5 Ways to Break Through Weight Loss Plateaus

Have you hit a weight loss plateau? It’s time to learn why, and what you can do about it.

Fat was practically falling off your body just a few weeks ago, and now you’re wondering if your scale is broken because no matter what you do, your weight won’t budge.

What gives?

Why did your routine suddenly stop working, and what can you do to push through this weight loss plateau?

Understanding Weight Loss Vs. Fat Loss

“Weight loss” is a tricky little devil because it doesn’t differentiate between changes in fat, muscle, and water.

The goal, of course, is to lose maximum fat and minimum muscle, and to keep water retention at a healthy minimum. When you step on the scale and register a pound lighter than the day or week before, you probably assume that you’ve lost a pound of fat; if you weigh the same or more, you probably assume that you’ve lost no fat, or gained. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Nothing swings weight up or down as easily as water retention, for example. If you eat a lot of sodium and carbs, and drink little water, you will retain quite a bit of water, giving you that puffy, smooth look. This can easily add 3-5 pounds in a day, which can be quite disturbing if you happen to hit the scale in this state. On the flip side, you eat little sodium and carbs and drink plenty of water, your body will flush water out, giving you a harder, more defined look, which might lead you to think that it was a great day of fat loss.

The unpredictability of water retention is one reason why I only weigh myself once per week, on the same day, in the morning, naked. Weighing yourself multiple times per week, or worse, per day, will quickly kill your confidence and mess with your head.

I also recommend that you choose a “weigh day” that doesn’t contain a cheat meal, as this can often add a pound or two of water that will come out by the end of the following day (my experience, at least).

What is a True Weight Loss Plateau?

A true weight loss plateau is a situation where you’re no longer losing fat.

I consider that I’ve hit a plateau if my weight hasn’t changed in two weeks. As I’m only going for one pound of actual fat loss per week, no change on the scale after one week of dieting isn’t necessarily a reason for concern-I could’ve lost that pound of fat but happen to be retaining a bit of water, or maybe my bowel movements weren’t as regular in the prior day or two. No change in weight after two weeks of dieting tells me that I’m definitely stuck.

Some Fat-Loss Facts to Keep in Mind

Before I cover how to break these plateaus, I want you to know a few things about losing fat.

1. Weight Loss Plateaus Are to Be Expected

Just about everyone experiences weight loss plateaus. If you have no idea what I’m talking about and are able to reach single-digit body fat percentages with complete ease, count yourself lucky. It’s very common for people to hit several plateaus on their journeys to a six pack because, well, the human body is just stubborn when it comes to shedding fat.

I’ve found that I can’t get below 9-10% body fat on diet alone (you can only reduce your calories so much, or you begin to eat up muscle)-I have to add in cardio if I want to continue losing. When I bulk, I usually end off around 14-15% body fat, and I can diet off the first 5% or so, but then I hit a plateau that only 3-4 days per week of cardio can cure (20-25 minutes per session). Then, the next plateau for me comes around 8%. If I want to go lower, I have to up my cardio to 4 days per week, for 30-40 minutes per session.

Everyone I’ve trained and otherwise helped has experienced the same phenomenon, but the thresholds vary. I’ve known a few rare people that can diet lower than 10% without adding cardio, but most people can’t break double-digit body fat percentages without a very strict diet and regular cardio routine.

2. The More You Lose, the Harder It Gets

The leaner you become, the longer it takes to lose fat healthily (the key, as you want to preserve as much muscle and strength as possible while losing fat). If you’re at 25% body fat, it’s very possible to lose 2-3 pounds of fat per week for the first several weeks. If you’re at 10% body fat and are making a run for single digits, however, 2-3 pounds of fat per week would be impossible without dangerous drugs.

For me, once I get below 12% or so, I’m very happy to see just one pound of fat loss per week, and I have to work for it.

3. Your Body Has a “Comfort Zone”

Although it might sound a bit broscientific, it’s the best way I can describe a phenomenon experienced by me and millions of other athletes around the world. The body seems to have a weight (and, accordingly, a body fat percentage) that it is most comfortable at. Your natural appetite tends to maintain this weight and if you eat less than this, you feel hungry. If you eat more than this, you feel quite full.

