We’ve all been there. Things are going great with your weight loss plan until suddenly it all stops. Why did this happen? And how do you break through a weight loss plateau?
Why do we hit a plateau?
After eating reduced calories for a long period of time, your body begins to adapt and your metabolic rate can slow down.
One factor in your metabolism is NEAT. These are the calories we burn through day to day activities, such as standing, fidgeting, walking, etc.
When our calories are slashed, our body tries to conserve that energy by moving around less.
You probably won’t even notice this change, but those unburned calories start to add up and can reduce your calorie deficit, creating that plateau.
Breaking through the weight loss plateau
First make sure you are actually in a plateau. Are you truly eating the same calories or have you snuck in some extra condiments or snacks?
It could be that you stopped losing weight because you weren’t being honest with yourself about your portion sizes, etc.
Take 10 days and be diligent with tracking your macros to make sure you are in a plateau. It would really suck to lower your food intake when you don’t have to.
Okay, now in order to lose weight you have to be in a calorie deficit. You can do that one of two ways: eat less or move more. Let’s apply these strategies to a plateau.
Eat less: Try recalculating your macros based on your new body weight. This should have you at lower calories.
Another option is to just reduce your carbs by 10-15 grams and if you stall again, lower them by 10-15 grams a second time.
This is a difference of 40-60 calories per day or 280-420 calories per week. It’s not much but it’s usually enough to jump start that weight loss.
Depending on how low your calories have been, another option to try is to eat a little more.
It sounds counterintuitive but a diet break may be just what your body needs to get it’s NEAT back to where it used to be & give you the energy you need to push harder in your workouts. Then you can go back into your cut and see progress again.
Move more: A great way to combat your body adapting to lower calories is to track your steps. This way you know you are not moving less than normal. A lot of fitness influencers aim to take 10k steps a day.
If a pedometer is not your style, you could just try adding in 15-20 minutes of cardio a few times a week.
This is my go-to. I hate eating less, so I move more. I love stepping onto our SOLE F63 treadmill and walking at an incline while watching a tv show.
In the future, keeping track of your steps and regular refeed days can help prevent plateaus.
What & when to refeed: A refeed is basically a short period of time that you eat a higher amount of calories, coming mainly from carbs.
A refeed is a great tool to keep your body from adapting to those lower calories. If all you do is take your calories from a deficit up to maintenance then you should not gain back the weight you worked hard to lose.
Some people can benefit from incorporating 1 refeed day every 2-3 weeks. Remember, this is different than a cheat day. This is calculated and not a binge.
I hope these tips helped! Progress stalls are so frustrating. Just remember that this is a completely normal part of the process. Weight loss isn’t linear. Some days you’ll go up, others down and some might stay completely the same.
The day to day matters less than the big picture. If over a long period of time you are trending down, then you are moving in the right direction (assuming that’s your goal).