How are you handling weight loss plateaus?
When we diet down in contest prep, or any other diet really, we are going to run into weight loss stalls. These stalls, or “Plateaus” are a normal part of the dieting process contributing to Metabolic Adaptation.
Why does this occur?
Well, there are many factors that can contribute to Metabolic Adaptation but the most common ones are weight loss itself, loss of lean muscle mass (the more muscle we have the more calories we need to maintain said muscle), reduction of NEAT (Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis), reduction in hormone levels, and more.
How do you make adjustments to keep you in Active Fat Loss?
When weight loss stalls, it’s a simple indicator that there is no longer an energy deficit. This means your body is no longer using more calories than it is consuming because it is becoming more efficient in its use of calories. Much like an economy car is more efficient in its use of a gallon of gas than a high-performance sports car.
In order to get back into Active Fat Loss. We have to create an energy deficit by making our body use more calories than we consume. We do this by reducing calorie intake, increasing activity or both.
Increasing Activity: Increasing cardio is one of two main things people do when fat loss stalls, but is it necessary? The answer is, perhaps not.
There are other ways to increase activity like monitoring step counts and usually a 10% increase can get you back into a good Active Fat Loss rage. Other things you can do revolve around your workouts. Adding a few more sets to your workouts, perhaps another exercise or two, combining exercises into supersets, increasing the Density of a workout. All these things can increase your daily use of calories.
NOTE: Adjustments to workouts are superior to increases in cardio since cardio can increase the rate of muscle loss, and resistance training is what protects muscle the most in a deficit.
Decreasing Calories: Decreasing Calories is the second most common thing that people do when fat loss stalls, and usually it is a necessary evil. However, how the adjustment is made matters.
Large adjustments are usually not needed. Typically, a simple reduction of 60-100 calories is sufficient to bring someone out of a stall, other than a “Set-Point” stall which is a different topic. Bigger adjustments are usually not needed and only contribute to a faster rate of Metabolic Adaptation. If it takes more than 100-150 calories to get you moving again, you should probably look at other things you are probably missing.
The bottom line is, you should strive to keep calories as high as possible while achieving an appropriate Range of Loss (ROL). Furthermore, your ROL should be no more than 1% of your body weight in lbs per week. More than that and you risk an increased rate of muscle loss AND an increased rate of Metabolic Adaptation. Both are counterproductive to the goal of Contest Prep.
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