For some, this “comfort zone” is relatively fat, while others settle into a weight that is quite lean. For me, for example, I find that my body is most comfortable around 11% body fat (which would currently put me at about 200 lbs). I don’t have to watch my calories too closely and I can cheat several times per week, and I’ll just stay around 11%.

Now, maintaining a weight under this comfort zone requires constant work in the form of restricting calories and doing cardio. Getting fatter than this requires regular overeating, and if this continues for too long, the comfort zone creeps higher and higher.

5 Ways to Break Your Weight Loss Plateaus

Alright, now that you know the difference between weight loss plateaus and fat loss plateaus, here are three surefire ways to stoke your body’s furnace again to keep the fat coming off.

1. Re-Calculate Your Daily Caloric Target

Your metabolism slows down as you lose weight because your body doesn’t need to exert as much energy to maintain its now-slimmer physique.

If you don’t adjust your calories to account for this, you may hit a plateau. The easy way to avoid this is to re-calculate your daily caloric target after every 15 pounds of weight loss. As you’ll see, the target creeps lower and lower.

There are many formulas out there for determining how much you should eat to lose weight, but here’s a simple one based on the Katch McArdle:

1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight

1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight

1 gram of fat per 5 pounds of body weight

That simple macronutrient formula will put you in a moderate caloric deficit and allow for steady, healthy weight loss. To turn it into calories, simply multiply the protein and carbs by 4, and the fats by 9.

2. Control the “Hidden Calories”

Most weight loss plateaus are caused by nothing more than “calorie creep”-that is, eating more calories than you think. This, combined with an ever-slowing metabolism, is a guaranteed formula for stagnation.

Calories can creep in from many places. Purposeless snacking, eating out at restaurants (they load calories into meals with butter, oil, sauces, etc.), overdoing it with condiments, and drinking alcohol are all common ways to add enough calories to stall your weight loss without making you feel like you’re completely “off your diet.”

The sad truth is a mere 200-300 calories too many per day can completely halt fat loss. To put this into perspective, that’s only a couple handfuls of nuts, a few tablespoons of fatty salad dressing, or a small bag of chips. Yup, fat loss is that finicky. It’s not very complicated, but it requires absolute precision.

So, to overcome the “calorie creep,” you simply have to know exactly what’s going into your body every day. You can keep a food journal, or you can do what I do: calculate what you need each day, break it down into daily meals, and eat the same thing every day, every meal. I don’t have the time or patience to work a bunch of variety into my diet, so I embrace the simplicity of choosing nutritious foods that I like, and eating them over and over.

3. Increase Your Cardio

If you know that your daily caloric target is good and you have absolutely no calorie creep, then you should increase your cardio.

You can add another day if possible (I don’t recommend more than 4 days per week if you’re also weight training), or add time to each day (I like to add 10 minutes to each session and see how my body responds).

The idea is to just tip the scales a little bit more in the direction of fat loss and observe the results. If the first round of extra cardio doesn’t do it, add more (another 10 minutes to each session, for instance), and you’ll get there.

Oh and do HIIT cardio, please.

4. Embrace the Cheat Meal

Yup, believe it or not, the cheat meal actually helps you lose fat.

How?

Well, first there’s the psychological boost, which keeps you happy and motivated, which ultimately makes sticking to your diet easier.

But there’s also a physiological boost.

Think Fat Loss, Not Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the hottest topics ever. Everyone seems to be trying to lose weight nowadays. Most diet programs are about weight loss and body weight is often used as an indicator of fitness progress. But, this is an incorrect approach.

Your ultimate goal should always be to lose fat and reducing excess body fat is what you should be concerned about. Weight loss and Fat loss is NOT the same thing! Many people confuse the two terms, often believing that they mean the same, when in fact weight loss and fat loss are very different from one another. This article will help you understand how weight loss is different than fat loss and how fat loss is far superior to weight loss in almost all ways.

What Is Weight Loss?

(Weight Loss = Muscle Loss + Fat Loss + Water Loss)

Weight loss is attempting to lower your total body weight. It simply refers to a lower number on a scale.

Your body weight is composed of all the parts of your body such as muscles, fat, bones, water, organs, tissues, blood, water etc. When you lose weight, you lose a little bit of… fat, muscle and water.

