“Help! I’m Starting To Plateau”

So you’ve been eating right, tracking your calories, getting a good workout in on a regular basis, but you’re not seeing the anymore progress.  What happened?  The stuff you have been doing worked in the beginning really well, but now, your progress is starting to crawl.  This is what’s known as the “plateau effect”.

In a line graph, you have peaks (things going up), valleys (things going down), and plateau (things not moving up or down).  When you try to lose weight or gain weight, you may come to a point where you plateau.  It’s frustrating, but it may help if you understand how the body works.

Your body is built to survive and survival isn’t always aesthetically pleasing.  So, you may have a cut on your face and your body will go to work and repair it.  The repair process will leave a scab and, later on, a scar.  Your body doesn’t care if you want to have a pretty face, it only cares about patching up that gash on your face so it won’t be open to infection or bleeding out.  When it comes to body fat and muscle building, your body does things to insure it’s survival.  If you are on a caloric deficit for a long time, your metabolism will start to  slow down.  Why?  Your body thinks food may be scarce because you’re eating less calories to maintain your weight for an extended period of time.  If there is no more food available for a certain period of time, your body will start eating your body fat to stay alive.  This is natural.  Your body doesn’t care that you want to fit into that dress or look ripped for that photo shoot.  It only cares about it’s own survival.

So how do you overcome the plateau effect?  You increase your calories.

“I can’t do that.  I’ll gain all that weight back!”

Remember that your body is built for survival and the better you understand how the body deals with calories, the better you’ll be able to get the results you want.

When you start increasing your calories after a long deficit, your body is like,

“Okay, we are getting more calories in so we are not going into a famine.  There is a food source available.”

Once your body knows it’s not going into a famine, it can start the process of speeding up your metabolism again.  If you’re eating at maintenance, you’ll maintain your weight. If you eat at a caloric surplus, you’ll start to gain weight.  If you stay on a bulk too long, your body will hold on to those extra calories and convert them into fat.  This is why people get fat because they stay on an “extended bulk”.  If you utilize Intermittent Fasting, your body is able to burn fat more effectively, so your body will still be able to get rid of the fat that’s being stored from the food you eat.  After not eating for an extended period of time, your body will go into it’s fat reserves as an energy source.  When you eat every two hours throughout the day, you don’t really give your body a chance to go into it’s fat reserves while you’re bulking and you will have to rely on exercise a lot more to burn that fat.

When you start to plateau while you’re trying to lose fat, your metabolism is slowing down and this is an indication that you need to start eating at maintenance or you need to eat at a caloric surplus for a few weeks.  Once your body understands that it’s not going into a famine for a long period of time, it starts balancing things out again and you can go back on your cut.  This process of switching from bulking and cutting keeps your from plateauing.

The reason why people struggle with weight loss is because they don’t understand how the body works.  They’re only thinking about the cosmetics instead of survival.  If you work with your body, your body will do what you want it to do.  If you notice that you’re not building muscle the way you have when you first started out, you may need to increase the intensity of your workout. When you workout, your body breaks down and repairs the muscle so it can handle the heavy load or intensity the next time around.  This is good, it means you’re getting stronger.  When are able to bang out more reaps with your heaviest set, it’s time to increase the weight.  This “muscle confusion” is how your muscle grow.  Remember that it’s very important to give your muscles enough time to rest.  If you try to overwork the muscle, it will make it very hard for the muscle to repair itself, and you will not be able to get stronger.  Kinda like trying to stand on a broken leg.

So there you have it.  If you are starting to plateau in your fat-burning efforts, you may need to start eating more calories.  If you’re not getting stronger with your workouts, you may be over training and if your not getting muscle growth, you may need to increase the intensity of your workout.  Your body is a very intelligent machine and if you treat it right and give it what it wants, it will look it’s best and you will feel your best.

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