Weight Loss Plateau
How a Weight Loss Plateau occurs & how to reduce its effects
A weight loss plateau often occurs because the difference between energy intake and energy expenditure gradually balances. The human body must restore energy balance to survive, imagine the consequences if a human kept losing weight because he/she couldn't find enough food! Our body has physiological mechanisms in place which help maintain energy balance relatively quickly.
The Process of a Weight Loss Plateau
When someone begins a new diet and cuts calorie intake by about 500 per day it does develop what is needed to lose weight, a negative energy balance, less energy consumed than the body requires. It then needs to start using up energy stores to make up for this 500 calorie deficit. However very often the body has adapted to suit a regular lifestyle and the energy system is unconditioned for any change thus cells continue to use carbohydrates and protein to supply the majority of energy, stored fat is used but this often makes up a small percentage.
Metabolic Rate Decline
As protein and carbohydrates are used from the cells it causes a reduction in the amount of lean mass forcing the metabolism to decrease, this means the individual now requires less energy to maintain the new weight. In other words, the body has gradually adapted to match the new energy intake!
We Burn Less Calories
There is a second effect, as the body becomes progressively lighter less calories are burned during movements so the overall energy expenditure also reduces.
The reduction in lean mass and the lowered energy expenditure both help restore a balance of energy from any initial reduction in calorie intake and can even slow progress from the extra exercise sessions often undertaken when attempting to lose weight.
The bottom line is the initial 500 calories per day reduction no longer continues to be effective for losing further weight as the body no longer recognizes that there is a calorie deficit. There will always be an adaptation to match any lower calorie intake simply because the body needs to conserve energy for survival!
Limit the effects of the Weight Loss Plateau!
The facts above means it is vital that dieters begin by reducing calorie intake slowly, this limits the loss of lean weight and helps keep metabolism high during dieting. Also, any exercise done within the first 10 - 15 workouts needs to be light and for longer durations to enable the energy system to adapt to the change by "switching its gear" into fat burning mode!
If calories are cut too much too soon the body is forced to burn more and more protein especially when glycogen (carbohydrate) stores run low. This seriously lowers the metabolism and dieters hit a period where they just cannot lose any more weight "the weight loss plateau", then when they give up and go back to the old eating habits the body shoots back into a positive energy balance, which causes many dieters to GAIN BACK FURTHER WEIGHT!
Boost Metabolic Rate before lowering calories!
Its a physiological fact that while losing weight we all tend to lose lean muscle which lowers our metabolism. The idea is to lose the least amount of muscle by boosting the metabolism then reduce calorie intake gradually to maintain a fast energy expenditure.
Boosting metabolism works because when you do lose some lean mass the metabolism will still be high enough to effectively burn extra calories from the fat stores, which also means you don't need to be as strict when dieting!
What to do if it's too late.
If you have already lowered calories too much there is still chance to re-adjust dietary intake to help boost the metabolism back into fat burning mode and limit further loss of lean weight. One technique which many top bodybuilders use is the Zig Zag method, the most effective Zig Zag comprises a 3 day cycle of calories below maintenance level, then a day of maintenance level calories. This scientifically proven technique virtually stops any loss of lean muscle and keeps the metabolism from slowing. It's also a great motivator as the dieter can still enjoy foods often forbidden on many commercial diets. The Zig Zag method is one of the best-kept secrets from the world of natural bodybuilding. For more information on Zig Zagging and other techniques used by professional bodybuilders check out Tom Venuto's e-book click here for details!
Boosting the metabolism is the fastest and most natural way to overcome any weight loss plateau!