Stalled Weight Loss
I had to lead off the list with this one, as it is probably the #1 issue plaguing most people. The problem is that the cause could be any number of factors. The most common causes are:
- Eating too few calories – eating too few calories is a sure way to slow your metabolism and have your progress come to a screeching halt. Muscle loss and a down-regulated thyroid hormone are 2 results of prolonged calorie restriction. Read more about not eating enough to lose weight.
- Not eating enough quality food – it’s not just about calories. Nutrients are needed for your body to function optimally. If you don’t get in all your essential nutrients, your body is not going to easily let go of extra energy (fat). Find out why I recommend focusing on the quality of your food before restricting calories.
- Paying attention to the scale instead of body fat – the scale readings don’t always align with your progress. You can easily lose 5 pounds of fat while simultaneously gaining 5 pounds of water – effectively making you think you haven’t made any progress. Focus on body fat readings instead. Read more about why you might be working out but gaining weight.
- Being impatient – most people have unrealistic expectations of how fast they should lose weight. From shows like The Biggest Loser, to the standard 2lbs per week “safe” weight loss advice, people easily get discouraged when they aren’t hitting those numbers. You can expect to lose .5-1% body fat per week, with the lower number being the most likely. You’ll need to be measuring body fat to monitor that progress. Here is a cheap pair of body fat calipers I recommend.
- Overdoing the cheat meals – do you live for your cheat meals? I’ve seen time and time again how people eat nearly 100% healthy food all week long and then blow it with a weekend long cheat fest. One meal turns into 2, which eventually turns into a whole day, or worse – a whole weekend. Those calories add up. Don’t binge. Eat what you want in a meal, but watch your portion sizes. Find out if cheat meals are holding you back.
Determining Calorie Intake
Confusion about calorie intakes is probably one of the first weight loss problems people experience. They aren’t sure if they’re eating too much or too little. Calorie calculators and fitness apps all suggest a different number, so who’s right? The following are 4 ways to determine your intake, ordered from least accurate to most accurate.
- 10-12 times your body weight in pounds. Use the higher number if your body fat is lower than average.
- (BMR x activity factor x .75). The formula for BMR I like is (lean body mass in kg * 21.6 * 370). Then, take your BMR and multiply it by your activity factor. The activity factors are:
- 1.2 – sedentary
- 1.375 – lightly active 1-3 days a week
- 1.55 – moderately active 3-5 days a week
- 1.725 – very active 6-7 days a week
- 1.9 – extra active 6-7 days a week plus a physical job
So, someone who is 150lbs with 20% body fat that works out moderately would eat (54kg LBM * 21.6 + 370 * 1.55 * .75 = 1800 calories).
- Use the BodyMedia Fit armband to accurately track your daily calorie burn and create a deficit of 25% based off that number.
- Find your maintenance calories by experimenting with your diet through trial and error, and then create a 500-1000 calorie deficit. I laid out a plan to find this number in this article.
How Do I Get Rid of the Fat From ____ (insert body part)
A lot of people would be happy with their bodies if they could only get rid of the fat from so and so part. It can be frustrating when it seems like you’re losing fat from everywhere on your body but the one spot you really care about.
The way we lose fat is systemic. That means it comes off from all over our bodies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that it comes off evenly from all over. Other factors influence where the fat comes off. Your insulin sensitivity, hormone levels, and level of blood flow to those particular fat tissues can all have an effect on how you store and release fatty acids.
The one thing that’s not going to work is targeting fat loss in those areas with exercise. No amount of crunches will get you six pack abs if you have fat covering them up.
Your best bet for those trouble spots is to continue strength training, but pay special attention to your nutrition. Some things you can try for getting rid of that stubborn fat are:
- Nutrient Timing – Instead of eating your carbs at regular intervals throughout the day, try moving them to specific times when your insulin sensitivity is highest. Doing so can improve your insulin sensitivity even more and allow your body to remain in a fat-burning environment for a longer period of time. The best time to eat carbs? Try it in your first meal of the day and your post-workout meal. The rest of your meals should be healthy fats, protein, and veggies. Read more about nutrient timing.
- HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) – There’s nothing quite like HIIT for boosting fat-burning hormones and building muscle in 20 minutes or less. By alternating periods of high-intensity training with short periods of rest, you can boost your fat-burning potential. (Read more about HIIT and see sample workouts)
- Carb Cycling - In its most simple form, carb cycling means alternating days of low carbs and high carbs. The easiest way to do this is eating higher carbs on training days, and lower carbs on rest or low-intensity days. This can help you improve your insulin sensitivity and better utilize carbohydrates when you are eating them. In return, more fatty acids are able to be mobilized and used for fuel.
FREE EBOOK: The 10 Forgotten Rules of Weight Loss