This is every bodybuilder’s nightmare. The dreaded plateau. Guess what? It affects people trying to lose weight too. The only difference is that bodybuilders know that they have hit a plateau but the ordinary person struggling to lose weight thinks that what they are doing is not working.
A plateau is a stage where your body does not change. There may be no weight loss, increase in speed, strength or stamina, etc. Basically, it’s a period of stagnation. It happens to all of us and is nothing to worry about. The body may have just reached a level where it is used to the way things are and can handle the stress you place on it.
Another reason could be that you have put too much stress on your body by overtraining or cutting too much calories. The body then goes into shock and just “freezes”. It does not respond to training and diet. That leaves most people lost. They are doing whatever they have been told to do. So the weight should be coming off, right? Not always.
There are 9 tips below to help you come out of a plateau. Put them into action and you should be able to get yourself out of just about any plateau. Be patient. Sometimes, the body needs time to adjust.
In most of the tips, you will not be asked to make major changes. In fact, it’s the small changes that make the biggest difference. If what you have been doing has been working for 7 weeks and all of a sudden you’re not losing weight, then what you have been doing works.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. All you need are a few tweaks and you’ll be back in business burning fat.
- Change your food choices. If you have been eating chicken breast and broccoli daily for 5 weeks, maybe it’s time to try something new. When you change your food, your body will have different nutrients and react differently. Get creative and try other healthier choices. Switch up your meats. Try using coconut oil in your cooking if you have not before. Whatever seems interesting is worth a try. All you need to do is carry on maintaining a caloric deficit.
- Adjust your caloric requirements for the day. You may be consuming a fixed amount of calories daily. Increase it by 200 to 300 calories for about 5 days. Are you gaining weight? If you are, then train hard and drop your calories down by 450 calories. What this does is that it keeps your body guessing. If you’ve been at a certain calorie level for too long, your body may adapt and get used to surviving at that level without having to access its fat stores. A small tweak in calories either way will make your body wake up.
- Go on a caloric surplus for 4 days. Yup. You read it right. Sometimes the body may have gone into starvation mode despite your best efforts. At times like these, you need to give your metabolic rate a boost. By eating at a surplus for 4 days, your body will recover from its starvation mode and get a new burst of energy. Your metabolic rate will start firing away and then you can go back on your caloric deficit and carry on doing what you were. It is true that you may gain a pound or two during these 4 days but that is OK. You will be able to lose this weight and lose even more as the days progress. If you don’t do it, you may not lose any weight for weeks. So, it’s better to take 1 step back in order to go 3 steps forward.
- Change up your training routines. If you have been doing the same ‘ol cardio and weight training sessions for 2 months, it’s really time to try something new. Replace the running with rowing. Try kettlebells. Throw in some TRX training. Never done CrossFit? Give it a try. How about Pilates? Or yoga? Do something new. Forget about the calories and work done for about a week. Focus on doing new exercises. As long as you keep your diet at a caloric deficit, you should be fine.
If you follow the 4 tips above, you should be able to come out of just about any weight loss plateau that you may experience.
It’s all about change. You almost always hit a plateau because your body is used to the way things are or it’s adjusting. Shock it with something new and it will have no choice but to adapt and you will see changes. No more plateaus!