more weight. But, this can also mean that repeating the same routine can eventually make it more difficult to build muscle and burn calories. The bottom line: as your body gets used to a certain type of exercise, it becomes less challenging and less effective. That’s why it’s important to mix it up in order to optimize your gym time and to achieve your desired weight loss goals. Try alternating the amount of weight that you lift—go heavy one week with fewer reps, and lighter the next with more reps. Don’t be afraid to test the waters with your cardio routine. Try running, inclined speed walking, kickboxing, Zumba, hiking, biking, swimming, etc. Be sure to vary the speed, intensity and length of each workout in order to optimize your results. Also keep in mind that sometimes, less is more! If you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau, it might be worthwhile to replace your hour-long steady treadmill routine with shorter, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routines. It may take a little trial and error with your workout regimen, but you will ultimately find what works best for YOU and your desired results.