By Jon Lewis
It seems as though a ton of people are on weight loss kicks. There are numerous fitness facilities and weight loss programs across the country, and people are obviously taking advantage of the advice they are getting because more and more of these places are popping up around the neighborhoods. The trainers in the good facilities help you focus on your exercise and your eating habits, and it works—until it doesn’t.
At some point, the loss of weight reaches a “limit.” What’s the reason for this? Usually, when a person begins to seek out ways to lose weight, it is much easier to burn more calories than you eat.
At this initial stage, you are losing more water and fat with muscle. Your metabolism is higher in the beginning of an exercise/weight loss routine, but as you lose the muscle, your metabolism declines. When your metabolism gets to a level where the calories you burn equal the calories you eat, you reach a plateau of weight loss.
There could be other reasons for the plateau as well, depending on how long you have been focusing on your weight loss. Some research has shown that vitamins C and E antioxidant supplements can stall your weight loss. Lack of sleep can also hinder weight loss as you burn less fat, and it can make you hungrier.
You also may not be exercising properly. Studies show interval training is much more effective than simply doing moderate exercise on a daily basis, so you should vary your exercises and intensity. Finally, do you really know what you are eating? Are you preparing your own meals, or are you relying on eating out and thinking you are eating healthy? Restaurant food is very rarely as healthy as one might think.
But, even if you eat right, change up your exercise routine, get the right amount of sleep and watch what supplements you are taking, you may still reach that plateau. It could be that you are really closer to your ideal weight than you think. You also might have to look at age. As we get older, the harder it is to lose weight. The older you get, the slower your metabolism gets, and the more muscle mass you lose. Also, most people’s stress levels increase as they age, while activity levels decrease.
So, what can you do? First, output has to be more than input: exercise more than you eat. If you are losing muscle, engage in strength training. Strength and resistance training not only help you build muscle, but they also help burn significant calories. Some say weight training is the most effective method for burning calories, but, in actuality, it’s weight training coupled with high intensity training that’s probably the most effective way to burn calories and build muscle.
In addition, you can also focus more on your diet to help get past the plateau. Drink more water—it keeps you hydrated and helps your body eliminate salt. It can also make you less hungry. Eat more small meals throughout the day. If you eat consistently, your body responds with a regular pattern and regular metabolism. When you starve yourself, you lower your metabolism, and your body adjusts. Try eating more protein and fiber. Learn a new exercise or sport.
The bottom line is that our body responds to how we treat it. It also learns from our behaviors and adjusts, so we have to keep our body on its toes. That means changing up our exercise routines, getting the right amount of sleep and eating better. As always, you should seek a medical doctor’s guidance before attempting to lose weight—but follow these suggestions, and you might get your weight loss out of its funk and eventually reach the “plateau” that’s right for you.