Managing your weight loss can be hard work. There are eating plans to configure and exercise programs to sort out. Moreover, when you are sweating it out and eating all the right things, the last thing you want are scales that suddenly stop moving!
According to a U.S. Registered Dietician, Maya Feller RD, this is a common occurrence in weight loss. Maya says that a weight loss plateau can occur when there is a balance between the calories that you burn and the calories that you consume.
“When losing weight, the metabolic rate slows because of the subsequent loss of muscle and fat. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat so there is a reduced calorie burn at the lower level of weight”, she says.
Moreover, according to Fatima Cody Stanford MD, MPH, MPA, an Obesity Medicine Physician and Instructor at Harvard Medical School in the U.S, your brain could be playing games with your weight loss plans too. Fatima explains that your body is programmed for a set weight. When you head towards that set point, you might notice a weight loss halt within 2kg to 5kg of your baseline weight.
However, these findings do not mean you need to throw in the towel just yet. There are things you can do to rectify that kink in your weight loss journey.
If you are headed for a weight loss halt, there are some early indicators to look out for. If you are experiencing any of these below, consider it a good time to re-visit your weight loss strategy.
Hunger is a signal sent from your brain. When you shed kilos the brain and the body sync to make you hungry in a bid to make you eat more. As Fatima puts it,
“Hunger is your brain’s way of trying to keep your weight stable, to that set point”.
To avoid over eating or binging when you are hungry, eat healthy foods like lean meats and vegetables. Fruits and raw nuts are also good options.
It is important to keep up with your daily recommended dose of water too. Hunger pangs can be experienced by a lack of the liquid gold. The Better Health Channel recommends adult women consume eight cups of water each day. Adult men should drink about 10 cups each day. You can mix up your water intake with other fluids but stick to nutritious options like natural herbal teas.
Regular exercise can be a little overwhelming at the start of any weight loss campaign. This gets better over time, and it is important to maintain a manageable level of activity. While increased physical activity might make you lose the weight faster, it is harder to maintain in the long run.
Don’t over exert yourself by trying to keep up with someone outside your moderate exercise levels.
A study published in the journal Current Biology discovered that excessive exercise does not equal more calories burned. Those people who exercised moderately actually burnt up the same amount of energy as those who slugged it out to extremes.
The Australian Government’s Health Guidelines for Adults recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 years should accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity. Vigorous physical activity (or a combination of both) should be kept around 75 to 150 minutes every week.
Muscle strengthening activities need to be included on at least two days each week. Cardio alone will help with weight loss, but you lose both body mass as well as fat. To avoid hampering your weight loss efforts, it is important not to skip over these workouts. See The Department of Health’s guidelines here.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of over-relaxing post-exercise. Getting your recommended amount of exercise is great, but you need to keep the momentum going. Sitting down too much can impede your body from producing a fat-inhibiting enzyme known as lipase.
Take a break and make a cup of herbal tea, or stand up and stretch between sitting sessions. Keep your body moving and those calories melting away.
It is a common occurrence that people are more motivated to eat healthily and exercise regularly at the start of any weight loss campaign. This usually creates a rapid loss of weight and feeling of achievement. After experiencing these rewards, it is a common trap to fall back into bad eating or sedentary habits.
Regardless of what you put in, an increase in portion sizes or regular snacks is an increase in calories that need to be burnt off. An additional snack or serving size here and there can make all the difference in maintaining your weight loss.
To avoid losing track of what you are eating, try keeping a diary of your food intake. Regularly review your entries and your eating habits to keep yourself on track. If you are experiencing a stall in your weight loss, it might be time to reassess your meals.
A bump in your weight loss campaign could be created by being overly stressed. Stressed about not losing any more weight perhaps. Alternatively, it could come down to what you are putting into your gob.
According to this study out of the U.S journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, women who stuck to a regimented eating plan of 1200 calories per day produced more levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It is well documented that higher levels of cortisol (and stress) have the potential to lead to weight gain.
If you are feeling a little on edge about your weight loss plan, or anything for that matter, try re-booting your system. Incorporate some yoga into your exercise routine. Practice meditation methods to help unwind between or after a workout session. Get into a healthy sleep routine to ease your mind.
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