You have been following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, and have begun to see great results. Reducing the amount of sugar, fat, and fried foods in your diet has begun to show positive changes in your figure.
After months of success, for no apparent reason, the needle of the scale is no longer moving. Your weight is not continuing to go down despite your efforts. What has happened? According to experts, this experience is one of the most common reasons why people give up their diet and exercise plans.
The Argentinean Nutrition Society affirmed: "A person's weight reaching a plateau is the number one reason for drop-out among people who follow a diet plan (with professional guidance or without).”
On average, this plateau occurs about 6 months
after beginning a diet program. You start a diet that can include
up to 6 daily, low-calorie meals, daily
and an exercise routine. The body recognizes the
changes and responds by losing weight. But, suddenly, even though
you continue with your diet and exercise plan, your weight no
longer decreases, remaining the same for no apparent reason.
This was one of the main topics discussed at the International Nutrition Conference held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nutritionist Erik Díaz, professor at the Nutrition and Technology Institute of Chile, was in charge of analyzing this problem. “As the body loses weight, fewer calories are needed to maintain normal daily functions, so the diet and exercise program that was conducive to losing the initial weight is no longer effective for continuing weight loss at the same initial rate.”
According to Díaz, it is possible to continue to lose weight. “This is why it is essential to work with a registered dietitian to ensure that your caloric consumption and level of physical activity is adjusted appropriately, in order to avoid or minimize plateaus in weight loss,” he assures. He also rules out genetic causes and metabolic disorders for the majority: “genetic and metabolic factors impact only 3% of people who are trying to lose weight .”
Other specialists at the conference explained: "The body, seeking balance, tries to maintain a stable weight. This explains why 60 to 70% of adults maintain the same weight for 10-year periods.”
Díaz emphasized, " A body that is losing weight through dietary modifications is reducing its energy expenditure by slowing its metabolism. For this reason, at certain points, weight loss slows down or comes to a halt. The person trying to lose weight then becomes frustrated and may abandon his/her diet. The truth is that the body is only trying to protect itself by not losing pounds.”
Alberto Cormillot, M.D., talks about a “comfortable weight.” a weight that the body feels most comfortable with and therefore maintains more easily. But he gives other explanations for the plateau in weight, “After losing a significant amount of weight, for example 20 pounds, motivation decreases along with metabolism. People who have been dieting tend to become a bit less attentive over time to their serving sizes and level of activity. This is why the professional must explain to the patient what is happening with his/her body and motivate him/her to keep going.”
Some tips to overcome weight-loss plateaus:
- Continue to eat 5 or 6 small meals spread out throughout the day.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Avoid exposure to situations that are difficult to manage, such as dining out, until you have the control to make healthy choices and not overeat.
- Reduce your serving sizes.
- Review your exercise plan to see if it is necessary to increase the time or intensity of your sessions.
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