Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. Fit to You has been very busy with new clients getting in shape now that the hot summer weather is finally here. Several topics have come up over the course of the Follow Me to Fitness Challenge, including how to bust through a weight loss plateau and why it is important to eat at least 1200 calories per day to continue losing weight.
Let’s start with plateaus and why they are guaranteed to happen to almost everyone on a long term weight loss plan. Initially, any drop in calories consumed below the levels necessary to maintain your weight will cause you to lose weight. If you are not doing exercises to maintain your muscle mass, then you will lose muscle along with fat and that wasted muscle burns extra calories. One pound of muscle typically burns about 50 calories per day, so you want to preserve as much muscle as possible. If you are only dieting, you are more likely to hit the dreaded plateau very early in your weight loss plan.
Another reason that people reach a weight loss wall is by cutting too many calories too soon. It is best to start at a higher calorie count and gradually reduce over several weeks or even months, rather than go on a “crash diet” which I consider to be any diet less than 1200 calories per day. You will lose weight initially, but eventually your body will realize that it is perpetually starving and start to hoard fat (not the desired effect!) from any source it can. Start your diet by reducing your caloric intake as little as possible while still causing a deficit. If you have 50-100 lbs to lose, you might start at 1600 calories per day and as you lose weight, gradually decrease by 100 calories per month, never going below 1200.
Once you have been at 1200 calories per day for a while, you will most likely hit a plateau. Our bodies can adapt very quickly to what we feed it and how we exercise. When your weight loss stalls out, look at your diet truthfully (this is why keeping a food diary is very important!) and decide where you can make changes. Most often, switching out simple carbohydrates for more lean protein and green vegetables will allow you to eat more food and re-kick start your weight loss. If you are currently only having 3 meals per day, make those meals smaller and add in healthy snacks like almonds, Greek yogurt, low fat string cheese, berries, or a low sugar protein bar/shake to speed up your metabolism.
Shake up your exercise routine. Circuit training is the best way to torch calories while maintaining or building muscle. If you are currently doing 2 days per week, add a 3rd day. Adding additional cardiovascular workouts may also help. And, don’t forget that changing up your workout routine as often as possible will keep your body guessing and changing.
The most important thing to remember is don’t give up and absolutely don’t go backwards! You have worked hard to get to this point, whether you have lost 5 lbs or 100…it may take some time and extra hard work, but you can break your plateau and get back on track. If you are feeling lost and need some guidance, I am here to help!
Here is a link to a website with yummy, fast, and healthy dinners to help you shake up your menu. http://www.cookinglight.com/food/quick-healthy-recipes-00412000077176/