We've all been there. Dieting with a goal in mind of fat loss, strength and a better physique. Everything is going well, we are doing everything we should be, sticking to the diet, training regime, prescribed cardio and suddenly, numbers stops decreasing, fat/weight loss majorly slows - why??
Reasons for hitting a plateau:
* Not paying close enough attention to what you’re eating. Either not tracking foods at all (eating based on how you feel) or not tracking closely enough, OR not being completely honest when doing so.
* You need fewer calories AS you lose weight, something often overlooked if you don’t have a coach, is if you lose a few kilos you need to re-assess your caloric intake, instead of continuing to diet on the calories and output that you were eating and expending when you were heavier. Remember, when you’re a smaller person, your basal metabolic weight is lower, and metabolism slows down, which does not stop fat loss, but it will slow it down to an extent.
* The longer you’ve been dieting and training hard, and the more aggressively you cut calories, the more your body tends to defend its weight, and hold on to remaining body fat, especially in females.
So, what can I do about it?
How to overcome a plateau – re-stimulate your metabolism and re-instate the deficit! This can be done by approaching your diet, or approaching your training, whichever you choose will be an individual decision based on your lifestyle and what suits you and you can maintain. Personally (in case anyone cares, I love to train, and I’m lucky enough that my job and lifestyle basically allow me to train as much as I like, therefore I adjust this aspect first, but again it depends upon each person’s circumstances)
* Drop your calorie intake – slightly increase your calorie deficit by 50-100 calories per day (nothing drastic, but enough to make an impact at the end of a week)
* Ensure your protein intake is where it needs to be – this is essential to burning fat, maintaining muscle while in a caloric deficit and keeping you feeling satisfied. Undereating on protein means you’re probably eating more calories from carbs and fats instead, which could hinder your fat loss progress.
* Increase cardio, weight training, or both. If you were doing no cardio previously, start with 10 or 20 minutes per day, steady state, to raise your heart rate. If you’re doing this already, try HIIT instead – increasing your heart rate for 30 seconds followed by 30 second recovery. This can be on a treadmill, rower, stair master, cross trainer, OR it can be a simple bodyweight circuit using rows, press-ups, jump squats, burpees etc.
*Increase your weight training, maybe you already do 2-3 times a week, increase this to 3-4.
* Increase your sleep – aim for 8 hours per night and try to make this quality sleep, not 2 hours on your smart phone or watching TV in bed, no caffeine before bed either, to ensure you get the most from your rest.