Why do you stop losing weight (and what to do then)
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The hardest part of getting fit is over – you actually started making changes, stuck with them for more than a few days, and lost some weight. Now you look at the scale and you think you may have eye problems: The number hasn’t changed in weeks.
Your prime reaction is to throw in the towel and stop starving yourself because you’ve reached your limit (or you think you have). “Weight loss is a completely unnatural process,” Dr. Jayson B. Calton, Board Certified Micronutrient Specialist. Technically, losing fat means you are starving your body and it doesn’t like it.
The good news is that you can’t hit a limit. “You can always lose more but you have to create the right environment,” Mira Calton, a Licensed Certified Nutritionist, says. So don’t despair: Hitting a weight loss plateau is not only normal, it is to be expected. “If you’re doing things right, yes, you will reach it.”
Why is there no change?
The other good news is that weighting the same doesn’t mean you haven’t made progress. “You can’t use the scale as a benchmark,” Dr. Calton says. Chances are you losing fat but it’s being replaced by with muscle – if you’re doing resistance training – or water, or a combination of both. Fluid retention is the most common reason for losing fat but not weight.
Five pounds of fat weigh the same of five pounds of muscle but they look completely different, with muscle taking a lot less space. “If you don’t know what you’re losing, the scale is useless,” he says. So measure yourself instead. If you’ve lost inches around your waist but not pounds, you’re still doing great. “You build muscle faster than you lose fat.”
What to do now?
If the pounds don’t drop anymore, it means you are not in a large enough calorie deficit anymore. Don’t go having pizza and fries for dinner now.
Your metabolism is supposed to slow down as you’re losing weight. Reexamine how many calories you’re consuming a day to make sure you are eating fewer calories than you are burning. Keeping a journal can help you stay on track.
“Switching things up is really important,” Mira Calton says. “Have a ‘cheat day’ but with more of the healthy food you’ve been eating so your body doesn’t think you’re starving it,” she adds.
Make sure you are systematically increasing the intensity of your workouts. Muscle helps boost your metabolism and burn calories. So, do more resistance and metabolic training. Combine short fast runs with weightlifting, for example.
The problem is that it is not very clear when you’re doing too much. “Some people have been working out too hard. We find that a lot. If you’re out of breath or too tired, take it back a little bit,” she says. It can make a big difference.