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Breaking Through a Weight-Loss Plateau

It’s very frustrating to eat right and work out regularly, and not see the numbers on the scale drop as fast as you want them to. Your progress might slow down or stop completely, even though you are diligently following your plan. This is called a weight-loss plateau.

The science of calories in versus calories out seems simple, but your body is more complicated than that – it works hard to keep your energy intake and output in balance. When you eat fewer calories in an attempt to lose weight, your metabolism slows itself down, which causes you to burn fewer calories in the long run, making weight loss more difficult.

Another factor working against you is that your body doesn’t want to lose weight. It wants to hang on to your excess fat, saving it for periods when food is scarce. Famine is an unlikely prospect in most Canadian cities in the 21st century, but your body doesn’t know that.

Fortunately there are ways to break through a weight-loss plateau and get the scale moving in the right direction again. By following the four tips below, you’ll be well on your way to breaking through your plateau and meeting your goals:

1. Keep a food journal: You may be eating too much food or even too little. To lose a pound of fat each week, you must reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 calories or 500 calories each day. Aim to eat 250 fewer calories each day and burn an extra 250 calories each day through physical activity.

2. Build muscle: If you aren’t training with weights, now is the time to start. Exercise burns calories and builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the faster your basic metabolism will be, which will revive your progress.

3. Make change: Your body adapts to your exercise routine and the food you eat fairly quickly, so it’s good to switch things up every few weeks to keep your body guessing. If you’ve been jogging on the treadmill for cardio, try skating, swimming or an aerobics class. If you eat the same salad everyday for lunch, try a lean turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread.

4. Look for support: You may be bored with your current routine and your family and friends might be tired of hearing about it. Stay motivated by searching for support in new places: online chat groups, your local gym or sports club.



February 19, 2010
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