You lose fat but very little and along with the fat you lose muscle and some amount of water. The higher you reduce your calorie intake, the faster you drop weight and the more muscle mass you lose.

Do know your muscle matters? Loss of muscle affects your health and your overall appearance.

When you lose weight too quickly, your body cannot maintain its muscle. Because muscle requires more calories to sustain itself, your body begins to metabolize it so that it can reserve the incoming calories for its survival. It protects it fat stores as a defense mechanism to ensure your survival in case of future famine and instead use lean tissue or muscle to provide it with calories it needs to keep its vital organs such as your brain, heart, kidneys and liver functioning. If you reach a point where you have very little fat or muscle, your body will metabolize your organs to keep your brain functioning leading to heart attack, stroke and liver and kidney failure.

As the body loses more muscle mass, the body’s overall metabolic rate decreases. The metabolic rate is the rate at which the body burns calories and is partly determined by the amount of muscle you have.

So the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate; the less muscle you have, the lower your metabolic rate and fewer calories you burn. This explains why it is crucial to protect your metabolic rate and not have muscle loss.

Loss of muscle also leads to loss of tone underneath the skin leaving you soft and unshapely with no form or contour. If you lose weight too rapidly, your skin won’t have time to adjust either. Also muscle is what gives you strength and loss of it means a weak body.

With weight loss you shrink in size and become a smaller version of yourself with a fragile frame with saggy skin.

Weight loss works in the short run to make you smaller but is temporary, almost everyone rebounds and regains the weight. This forces you to find another diet. And then another one, and another one – because eventually they’ll all fail.

What Is Fat Loss?

(Fat Loss = Loss Of Stored Body Fat)

Fat loss is attempting to lower your total body fat – i.e. the percentage of your total body weight that is made up of fat.

The right approach for fat loss is to exercise smartly and eat intelligently in a way that maintains muscle and focuses on fat loss exclusively.

The muscle you have is not there forever. If you don’t feed it and don’t use it – you lose it. A proper plan with right combination of resistance and cardiovascular training with adequate progression and a right nutrition plan to support it can help you achieve this. Exercise only boosts the burning process but doesn’t just melt the fat away on its own – if you do not create a deficit and feed the body too much – it won’t touch the stored fuel reserves. On the hand if you drastically cut your calories and do not feed your muscle properly or don’t exercise and use your muscle, you will lose it. Fat loss is about finding that right balance.

With fat loss you maintain the muscle and keep the metabolic rate running high. You also develop stronger connective tissue, tighter skin and stronger bones and joints. With fat loss you transform your body.

Fat loss is a lifestyle approach where you give your body what it needs without depriving and shocking it with threat of starvation. You get to see slow but permanent steady progress.

It may sound odd, but it’s possible to get thinner without actually seeing a change in your weight. This happens when you lose body fat while gaining muscle. Your weight stays the same, even as you lose inches.

Lets see how this happens.

Fat tissue is very loose and not dense. It occupies a lot of space in your body. Whereas muscle is more dense and takes up less space. When you lose fat, this space is freed and you can notice inch loss. If you are following a consistent strength training program then gain in lean muscle tissue will balance out this loss of fat and weight stays the same. Since muscle takes less space than fat, you lose inches and start to look more toned, lean and shapely.

consistent strength training program then gain in lean muscle tissue will balance out this loss of fat and weight stays the same. Since muscle takes less space than fat, you lose inches and start to look more toned, lean and shapely.

Discover How a Quick Weight Loss Can Be a Healthy Weight Loss-Phase I

How can a quick weight loss also be a healthy weight loss? Truthfully, if this is the thought on your mind, you are miles ahead of the majority of people interested in weight loss today. In fact, the true thought that the majority of weight loss seeker are having is, “How can I have a quick weight loss?” There is no mention of a healthy weight loss at all! The problem is that everyone wants the results, but doesn’t care about what they have to do to get there. More importantly, they don’t care about the long term negative affects that will follow their quick weight loss. In order to achieve your healthy weight loss and for it to also be a quick weight loss, you must make some fitness tuning changes to your body.

