Do you eat clean, but still carry extra pounds? Sometimes even the best diet and workout routine can fail. Your body has an amazing ability to adapt to low calorie diets and exercise. Aerobic training, in particular, can lead to muscle loss and decrease metabolic rate. Your goal should be to consume as much food as possible while doing as little cardio as possible, and still get results. Remember that excess cardio and dieting is stress. Your body hates stress.
When you eat too little and exercise too much, your brain lowers the signal to the thyroid to make more fat burning hormones. After all, its goal is to ensure your survival. By slowing down your metabolism, you will keep more of your fat.
So, how to break a weight loss plateau and slim down? Let me tell you
my story. This year in January I’ve gained about 16 pounds (this is how I look now – both photos are mine). After months of struggling with the extra pounds, I’ve changed my approach to dieting and exercise. Before hitting this plateau, I was lifting weights followed by steady state cardio four times a week. My diet was low in calories (under 1,200 kcal a day).
My current weight is only slightly lower than before, but I have considerably more muscle and less fat. Here is what I did to overcome the plateau:
- I have started to train shoulders and triceps twice a week (shoulders and triceps being my weakest parts). Now I work out five times a week.
- I have started to do lots of squats four to five times a week (about three sets, 15-20 reps each), not only on leg day.
- I have started to do more bodyweight exercises, especially triceps dips at parallel bars and push-ups (diamond push-ups, regular push-ups, wide/narrow stance push-ups, one arm push-ups). Damn, I even do bodyweight exercises while waiting for my evening tea to be ready!
- I have increased the intensity of my workouts and started to change my routine more often. I try to complete every set to failure.
- I have increased my calorie intake to 1,400 – 1,600 cal a day and added more complex carbs. My protein intake is about 140-150 grams a day. The only sources of fats in my diet are extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, raw nuts, and avocado (occasionally).
- I’m also experimenting with intermittent fasting, and had great results so far.
I’m not saying this approach will work for everyone, but it worked for me. Cutting back on cardio and eating more can actually improve body composition and lead to fat loss. Surprising, isn’t it?
If you’re not sure how to break a weight loss plateau, simply change your approach. It’s obvious that what you’ve been doing so far isn’t working, so try something else. For the start, cut out the cardio and bring up your calorie intake to a maintenance level (15-15.5 x body weight). You might gain two or three pounds in the first few weeks, but it’s mostly water. Once you find the sweet spot, things will get much easier and you’ll shed those last pounds.
*You might find the following resources useful: