Thursday, April 25, 2013

How To Break Through Plateaus

Have you been working out hard and eating healthy for a month or two and the results just aren't as great as you would want them to be?  Say you were losing weight, but now your weight loss has stopped.  You've hit the dreaded "plateau".

Why did that happen, and what do you do now?

1)  There is a difference between weight loss and fat loss.  Don't focus on the scale as your only measure of success.  If you are losing body fat, your measurements are smaller, but your scale weight may not change.  You could even be gaining if you are lifting weights.

I was a little disappointed when I weighed myself recently and saw that my weight was STILL the same after a month of working out.  However, when I measured myself, I was extremely happy that I had lost inches all over!  I will take that anyday!

(Water retention may also affect the numbers on the scale.  Make sure to measure and check your bodyfat.)

2)  You might be burning fewer calories than you think you are.  Increasing the intensity of your workouts is one of the best ways break through a plateau.  You can do this by increasing your poundages, reps, or intensity of your cardio. You've got to up your speed, duration and resistance once a month.  Wearing a heart-rate monitor can help you to know how many calories you are actually burning.
3)  You may have lost your deficit.  Your body will adapt to calorie restriction, and sometimes a decrease in metabolism occurs because your calorie needs have changed, especially after weight loss.  You can't eat the same amount of calories that you did when you were bigger!  Remember to adjust/re-calculate your caloric goals after every 10 lbs you lose.  If you fail to adjust your caloric intake to accommodate for your changing energy needs, you will probably struggle with plateaus.

(I know that if you use myfitnesspal, it will automatically re-calculate your calories for you.)

4)  You might be eating too little.  As you increase your fitness level, your metabolism may increase along with your calorie needs.  If you find that you are often hungry, this is a sign that you need to eat more in order for your body to increase it's fitness level. 

 The Katch-Mcardle BMR calculator is the most accurate calorie calculator because it takes your body fat into consideration.

5)  Are you being honest about what you are eating? Keep a food journal and make sure you are tracking your calories - every. single. bite. That small handful of nuts in between meals, or the bite of cake you had for dessert - everything counts. Write it down!
6)  Do you eat the right kinds of foods? You should have a serving of protein and carbohydrates with every meal. Is your diet a little high on the starchy carbs? Are you getting enough protein, vegetables and healthy fats in your diet? All these things can make a difference, especially when trying to break through a plateau. 

I love drinking Shakeology because it has the perfect ratio of protein and carbs, plus an entire days worth of vegetables!  I never have to worry about not getting all my vitamins and nutrients in - it's the one meal that I don't have to think about.

7)  Are you eating 5-6 small meals a day, every 2 1/2 - 3 hours? It takes about 3 hours to digest each meal. Your body can only use a certain amount of food at a time and the excess gets stored as fat. Fun, huh? Protein only lasts about 3 hours in the bloodstream before it needs to be replenished. Keep your fat-burning furnace stoked, and NEVER skip meals!
Tip: A great way to trick your body into keeping your metabolism up while you are trying to lose fat & break through a plateau is by alternating your calories. For 3 days, eat fewer calories (about 30% below maintenance level) followed by 1 day at a higher calorie intake (at or just below maintenance level). Make sure to track your results each week and adjust your calories as needed.

8)  Are you getting enough sleep?  Getting the right amount of sleep, will give your body time to recover from exercise.  This will ensure that you have enough energy for your next workout.  Also, lack of sleep can lead to increased hunger and cravings. 
9)  Change up your routine.  Have you been doing the same thing month after month?  It might be time to change things up a bit.  Muscles get bored and, after some time, their tissues don't regenerate the way they did at the start of your workout phase.  The great thing about Beachbody programs, is they are specifically designed to keep your body guessing, and get you the absolute best results!  Every program comes with a schedule to follow, and a nutrition guide to help you know what to eat.
10)  Are you drinking your water??  Yes, something as simple as being mildly dehydrated is enough to slow down your metabolism and cause a plateau.   Read more about the benefits of water for your body HERE.

Now you know what to do to break through the plateau and get back to losing weight.  Would you like some help and support along the way?  I can be your FREE COACH!  Ask me how, and join in our next challenge group!  Together we can CRUSH those weight-loss goals!!

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