This post is the part 8.1 of The Ultimate Weight Loss Guide
It should be noted that the first serious troubles are likely to turn up during the second stage of the program. One of such troubles is that the more weight you lose, the slower is the overall process. So when you see that you are constantly slowing down, you begin to lose heart and become unmotivated to go further. This is particularly typical for men. Sooner or later everyone comes to a standstill, also known as the weight loss plateau, when the body gets so tired of struggling with the overweight that it responds with a downright refusal to all your attempts to make it lose just a little bit more. When people reach this point, they wonder: “Why have I stopped losing weight?”
Everyone has to face this problem in due time. It’s not a weight loss plateau myth, but a harsh reality. The time when this happens may vary largely due to individual characteristics of people rather than because of their level of compliance with the program’s requirements. I noticed that this time comes rather quickly for people who have a relatively small overweight (approximately up to 15 kg). So, how to overcome weight loss plateau?
Weight loss plateau tips
For cases like this I practice a few supplementary techniques – they are as follows:
- Cheat meal
- Carbohydrate-protein rotation
- Physiological treatment procedures
The meaning of cheat meals for the purpose of weight loss
If you’ve come to a plateau in weight loss, it is advisable to do some sort of a reboot, or in other words, to give your body a jolt by powering up its metabolism and make it play your own game. Many people call it a fasting day. Which is surprising, since it is exactly the opposite – a “downloading” day!
Most likely you are already familiar with the phenomenon of fasting days. Whereas only a few people know that in addition to that one has to have some downloading days as well.
In due time Joel Marion, a dietitian, came up with a special dieting method which later was termed “cheating”. To help you understand the meaning of “downloading” days (or cheating) I will give you an overview the processes which undergo in your body in the corresponding period. When done right, it can be a great weight loss plateau breaker!
Consistency of the fat-burning process depends on many factors including the level of leptin which regulates our appetite. Almost invariably there comes a time when a consistently uniform diet results in disruptions of this hormone secretion therefore from time to time your body does need the so-called downloading days when your food intake is sharply increased by 50 % or more.
This is done in order to increase secretion of leptin and put the body off its adaptation track. Such downloading days contribute to acceleration of metabolism which in turn prevents the progress of weight loss from slowing down.
Another essential benefit of cheating meals is that anyone can simply get sick and tired of seemingly endless limitations thus such days are perceived as a breath of fresh air, so to speak. Days with cheat meals help prevent us from becoming disinterested and frustrated.
How to break through a weight loss plateau using this method? For people who are very overweight at the start of the program, a downloading day is usually introduced once every 2 or 3 weeks. There is simply no sense in making this practice more frequent. However, as the fat deposits under your skin dwindle the secretion of leptine (hormone) slows down which means that your “downloading” days will have to become increasingly frequent.
During such a day you can eat all the foods which are low-fat and abound in slow-burning carbs and proteins (vegetables, porridges, high-fiber fruits).
This technique is very popular with professional bodybuilders. However, this doesn’t mean it can’t be employed by people who play other kinds of sports. Let’s delve into the matter further.
A cheat meal is supposed to be a planned infraction of your diet. In fact, it is a let-yourself-go meal which happens once a week (for people with a low-level obesity) or once every 2 or 3 weeks (for people with a high level of obesity). You can eat absolutely anything you want during a cheat meal.
Everything you have ever craved or dreamed about, everything which you have ever imagined – you are entitled to have it. Literally, you can have as much as you want but please be reasonable. Theoretically, you may even pig out on your food and basically eliminate everything you have achieved so far.
Internet users provide a vast array of viewpoints on the subject of cheat meals, ranging from outright denial to hard-core loyalty. You have to see for yourself whether you need them or not. I am inclined to think that such meals do help us consistently maintain the properly balanced diet over long periods of time.
However, I have also ascertained quite a few times that any opinion may be subject to challenge. Therefore I assume that there are people in this world who are in no way disturbed by the fact that they eat only what their body needs and to top it off, they are blissfully happy about it.
It’s worth to remark that having a cheat meal in your schedule implies a complete withdrawal from any quick meals or snacks like candy, biscuits, munchies and so forth. Trust me, even small things add up and turn into large ones which get in your way and hinder your progress. Just watch yourself to determine how often you unknowingly indulge yourself and try to stay away from them for as long as you can.
However ridiculous it may sound, the main advantage of cheat meals is that they help you remain consistent in your diet. In any case, it makes sense because if you allow yourself at least one legitimate meal a week when you get absolutely anything, then you would feel less inclined to cheat on your diet over the rest of the week.
Furthermore, one of the advantages of cheat meals is that they power up your thyroid gland – for several hours after a cheat meal your experience heavier-than-usual perspiration which means you increase your thermogenesis. Many fitness coaches for whom their body is the source of income also practice cheat meals which goes to show that they are at least harmless, if not healthy, and helpful during a plateau in weight loss.
However, there is one essential drawback of cheat meals – you become addicted to having them. Hence you have to make a firm decision in this respect – whether you truly need them or not – because if you remain loyal to cheat meals for several months in a row then in the long run, it may become really tough to let them go. At the same time, if we consider the point that cheat meals are more useful than they are harmful, then maybe it’s not as bad as it may look like?
Therefore, if you follow a few basic rules, your cheat meals can serve in your best interests and become a great weight loss plateau help. In my opinion, the most important guidelines are as follows:
- When having a cheat meal, try to stay away from a TV or a computer screen. Your aim is to satisfy your craving for junk food, and we all know that when you have a meal and procrastinate by watching an episode of your favorite TV series at the same time you are most likely to eat twice as much.
- Cheat meal is not a substitute, but an addition. Do not change your usual everyday diet when you are having a cheat meal day. Just add another meal to your schedule and make it a cheat meal.
- Try to finish your cheat meal no later than 4 or 5 PM in order to give your body sufficient time to process all the fast carbs and fats before going to sleep.
- Don’t get carried away. Do not indulge yourself into more than one cheat meal a week. This is ultimately an infraction of your diet, not a cure-all solution.
- It’s best to eat your cheat meal after an exercise, which has to be strength training (not aerobic). This is because an intense training practice powers up your metabolism, therefore the consumed food will be digested more actively.
- Make your lifestyle a reference point. If you have a very intensive training program and a rigid diet then you can allow yourself to be more flexible in your food choices on a cheat meal day.
- And the last but not the least rule – do not blame yourself. This is just a chance for a little diversion from your established nutrition routine. It’s the time to let yourself go a bit. Therefore, there’s no need to be cast down after a cheat meal. This is a planned infraction of your diet which in itself does not pose any threats.
In addition to that, there is another point of view on the issue of cheat meals which needs to be taken into account. If your goal is to maintain your body proportions then over the week you can cut your intake on purpose to create a small shortage of calories, let’s say 150 kcal per day, so that by the end of the week you are going to have a bonus of 900 kcal which you can spend to your “best interest”.
GO TO THE PART 8.2 OF THE ULTIMATE WEIGHT LOSS GUIDE >>> Overcoming Weight Loss Plateau Part 2. Carb Cycling
What do you think about it? I would be very grateful if you share your opinion in comments!