Combating Weight Loss Plateaus
Weight loss plateaus are a predictable reality for people that lose a significant amount of weight. No matter what type of weight-reduction plan people embark on, usually at around six months, weight loss seems to stall. Weight loss plateaus result from physiologic changes that take place in the body naturally as a part of losing a significant amount of weight. Thankfully, there are several simple strategies that can help you re-ignite your body’s fat-burning machinery. Here is my best advice:
- Keep an accurate food diary. I really like the web-based Myfitnesspal.com platform. Often people are consuming more food than they realize and/or foods that sabotage weight loss.
- Limit your carbs to non-starchy veggies, beans, and physically intact whole grains. In other words, cut out all fruit and any “flour-based” grain products including 100% whole wheat or whole grain varieties. This can help boost insulin action, which can kick up metabolism. Continue this guidance for 2-3 weeks beyond the point that weight loss ensues again.
- Incorporate at least 2 days a week of HIT (high intensity interval training) exercise. HIT involves very brief (30 seconds to 1 minute) of very intense (90-100% max heart rate) aerobic activity alternating with 3-4 minutes of very light activity. In my experience, even a couple of HIT intervals twice a week can jump start weight loss plateaus. HIT can shift fuel burning to fat while boosting the formation of new mitochondria in muscle cells. Mitochondria are the fat burning factories in our cells. Always check first with your healthcare provider to be sure HIT is safe for you.
- Watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol is metabolized in the body to acetate fragments and acetate fragments must be burned before other forms of calories (like your body fat) can be burned. Additionally, relative to most other foods, alcohol is high in calories with 7 calories per gram. For comparison, protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram and fats have 9 calories per gram.
- Get your beauty rest. Poor sleep dramatically hinders weight loss through many ways including boosting your appetite and slowing down your metabolism. Strive for 7 hours of quality sleep a night.
- Chill out. Like poor sleep, stress can work against your weight loss efforts in many ways. Binging on high-risk comfort foods and turning belly fat cells into fat magnets are just two. Do whatever it takes to lower your stress levels – I highly recommend daily aerobic exercise, deep breathing or meditation, cultivating spirituality, regular exposure to nature, and yoga.
- Power up with protein. Protein is nature’s diet pill and can quiet your appetite longer than the equivalent calories from fats or carbs. Your best choices are the healthy proteins – plant-based proteins best (beans, peas, nuts, seeds, whole soy foods), followed by fish, shellfish, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, and skinless poultry. Strive for 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal.
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