Everyone faces a strange, though common phenomenon at a certain time during its effort for weight loss.
The Weight Loss Plateau Phenomenon, as called, is the topic of our article, trying to identify the reason for its occurrence and the ways to deal with it, so the person could continue its effort with no further problems.
As already mentioned, the “Weight Loss Plateau Phenomenon” is a very common situation, therefore, you do not need to feel that this is a serious personal problem, or let your frustration overwhelm you.
The “Plateau Phenomenon” describes the situation of people who are in the process of losing weight, suddenly noticing a dramatic slowdown in their gains (in weight and points loss), or even a complete suspension. In fact, there are times when while faithfully following their program (diet – exercise – psychological support) the weight – not just does not decrease, but also on the contrary increases (by a little, this being enough to “damage” the psychology of the person involved).
Many individuals facing “plateau” of kilos and noticing no benefit from their hard work – are frustrated, give up eventually their effort on losing their extra kilos.
Surely, you felt an intense feeling of frustration several times, if you have tried to lose some kilos.
However, the question is not “why do you feel frustrated”, (a fact perfectly normal since your efforts stop working,) but “why this” resistance “of the body suddenly manifested and how it can be overcome”
First things first.
Trying to lose weight and build a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, we subject our body to radical changes, changes in diet, in the activity of everyday life (physical exercise), changing even the sleep schedule.
Changes related to psychological stimulation and stress management, even changes in the general way of thinking and dealing with life.
It is therefore expected that at some point all these changes lead the organism to a temporary “confusion”, as accustomed to operating under completely different conditions, now everything seems to be so new to it.
Nevertheless, how is this resistance of the organism scientifically explained?
Even if you manage to lose (in a hurry) many kilos in a very short time, it is most likely that you recover them soon.
A proper and well-organized weight loss “journey” is based on the gradual reduction of body weight and the change of the person’s lifestyle on a permanent basis and not just for a short time (as long as a diet lasts).
To understand the function of the so-called “Weight Loss Plateau Phenomenon”, you need to understand how your organism responds to any change and the reasons associated with this change imposed.
You will have noticed that while the first days of a diet “run” (with the scales showing a great loss in a short time), after a few weeks everything “blocks” and weight loss is dramatically reduced.This phenomenon has to do with the fact that – in addition to adipose tissue – we also lose muscle tissue, as well as a huge amount of fluid.
Therefore, the first easy loss of many kilos in a short time is usually body fluids.
This is perfectly normal and expected, and should neither worry you, or disappoint you, nor discourage you from continuing to give your “fight”.
In order not to be disturbed by this “temporary denial” of your organism to perform what is expected in the diet / exercise program set, you should first understand some very basic rules / conditions applying to this short period of resistance to weight loss.
Below ten (10) basic rules are presented and discussed:
To talk about the plateau phenomenon, there must be observed weight or points loss from the body fat for a minimum of 2 weeks.
The same holds, if instead of losing weight, suddenly & unnecessarily, you show a slight increase in your weight.
It is the resistance expected from your body, shown to the “sudden changes” imposed on it.
However, do not quit.
You should stay loyal to your diet and exercise program throughout your effort, and not make significant changes (to them or even to the flow of your daily routine).
There is no underlying disease affecting the course of your weight loss in any way.
You are not taking any medication determining / affecting your rate of weight loss (typical example, the hormone therapy or chemotherapy).
Depending on your body weight and the kilos you aim to lose, you may have the “Plateau Phenomenon” more than 1 once.
So, for example, in a course of losing 10 kilos or more, it is very likely to show this “stagnation” one or even two times.
As the rate at which you lose weight increases, so does the rate at which your body burns fat.
This is due to the attempt of the organism to “survive”, preferring to keep fat as an “emergency solution” for nutrition.
It is a completely natural phenomenon and it happens to everyone. However, fat loss (in ways shown below) may be boosted to provide better physical benefits.
Think of weight loss as an endurance road and definitely not as a sprint race.
The closer you get to the finish line (the desired weight), the more tired and awake you feel.
The same goes for weight loss, therefore, it is very likely that the last (few) kilos before you reach your goal will look like a misery.
Do not lose faith and think that you are only a breath away from the finishing line.
Above all, an important factor for the success of a weight loss effort (whether it is a few or more kilos) is patience and conscious effort.
This means that you should be ready to accept everything from the beginning and keep trying, even when you face obstacles, difficulties, or even results less satisfactory than you would expect.
Weight loss – to be effective and to remain healthy and safe for health – requires knowledge.
If you do not have this basic knowledge, it would be good to turn to a specialist dietitian / nutritionist who will identify the reasons that – possibly – the diet followed does not work as it should or as you would expect.
