The last few weeks have been challenging on your body. You have been ramping up your workouts, eating better and doing everything you were supposed to do. You’ve seen the scale go up a couple of pounds and your body fat slowly creeping back into your system. You’re almost amazed that you’ve made changes and have not suffered a physical injury to your muscles. What is the next step? Are you losing weight on track? Are you at the plateau point?
One of the causes of a plateau in your weight loss effort is your body’s lack of ability to adapt to your efforts. One of the core components of a good weight loss program is weight training which makes your body adapt. Let me explain – when you lift weight, it breaks down the muscle fibers. This causes the muscle fibers to get weak and/or repair slowly. This process can take up to 48 hours and takes a lot of energy during this process. This allows the body to keep the muscle intact (remember stronger muscles equals more fat loss) and still get the job done – burning fat over time.
Another component of your program is interval training. When you implement interval training into your workout, you are tricking your body into burning more fat (remember it’s a higher intensity workout which causes this stress). Let’s contrast this with your body’s ability to burn fat, even when you are sitting on the couch watching TV. When tempted to go for a 20 minute TV program, your body has a higher and greater chance of storing fat because they work against the cardiovascular system (the body is stressed due to this high intensity activity/jumping for 20 minutes and breaks down the muscle fibers to rebuild and recover – an hours worth of calories)
Now I know many of you are thinking to yourself, but do not worry. There is another great reason for a plateau in your weight loss efforts – and it’s probably much easier to fix than it is to work around it. In addition to noticing the obvious physical issues, you may also have a psychological problem that is related to your body.
You just finished a great physical transformation – a healthy diet and intense training sessions. Maintaining your weight loss effort will be much easier now that you have changed your body’s composition, or the ratio of muscle to fat. Have you hit a plateau and wondering what to do now? Here’s seven tips to help you break out of the plateau.
a. Change your routine: Your weight loss program may have become too easy for your body. If you have been lifting very light weights for high repetitions, your muscles are no longer stressed and there are not as much stimulated muscle fibres to signal the body to build muscle. You can get your body back into the gym by changing your routine and adding a lightweight and higher repetition workout to your routine. If you used to only do three sets of eight at light weights, start to use one set of eight at increased weights. You may need to use heavier weights to get out of a plateau because your growth hormone testosterone is not at its maximum.
b. Change your diet: Increasing your lean muscle mass is critical to any weight loss program. You have to increase your protein intake and possibly your carbs to help stimulate your muscles. Reduce your simple carbohydrate intake – sugary foods, pasta and white breads. Eat more complex carbohydrates in the form of brown rice, yams and oats. Refined pasta should be avoided because it stimulates the release of insulin, resulting in higher blood levels and a slower metabolic rate.
c. Change your training: How is your cardio training? Are you lasting longer? How are your workouts stimulating your growth hormones? Are you working at the right intensity to get the most calorie-burn? Your workouts should be stimulating fat burning hormones by working the major muscle groups during your workouts.
d. Put stress on your body: The more stress you give your body, the more growth hormones you will need to help you get leaner. Stress can be caused by mental stress, physical stress, jet lag, too much going on in life or by just plain lack of time to relax. The ultimate solution is to commit to a 4-hour work out every day.
e. Try reducing your long cardiovascular workouts: For years we have been told that long and slow cardiovascular workouts burned more fat and calories than shorter, high intensity workouts. This tells us some important information, but is incomplete information at that. The shorter, high intensity workout is probably burning just as many calories, if not more. Studies show that workouts lasting thirty minutes will result in the same calories burned as a workout lasting thirty-minute workout.
I hope I have given you some useful tips that will help you break the plateau and keep on the weight loss path.