When you’re winging your way to weight-loss wins, and suddenly the journey stalls out, there is most likely a reason your body has entered the stubborn weight-loss plateau.
If it has been longer than 4-6 weeks, it’s time to take a look at what you are doing and make some changes. If it hasn’t been that long, it may be frustrating, but a plateau can also be the body’s way of balancing out.
For example, if you are working out and developing lean muscle, the scale won’t move. Closely watch your measurements. If it’s been 4-6 weeks with NO changes to weight or measurements, take a hard look at these eight areas to kick-start your metabolism.
Sleep is Critical in the Weight-Loss Plateau Battle
If you are sleep-deprived, it will slow your weight loss and keep you on that weight-loss plateau. A lot of rejuvenating happens while you are resting that prepares your body to take on the next day’s activities.
When we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert. Sleep governs how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis and has a major impact on overall quality of life. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Drink More Water
Measure it out exactly. Drinking 64 oz. of water a day, minimum, may seem easy. But when you aren’t measuring, you may feel you are taking on enough water, but in reality, you’re not.
Your cells and brain need hydration. As you burn fat, toxins are released and water helps to carry those things out and facilitate the natural processes of the body.
If you are not moving and challenging your muscles to grow, you will have a harder time burning fat. We need muscle to burn fat. The more muscle you have, the quicker you burn through fat. Muscle is like a furnace, and if you keep it stoked with exercise, you will burn more fat.
Easier said than done, but this is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to sabotaging fat loss. The stress-induced cortisol response is well known. Research has proven that cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn’t go away — or if the stress response gets stuck in the “on” position — cortisol may stay elevated.
Consider meditation and supplementing with plant-based adaptogens to combat stress. Popular adaptogens include ginseng root, ashwagandha root, cordycepts, eleuthero root, and rhodiola root, just to name a few.
When you don’t consistently eat from the time you wake up, your body thinks it’s starving and wants to cling to everything you give it. Eat every two-three hours in smaller quantities. Have breakfast, lunch, and dinner and two healthy snacks. Include lean protein, clean carbs, veggies and healthy fats – think avocado, coconut oil, almond butter – with your meals.
Calculate how much fiber you have going into your body and up your game if you are below the daily recommended allowances. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends that women aim for over 25 grams of fiber a day, while most men should shoot for 38 grams.
According to Today’s Dietitian, topping the list of high-fiber foods are bran, beans, berries, whole grains, peas, leafy green vegetables, and nuts and seeds.
Protein is the brick and mortar of muscles. Add high-quality undenatured whey or plant-based protein supplements if you can’t get enough whole-food protein down the hatch. Eggs and egg whites are also go-to sources for clean, quality protein, as well as chicken and fish.
Protein consumed post-workout is also critical. Ideally, take on high-quality protein within 30 minutes of ending your workout. While fueling your muscles is important, the energy expenditure of your heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and liver account for about 80% of total daily energy needs.
According to research by published in the early 1990s, Organ and Tissue Contribution to Metabolic Weight, muscle tissue contributes roughly 20% to the body’s total daily energy burn. Your vital organs also have a metabolic rate that is 15-40 times greater than their equivalent weight of muscle and 50-100 times greater than fat, according to the research. So any way you slice or dice it, your body needs the support of high-quality, clean protein.
Just Say No to Simple Carbs
Don’t go low-carb; go for fibrous carbs. Cut the white — rice, pasta and breads. Eliminate cookies, cake, potato chips, and other starchy snacks. They all convert to sugar in the body.
If you’re not exercising or putting demand on the body to burn through the sugar, it drives the sugar to the muscle to be used later. Then you get the insulin response, and the sugar is either burned before fat or is turned into fat if you are sedentary.
Your job is to help the body stay in a fat-burning state, and too many simple carbs can interrupt the process. Sweet potatoes, yams, long grains, brown rice, quinoa, etc. (in 1/2 cup servings), with vegetables and fruits are preferred carbohydrate sources.