There are few things on a weightloss journey more frustrating than a plateau. You keep doing all the right things and then all of sudden, everything stops working. Your weight just doesn't budge.
There are lots of reasons for plateaus, one common one being that you are not actually following your diet as closely as you were at the outset. When you start your diet, you are very diligent about your calorie allowance but over time, you loosen up a little. Life gets in the way. If you hit a plateau within the first month or two of starting a diet, an unintentional increase in your food intake is a likely cause.
But what if you are following your diet and workout plan just as closely as you were on day one? In this case, your plateau is likely due to changes in your metabolism
How Your Metabolism Works Against You
You metabolism slows down as you lose weight. As you shrink, you use less calories to perform daily activities, meaning that your caloric need decreases. For example, a 160-pound woman who loses 20 pounds requires at least 100 fewer daily calories than she did at her heavier weight. So, if you continue eating the same number of calories, but your body gradually uses fewer and fewer every day, you may hit a plateau, usually around 4-6 months.
Some research shows that an obese person who drops more than 10% of his or her body weight may require 200-500 fewer calories at the new weight than someone who has always been at that weight. It is called 'metabolic adaptation' and may be one of the reasons people plateau and one of the reasons it is so easy to regain weight while in maintenance mode.
Recent studies have shown that the biggest decline in metabolism after weightloss results from a drop in calories burned during physical activity. This drop in burned calories may be due to the fact that your muscles start to work more efficiently and because your body automatically reduces spontaneous movements like fidgeting.
How to Move Past (or Avoid) a Plateau
The key for getting past a plateau is exercise. Adding extra minutes and increasing your calorie burn from exercise, you can offset this natural decline in metabolism. The best part about upping your exercise means you don't have to reduce your calorie intake to unbelievably low levels to keep losing.
Upping your exercise may mean making a bigger commitment to activity than you have in the past. According to one weight-loss study, participants who burned at least 2,500 calories per week working out were the most successful at maintaining their loss long-term, keeping off about 25 pounds. For most people, these 2,500 calories represent 1 hour of aerobic activity 5 or 6 days a week. If this isn't something that is possible for you right away, try adding 5-10 minutes to your current workout sessions and increase from there.
There are no easy solutions to plateaus, but if you plan your exercise strategy wisely and stay on track with your diet, you'll see the scale moving again before you know it. For over 80 hours of on demand, plateau busting workouts, check out SweatFlix℠