Has the scale come to a screeching halt? There’s little that’s more discouraging during your health journey than a weight loss plateau. Oftentimes, the curse strikes when you feel like you’re doing everything right. Maybe you’ve even increased your workouts and decreased your calorie count. Yet, that number on the scale still won’t budge.
What’s going on?
I won’t keep you in the dark, my friend. Today, let’s finally clarify weight loss plateaus, what causes them, and how a little trick called Reverse Dieting can make a big difference.
What Causes a Weight Loss Plateau?
Weight loss plateaus are usually caused by your body adapting to your new diet and fitness routine. As you lose weight, your body requires fewer calories to function. Additionally, eating a restricted diet for an extended period of time can cause your metabolism to slow down, burning even fewer calories.
While body adaption is the most common reason for the plateau, there are a few other subtle reasons that could be to blame:
- You’re eating more than you realize: You tracked your calories and macros religiously at the beginning of your health journey. Recently, though, you aren’t so strict about keeping track. That extra spoonful of peanut butter here and that extra scoop of rice there could be adding hundreds of calories to your daily consumption. Sneaky snacks like these might be stopping the scale.
- Your stress is sky-high: Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” could be the culprit behind your plateau. When cortisol is chronically high, fat-burning stops, and belly fat storage revs up into high gear. That’s not a welcome combo for those of us trying to stay lean. Managing stress by changing your circumstances or your response to your circumstances (or both) can help your body get back on track. Feeding your body with healthy and adequate nutrients can also do wonders for your stress levels.
- You’ve lost muscle mass: If your weight loss has been rushed, you’re not eating enough protein, or you haven’t included strength training in your routine you may be losing muscle weight. Losing excess fat brings many health benefits, but muscle loss causes a big dip in our metabolisms. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn, so pick up some weights and fit in a few strength training sessions each week! Replenish your body with enough calories and protein so that your workouts increase your muscles rather than diminish them.
- You’re not eating enough: Sure, overeating could be causing your plateau, but undereating may be more likely. Diets with sudden calorie restriction signal our bodies to conserve energy, not burn it. If you’ve been cutting lots of calories, you may have dropped some pounds right away, but the weight loss hasn’t continued. You have to eat more to boost and sustain your metabolism.
Reverse Dieting Can Switch the Scale Back On Again
This little trick of the trade can help rebuild and heal your metabolism. Instead of cutting calories and adjusting macros, you slowly increase your calories and macros with healthy whole foods. This strategic increase can help your metabolism readjust back up to a higher daily intake without gaining weight.
After you’ve given your metabolism a boost, you can cut a small number of calories and macros to create a deficit without starving yourself. If you’re no longer losing weight or you just need a break from cutting calories, reverse dieting can push you past your plateau and give your body a breather.
Why Reverse Dieting Works
If the idea of eating more while staying lean sounds too good to be true, keep reading. The reasons why reverse dieting works look like common sense once you’ve seen them. Over the following weeks as you slowly increase your intake, you’ll notice that reverse dieting:
- Can stop a binge before it begins: Too little food leaves us really hungry. Too few macros leave us nutritionally starved. There’s only so much your body can take before it goes into overdrive and makes you eat something—which is usually that calorie-dense bag of nacho cheese chips. By gradually increasing your calories, you can avoid those frantic food binges because your body is receiving the energy and nutrients that it needs.
- Protects your metabolism from shock: A sudden decrease or sudden increase of calories and macros can shock your metabolism, making you prone to weight gain. Reverse dieting strategically and slowly allows your body to adjust back up to a healthy intake over time.
- Increases your metabolism so that you burn more each day: Gradually adding in more calories can reset and even increase your metabolism. After reverse dieting for a few weeks or months, people stuck in a weight-loss plateau can return to calorie and macro-management and start losing weight again.
- Give your energy and well-being a boost: Your body needs food, and enough of it. Too little will leave you cranky, lethargic, and even sick. Cutting too much food can also negatively affect hormones, and for us ladies, put our reproductive cycles on the fritz. Reverse dieting can make sure you’re adequately fueling yourself with the energy and nutrients you need to stay healthy.
How to Start Reverse Dieting
Kicking the deprivation diet to the curb sounds pretty good, right? If you’re curious about how to start, check out these five steps that’ll help you reverse your diet the right way.
Ready to wave weight loss plateaus goodbye for good? Join in on my 7-week LEAN program. At LEAN, we like to show you how easy and (dare we say it?) enjoyable weight loss can be! You’ll finally see real results that you deserve and experience a big boost in your health, energy, and overall wellbeing. Hop in, and start living your healthiest, happiest life now!
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