How to Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau
You've starved. You've reduced your carefully calculated calorie count to far less than the recommended level for weight loss. And you've hit a weight loss plateau.
Nothing shifts it. Not more exercise. Not eating less. Not drinking more water - not even hot water with lemon. Nothing.
The scales stay stubbornly stuck in the same place, no matter what you do.
Welcome to the Weight Loss Plateau.
In this post you'll discover:
- What that weight loss plateau really is
- What it means to your weight loss journey
- Suggestions that have been made to solve the problem
- How to really fix the weight loss plateau issue - permanently!
This is famine mode.
You feel like you're walking across a desert, with the distant hills staying obstinately far away.
Your body, in its wisdom, has decided you are in a famine and has switched into a lower gear to preserve energy and ensure your survival
What a Weight Loss Plateau Really is: A Huge Red Flag
Back in 1982 - the last century! - a group of German scientists* suggested that the body has an inherited weight range that controls metabolism. Metabolism, they proposed, speeds up or slows down, depending on which end of the acceptable weight range the body is nearing.
They coined the term "set point" for this phenomenon.
EFT for Weightloss | Setpoint Weight | What's Wrong With Your Body
However, they also noted that environmental issues like type of diet, amounts consumed and the increasing use of medication can overrule this set point and cause the body to forget all about it or readjust it. Or possibly both.
Further, they suggested that when weight loss reaches a point that's less than the lowest weight in the set point range, the body assumes there's a famine, forgets all about set points and goes into survival mode instead.
Environmental factors overrule genetics - at least when it comes to weight loss.
Human history is full of famines. And they're still happening all over the developing world. right now as I write, there are famine warnings being issued in relation to South Sudan and Somalia.
"Famine Mode" is More Important to Survival than Set Point
In the Developed World we have constant abundance: food, drink and pleasure in all its forms.
As a result, increasing numbers of us have bodies that have lost their set point.
Set point is less important in evolutionary terms than survival.
And yo-yo dieting just makes things worse. You lose the weight, end your diet ... and then put all that weight back on again. Or even more. Your body prepares for the next famine by slowing your metabolism. Permanently.
A weight loss plateau means your set point has been overruled and your body is now totally confused about what weight it is supposed to be. It's responding to your weight loss efforts as if there has been a famine ... and it's preparing for the next one.
This is a huge red flag. When your body loses its set point, that's an indication that you will never maintain that hard won weight loss permanently. Unless ...
How to Reprogram Your Set Point
At the beginning of this century, set point theory was hailed as a breakthrough. Yay! Now we know why dieting can cause more problems than it solves.
So all we have to do is remind the body of what its set point is.
Unfortunately, no one seemed to be able to come up with a method of doing this.
The main suggestion to remind the body of its set point was exercise.
I do not like going to the gym. And I'm pretty sure you don't like it either. If you did, you probably wouldn't be reading this post.
However, let's examine the exercise suggestion anyway.
Did you ever watch "The Biggest Loser" on TV? It was a reality TV show where a group of people competed with each other to see who could lose the most weight.
You can't see me ... but I'm doing a whole lot of eye rolling here.
Basically, the show took contestants to a beautiful setting, fed them a carefully balanced highly nutritious calorie controlled diet and made them do a whole lot of exercise. They all lost 100s of pounds in weight over the series. Contestants were eliminated one by one, mostly for not losing enough weight, but sometimes because they were a pain in the ... neck.
In May last year (at the original time of writing - this post has been updated since then), the New York Times printed a follow up article about scientific research on the people who took part in Series 8 of The Biggest Loser. After eight years, their metabolisms were still in famine mode, preparing for the next food shortage.
When they ended their time on the show, contestants had to eat less and exercise more to have any chance of maintaining their weight loss.
It's a fascinating article. Read it here.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that exercise does not have any effect on set point.
What's the Answer? How to Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau
This is all very interesting, Fiona, I hear you say - but also depressing. So now how about some good news?
How do I stop my body slowing its metabolism during weight loss - or bring it out of famine mode when it's already decided all this weight loss is a threat to my survival?
Your body can be reminded of its healthy weight set point. It's not hard or complicated, but just requires that you find out what that set point is ... and then remind your subconscious of it in clear terms.
How do you remind your subconscious of your set point?
You may have heard of EFT Tapping - it's a popular self help tool that can be used, among other things, to kick start your weight loss, reprogram your set point, release resistance and recognise that cravings are your body's way of saying you deserve a reward.
As a method of reprogramming your subconscious, the way I use EFT tapping is hard to beat - it's fast, effective, easy and you can experience results straight away.
Victoria Cornhill Vicky's Pet Sitting
Effortless Weight Loss - Fiona, you've hit gold with this I think. Thank you!... Found myself eating less too, for instance I went on holiday and had lots of meals out. It was the first time ever I haven't been able to clear my plate ...
Takeaway - Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau
- Weight set point is a "softer" inherited factor than survival
- A weight loss plateau is an indication your body has switched into famine mode
- Famine mode is permanent, unless you reprogram it
- Exercise is great - but it doesn't reprogram your set point
- You can reprogram your body to co-operate with you again with Effortless Weight Loss
Let me know if you've hit a weight loss plateau and if you've overcome it in the comments below.
* I couldn't find the original source for this assertion - it's old, written well before everything was online. However, this peer reviewed article and its references are most enlightening should you require further reading about the existence of set point and its effects.
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