You’ve heard the story time and time again from anyone who’s changed how they were eating, or dieting to lose fat. This person is likely you or someone you know well.
You change how you eat with the goal of losing body fat, and in the beginning it works well.
Your clothes are fitting better, salads are becoming something you look forward to, and other people are starting to take notice of your progress, and the confidence you're showing.
You get questions about what you’ve been doing differently and people are starting to notice the changes you've made lately.
You can see and feel that what your efforts with nutrition and exercise are paying off, and you feel highly motivated and encouraged by how things are going.
You start to feel like that ideal physique you’ve been after for years is getting closer and closer.
A few months into the process your results start to slow down.
The scale isn’t consistently getting lower, and measurements don’t seem to be budging on a weekly basis like they were before.
Some weeks there's no changes at all, and on others your measurements or body weight may randomly increase for a day or two.
Eventually you hit a full blown fat loss plateau, and things aren't moving at all anymore.
You’re confused because you’ve been doing everything by the books, your nutrition and exercise has been completely on point these past few months.
You’re doing exactly what got you the results in the beginning, and now you don’t understand why your progress has come to a screeching stop!
You’re so close to your goal, and you just need to lose that last ten pounds to get there….Why has your fat loss stalled if you’re doing everything that worked before ?
In this week’s blog I’m going to share the top five reasons that people struggle to lose those last ten pounds of weight, and help you understand why this is a natural part of the process.
Next week we'll be covering the steps you can take to avoid these fat loss plateaus covered in today's blog.
1.) A Smaller Body Burns Fewer Calories
When you’ve lost body fat and weight, you weigh less. The less you weigh, the fewer calories the body has to burn to support your total bodyweight at rest and during activity as well.
This makes perfect sense when you take a step back and look logically at the situation.
A smaller body with less fat and less muscle mass will require fewer calories to run.
Both body fat and muscle mass require calories to maintain and if you lose either one or both in a significant amount the body doesn’t require as many calories to maintain them or to support your overall higher body weight.
2.) You Unconsciously Move Less
There's a specific part of your metabolism known as Non- Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).
NEAT is all your daily activities that take place outside of formal exercising. NEAT includes walking the dog, cooking dinner, doing yard work, fidgeting, working at standing desk, grocery shopping and dancing to good music!
The fact remains that you burn WAY more calories through your daily NEAT activities than you do with any session in the gym.
In fact for people who work much more active jobs like wait staff or a manual laborer compared to a someone sitting at a desk all day for work can burn upwards of an extra 1,000 calories per day!
When you're dieting and eating less to lose fat the body will down regulate NEAT movement to ensurecalories aren’t unnecessarily burned up by fidgeting or standing when working.
When you eat less to lose body fat, the calories burned through NEAT are reduced, and you unknowingly move less each day.
When you diet to lose body fat you're putting the body through a controlled form of starvation, but it doesn't know the difference between you trying to get lean for beach season and a famine you're in the middle of.
If you're interested in learning ALL about how the different part of the metabolism react when you diet for fall loss click HERE as I did a massive three part series that discusses how each component of your metabolism and daily caloric burn can be impacted by dieting for fat loss.
Interestingly enough incorporating days where you spike calories and bring them up for a few days can offset a lot of NEAT reduction and other metabolic issues from dieting.
3.) You’re Eating Less Food Which Burns Fewer Calories
Your body has to burn calories to break down, digest and assimilate the nutrients from food you eat, this is known at the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF).
When someone eats less, the amount of calories the body has to dedicate to the breakdown and digestion of food decreases as well.
While this may not be a huge decrease in calories, when someone is trying to get rid of those last ten pounds, everything counts.
On a side note it can be a mental struggle for some people to start off their diet eating large amounts of food and over time see their portions shrink as they get hungrier.
4.) You’re Resting Metabolic Rate Decreases
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (RMR) is the number of calories the body requires to keep your basic physiological functions running such as breathing, pumping blood and keeping organs working.
When someone eats below their RMR for a long enough period of time the body will slow down and reduce certain functions that are less important as a way to conserve calories.
As a result of eating less for an extended period of time fewer calories will be burned at rest, during physical activity and through NEAT leading to lower overall caloric burn at rest, while moving and even during exercise as well.
The amount of muscle mass and fat mass someone has also plays a part in the amount of calories burned through RMR. While the amount of calories both fat and muscle burn up isn't huge it can make a difference over the months.
This is why some for of strength training is so pivotal in any kind of fat loss phase as it send the signal to the body that if you're going to go through another stressful bout of lifting heavy things that muscle can help reduce that stress and is therefore valuable to hold on to even though it expends twice the calories per pound that fat does.
5.) Exercising At A Lower Intensity & Muscular Efficiency
As you eat less and go to the gym you’re giving the body less fuel to use yet asking it to work hard and expend calories which are in scarce.
In the beginning when you’re running on stress hormones you can get away with this however, eventually motivation and intensity while exercising plummet.
As motivation decreases along with intensity you might miss a few workouts, cut sessions short, not put forth the same effort and generally see your performance drop.
The calories burned in the gym during exercise are much lower than your fitbit or cardio machine says, but they do add up over the weeks, months and years and can chip away at your fat loss goals.
On top of that, as you lift and diet for long enough your muscles become more efficient at contracting and won't require the same amount of calories to execute on that exercise or movement.
If any of these signs sounds like something you’ve experienced when trying to lose those last ten pounds then click the yellow "Get Started Today" button below for a FREE nutrition strategy session and we'll discuss the right habits and approach to make sure you get results you want.