In addition, a specialist will be able to guide you in a way not “causing any harm” to your organism and continue (despite reduced caloric intake) to eat properly and receive all the nutrients required.
Do not be surprised if at some point your nutritionist advises you to increase your daily caloric intake by 100 to 200 calories.
This – as already mentioned – is related to the innate need for an organism’s survival.
Certain times, especially if a strict diet of 1200 calories was followed for a long time, the organism tends to adapt to the new data, resulting possibly to a tolerance in the long term.
In these cases, a slight change on your eating routine, helps to break its “routine” and produce a “shock” to start working more efficiently.
As pointed out earlier, initially, you should be convinced and ready to accept the various changes to be made in your lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, and way of thinking, fighting stress).
In the second phase, it is very important to be prepared for any “setbacks”, as well as that it will take a long time of intense effort to see the desired results.
This implies patience, perseverance and dedication to the ultimate benefits that this (forced & psychedelic, but also beneficial for the health) effort is aiming to.
Small weight loss goals (within the context of health and smooth organic functioning respect) performed by your own effort (exercise and proper nutrition) to fulfill them every time.To achieve this, it is enough to put on your tracksuit again and – surely – to “cut” your meals a little.
In the first days of diet and exercise program (10 – 15 days) application, you will notice a rapid weight loss (extremely effortless), mainly due to losing fluid and not adipose tissue.
A consistent continuation of the diet / exercise programs, the burning of body fat begins gradually to replenish the lost (from the limited meals) energy.
As mentioned, at some point, it is perfectly natural – especially after long-term consistent monitoring of a predetermined calorie intake program (e.g. a 1200 calorie / day program) – for your organism to show a relative inactivity (stagnation).
It is also common for some people to show even a small but visible (and very discouraging) sudden and without any change in diet / exercise program, increase in weight, instead of experiencing a weight loss.
It is important at this stage to stay cool and keep trying by applying certain small changes to your diet and exercise program.
Many nutritionists even suggest a small increase in the daily calories consumed in your meals (from 100 to 200 calories per day) for “unblocking” your organism again – which showed a “tolerance” in the specific program applied until then.
Even a relative change in the food consumed, the times of your meals or the way you eat (standing and fast at work or sitting on your living room couch) can help you start burning fat again for energy.
In addition, increasing the intensity of your training program you can also notice very spectacular results in dealing with the “plateau” of kilos confronted.
You can even break your training program from a single program of 1 hour, into two separate 30-minute programs (morning – evening).
In this way, you can reduce muscle gains (as many trainers will advise you), but you will be able to achieve “awakening” of your metabolism both in the morning and at night, achieving 24-hour – non-stop – fat burning in your body.
In conclusion, the most important advice is not to lose hope and not to give up.
Think of it as something that – really – happens to everyone and has to do with the function and “survival instinct” of your organism.
The human body resembles a well-tuned machine.
Therefore, like any well-tuned machine it loves the “habit”.
As you “disturb” this habit, you force it to extreme reactions, meaning that every time your organism “gets used” you can “shake” it with small changes in its habit program.
However, beware! By referring to change, we mean small – and not very strict or restrictive – changes applied to your daily diet and exercise.
Strict additional dietary restrictions can make the problem a lot worse, with your organism persisting in a constant storage of fat for “survival”.
A limited increase in your daily caloric intake will give your organism the “confirmation” needed and sending a message of not being in danger of starvation.
This will stop the binding of fat, and it will release it to provide energy.
This is the ideal time to stimulate the degree of difficulty of your workouts slightly, which should preferably be aerobic (or a combination of aerobic / anaerobic).
Another method to restart the metabolic function of your organism and to restart the fat burning effectively in your organism is the application of “regular stand-by / maintenance tactic”.
This means you adopt for your program (and your organism) a state of pause, of stand-by, a state of simple maintenance, of neither increasing nor reducing your body weight.
Therefore, when even the slightest adjustment to your diet does not work, it may be time to apply the maintenance routine.
This tactic should last for a short time, aiming to restore a strong metabolic rate.
In this phase, you maintain the small daily caloric increase already applied (and it did not work) and you simply enter a stand-by phase, making absolutely no other changes and gradually restoring your metabolism to greater activity and your organism starting burning again, as your organism feels safe and ready again.
The stand-by / maintenance phase is a difficult phase for most people, requiring a lot of patience and faith in the effort made.
This is due – despite the small caloric increase applied (from 100 to a maximum of 200 calories per day) – to continuation of regular food consumption and exercise, however, without seeing any visible results.
You may think that this entire tactic brings a drawback to your effort, but this is not the case.
