Homeostasis has happened. This is also called a plateau, where you keep going and going and going but you see no better results. They are extremely frustrating. I have lost a fair amount of weight (30lbs) so the amount of calories below my maintenance number has changed from about 1000 to 700-800 and my metabolism has (probably) slowed a bit due to the lack of caloric intake. I myself had started to get onto that plane of existence which is a plateau.
Thankfully I realized quickly enough so I didn’t get (too) discouraged, and luckily enough I knew how to fix this, though it meant MORE hard work. I am not opposed to it though!
If you are stuck on a plateau, there are a couple things you can do. Well, many, but these are the easiest I think!
Zig-zag/Calorie-Cycling: The whole point of zig-zag dieting is to get your metabolism going again. When you are on a reduced calorie diet for a long time, your metabolism slows down – even with high intensity exercise, yes. Your body will realize it doesn’t need to have a ramped up digestion because it is getting fewer calories, so it will slow it down to conserve energy. We do not want this to happen! Zig-zag dieting is when you increase your daily caloric intake for 1 day to just below maintenance or maintenance then go back to your regular reduced calorie diet. This will trick your body into thinking “Oh crap! I’ve got tons of food coming in I better speed up my metabolism!” and when you drop your intake down for 3 days, your metabolism stays high. You go back up after 3 days so your body doesn’t have time to realize it has been fed less, and keeps you innards racing!
High Intensity Interval Training: HIIT is when you alternate between 30-240 seconds of 85-100% intensity drills then either rest for 30-60 seconds or do a recovery motion for 30-120 seconds. The difference between HIIT and regular aerobic exercise is that with regular exercise your metabolism only stays high for a short period of time after the workout whereas with HIIT your metabolism is increased for the entire DAY! It also signals your fat cells to start releasing more energy and therefore burning more fat!
Weight Training: This is fairly simple. If you have more lean muscle on your body you will burn more calories – while you sit, while you sleep, while you’re watching TV, while you’re at work… More calories burnt means it’s easier to create that deficit between calories in = calories out!
More Cardio: Depending on your body type (I, myself, am partially and endomorph) you may want to do cardio more than 6-7 times a week. I just doubled my cardio to twice a day at 2-2.5 hours per day. This is another easy one: you expend more energy doing more cardio and if you eat the same, you will have more of a deficit at the end of the day. Simple!
Morning Cardio: Doing cardio in the morning has TONS of benefits! You have very little glucose from fasting for 8 hours (hopefully!) while you sleep so because your brain can only use glucose as energy, it stops your muscles from using it pretty quick. Your body then starts to use glycogen stores in your muscles, but even these are tapped out quickly so your body then switches to fat for energy. You might feel more sluggish in the morning because of this, but keep your intensity high and you will see a definite difference!
So how am I trying to break through my plateau? I am doing all but weight training (there are only so many hours in the day). I am zig zagging my diet, doing HIIT (though I was doing this all along) but have recently doubled my cardio and started doing one round of it in the morning right when I wake up! I can see a difference in 1 week already, so it’s time to keep on keepin’ on until I get my desired results – or hit another plateau!