Let us describe a scenario and tell us if you can relate. You’re done exercising. You hit it hard. Cardio, weights, stretching. Great workout. You shower up and get home. You check your weight. Nothing. You’re confused. You’ve done everything right all week. You’ve eaten carefully and exercised vigorously. Yet you’re at the same weight. In fact, you might be up a little bit. Welcome to the joys of hitting a fat-loss plateau, surely one of the most frustrating realities of physiology.
Yet take heart. Although it can be super annoying, there are ways to move past the plateau and reach your goals. Here are seven things to know on your journey to living your best life.
- A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way. The first thing to know is that bodies crave stability. Once a set-point weight is established it be hard to move too far away from it. Try not to take it personally. Set steady and realistic goals and you’ll stay on the right path.
- Adjust your Calorie Intake. As you lose weight, your metabolism can drop because your body requires less calories or energy to fuel a smaller you. The calorie intake that you initially had when you began your weight-loss journey will need to be adjusted to match your body’s current needs for weight loss. Make sure to revise your calorie goal every 10 pounds or so.
- Mix Things Up. Your muscles become familiar with the same old workout, making your regular routine less effective. To see a change in body fat, you have to get outside of your fitness comfort zone. High Intensity Interval Training has been shown to burn body fat effectively. Try doing speed work at the track, a boot camp class at the gym, or alternate walking and running intervals. Check in with a Snap Fitness trainer for ideas.
- Get Your Rest. A full night’s sleep is vital to losing body fat because it resets your hormones. Even a little sleep deprivation can lead to increased cortisol, a stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to body fat accumulation around the midsection.
- Hydrate. Keep your hydration in check since the body will often crave food when you are even mildly dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration are similar to symptoms of hunger, so it’s easy to confuse the two. Aim to drink 80-100 fluid ounces (2.35 liters) of water per day plus additional fluids lost during activity.
- Muscle Up. Lift weights and follow a strength-training program to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, and the more body fat you’ll shed.
- Eat Protein. Protein has the highest thermic effect of food, meaning eating protein burns more calories during digestion. Protein also contains an amino acid, leucine, that numerous research studies have identified as a potent catalyst for burning body fat.