Now that we’ve identified that your mind should be on how a quick weight loss must also be a healthy weight loss, let’s get you there! We are going to address several things regarding your life and how you live it. I will give you the paths that you need to take in order for you to get to a healthy weight loss. Then you will need to go down those paths, one at a time. How well and how dedicated you are to accomplishing the completion of those paths will determine whether or not you have a quick weight loss. I will give you the tools to make a healthy weight loss also be a quick weight loss, but you must use them, and use them properly, for your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss to occur.

Step one, to achieve your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss, will be to make some changes to your diet. You must, and must want to, start with your diet. If you are a person that has a minimal or non-existent amount of exercise done each week, then trying to tackle that step first can be disastrous. If you run into the gym, before you correct your dieting deficiencies, you will feel a great deal of fatigue during exercise, and possibly faintness, dizziness, and extended muscle soreness and fatigue afterwards. To begin your stepping into a healthy weight loss and quick weight loss, you must first begin with giving your body the nutrients that it needs. Otherwise, your quest towards a healthy weight loss and quick weight loss will be that much more difficult, not to mention less enjoyable!

The dieting change to begin your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey is your daily food intake. You should have three meals a day, each containing a carbohydrate, a fruit or vegetable, and a protein. These items must also be evenly proportioned for each meal. You should get plenty of whole grains in your diet, so make sure that your carbohydrate sources are whole grain as often as possible. Ensure that you also get plenty of good cholesterol in order to keep your cholesterol level under control. This means that you should be eating a variety of nuts, eggs, and fish and including olive oil in your diet. In fact, I would recommend at least one meal a day which contains some kind of fish. Not only is it a good source of protein, but the Omega-3 oils that are contained in fattier fishes such as salmon and mackerel are essential for a healthy weight loss and quick weight loss, as well as healthy living.

Some fitness tuning suggestions for your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss diet.In the morning, I start my day with a fruit, a bowl of oatmeal and some bacon or sausage, followed by a multivitamin. For lunch you should also plan your lunch to contain a protein source, a carbohydrate, and a vegetable. I only have fruit with my meal in the morning, due to the fact that the sugar will help you to start your day by giving you the energy that you need. Vegetables contain more vitamins and minerals than fruit and therefore must be of higher concentration in your diet. My dinner always contains a meat, pasta or potatoes, and a steamed vegetable or salad. The fiber from the fruits and vegetables will slow down the absorption of the carbohydrates into your body, and will allow you to burn off absorbed carbohydrates before they can be stored as fat. By following these diet guidelines, your healthy weight loss will become a quick weight loss as well. Plus, you will have the energy to begin the next path towards your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey that will be found in Phase II.

Believe it or not, your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss plan involves snacks! In order to ensure that you are supporting your body’s needs for Phase II of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey, you must have two between-meal snacks. I continually use protein bars and protein shakes as my between-meal snack. However, I have also been known to use trail-mix that contains more nuts than fruits. Your goal is to ensure that your body is getting all of the proteins that it needs to support Phase II of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss plan. If you should ever feel a craving for something sweet, then have a piece of fruit. Some fruits have more sugars than others, such as bananas, grapes, pineapples, raisins, and mangos, and should be eaten sparingly. These are the desserts that will help to lead to your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss, not to mention a healthier you.

You have now completed Phase I of your journey towards your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss. You have started your fitness tuning process by ensuring that the foods that you take into your body are healthy and contain all of the elements needed for your body’s healthy lifestyle. I will be following this article with Phase II of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey, but you will be able to get more information regarding proper dieting and the benefits from doing so by clicking on my fitness tuning website’s link below. You will be able to join my free membership website, and gain access to all of the nutrition, dieting, and fitness information that I share with all of my members from week to week. Begin Phase I of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey today, and you will soon lead yourself to the results that you desire.

Discover How a Quick Weight Loss Can Be a Healthy Weight Loss – Phase III

We left off with my last article of “Discover How a Quick Weight Loss Can Be a Healthy Weight Loss – Phase II”. In review, you learned how to exercise regularly in order to ensure that your healthy weight loss is also a quick weight loss. Now, we are on to Phase III of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey. What is the third and final fitness tuning path that I must pursue after you have adopted a complete and healthy diet and a regular workout routine? What is the last and final path towards your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss?

