BURN THE FAT - Fat Burning Tips Newsletter
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February 8th, 2008
"Plateaus: Why your fat loss stopped"
EXCERPT FROM THE "SUPER LEAN" SEMINAR
QUESTION: Tom, the first question says, "Tom, I know you often
say that to get to the point to be able to see your abs, you
need to get to single-digit body fat. What if I hit a plateau
at about 12% body fat? What do I need to do to break the plateau
and get my fat% down to single digits? Should I do more cardio,
more weight-training, manipulate my diet somehow?"
ANSWER: You could do any of the above. You could manipulate your
calories, add cardio type, duration or frequency. You could increase
cardio intensity. You could change your weight-training. You shouldn't
One of the problems I see with quite a few programs is that they're
too dogmatic. If you hit a plateau, the person with the most
flexibility in their approach is the person who's going to be most
likely to get through that plateau.
The first thing though is to understand what a plateau really is.
This is important, because if you were losing weight, but now
you're not, there's only one thing that that could mean; you were
in a calorie deficit but you're no longer in a calorie deficit.
You may be wondering why that happens. There are four primary
reasons you hit a plateau:
First, your metabolism can slow down. If you've been cutting
calories, especially if you cut them severely, your body adapts
by decreasing the metabolic rate. That's sometimes known as the
The second reason is that after people lose a lot of weight, they
tend to keep eating the same way they were eating when they
So they're feeding a smaller person the way they were when they
were a bigger person, but when you're a smaller person, you don't
need as many calories, even at rest (basal metabolic rate is lower)
A third reason is that when you move a smaller body, you're not
burning as many calories anymore. If you strap on a weighted vest
or a heavy backpack and go hike up a hill, you can tell, obviously,
that you're burning more calories when you're lugging around the
Fourth, and this one requires a little bit of honesty, is that
most people either cheat on their diets or they forget to record
part of their food intake. Even if they don't do it intentionally
and they don't "cheat" per se, unconsciously, we're all terrible at
estimating how much food we eat.
Some studies have even showed underreporting calorie intake as much
as 50%. In other words, you say, "I'm only eating 1,200 calories a
day, but i'm stuck at a plateau!" but you're really eating 1,800
calories a day which doesn't give you much of a deficit.
All of these reasons for plateaus get amplified in the later stages
of a diet, because biologically speaking, your body is doing everything
it possibly can to get you to go off your diet and to get weight
After a long period of dieting and a large decrease in body mass,
your body cranks up the appetite, stimulates cravings and your
body tries to trick you into eating more.
The leaner you get and the more aggressively you cut calories, the
more your body tends to defend its weight, and any remaining body fat.
So it's really common to hit that plateau when you're leaner. Usually
it's nowhere near as difficult for the overweight person to start
losing weight as it is for the lean person to get ripped. The last 10
lbs is usually a lot harder than the first 10.
If you think about it, it's pretty unnatural from a biological
perspective to walk around with really low single-digit body fat.
It's not beneficial from a survival-of-the-species point of view
to have low body fat. So this metabolic adaptation becomes more
pronounced the leaner you get.
You're also at a higher risk of losing muscle, because extra muscle
is not econmical when there's a calorie shortage. It's kind of like
a gas guzzler.
The ultimate answer to why you plateau, why that last 10 pounds is
so hard to lose and why it's hard to break into those single digits
is that you were in a calorie deficit, but for all of the reasons
mentioned above, you're no longer in deficit.
The way to break the plateau then is to:
(1) Re-stimulate metabolism and re-set fat-burning and
(2) Re-establish the deficit, and
(3) Keep after it!
The question was, "How do I do that? More cardio, more weight
training, manipulate my diet?"
You could do all of the above. Eating less or exercising more can
both increase a deficit. But one thing you might want to do first,
is give yourself a little break. Take your calories up to maintenance
level, maybe for a week.
The idea there is not to try to accelerate fat loss, because what
you're actually doing is removing your calorie deficit for a short
period of time. What you're trying to do is facilitate the fat loss
when you jump back into it.
It gives your body a physiological break from the stress of
dieting; it resets some of those starvation hormones and stimulates
your metabolism so when you go back to the calorie deficit, your
body responds again.
You also get mental break from the diet as well, which makes it easier
to stick with the program when you go back to it.
You could also use a calorie cycling approach, to help prevent yourself
from hitting another plateau, and we already covered calorie and carb
cycling in the last call.
I also recommend, because so many people underestimate how much
they eat, that you don't take any chances. Stop guessing and really
get serious about what you're taking in.
You've probably been told many times by a lot of different "experts"
that you don't have to count calories. But when you're in a plateau,
I'd recommend tracking calories or keeping a food journal.
Then what you need to do is reestablish that calorie deficit
using every tool at your disposal.
Use nutrition by pulling back your portion sizes. Or use cardio.
And by increased cardio, I mean increasing energy expenditure.
You could add days a week. You could increase your duration.
But increasing energy expenditure is not necessarily doing longer
workouts, just burning more calories. So you could also take the same
amount of time that you're spending right now and increase your
The whole idea is just burn more calories and stimulate metabolism,
which gives you your deficit back again, or you can pull back your
calorie intake and give yourself a deficit again from the food side.
There's more than one way to do it and I don't think that you
should lock yourself in to just diet or just exercise. Remember,
there are TWO sides to the energy balance equation, not one.
# # #
Train hard and expect success,
Fat loss coachwww.burnthefat.com
Edited by: CCSHERE at: 2/16/2008 (03:25)
"A goal without a plan is just a wish." ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer (1900 - 1944).
The Keys to MY Success:
2. Eating CLEAN + CALORIE CYCLING
3. Strength + HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training
4. Keeping SODIUM under 2300 mg/day
SW 180.8 - 1/18/2007
GW 128 - Reached 4/29/2007
Ticker shows bodyfat % postpartum as of ...
CALORIE CYCLING Team Leader teams.sparkpeople.com/caloriecycling
| Pounds lost: 1.6