In a parallel universe, dieting might be easy. In our sphere – it’s sadly not.
I’ve done plenty of short and long diets in my life, successful and not-so-successful ones. What do all of these attempts have in common?
In every single one of those endeavors, I’ve hit a weight loss plateau after a certain period of time. How I reacted to that weight loss plateau determined if the diet was turning out to be fruit-bearing or not.
In this article, you will learn how to overcome these guaranteed setbacks on your journey and how to come back stronger than before.
Table of Contents
Why you hit a weight loss plateau
Our bodies do not like to give away our energy storage.
It’s very unlikely that we had an ancestor that was happily exhausting himself, in an environment where food resources were scarce. Instead our hunter and gatherer predecessors have evolved to shun energy loss.
That’s why the first few minutes of exercising are always a pain in the neck, even for the most advanced of athletes. David Goggins, Ex-Navy-Seal and finisher of multiple continuous 100-mile races, said this about running:
I hate to run. — David Goggins, experienced ultra endurance runner and probably the toughest man alive
What Mr. Goggins is telling us with that thorough statement is that excess energy usage for no apparent survival-related gain, produces negative feelings in his brainstem.
What I want to get across is:
Hitting a plateau is normal. Our genomes have evolved to store energy instead of being energy wasters – and that’s a good thing.
But first we have to find out if we’re truly hitting a plateau or our mind is tricking us into believing so.
Are you objectively stuck?
In the fitness center I manage, a young and ambitious lad once complained to me about his lack of weight loss results.
After 2 months of being on a strict and sustainable diet, his weighing scale still showed him a rather small decline of 2 kilos. He strictly followed the advice of me and our trainers yet couldn’t see the results he hoped for. He felt cheated on and even asked for a refund.
Promptly I inquired if the weighing scale was the only way he measured his progress. It was.
It turned out that the frequent gym-goer in fact did see results. He was extremely satisfied with the view in the mirror and even got compliments from his friends and family.
But he based the results of his success solely on the reduction of his body weight, which means he based his happiness of an irrelevant number on a weighing scale.
This is not the way to do it.
When starting a diet, try to get at least 2 variables that you can measure. For example:
- Your body weight and before and after pictures.
- Before and after pictures and circumferences of your body parts.
This way you make sure if you’re truly hitting a plateau or your mind is simply playing tricks on you.
How to break through the weight loss plateau (Step-by-step)
Once you’ve determined that you’ve indeed hit a plateau. Here are a couple steps that you can follow to break through:
1. Take a look at your goals and your why
If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. — Seneca
This is an old saying yet so massively true in our day and age. You have to know where you’re going, to be on the right path. That’s why it’s so crucial that you’ve written down your goals before committing to this weight-loss journey.
If not – this is the time to do it. Reassess what you’re trying to reach and why. Humans are reasonable creatures – for the most part – we need a reason why we do what we do.
Take at least 10 minutes out of your day, sit in a quite corner with a pen and paper and get this step sorted.
Do this right now. It’s the easiest step and probably the one that will create a big change in your life.
2. Readjust your habits accordingly
If we’re following a diet long enough, we often let our habits slip without even noticing it. We unconsciously increase the portion size, decrease our effort in the gym and buy unhealthier foods.
Just recently I did a diet for a short vacation to Italy and hit a weight-loss plateau. I struggled to find the reason until I noticed that I started to eat two reasonably-sized breakfasts every morning, instead of the usual one. One before the morning workout and one after.
This is quite common on a diet. We’re deluding ourselves and then rationalizing our behaviour. “It’s just a one-time thing”, we say. Or: “I’ve earned that donut – it’s the way I treat myself.”
As weight-loss is going against our ingrained nature, our brains are great in leading us subtly yet surely off-path. That’s why we need to reassess our goals and our why in step 1, to now readjust our habits accordingly.
Take a picture of all the meals and beverages that you put in your body during the day. Are these aligned with your goals? Are you happy with what you put in your body?
Be honest with yourself. Our goals are not our goals if we don’t back them up with the right actions.
3. Be urgently patient
Once you’ve readjusted your nutrition and workout habits, the chances are pretty high that you’ve broken through the plateau already.
