We all know that when we start working on something, whether it is a fat loss or muscle building, it goes just amazing the first few months. But then you get stuck and you have no idea what to do to keep improving. In this article I am going to talk about common ways to break through plateaus during your weight loss period.
So you have set training and cardio programs, as well as a nutrition plan. First 3 months were going perfect, you were losing consistently 2-3 pounds per week, then 1 pound, and then boom to 0! Even though you keep following everything perfectly, you are stuck.
Why does it happen? Simply put, your body has adapted to what you do. Your body does everything to save calories and prevent fat loss.
Your body doesn’t know that you live in 21st century in a developed country with abundance of food. It still thinks you are back there in caves haunting for live animals and always under danger of dying from lack of food. So your body tries to get rid of muscle tissue (that uses a lot of calories), and keep fat for times of starvation to keep you alive for longer.
So your body gets used to:
– Some supplements
– Anabolic hormones (if used)
In this article I am going to focus solely on a dieting aspect, even though the other 3 are not less important at all. I am going to talk about them in other articles.
So there are 3 main methods of nutrition rotation that help your metabolism stay up, as well as don’t allow your body to slow it down as a result of adaptation:
– Cheat meals
– Carb cycling
There is also another approach, which is a Keto-diet, but it’s a whole different topic.
Cheat meals. It is something most pre-competition bodybuilders and bikini girls look forward to. Just imagine, the whole week or two you were on a low carb/ low fat super strict plan. And now you can finally reward yourself – go to McDonalds, get that pizza, cake, or whatever is your favorite thing. The point is, you get a bunch of food, make yourself full and enjoy it. It will stimulate your metabolism and make your muscles fuller and thicker by filling your muscle glycogen stores. It also tricks your body that no more lack of calories is present. And then with refreshed metabolism, full muscles and satisfied mind, you get back on dieting next day. So in other terms, it kind of helps keep fat loss going, but if done properly!
Re-feeds. Have exact same effect as cheat meals, but it is not really cheating, because you get a bowl of “good” carbs, like oatmeal or rice and eat it all. To, again, fill in your glycogen stores and boost metabolic rate. But it doesn’t have that satisfying effect on your psychological part because it is not something your enjoy as much as your favorite junk food. Still, many believe that this approach is much better because due to less overall calories and trans fats, you will not gain any extra pounds of fat. Also, your body won’t have to fight a ton of inflammation that it gets after eating crap and a bunch of sugar. So, this method is a “clean” version of a cheat meal, which benefits are: no inflammation and no fat gained whatsoever, and which disadvantage is that it lacks the feeling of enjoyment and refreshment before next week of hardcore dieting!
Carb cycling. Means we never eat the same amount of carbs every day. Very simply, it looks something like this:
Monday – 150 grams
Tuesday – 100 Grams
Wednesday -50 grams
Then you start over again.
Or something like that, there are 10s, if not 100s of ways to do carb cycling. But you got the main point on how it’s done.
So we cycle grams of carbs every day (or every few days) to never allow the body to adapt, and, again, there are different schemes to do that. Cheat meals might be included as well. This approach can be manipulated a lot, and a lot of coaches believe this is the best method to keep fat loss going without ever hitting a plateau.
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