Why Did I Hit a Sticking Point and Stall My Weight Loss?

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question-icon-newI am a 35-year-old male. I do moderate weight training and cardio (Taebo) 4 to 5 times a week. I’ve been stuck at the same weight for a while now and its looks like I’m at a sticking point because I can’t seem to lose any more weight. Could you recommend a diet plan that I can follow to help me break this weight loss plateau?

answer-icon-newThanks for the question. It looks like you are doing great with your exercise plan. Weight training and cardio 4 to 5 days a week is fantastic so keep it up. As far as your question, let me first say that you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Getting “stuck” on a specific weight is very common and I even find myself getting stuck from time to time. What I’m going to recommend for you is exactly what I do myself when I become a bit confused why my weight has meandered up a bit and appears to be resting there. The process requires a bit of homework but it’s a fun process as it requires that you run a sort of investigation on yourself.

The first step is to start a diet journal of your nutritional intake. A sort of diet diary. Realizing that your body is sort of stuck at a particular weight essentially tells you that you are eating about the same amount of calories you are burning each day. So the first step is to write down absolutely everything you eat and drink and the time of day that you eat it. Next you will need to tally the amount of calories you have consumed throughout the day. There are many great websites online that give calorie totals for most any foods you can think of. ShapeFit has a free diet journal you can download and print out which lets you easily keep track of everything you eat and drink on a daily and weekly basis.

Before making any dietary changes, I have all my clients keep a diet journal for a full week. This homework assignment has several advantages. First, it gets them into the habit of doing it. Secondly, the process itself makes them more aware of what they are putting into their bodies each day. And it also makes them aware of when they tend to eat or snack the most. As I stated above, I have them do this for the first week while they eat as they normally do. In fact, I make it a major point that they don’t try whatsoever to eat any differently or healthier for this week. The reason for this is that it is very important to establish a baseline for what your current eating patterns are. Only if you can see what and when you are normally eating can you accurately make changes to produce the results you really want.

Once you have established this baseline for your current eating habits, it becomes much easier to see where the extra calories are being consumed. Without knowing your individual case it is difficult to give specific advice but I have seen enough diet journals to draw some pretty accurate generalities. There are almost always 2 main culprits when it comes to trimming calories. Drinks and processed foods.

When thinking about how many calories we eat on a daily basis we almost always overlook the calories in what we drink. Take a look at how easily these liquid calories can add up during a typical day.

  • Latte when you wake up: 150 calories
  • Glass of juice with breakfast: 100 calories
  • Soda while running errands: 140 calories
  • Lemonade with lunch: 150 calories
  • Sports drink at the gym: 120 calories
  • Glass of milk with dinner: 130 calories
  • Couple of light beers at night: 210 calories

Give or take certain preferences, that’s a pretty typical day for the average American. And it’s also a total of 1,000 calories! This becomes far more interesting when you consider this little equation: 1,000 calories of extra calories a day times 7 days a week is 7,000 extra calories a week. Keep in mind that the number of calories in a pound of fat is 3,500 so you can easily drink 2 pounds worth of calories a week! Now simply replace water for all the drinks in the above scenario and add up the calories for the week. Get the picture?

So as not to run the risk of being redundant, the same scenario as above can be done with all of the snacks and processed foods (including condiments) that can pile up the calories in a hurry. In fact, I’ve often looked at people’s diet journals and shown them that if we add up all of the drink calories to all of the processed food calories, they have consumed over 50% of their daily caloric needs without ever eating any real foods! But it is only by keeping an accurate and honest food journal that these things can be illustrated. So start that diet journal and when you have finished your baseline week go back and see where these 2 culprits are sneaking extra calories into your day. It’s an eye-opening experience and your first step to getting past your weight loss plateau.

The first change will likely be to simply drink more water. And then in terms of your diet, try to eat several small and nutritious meals throughout the day. You will gain several benefits from eating several small meals throughout the day and your body’s metabolism will be revved up all day long. Try to eat every 3 hours and make sure to include a lean protein source with each meal.

One last note I might add is to vary your cardio and weight training routine. The body tends to adapt very quickly to a particular form of exercise so switching it up from time to time can be very useful not only to keep it interesting but it calls for the body to constantly strengthen different sets of muscles to accommodate the varying exercises. Cross training in this way is the best route to get the most out your workouts. You can find hundreds of exercise guides here on ShapeFit, any of which you can choose from to add into your current workout routine.

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