How many times have you known someone to starve themselves to try and lose that last layer of fat? How many times have you done it to yourself?
No, of course not I’d never do…
OK yeah, even I’ve done it. Losing weight is all fun and games and rapid fat loss when we’re 30+ pounds overweight isn’t it? So what happens when you reach 85% of your goal, or you hit a plateau?
You know what I’m referring to, and the feeling that goes along with that as well. You’ve been doing so good and then suddenly the scale just… stops moving.
Why does this happen?
One main reason for this is metabolic stabilization. This happens when your body adjusts required maintenance calories based on your intake. So, when you reduce your calories from 3,000 to 2,300 at the start of a diet, you lose weight with ease. Fortunately, yet also unfortunately, our bodies are very smart and as time goes on they acclimate to this and begin to operate on less.
That’s not all, logically speaking a smaller person needs fewer calories to live than a larger one. So as you decrease, so does your necessary caloric maintenance. This makes it even harder to be in the calorie deficit you’re going for, forcing you to further reduce your daily limit. However let’s say you’re a true savage badass and you really really want it, you cut the calories even more. This works for you for a short while, then we run into the same problem.
This results in things like Google searches saying things to the affect of: “1800 calories and not losing weight,” “1500 calories and not losing weight,” “3 miles a day and not losing weight.” So what the heck is the problem? Did I “damage my metabolism” as so many people seem to fear? No, probably not, research shows metabolism is just very adaptable and can be manipulated back and forth based on your lifestyle. You can lower it just like you can raise it.
So what’s the REAL reason I can’t lose weight then?
This is very simply answered. Two things. First of all yes, your metabolism has slowed and you now require less calories making your deficit either non-existent or very small. Secondly, and the point of this article, you are not eating what you think you are. I’ve seen threads on forums claiming 800 calories a day without losing weight, which is just insane. Here’s the deal, everyone underestimates their calories, everyone.
Allow me to shed some light on a few examples, or situations where this happens. The chicken breast you thought was 130 calories; did you count the olive oil used to grill it? No? You left out 100-200 calories. That tablespoon of peanut butter, no it was actually 4, which is 2 servings and 380 calories. How many “dashes” of creamer did you use in that coffee? 2, maybe 7? 35 calories each, do the math. I know you had “a few” of the mini kit kat’s on the counter. That was 150 calories. These are only a few things and everyone’s grocery inventory looks different. To give you a better idea here’s a quote from James Krieger of Weightology and a conducted study:
“The results showed that the dietitians underreported their food intake by an average of 223 calories per day, while the non-dietitians underreported their intake by an average of 429 calories per day. Thus, while being a dietitian improves the accuracy of self-report of food intake, it does not eliminate the phenomena of underreporting.”
You’re probably not a dietician. So there might be some days you misreport by 800, some days by 200, or anywhere in-between. I know you think you’re smart enough to be exempt from this, but trust me you’re not. I considered myself to be very thorough with my counting yet when I was really counting I discovered 400+ missing calories daily. When I fixed this, guess what happened, I got over the plateau.
Something they forget to tell you is that your body does not want you to have a six-pack. This sounds counter intuitive considering it’s the icon of health, but it’s true. We’re naturally going to have at least a layer of fat for protection and also excess or backup “energy” for our bodies to use. So the more weight you lose, your body adapts to this by lowering the metabolism level in an effort to preserve itself because it thinks you’re dying. (Which is also a synonym for cutting btw) You basically have to out smart your own nature, to achieve the results that seem counter intuitive to your body. So yes the more success you have, the harder it gets. You begin to work against your body’s instincts once you’re below a certain fat %.
That’s kind of a whole other article though, I just needed you to have that information to help you better understand that your struggle isn’t because there’s something wrong with you. I hope the information provided here gives you the tools to overcome the slump in results, and if so feel free to send me feedback.
Author Bio – Austin Payne
You might be wondering why you’re reading a mini autobiography of myself on a fitness site, but think about why you’re here. You probably needed help with something relating to your lifestyle, diet, or workout details, right? Well, that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m writing this for you.
My fitness endeavor started at a “relatively” young age when I lost 80 pounds between the ages of 14-15. I was borderline obese and finally did something about it. Accomplishing such a feat is empowering and gives you the confidence to do almost anything. The first thing you learn when it comes to the monotonous task of staying fit, is that it actually isn’t. If you’re motivated that is, then seeing results is just going to douse your fire with lighter fluid.
I’d consider myself the personification of irony, because you’ll call me a novice while I’ll still be more educated than most claimed professionals. I go out of my way to learn more about health, nutrition, anatomy, whenever I can because I actually enjoy it. I don’t like to just know that lifting weights grows your muscles, but how, and why.
To truly be able to teach others and spread wisdom, you should first really understand it yourself, not just reiterate what’s already being passed around.
Anyway, that’s it. Remember not to curl in the squat rack, and thanks for reading.