Episode 38 – What to Do When You Hit A Fat Loss Plateau

Key Topics Covered

Why Do They Occur?

  1. The smaller you are, the less calories you burn.
    • If you start off with a small/moderate deficit and do not adjust calories throughout the process, you are guaranteed to run into a plateau. This is because literally losing muscle/fat reduces your calorie expenditure.
  2. Metabolic adaptation. 
    • Being in a deficit for an extended period of time means your body starts trying to reduce calorie expenditure. The larger the deficit, the more severe this response typically is. 
    • This can be done by reducing heart rate, core temperature and incidental movements.
    • It also explains why a lot of women lose their period when they are either in an extended deficit or they get particularly lean.
  3. Habits change.
    • Maybe the novelty where’s off and somebody is not sticking as closely to their plan as they were at the start. Maybe they are exercising less, or less intensely. 
  4. Hunger and desire to eat typically increase over the course of a diet. 

Strategies to Improve Diet Adherence 

  1. Tighten things up again
    • Reducing grazing/snacking  
    • Track calories more accurately – track EVERYTHING you eat and weight the foods accurately.
    • Going out to eat less – this is harder to track and more likely to have hidden calories 
  2. Take a good 2-4 weeks diet break
    • Diet breaks – 1-2 weeks seems to help with desire to eat and hunger AND 4+ weeks may assist with reversing metabolic adaption as well.
    • Sometimes you do just need a psychological and emotional break from dieting
  3. Reduce the size of your calorie deficit – Eg. if you’re at 1000cal deficit, maybe drop to 800cal deficit.
  4. Increase exercise – If you aren’t near the over training threshold, this could help. However, usually we like you to train as much as is required for your sport and adjust food/ calorie intake.
  5. Appetite management strategies – Increase protein, aiming for 30+ grams of fibre per day, volume eating, maintaining good hydration, etc.
  6. Try fasting – This is not magical, but it could make it easier to stick to a lower calorie intake.
  7. Reduce you caloric intake – Your plan could simply be too many calories, aiming for a lower target could be beneficial especially if you’re prone to going over.
Over excersie and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea

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