Have you ever felt like the second 20 pounds is harder to get off than the first 20? Have you felt like you were having great success with a diet plan, losing weight like a charm, but then, despite sticking with the diet, your weight started to plateau, and despite your continued efforts, you just couldn’t seem to budge the scale any further?
If so, you’re quite right! One of the most frustrating things about weight loss is this ‘Plateau Phenomenon’, and it is a real physiological phenomenon. There are several reasons why weight plateaus when you are on a particular weight loss regimen:
1. As you lose weight, your caloric needs go down, simply because you are moving less weight around in the course of the day. Once you’ve dropped those first 20 lbs, this is no different than if you had walked around with a 20lb backpack all this time, and now you are walking around without! So, just like it takes less energy to walk around without the backpack, so do you require less calories to move your body around in your day. To figure out exactly what the difference in caloric requirements is, check out the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator on my website http://www.drsue.ca/ in the right column. You can play with different weights and see the difference in your daily caloric needs!
2. Research has shown that as you lose weight, your muscle cells become more efficient (needing less calories to do their daily work). Also, adrenaline levels and thyroid hormone levels drop just a smidge (though the levels are still entirely normal), and both of these changes result in a slightly lower metabolism.
So what’s the solution here? There are a few options:
1. Decrease your calorie intake further. It’s not fair, but it will work! You can recalculate your calorie requirements as above, and then cut back your diet by those additional calories. Remember that the key to weight loss is having Calories In <>> Exercise!! Look on the positives of having tossed that 20lb backpack – no doubt you are feeling lighter on your feet and hopefully, more energetic! Your joints have less pressure on them, and your body is rearing to get moving!
Remember that Knowledge is Power – instead of feeling saddened by the fact that your weight loss has plateaued, feel empowered by your understanding of the reasons why. You are now equipped to continue on the successful path to a healthier, trim and fit new you!!