Why the Last 10 lbs Are Hard to Lose & What to Do About It
You've sweated your ass off, lost a pile of weight, and you feel really damn good about it. You're stronger, leaner, fitter and more confident than you've ever been, but, to your mind, you've still got to lose a little more. Around 10lbs, to be exact, and despite keeping up with your regular exercise and balanced diet, the scale—it ain't budging. It's discouraging AF, right?
Note: Losing weight is not everyone's goal, nor do we believe you need to lose weight to be sexy and healthy! However, the number one question we still get in Customer Service (in regards to fitness) is how do I lose weight? For those of you who are trying to drop some poundage, we offer lots of tips and advice!
It is, and while it sucks, it doesn't mean that you're doomed to carry around the extra weight forever. 10lbs isn't much—let’s be clear about that—but if you've been training like a beast and trying to eat as clean as possible so you can glimpse your hard-won abs or see the cut definition in your back muscles, then 10lbs can be the difference between noticing your gains, and not.
So, what gives? Why is the last 10 lbs the hardest to lose?
Vanity pounds, fit friends. There's a reason the last 10 lbs (or roughly that amount) is called vanity pounds: you want it gone for aesthetic reasons, but as far as your body is concerned, you're at a perfectly healthy weight.
In fact, we all have set points for our weight, and while each set point is different depending on your age, body type, muscle mass, and sex, the fact remains that these set points exist. You can move between a 20 pound range in your set point and still be healthy.
So, a person can be as healthy at 140lbs as they are at 160lbs. 140lbs would be at the low end of the set point and would still allow this person to eat a 80/20 diet, wherein 80% of the diet comes from clean, whole foods and the rest from less than perfectly clean choices. At 140lbs, this person would need to be exercising at 4-5 days a week, too. At 160lbs, that number could be as little as 3 days. But again, from a biological standpoint, the person is still healthy at both weights. However, if this person wants to drop to 130lbs, losing that extra 10 lbs would require extra effort.
Your body doesn't want to lose these vanity pounds. From a survival standpoint, having this tiny bit extra fat makes good sense: it's fuel in case food becomes scarce. But from your aesthetic standpoint, you're not too worried about starving and you want abs you can do your laundry on.
Fair enough. As we've said before, there's nothing wrong with exercising for vanity's sake! It's a damn good motivator and while losing that last 10lbs will take extra effort, it likely won't do your health any harm, either—as long as you do it in a healthy way, and don't over-train or don't deprive your body of any essential nutrients.
How do you do this, exactly?
Keep reading! Here are our top tips for losing the last 10 lbs.
- Eat 90/10–at least. To lose the last 10 lbs, you're going to have to eat as close to perfectly clean as possible. Depending on your genetics, this could mean changing that ratio to 90/10, or it may be 95/5 or almost 100%. How and where we store fat is up to 60% genetically predetermined, so for some people, losing this final bit of fat may be easier than for others.
If you need help cleaning up your diet and still actually enjoying the foods you eat, snag our Nutrition Guide and Meal Plan Bundle. It's got everything you need to reach your goals, without depriving your mind or body of the delicious foods it needs to thrive. Remember: you're not going to be eating LESS food. You're just going to be eating cleaner food.
- Try intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting (IF) has been shown to help people burn more fat and build more lean muscle mass than many traditional eating models. IF uses short, sustainable periods of fasting (usually 16 hours) followed by shorter periods of eating (usually 8 hours) to create a hormonal balance that ideally supports a revved up metabolic function. You can read more about IF here, and use promo code FASTED30 if you want to buy the Fast & Furiously Fit ebook to get a comprehensive IF program.
People who IF often find they can lose the fat, without having to be as strict about what they eat, just when they eat. This said, if you're trying to lose the last 10 lbs, you will still have to eat a mostly clean diet, but you may be able to stick with your 80/20 split and not have to move to 90/10. If you’re interested in learning more, read this article we wrote on easing into intermittent fasting.
As with any change to your dietary lifestyle, get the OK from your doctor before you try IF.
- HIIT It with RESISTANCE! If you're not already doing HIIT (high intensity interval training), now's the time to start. HIIT will help you torch fat in less time than steady state exercise, and when you add weights to the mix, you're amping up your fat burning power even more. As little as 12 minutes 3 times a week can yield insane results. The other days, focus on steady state exercise (brisk walking, running, cycling) and recovery (yoga or active rest days). You can get access to thousands of HIIT and yoga workouts for free for 30 days when you sign up for BodyRock+ now.
- Severely limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a toxin, and when you drink it in any amount, your body puts all other processes (including burning fat) on hold while it gets rid of the toxin. So, when you drink, you stall out your body's fat burning engines. If you drink on the regular and want to lose the last 10 lbs, either drink extremely infrequently, or not at all.
- Get your stress under control. Cortisol is a good hormone when it’s balanced, but then your cortisol levels get too high, your stress goes through the roof. When our bodies are stressed, they retain fat—it’s a survival thing: holding on to fat in case our stressful situation is a matter of life and death and we need to be able to survive without sustenance. If you’re chronically stressed out, that last 10lbs is going to stick around. So, do what you can to decrease stress: get enough sleep, don’t overdo it on caffeine, meditate and/or do relaxing yoga, get outside every day, surround yourself with people who bring you joy and limit your screen time.
We get it: life isn’t perfect and you may not be able to adopt all these strategies. The good news is, you likely won’t need to. Maybe you already are doing some of these things and just need a tweak here and there. Maybe doing IF is enough and the last 10 lbs falls off, or maybe just cutting out your nightly glass of wine and replacing it with a herbal tea is enough. Yes, seriously, losing the last 10 lbs can be as simple as that. The trick is to be patient and embrace a period of trial and error, but chances are, at least one of these tips will offer a solution.
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