Saturday, August 27, 2016

Weight Loss Plateaus #1

The dreaded weight loss plateau - it's something most dieters encounter around the six-month mark. You continue working out and eating right, yet you don't see any progress. What is going on?

After you lose weight, your body operates more efficiently and needs less energy to do everything, including your workouts, which means you burn fewer calories. At the time, your system is biologically programmed to get you back to your former, heavier weight - a survival mechanism to help prevent starvation. The phenomenon, called adaptive thermogenesis, puts the brakes on your metabolism. A 10% drop in your body weight will slow your metabolism as much as 25%. And the more you lose, the greater the effect. 

Your hormones also make you hungrier than ever. If you shed 10 - 15% of your body weight, your level of leptin - a hormone critical for making you feel full - plummets by 50%, convincing your brain that you've lost half you body fat. At the same time, your level of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin also spikes disproportionately after weight loss. 

It takes a tremendous amount of physical and emotional effort to overcome all the biological and environmental challenges to weight loss. Initially, you can stick with it because you see the results and you get a lot of positive reinforcement. But after a few months, you become tired and discouraged by all the work required. 

But don't give up! A few smart tweaks to your diet will get results and help renew your commitment.

Get Back to Basics 
If you used to track your food and exercise, it's time to restart that routine. Logging meals and workouts can help you see where you need to step up your efforts. Be careful about portion control. Analyze the weeks that you were particularly successful, figure out what you were doing differently and go back to it. 

Find Your Happy Weight
Often people pick their goal weight arbitrarily, which can set them up for failure. If you’ve hit your plateau and are within 5 or 10 pounds of your target, consider whether the weight you’re at now might be right for you. You’ve already improved your health enormously by reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Don’t be obsessed with reaching a certain number on the scale. Think about what makes you feel good. That’s your happy weight.

Next week, I will share three more strategies
for pushing past a weight loss plateau.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy  Food

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