A lot of people start their fat loss diet and crush it for a few weeks. Motivation gets super high and they think it will be a breeze.
However, a few weeks in you start to motivation dwindle and worse of all you are losing body fat like you were at the beginning. Maybe you are already plateaued, maybe it just has slowed down.
Either way, at least one plateau during a fat loss diet is inevitable.
It’s a good idea to plan these plateaus in ahead of time so you are ready for them.
Let’s go over what a plateau is.
With online clients, if they haven’t seen a decrease in either midsections measurements or weight in 2-3 weeks then we consider that a plateau.
This is important to go over because one week of maintaining your weight is NOT a plateau.
However, if you string a few weeks like this together, then it might be time to make an adjustment.
1. Check Adherence
This needs to be checked first. I cant tell you how many times someone thinks they are at a plateau and that they need to lower their calories or move more. But really they just need to be more adherent to the diet protocol.
If you aren’t hitting your nutrition ATLEAST 90% of the time then you need to first focus on that before making any adjustments.
If you are only following the fat loss diet 4 out of 7 days then those 3 days you aren’t following the protocol is probably causing the plateau.
Fat loss diets are not temporary, so they require a bit more rigidity/adherence than normal.
Don’t make things tougher than they need to be, you already are having trouble sticking to the current protocols, so what makes you think making it tougher will help?
Chances are once you get to around 90% adherence, then you will bust through the plateau.
This is why we have online clients track their nutrition as much as possible. While we may think we are adhering, our brain can play tricks on us.
Try this for 1-2 weeks before making a change.
If you either are already adherent or you get more consistent and still are plateaued then its times to look at one of the next few options.
2. Increase movement
As we diet for fat loss we will lose some weight along the way. This weight loss requires you take in less energy than normal. Your body does NOT like this and it will fight it the longer and more weight you lose.
One thing it does is become more efficient with the energy you are giving it. So you will naturally have less energy, and the worst part is you don’t even really realize this.
So by increasing your movement you can overcome this.
With online clients we set a step goal, so that way they still get their movement in, even if they are tired or have low energy
On the other hand, some people just live a more sedentary lifestyle, which means they are burning less energy throughout the day and we know that in order to lose body fat you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight.
So by increasing your activity levels you are ensuring you are burning more energy to help you stay/get into a calorie deficit.
To sum this up, as you diet for fat loss the amount of energy you burn throughout the day will probably go down so what was a calorie deficit at the beginning of the diet may not be now.
On the other hand, if you are already doing a ton of movement, it may be a better idea to slightly drop your calories.
3. Lower calorie intake
Just like with the movement, the goal of lowering your calories is to help you get into a calorie deficit.
If you have plateaued for a few weeks and your adherence is spot on you may just be eating too much.
You can decide between increasing your activity or lowering your calories to help you get into a calorie deficit.
It comes down to personal preference at this point, would yo rather eat less food or would you rather move more throughout the day?
There is no right or wrong answer. It all comes down to what you think you can adhere to better.
If you decide lowering your calories is the way to go, make sure you make a moderate decrease.
Look at decreasing your calories around 5-10% or so from your current intake.
So if you are eating 2000 calories, you would drop by 100-200 per day.
Look at decreasing this food from either carbs or fats, as we want to keep protein intake higher than normal.
4. Increase your food volume
The longer we are in a deficit and the more weight we lose the more our hunger levels rise along with this. This makes fat loss very challenging in the long run.
One way to combat this is by increasing your food volume.
Basically, you want to find ways to fill up on as much food as possible while minimizing calorie intake.
This will help keep you feeling fuller, which can help you eat less while on a fat loss diet.
You can lose weight eating any foods (so long as you are in a calorie deficit), but some foods make it tough because you consume a lot of calories for not a lot of food.
Read this blog here on how to maximize your food volume.
5. Increase protein
Protein not only is great for building/maintaining muscle and recovering from training, which is super important while on a fat loss diet, but it also can help lower hunger levels.
This can be individual, but for the most part, protein seems to lower hunger levels.
Protein also requires the most energy to absorb and digest, so you burn a few extra calories eating protein instead of carbs/fats.
I do want to make it clear that this is a small amount, but when you get deeper into a fat loss diet, anything can help.
With online clients, we focus on getting in at least 1g per pound of bodyweight while on a fat loss diet, if hunger is an issue for you, you can look at bumping it up all the way to 1.2g per pound of bodyweight.
If you have plateaued, look at switching out some of your fats or carbs for more protein.
6. Manipulate meal timing
Meal timing can be a great way to help you bust trough a training plateau. Again, the further you get into a fat loss diet hunger will start to increase, which makes adherence to your diet chalelning.
One way you can help lower these hunger levels is by manipulating your meal timing.
You can either:
- Increase the amount of meals you are eating per day (going from 3 to 4 or 4 to 5).
- Bias your meals around times you are most hungry.
- You can also cut out certain times of the day you eat (yes, intermittent fasting).
The goal is to get you into a calorie deficit.
If you find yourself eating a lot of food at night, then you can either try to eat more throughout the day OR save up most of your calories for the evening.
I have seen some clients who struggle with late night eating, find that eating more earlier in the day helps with hunger later.
So this again just comes down to preference.
7. Take a diet break
What? Im stuck so I need to take a break?
Sometimes this just comes down to your body just needing a break from being in a calorie deficit. Our body does NOT like to lose weight. It fights this.
This is especially true the longer and the more weight you have lost.
It comes down to where can you go from here? You can only bring your calories so low before your health deteriorates. You can only move so much before it becomes unsustainable.
A diet break does NOT mean you just eat whatever, it just means you take a temporary break from being in a calorie deficit to let your body recover.
Here are some previous blogs going over this topic:
A lot of these tips are individual. That is why with online clients we stress the importance of sticking with this long term so you can see what works best for YOU.
Each time a client runs a fat loss diet they learn more and more about themselves and how to effectively and safely run a fat loss diet.
Each time they go through they get better and better, which ultimately increases their confidence and makes fat loss easier in the long term.
If you need more guidance on running a fat loss diet click this link to apply for online coaching and lets get to work!