Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Breaking through the plateau

I don't want to spend too many blogs talking about weight loss, as nutritional therapy is about getting someone in a state of optimum health, not just slim. However it is the topic I get asked the most about and being a healthy weight is vital for good health.

This week I've had a couple of questions about weight loss plateaus. These occur commonly after someone has experienced a few months or weeks of regular weight loss and then find the weight stops coming off despite continuing the same diet and exercise programme. Weight loss will naturally slow down as you approach your ideal weight, but if you plateau before that point how do you restart the weight loss?

Eat really regularly and combine carbs with protein in every meal and snack to keep your metabolism stoked up and blood sugar levels stable. If you cut carbs or calories too much your body is likely to adapt by slowing your metabolism which can lead to a weight-loss plateau. If you think snacking/eating regularly will make you gain weight check out for inspiration!

Go super low GI - High GI carbs and sugars are the enemy to weight loss. It therefore can help to have a couple of weeks on very low GI carbohydrates (rather than low and medium). This means no added sugar, white flour, white rice, bread (other than rye), rice or corn cakes, potatoes and dried or tropical fruit. This leaves the following: rye bread, pulses (any type but no added sugar), rolled oats or no sugar oat cakes, ryvita, peas, wholegrain rice, quinoa or wholegrain spaghetti (rather than penne or other pasta).

Make sure you're drinking enough water - this is an input in the chemical reaction for producing energy in your cells and therefore needed to burn fat.

Refresh your exercise routine - the body adapts to anything it deals with on a regular basis so rather than upping your exercise it can be just as effective to change your routine and give your body a new challenge. If you only do weights or cardio try mixing the two or try some new classes down the gym especially ones that involve all muscle groups (such as body attack/martial arts/circuit training).

The same applies to food - try not to eat the same foods every day, this can become dull very quickly and also the lack of variety increases the chances of developing nutrient deficiencies. Even if you eat a varied diet you may want to consider taking supplements - B vitamins, magnesium and essential fats are all needed for fat burning so if you're not getting enough in your diet it may hamper weight loss.

Eat at least six portions of fruit and veg a day as the nutrients in these help you burn fat and detoxify.

Keep a food diary - you may have started with an excellent diet but it's easy for bad habits to creep back in. Watch out for caffeine, sugary snacks and refined carbs. Alcohol and soft drinks are also often overlooked as sources of calories, sticking to water and herb tea can make a big difference.

Make sure you get enough sleep - stress will stop you losing weight and if you're doing lots of exercise this is stressful on the body so you will need more sleep to recover. If I'm exercising regularly I naturally need an extra hours sleep a night - so aim to go to bed early enough to wake naturally (8-9hrs sleep).

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