Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Weight Loss Plateau

If you lose weight on a fad diet, the probability of you keeping off that weight really isn’t very high. Between 90% and 95% of people who lose weight regain that weight later. That’s because they are looking for a quick fix. Usually when starting on a diet, you lose weight in the first week, after that you reach a weight loss plateau. Many people get discouraged at this point and abandon the diet, regaining all the lost weight. There are physiological reasons for these plateaus. If you calorie intake is too low, your body says “wait a minute, there’s not enough energy coming in”, and lowers the metabolic rate. This makes your diet increasingly less effective despite your restricted calorie intake. As you lose weight, you become more energy efficient and you require fewer calories to maintain your lower body weight.

In addition to the changes in metabolism there is a difference in fuel use. During the first few days of a diet, your body is burning its limited carbohydrate stores and some lean mass. Do you remember how many calories are there in a gram of protein and carbohydrate? Only 4 calories. So, it doesn’t take very long to burn those calories off. After you burn those carbohydrate stores, you start burning your lean mass. It takes you about three to five days to actually start burning body fat.

Why wouldn’t your body use fat first? That’s because YOUR BRAIN MUST HAVE CARBOHYDRATE. Your brain can’t use anything other than carbohydrate. Your body’s going to have to burn protein, which can be converted into carbohydrate, and it will need a time to adapt to using less carbohydrate for the central nervous system.

A weight loss plateau usually occurs about the second week. This is signaling that you are starting to burn more fat than protein. How many of us celebrate that? When the weight loss slows, it means you’re using more of your body fat as an energy source. Don’t get discouraged, celebrate. When weight loss plateaus occur, stick with it.

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