Phase III of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey is your intake of fluids. Ok, stop the presses! You mean that what I drink actually matters when it comes to a healthy weight loss and quick weight loss? The answer is yes, big time! Everyone knows that you must hydrate yourself in order to survive. In fact, everyone knows that you can die of dehydration sooner than you can die of hunger. So, the fluids that you put into you body are extremely important when it comes to the success of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey. In fact, fluid intake is critical upon the success or failure of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss endeavor.

Water is the first key liquid in your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey’s success. Water is extremely important when it comes to your body. First of all, you body is 80% water. Without a constant intake of water, your body would eventually start shutting down until you died. So, we take water pretty seriously when it comes to a healthy weight loss and quick weight loss. Water hydrates your body, is used to flush toxins from your system, and keeps your lungs moist during cardiovascular activity. It is recommended to take in 8 – 10 8oz. glasses of water per day, and I recommend that you start doing so. Your body must have plenty of water to do its part in achieving a healthy weight loss and quick weight loss. Take a large water bottle and a cup with you to work. When the water bottle is empty, then refill it. Having the water present will encourage you to drink it more often. Your body will thank you for it by flushing out the toxins from your system that can actually impede upon the success of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey.

Coffee and soda must be eliminated from your diet to succeed in your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey. Soda should only be had occasionally as a reward for your hard work. For me, I have a soda when I have pizza, and that is about it. Your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss is dependent upon a minimum amount of caffeine intake, and increased water intake when drinking caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, and will actually pull the water from your body. This is extremely bad when it comes to your body operating at top efficiency while you’re exercising. Believe me, you will feel the difference! I will treat myself to the occasional energy drink in replacement of my afternoon snack mentioned in Phase I. However, your journey towards a healthy weight loss and quick weight loss will be an unpleasant one with too much caffeine intake.

Green tea is the best and highest recommended caffeinated beverage that you can have for your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey. Most of them are even decaffeinated! I would recommend that you have 3 – 4 cups of hot green tea per day. Studies have shown an increase in energy levels and metabolisms for subjects who took in certain quantities of green tea on a daily basis, which also resulted in reduction of body fat content. The study showed that for positive results, 3 cups per day were necessary for a 156 lb. subject. (More information on the health benefits of green tea will be made available to members of my website listed below.) However, in relation to your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey, you have just found your replacement for coffee!

For those of you that want something more to drink during your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey… When it comes to fitness tuning, you want to choose wisely about what you put into your body, and not base your decision upon taste alone. Unfortunately, the majority of people base their beverage choices on taste and usually upon it being a sweet taste, which means too much sugar. However, there are a few key beverages that can give you some flavor variety, as well as give you a healthy weight loss and quick weight loss boost as well!

POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice – Packed with cancer fighting anti-oxidants, and was rated as the top source of anti-oxidants of all beverages on the market.

Vitamin A & D Organic Milk & Organic Soymilk with Calcium – Fatty acids, calcium, Vitamin A & D, as well as isoflavones and protein with the soymilk, give you more health benefits than you can shake a stick at.

Tropicana Essentials Fiber, Heart, & Antioxidant Advantage – Packed with Vitamin C, the Essentials line of Tropicana orange juice offers a wide variety of health benefits tailored for your specific needs.

Sobe No Fear (Sugar Free) – I have found this to be the best of the energy drinks on the market for me. I don’t drink them every day, but they serve well on a jam-packed day of 10+ hours of work followed by time at the gym. (Remember: drink extra water when drinking caffeine!)

Gatorade Performance Series & Propel Fitness Water – Jam packed with electrolytes, I try to drink the Performance Series an hour before my workout, and follow my workout with a Propel Fitness Water.

Changing the quality of fluids taken into your body each day is the final path toward your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey. You now have at your disposal the three phases to your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss success. Ensure that you adhere to the promise that you have made to yourself, and ensure that you follow all three paths. Your success in your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey is dependent upon you and you alone. Further information will be distributed to members of my free membership site listed below. You will gain access to fitness tuning nutrition, dieting, and fitness information, including information relating to all three phases of your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss journey. So, embark on your journey and lead the way to your healthy weight loss and quick weight loss success!