F45 sport nutritionist Kim Bowman, shares how to hit your goal weight when you’ve reached a weight-loss plateau.
Pushing through your workouts, staying consistent with quality nutrition but just can’t seem to hit your goal weight?
If this sounds like you, then it’s likely you may have hit a weight loss plateau. While this can be frustrating and slightly discouraging, it’s not uncommon for our body to reach a ‘comfort zone’ after following a training program for an extended period of time.
Fortunately, there are a few ways in which we can overcome weight-loss plateaus and continue to see progress. F45 Nutritionist, Kim Bowman has a few tips to get past plateaus, boost fat burning, and help you progress towards your goals!
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Cut out processed carbohydrates
When it comes to weight loss plateaus, one of the first things to avoid eating all forms of, is processed carbohydrates – including refined sugar.
These are quickly absorbed and cause large spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Consequently, blood sugars fall rapidly thereafter, causing us to experience cravings for more of these foods that are essentially ‘empty calories.’
Additionally, insulin is very good at converting sugar to fat, while at the same time inhibiting the removal of fat to be used for energy. Therefore, with excess processed carb consumption, comes high levels of insulin in the bloodstream – making it challenging for the body to burn fat.
If you’ve hit a plateau, aim to cut out processed carbs such as store bought cookies, pastries, chips, and white flour foods, while sticking to quality carbs such as whole grains, veggies, and fruit.
Combining intermittent fasting + fasted cardio
The dietary approach of intermittent fasting focuses on mindful eating through meal timing, has also been used to overcome weight loss plateaus. A common approach includes the 14:10 or the 16:8 method which involves cycling through an eating window of 8 to 10 hours, followed by fasting for 14 to 16 hours.
Research has shown that by focusing on meal timing, we automatically become more aware of our hunger cues, as well as food quality which is beneficial for weight loss. Additionally, incorporating 20-30 minutes of daily fasted cardio into an intermittent fasting protocol is great for boosting fat metabolism to move past weight loss plateaus.
Increase fibre intake
There are two types of fibre: insoluble (non-digestible) and soluble (digestible). Insoluble fibre helps food pass through the digestive system, while soluble fibre is key for gut health and blood sugar regulation in supporting weight maintenance/loss.
Without adequate fibre in our diet, we’re more likely to have cravings for sweet and salty snacks throughout the day that are ‘empty calories’, and don’t provide significant nutritional value. Adding quality sources of fibre to our breakfast helps to curb cravings, and keep us feeling fuller for longer throughout the day, which is key for weight loss.
Whole grains such as rolled oats or ezekiel toast, along with fruit and veggies such as berries, bell peppers, and spinach are excellent high fibre breakfast options that add nutrient-density to slow digestion, keep blood sugar stable, and benefit weight loss.
Incorporate quality protein
Protein is essential for the development of lean muscle and plays an important role in metabolic efficiency. Research has shown that incorporating a quality protein, source such as egg whites as part of a healthy breakfast, is a great way to increase feelings of fullness and curb cravings throughout the day.
If you think you may not be obtaining enough quality protein in your diet, then it’s a good idea to evaluate the macronutrient balance of your recommended total daily calorie intake.
A diet that consists of little to no protein, but contains excess processed carbohydrates for example, is likely to hinder weight loss. Consider replacing any processed carbohydrates (pre-packaged foods, white bread, white rice), with quality sources of protein and healthy fats to increase satiety and boost metabolism.
Increase exercise intensity or switch up training modality
A weight loss plateau can also occur when our body has essentially reached a training comfort zone’, meaning we have physiologically adapted to the type and intensity of our typical workout routine. In order to continue to see progress, we can either change up the type of training each day (aerobic, resistance, mobility etc.), or increase exercise intensity.
Research has shown that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the most effective ways to stimulate fat metabolism and accelerate fat loss. However, for those who may have pre-existing medical conditions, increasing intensity may not always be an option. In this case, changing up training modality through the week is another great way to overcome weight loss plateaus.
By engaging in various movements, we start to utilise different muscle groups which keep our body guessing (less likely to hit a plateau). A short, heavy weight resistance workout for example will utilize different muscles groups and muscle fiber types than a long, cardio-focused running workout.
Optimize sleep hygiene
Sleep plays a key role in ensuring we are able to recover from training; without it, our ability to lose weight is negatively affected.
The relationship between sleep and fat loss is underpinned by the hormones responsible for appetite regulation. When we do not achieve adequate sleep on a regular basis, we increase our hunger hormone, ‘ghrelin’, while at the same time decrease our appetite-regulating hormone, ‘leptin.’
Sleep deprivation can cause us to feel hungrier, and potentially lead to over-snacking, versus when we achieve quality sleep on a daily basis. If you’re training and nutrition is on track yet you’re still seeing a weight loss plateau, I recommend shooting for at least 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night.
It’s also a good idea to practice good ‘sleep hygiene’ by minimising noise and light distractions, avoiding screen use before bedtime, and aiming to go to bed around the same time each night!
Kim Bowman (MS, CNP) is a qualified F45 Sport Nutritionist.