I don’t know about you but I am done with counting calories! Keeping a food journal can be helpful to take note of what you’re eating and figure out some cool and interesting patterns. But, calorie counting is not my gig. Yet most of the things I read about busting through a weight loss plateau tell me to count my calories!
Been there, done that. It worked, sure, but it was tedious and annoying. Plus, I got so annoyed with creating ‘recipes’ in my app that I ended up eating the exact same foods over and over and over again. Boring!
And, did you know that counting calories is not a science? In fact, most calorie counts on food labels are off by up to 25%! Yep, that means that an egg that says it’s 70 calories can actually be 53 to 88 calories. Think about that for a minute. All those times you’ve counted calories, thinking you’re on the right track, and your calorie counts were off by up to 25%?!?! Crazy!
So, I say, ‘why bother if it’s wrong’?
There are better ways to bust through a weight loss plateau without counting every single morsel of food you eat!
Get Enough Sleep
I’m going to say this again and again, but, remember, your hormones factor into how well your body manages your weight.
Lack of sleep boosts cortisol production, which prompts your body to store belly fat. The reason is that cortisol, your main stress hormone, is only secreted during times of stress or danger. Unfortunately for us, our modern-day lifestyles are perceived as very stressful, so your body frequently pumps out cortisol.
Not getting enough sleep is one thing that makes your body think it’s in danger. So, cortisol is pumped out, which signals belly fat storage because that’s where fuel can be easily accessed by your vital organs.
So, make sure you’re logging good quality, continuous sleep every night – 7-9 hours!
Switch Up Your Routine
Lean muscle mass is crucial to keep your metabolism humming along. Often a weight loss plateau happens because your body has adapted to your current exercise routine.
Daily exercise is also a key factor in pushing through a weight loss plateau. If you can fit it in, 20 minutes of interval training and / or resistance training can do wonders.
Steady-state cardio for long periods may actually backfire on you, too. Many women will turn to longer workouts on the treadmill or elliptical to push through a weight loss plateau. The thing is, though, if you perform moderate to difficult exercise continuously for more than 40 minutes, your body will pump out cortisol. Because it thinks you’re in danger!
So, stick with 20-40 minute workouts, incorporate a wide variety of cardio, body weight, interval and strength building moves, and start to blast through that weight loss plateau!
Eat The Right Foods
Here’s is one of the biggest factors in a weight loss plateau.
Your hormones are really the ones in charge when it comes to your weight. I already talked about cortisol, but you have a few other crucial hormones that need to be balanced in order to bust through a weight loss plateau.
Probably the most important, insulin is your fat storage hormone. When you eat low-calorie and low-fat foods, you’re giving your body mostly carbohydrates. This spikes your insulin levels, which signals fat storage. And, eating frequently throughout the day keeps insulin levels high, too.
The right foods to bust through a weight loss plateau are foods rich in healthy fats and protein. Why? Because neither of these macronutrients spike insulin and both provide a slow release of energy to your body as it is needed. This means that your healthy fat and protein foods will actually fuel your muscles, brain and liver in a consistent fashion to avoid fat storage.
And, eating healthy fat and protein every 4-6 hours will keep insulin low and your fat burning hormone, glycogen, high!
Which brings me to…
Intermittent Fasting to Bust That Weight Loss Plateau
Intermittent fasting can be the best thing to get through a weight loss plateau.
I’m not talking about starving yourself for days. I’m talking about strategically eating your meals so that your body can use up excess fuel and keep insulin low.
Intermittent fasting works by setting up ‘eating windows’ on specific days of the week. Pick one or two days, or eat like this every day – the choice is yours. The goal is to go without food for at least 16 hours once or twice a week.
For example, finish dinner by 7 p.m. one night and then eat your first meal the next day at 11 a.m. or later. Meals higher in healthy fats and protein, with some fiber-rich carbohydrates make intermittent fasting a LOT easier than meals rich in carbs and low in protein and fat.
Just Eat Enough
Cutting back on calories and exercising more are the biggest mistakes women make when faced with a weight loss plateau.
As you cut back on calories (and expend more), your body will initially start to drop pounds. But, eventually, this calorie deficit will cause your metabolism to slow down to match the lack of energy you’re taking in.
Too few calories can also cause hormonal imbalances that lead to an increased production of cortisol. Insulin can get out of whack.
If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, try eating a bit more food. A good idea is to eat one carb-heavy meal each week, too, like whole wheat pasta or sweet potatoes, as this can reset your metabolism and ensure those hormones are kept happy! Just make sure to pair your carbs with healthy fat and protein.
A weight loss plateau can be super frustrating. With a few minor changes to your sleep, workouts and diet, you can bust the plateau and finally see the physique you’ve always wanted. Be patient and accept that your body will make the right changes for your health.