By Linda LaRue, Intent.com
One of the most common frustrations in weight loss is when all progress halts, despite the fact that you are diligently following a smart plan. Such plateaus are predictable and explainable. Why? Because Basal metabolic rate (BMR)—the energy required to keep the heart pumping, lungs expanding, kidneys filtering and all other vital bodily functions going when the body is at rest—accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the calories you burn and depends, for the most part, on body mass. When weight-loss occurs, body mass goes down. Therefore, so does BMR.
Consider an example: You weigh 162 pounds and eat 1,900 calories a day. To lose a pound a week, you’ve got to cut between 500 and 600 calories per day. So you restrict yourself to 1,400 calories, and the weight comes off. But suddenly, after week six, the scale refuses to budge. This is because with the weight loss, your BMR has also declined, and where your body used to burn 1,368 calories per day, now it’s using only 1,080. At this weight, there’s less of you to move around, so you burn fewer calories working out and waste fewer calories as heat. All in all, your daily calorie expenditure is now pretty close to what you’re taking in. You’ve hit a new—and probably very annoying—equilibrium. Once you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, how can you get past it? Here are 6 steps to help get the needle on the scale moving again in the right direction—that is downward.
1. Keep the faith. You may feel stuck, but you’re probably still losing weight—just not enough to register on the scale. (Hey—Even dropping a third of a pound per week means that in a year, you’ll be down a whole 17 pounds.)
2. Avoid fuzzy math. It’s common to overestimate calories burned and underestimate calories eaten. Look for places where calories may hide—dressings, spreads, sauces, croutons, and condiments. Do you taste while cooking? Finish what the kids leave on their plates, or grab handfuls of nuts, chips or candy? Keep a detailed food diary or try the iPhone Lose It app.
Remember that for each pound you want to lose, you need to cut at least 3,500 calories—and if you don’t want to eat less, to lose the same pound you’ll have to add about ten extra hours of brisk walking or the equivalent.
3. Put up some resistance. Increasing physical activity is particularly useful for moving beyond a plateau, because exercise both uses calories and builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR, which is why working out with weights or doing some kind of resistance training works. In fact, increasing your muscle mass as you lose body fat can compensate for the decline in BMR induced by weight loss. Note: Ruby due to her morbid obesity was having back and knee pain. My recommendation would be a recumbent bike using exercise tubing for upper body cardio core sculpting or getting in the water using exercise tubing such as my new CORE TRANSFORMER to create resistance. Both would provide no impact to the spine and joints while burning max calories and building muscle.
4. Up your protein quotient. There is some evidence that shows that shifting fat and carbohydrate calories to protein calories may help preserve BMR during weight loss. But don’t overdo it—twenty-percent of daily calories from protein is as high as you should go.
5. Trick Your Metabolism. Many fitness gurus claim that surprising your body with a change in diet, workout or both can jostle you out of a weight loss rut. The science is pretty thin here, but the advice is reasonable because variety can keep you interested. Change up your routine.
If you are doing the same exercises over and over again, your body “knows” what to expect. It’s called “specificity of training”. Mix up your routine so it’s not a routine by trying another form of aerobic exercise, such as dancing. Instead of constant dieting, you might try alternating calorie-cutting days, for example, with less-restrictive maintenance days.
6. Reboot and recharge. If your motivation is flagging, write down all the reasons you originally wanted, and still want, to lose weight. Look at the list every day. Let friends and family know what you’re up to, and ask for their support. Make a Vision Board with photos and words visualizing your successful body transformation.
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