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Not seeing the scale move in the right direction is frustrating. But it is bound to happen. Especially in times of crisis. Because everyone is feeling stressed and anxious.
This stress and anxiety are only fueled more by no longer having our old routines. As I’m sure you’ve already noticed, this can make it hard to stick to your fasts. And keep on track of your goals. But what we must avoid at all costs is no longer sticking to the plan. Or even worse: Reverting back to old habits.
Here’s the thing: Plateaus will happen. That is inevitable. Crisis or no crisis. Because weight (and success in general) is never a linear process. Here are the steps you can make to break through your plateau.
Make sure you’ve actually reached a plateau
Before concluding that you’ve reached a plateau, it helps to define what a plateau really is. According to dictionary.com, a plateau is “a period or state of little or no growth or decline.” But how long does this period need to be?
For weight loss, you have to take something into consideration: You can hold up to five pounds in water weight at any given moment.
Extra water weight can be hanging around in the tissue between your cells for many reasons:
- Too much sodium
That’s why the scale can sometimes be deceiving. Also, when you have a strong desire to lose weight, you can have unrealistic expectations of how fast you should be making progress. Even more so because the pounds often fly off quickly when you first start Intermittent Fasting.
Losing anything less than 1kg or 2 pounds a week can be seen as a disappointment.
However, keeping up that speed for a long time is not healthy. Your goal should be to lose around a pound per week on average. If you notice you haven’t lost a single pound over a two to three-week period of time. Then you can speak of an actual plateau.
And you can take these steps to break through it.
Eliminate these possibilities
Before you make big, drastic changes to your routines. Consider if there are any simple reasons why you’re not making progress.
For example, ask yourself if you’ve been eating healthy wholesome foods and eating an appropriate portion size.
Healthy food when consuming too much can tip us into a calorie surplus. Eating too little can also stop you from losing weight.
Restricting too many calories can slow fat lose and increase the chances of using muscle for fuel rather than fat storages.
It has also become a lot easier to overlook certain calories: Maybe you’ve been putting some extra sugar in your coffee or tea? Maybe you’ve been snacking too much throughout the day. You may be underestimating how much calories you’re burning during your workouts.
If you’re certain none of these things apply to you, you can use these strategies to break your plateau.
Make these changes to your food choices
The term “lean bodies are made in the kitchen” gets thrown around a lot. And it’s true to a large extend: In most cases, it’s easier to make changes to your diet than it is to sweat off the calories. For breaking an IF-plateau, this rule is no exception. These are the most important changes you can make:
1. Decrease your simple carb, increase complex carbs
Decreasing your simple carb intake is one of the best things you can do right now. It will help to reduce your appetite. It will stabilize your blood sugar levels, which will make you feel less stressed. And it makes it easier to be in a caloric deficit.
Ideally, you should already be eating a low amount of simple carbs. But the more you decrease sugars, the better for short- and long-term health. Make sure you watch out for foods that contain a lot of hidden sugars:
- Salad dressings
- Low Fat Yogurt
- Certain drinks
- Breakfast cereals
- Canned fruit
If you’ve already decreased simple carbs. Consider eating smaller portion sizes of complex carbs, you may be overeating complex carbs.
2. Increase your protein intake
You can then make up for eating fewer carbs by eating more proteins. Eating more protein will make you feel full for a longer time than carbs. And therefore make it easier to create the right caloric deficit: Consider eating more of the following foods:
- Full Fat Yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Organic Beef
- Organic Chicken
Adjust your workout routine
Getting in your workouts is now harder than ever. No longer having the gym is a problem (Coronavirus), but if you do have access to a gym, you could try new training plans.
Home workouts require a little more motivation but are great when you are on a time crunch.
Make the best use of whatever you have lying around at home. If you have some weights or kettlebells. Great. Start using them in your routine.
But the best way to burn calories is by mixing weights with cardio to really increase your heart rate. Or by ramping up the intensity of your cardio sessions. Here are some things you can consider doing:
- Start doing sprints plus bodyweight movements at the end of your sprint.
- Run-on uneven terrain rather than roads or concrete.
- Use your weights or bodyweight and increase your rep range to 15-20 reps per set.
- Decrease your rest time.
- Try fasted cardio or weight training.
Mixing new and interesting equipment with your cardio will keep things interesting and will help burn more calories for less time.
Last resort: Switch up your fasting routine
There’s one last thing you can consider doing to help you create a caloric deficit: Switching up your fasting routine. Like, for example, if you’re doing 16/8 Intermittent Fasting now.
You can decrease your eating window even further to 18/6 or Eat Stop Eat method. This can work because being in a fasted state for more hours can reduce your appetite.
However, a note of caution: You should only consider doing this when you’ve already mastered your current fasting routine.
You should also take into consideration that when you’re adjusting to the new fasting routine, it can increase your stress levels. And that can be the last thing you need right now. However, if you’re feeling confident that you can do it: Go for it.
The simple fix
Weight loss plateaus are frustrating but inevitable: Everyone faces them at some point. And sticking to our routines is now more challenging than ever.
What I like to do is eat 2-3 meals a day, 1-2 snacks and 1 heathy smoothie. I will do the same on fasting or non-fasting days. On my fasting days I will drink lots of water.
I will exercise for at least 20-30 mins per day. First thing in the morning or right at the end of my fast.
If you find your weight loss plateau, fast a little longer, increase your exercise to 40 mins or change your type of exercise, decrease 1 meal for that day and review your results after 7 days.
Make the right moves to keep the scale moving in the right direction. Because champions keep playing until they get it right – Billie Jean King
Founder of EWS. Research writer and test performance hacker, avid intermittent faster, and weight loss specialist. Improve your health and torch fat by downloading the 31 Day Fasting Method.