Yes, in this phase, you apply a small increase in calories in your diet and you do not expect results, or physical gains.
Nevertheless, take it as a tactic of war, reorganizing your forces to give even stronger fights afterwards.
How easy is the weight loss and how fast and frequent is the experience of the “plateau” phenomenon during your attempt to achieve the desired healthy body weight, depends on a broad range of factors (this being the reason for differing so much from person to person).
This is a scientific fact that has to do with organic biology.
This reality – also known as Basic Metabolic Rate (BMP) – changes according to conditions, even for the same individual.
The key factors affecting and determining your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMP) – that is, the rate at which your body metabolizes fat – are listed below:
No.1: The age
Clearly, the age plays a key role in the rate at which the body metabolizes its food, the reason being that the energy needs of a child, a teenager, an adult, a middle-aged or an elderly person are different.
As the person grows older, the metabolic rate decreases.
Every 10 years of your life your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMP) decreases by about 2%.
No.2: The Sex
The second factor also expected, is the sex of the person concerned.
Scientific studies have shown that men have significantly higher metabolism than women do and significantly less body fat as well.
This is also due to the biology of the woman, maintaining a relatively increased (compared to a man) percentage of fat for a future pregnancy.
No.3: The DNA
Once it was thought that the excuse for “slow metabolism” was just an excuse.
Now scientists confirm that there is a scientific explanation and it has to do with a specific mutation in DNA.
British scientists discovered these mutations, confirming that the genetic profile is responsible for the difficulty confronted in losing weight (due to a slow metabolism).
A study published in the journal Cell by researchers at the University of Cambridge (and more specifically from the Institute of Metabolic Science), shows that about 1 in 100 people have the so-called “slow metabolism”.
Therefore, now we know that it is due to mutated DNA, a condition beginning in individual early childhood, meaning that this is a pathogenic form of childhood’s obesity.
The conclusion is that there are persons “genetically favored” and “genetically unlucky” in weight loss.
No.4: The Diet
It is obvious that the way you consume food also plays a decisive role in the degree of difficulty and time you lose weight.
To boost your metabolism you should not eat more calories than you really need, neither just a few.
The “starvation” state imposed by many well-known diets, instead of helping you increase fat burning, leads your organism to what we called “plateau”, that is, a strong denial of the organism to burn fat for fearing starvation.
In case you did not know, an exhausting fast / a “hunger” diet / a fast, is likely to cause a reduction in your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMP) by up to 20%.
No.5: The Body Volume
Another factor determining your BMP is your body mass. That is, how tall you are, how bulky and how muscular.
The total area of your skin determines how much sweat you lose, and therefore how high your energy requirements are.
No.6: The hormonal condition of the organism
Yes, it is true. Hormones are an extremely important factor determining how your organism metabolically works.
Hormones play a key role in maintaining a healthy body weight and – when in harmony and balance – they achieve a high metabolism.
The connection between hormones and metabolism is deep and catalytic.
It is not only how many calories you burn, but also how much fat you store in the fat stores of your body.
One reason that women obviously show a lower metabolic rate than men and a greater body fat storage is exactly the hormones.
No.7: The “Other Factors”
The “Other Factors” refer to either health problems or external factors.
Therefore, one part (that of health) refers to diseases or other conditions (such as pregnancy), affecting the hormonal balance of the organism and therefore its metabolic function.
The other part, the “external factors”, refers to situations such as intense stress, injuries and psychological factors that can also “shake” and change the hormonal balance of the organism.
How and when a “rich breakfast” can help you burn up to twice as many calories?
Research from the University of Lübeck in Germany has shown that a rich breakfast (as opposed to a large dinner meal) helps burn more body fat by even up to 2 times more.
Therefore, even if your daily caloric intake is constant at 1200 calories, if you devote more calories to breakfast than to dinner, you can lose up to twice as much fat.
The experts justify this finding as follows.
Breakfast is a very important meal – it can either make or break your day.
In addition, it promotes the process of thermogenesis of the organism, enhancing fat burning and promoting the stabilization of blood sugar.
The scientists who conducted this research project were able to correlate low calorie intake at breakfast with an increased desire to eat sweets and an uncontrollable appetite throughout the day.
As mentioned earlier, when faced with the so-called “Weight Loss Plateau Phenomenon” in your effort to lose weight, it is good to implement certain small dietary changes in your daily routine.
An increase in your daily caloric intake of 100 – 200 calories is sufficient to “break down” your metabolism and put it back in intensive operation.
In fact, if you include the small daily caloric increase that you have to apply, in your breakfast meal, then you can ensure even greater (up to twice) fat burning.
Below, healthy foods and “metabolic” benefits you may use in your breakfast meals: