You started at the bottom, now you’re in the…middle. Yes, that’s right – the middle. What exactly am I talking about?
When you begin your weight loss journey, it’s so easy to notice the changes in your body. You feel lighter, you can move with more ease and more comfortably now, your clothes fit better now, and you look good.
But after a few weeks or months of working out, you notice that your progress is barely noticeable in the scales and it seems like you have stopped losing weight. You begin to fret, but this phenomenon is nothing but natural. You’ve reached weight loss plateau.
What Is Weight Loss Plateau and How Does It Happen?
The most important thing to know is that weight loss plateau happens to almost everyone who tries to lose weight – it’s natural. It doesn’t matter if you still watch what you eat and exercise regularly; it still happens.
See, the reason you lose weight in the first few weeks of exercising and dieting is that of the release of glycogen. When you cut back on calories, your body gets its required energy by releasing glycogen, a carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Now, glycogen is partly made of water, so when it is used for energy, it also releases water. This leads to weight loss that is mostly water. However, the weight loss brought about by this is temporary.
As you lose weight, you also lose muscle along with the fat. Muscles help keep your metabolism rate up. So, when you lose weight and with it, muscles, your metabolism slows down as well, causing you to lose fewer calories than you did back when you were heavier. If your metabolism is slower, even if you continue exercising or eat the same way you did to lose weight, it will not suffice. Thus, you reach a plateau.
What Can You Do to Beat Weight Loss Plateau?
Before you lose your will to continue on your fitness journey, you must know that a weight loss plateau is natural. Now, if you are already satisfied with what you have achieved, well and good; but, if you want to lose more, you have to re-calibrate your exercise regimen. I would also like to share some tips that you can follow to beat weight loss plateau:
- Eat less. If your metabolism is slowing down, then you should further cut down on your calories, but never below 1200 calories as this may not be enough to sustain you or keep you from constant hunger.
- Reach for more protein. Protein boosts metabolic rate like no fat or carbs can. This is due to TEF or thermic effect of food, which means protein digestion boosts calorie burning by 20% to 30%. Protein also stimulates the production of PYY, a hormone that reduces appetite and makes you feel full. Most importantly, protein protects you from losing muscle which causes a drop in metabolic rate.
- Kiss stress goodbye. Yes, stress can put your weight loss into a halting screech. When you’re stressed you tend to give in to your cravings and it produces cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol can increase belly fat storage. Mind you, this effect is stronger in women.
- Rest up! If you don’t know this by now, not getting enough sleep causes weight gain because it slows down your metabolic rate and alters hormone levels causing you to eat more and store more fat. So, make sure that you get that 8 beautiful hours of quality shut-eye.
- Do more. When I say do more, spice up your workout routine. If you only exercise for an hour, double it up. Add weights to the dumbbells, do more reps – just do more, and not just inside the gym. Increase your general physical activity by walking around, doing yard work, or some house cleaning. You should sweat it out more. Increase exercise frequency or intensity.
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