One of the most common questions I get here Platinum Wellness goes a little something like this… I don’t get it Dr. I. I was losing 4–5 lbs a week and then all of a sudden nothing? What should I do? I’ve been eating well getting some exercise in but the weight loss just seems to have stopped. How do I get back on track? You hit the dreaded weight loss plateau…
First I think it’s important to understand but that’s pretty normal. Rarely, if ever, does someone consistently lose weight indefinitely. That being said, there are definitely steps you can take to restart the weight loss process. In this post we’ll talk first about the basics: food, supplements, exercise and how to tweak them to jumpstart weight loss.
The Basics- Make sure you’re doing this first
First, be sure to eat! Most programs I’ve designed have a minimum calorie requirement of somewhere around 1,100 calories. You’d be shocked how many times someone slipped into the 700 to 800 calorie range and doesn’t even realize it. While not a big deal for a few days, continuing that way for weeks is a surefire way to stall weight loss. So you’ve probably heard it before, if you want to lose weight you have to eat 🙂 Remember, the goal is to get healthy first and foremost and heal your body from the inside. That’s very difficult if you’re starving. Also remember to stay hydrated at least half your body weight in ounces of water.
Assuming you’re eating well, let’s talk about how to structure your day to jumpstart weight loss. What I’m about to share is based on my own personal experience and that of literally thousands of patients over the last 20 + years. That doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it but it’s what I found to be the most effective.
Wake up and get moving
The best time to get your exercise is first thing in the morning. There are multiple reasons for this and it’s going with your body’s natural rhythm so you can burn fat throughout the day. When you wake up you’ve essentially been fasting for several hours, and when you exercise on an empty stomach your body is more likely to burn fat rather than food you’ve just eaten. My suggestion would be to take 3 or 4 Appetite Appeasers which helps convert body fat into energy. This is important because normally your body will want to use glycogen (stored sugar) to fuel your workout. What you’d like to have it do is switch straight into fat burning mode that’s what appetite appeaser does.
High intensity interval training.
I’m a huge fan of starting with high intensity interval training -HIIT, followed by some simple steady state cardio. In English that basically means work harder in the beginning of your workout and towards the end do some lower-intensity work. The reason is pretty straightforward: if you work out at a higher intensity for a shorter duration first, you’ll burn off the sugar in your muscles quickly so that your body is forced to use fat as a fuel faster. This way you will burn more fat overall. HIIT also increases fat burning hormone profiles for days.
In fact high intensity interval training has been shown to burn 400 to 900% more fat over just regular cardio alone. So I would say it’s definitely worth doing.
So what does HIIT look like exactly?
High intensity can be different things to different people. In the beginning it might be a fast walk then slowing down to catch your breath followed by walking quickly again. For others it might be sprinting up the side of a mountain for a minute followed by a minute of slow walking. In general, interval training is just that, a minute or two of high-intensity exercise followed by a minute or two of lower intensity exercises for a period of roughly 15 minutes in total. You can do anything from skipping rope to burpees, elliptical or stationary bike, they all work.
Glad you asked, what happens next is the most important! At this point you’ve just worked hard to get your body into fat burning mode and that’s where you’d like it to stay 🙂 The next meal is very important. The best thing to eat right now would be a small protein-based meal with as little carbs as possible. The reason for this is simple: if you add carbs at this point your body will use those for fuel instead of continuing to burn fat. I’d recommend 4 to 6 oz of chicken, turkey, fish or 2 scrambled eggs etc. You could also have Solutions 4 Shake. A small protein-based meal will also increase a fat burning a hormone called glucagon.
I would suggest sticking with proteins and green veggies until around 11 a.m. Then start adding your high quality carbs: brown rice, wild rice, lentils, quinoa until about 2 or 3 p.m. If you’re up for it you could skip these carbs for a few days and stay in fat burning mode though I would not say it’s essential.
How do I end my day?
The end of the day is by far the most important so be careful 🙂 The best thing to do would be to switch back to lean protein, healthy fats and greens to end the day. If you eat carbs before bed and don’t burn them off they’re more likely to be stored as fat. Even if they’re not stored as fat they’ll be stored as glycogen which is sugar in the muscle. When you start exercising again in the morning you’ll have to get through that sugar to start burning fat. So ideally keeping the glycogen levels in your muscles low is the best and to do that, eat most of your healthy carbs during the middle of the day.
Cycling calories? (Calories can ride bicycles Ha Ha)
Okay sorry I couldn’t resist that super corny joke. One of the challenges with eating consistently well is just that, eating the same amount of calories for a long period of time. When we do this our bodies get used to it and weight loss screeches to a halt. The simple fix is to cycle your calories. Weight loss plateau, eat more. YES. Increase your calorie intake by 400 or so for two to three days and then decrease it by 400 or so for two to three days. This will keep your metabolism from getting used to the same amount of calories and jumpstart weight loss. Typically when someone hits a weight loss plateau it’s because they’ve been consuming the same number of calories for too long. Simple fix, start varying calories.
The importance of a good night sleep
We all know we should get good sleep, But did you know you burn most of your fat while you’re sleeping? That’s assuming you go to bed on time. Our bodies follow something called a circadian rhythm. Getting to bed by around 10 p.m. at the latest will allow your body to secrete growth hormone which is a powerful fat burning hormone. If you go to bed too late you miss this window.
To ensure a good night sleep, don’t eat too close to bedtime and turn off your computers a few hours before bed. You should have at least a couple hours between your last meal and bedtime. if you don’t, your body will be busy digesting food instead of resting. Also, the blue lights from computers simulate sunlight telling your brain it’s time to be awake instead of time to go to bed. Both of these will result in burning less fat.
The Importance of Greens
We all know we should eat greens but when you’re trying to lose weight this is particularly important. First, greens alkalize your body and it’s virtually impossible to lose weight if you’re not in an alkaline state. Most people’s bodies are acidic hence being overweight. Second, greens contain potassium which is an essential element to burn fat.
To get in enough greens quickly I personally use a Vitamix daily. Any blender will do though. I start my day with a handful or two of mixed greens typically from Costco, though they’re available almost anywhere. I stuff it in the blender, add water and squeeze in a couple lemons. Okay it’s not the tastiest ever And those take a bit of getting used to, but the benefits of alkalizing your body and flooding it with great nutrition first thing in the morning are amazing!
In summary… If you’ve read nothing else at least read this 🙂
Okay so to sum it all up…When you hit a weight loss plateau, what to do?
Be sure to cycle calories increasing and decreasing periodically
Drink half your body weight in ounces of water
Exercise first thing in the morning using high intensity interval training followed by steady cardio
Make your first and last meals of the day protein and veggie based, carbs in the middle of the day
Be sure to get in enough greens to alkalize
Have your last meal by around 6 p.m. and get in bed by 10 p.m. the latest.
Of course all of this assumes you’re eating clean healthy meals and drinking plenty of water.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out anytime, happy to troubleshoot with you if you like 🙂 drInfantino.PlatinumWellness@gmail.com, 602-866-8100, or schedule online.