It’s the time to be urgently patient. This is a term Gary Vaynerchuck uses regarding to the business world. Meaning: On the bigger scale you should be patient, on the smaller, minute-to-minute scale, you should act urgently.
Follow the proven steps noted before for at least 2 weeks and give it your best effort.
If you’ve seen a difference, go to step 1 and reassess your habits and goals.
If you haven’t seen a difference, proceed to step 4.
4. Add one of the seven plateau-breaker strategies
After you’ve made sure that you’ve certainly hit a plateau, you can implement one of these seven plateau-breaker strategies.
This is the last step of these 4 because it can be used to break through future plateaus. Let’s proceed with caution:
We may not be blessed with the best genetics, but if there’s one thing we can control, it’s our effort. Work hard, friend!
Following are 7 unique solutions which helped me and countless of our clients to reach their dream bodies, by obliterating a plateau. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Caffeine Is Your Friend
There are numerous studies on green tea and its effectiveness on weight loss and health.
While green tea is an antioxidant rich beverage that has been shown to slow down aging, it can also decrease your satiety and increase your overall weight loss.
Implement 2 cups of green tea every single day to break through the plateau.
The mysterious seeds
are your friends. They have been shown to be effective in helping you lose weight. Even in studies controlled for fiber levels.
Add a handful of chia seeds to your breakfast.
The high calorie food for weight loss
Nuts contain a lot of calories yet they’ve been shown to increase your weight loss by raising your calorie expenditure at the same time.
In fact nuts, in addition to its dietary fiber, have been shown to be negatively correlated with weight gain over time.
Add a handful of nuts to your breakfast to increase your satiety over the day.
Get your heart working
Burning more calories by upping your work-load is one of the easiest ways to break a weight loss plateau. Yet also one of the hardest ones.
In addition to breaking through a weight-loss plateau, this can help you have more energy and decrease your recovery time. I had to learn this the hard way.
Add 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio 2 times a week to boost your weight loss.
Extra accountability leads to extra progress
We’re social creatures. A lot of the things that we do on a daily basis is to increase our reputation in the tribe that we live in.
Use this fact to your advantage. One of the easiest actions to exploit this natural human tendency is to post your progress pictures on Facebook.
To put your accountability on steroids, train with a friend or best: hire a coach .
Hire a coach for 3 months to kick-start your weight loss success.
Decrease obesogenic chemicals in your food
Animal foods have been shown to be correlated with weight gain. But is it because vegetarians eat more plants, or less meat?
There was a study in 2012, observing over 3900 men and women, that found the group with increased meat consumption to experience more weight gain. Even when both groups were controled for fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, grain consumption, physical activity and even calorie intake.
Chicken was the meat most closely related with obesity. Decrease your intake of animal foods by substituting 3 chicken-based-meals per week with beans or legumes.
Take the stairs
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I stress sustainability and consistency.
If we truly want to keep the weight off long-term and avoid the Yo-Yo effect, we need to adjust our habits.
Implement basic, physical activity in your day. You don’t need to run a marathon in the morning at 4am. But try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to the supermarket instead of using your car.
Little changes go a long way. Avoid the elevator for the next 7-days.
Summing it up
Hitting a weight-loss plateau is normal when doing a diet to get to the best shape of your life. The question is just how you react to these setbacks along your journey.
We have to first make sure that we truly hit a weight-loss plateau and our mind is not playing tricks on us. To do that, we have to reassess our goals and readjust our habits accordingly.
Only after we’ve been urgently patient, we can then use one of these effective 7 Plateau-Breakers to increase our diet success:
- Green Tea
- Chia Seeds
- Nuts (Beware of Cashews)
- Cardiovascular Training
- Accountability or Coach
- Less Animal Products
- More Activitiy in Your Day
Dieting is not easy, it’s hard. But if it’s easy, everyone would do it.
We may not be blessed with the best genetics but if there’s one thing we can control, it’s our effort.
Work hard, friend!
Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com
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|||^||J Nutr. 2012 Feb: Longitudinal changes in BMI in older adults are associated with meat consumption differentially, by type of meat consumed.|