One of my post popular queries, and the one I constantly see on Forums from early and medium post-op patients, relates to weight-loss stalls and plateaus. Different to weight regain (which I have covered previously) this often requires a different approach to rectify or jump-start.
Often the best ideas and solutions come from those who have experienced the problem, and so this guest post from The Gastric Guru is most timely. Having experienced this first-hand she offers a raft of ideas and researched ways to try to sort out this dilemma and common issue experienced by so many. Read on for some great practical and considered advice.
GUEST POST: HOW TO BREAK A WEIGHT-LOSS PLATEAU
I’ve been there and can totally understand the frustration of a weight loss surgery stall. You’ve tried your best. You’ve lost weight. You’ve given it everything and you’ve undergone major surgery to achieve it, and then it all stopped.
You still went out there and exercised harder. You watched everything you ate. Nothing happened.
The human body is incredibly adaptive, and will do its level best to maintain equilibrium (homeostasis). The plateauing effect is the biggest motivation-killer there is. Yet it happens to most people on the WLS journey.
What You Must Do Now
The best single word of advice is to make a change. Change something. Anything. Do it now.
Don’t make the mistake of doing the same thing over and over expecting something to shift.
What Changes Can You Make?
- Alter Macro-nutrient Intake: Flexible Dieting
Although it sounds complicated, once again, the idea is to change what you are eating.
If (for example) you are eating a moderate diet that is higher in carbohydrates – try eating less carbs and more protein. There is no need to get super-technical over the whole thing.
As a bariatric patient we should be consuming a minimum of 60g of protein per day, but if you’re exercising frequently then this needs to increase.
What sort of proteins are you choosing?
Aim for natural protein over supplements. The body will burn more calories in breaking down whole foods more than a protein shake or a protein bar.
If you have a carbohydrate snack every day at morning tea or coffee time – change it to a protein snack.
Eating too little can actually aid our weight loss stalls!
* Instead of eating a fruit snack, eat a handful of nuts
* Cut the carbs and opt for high protein, such as tuna or chicken breast
* Don’t be afraid to eat healthy good fats- they are not the enemy
Whatever you are doing consistently – try mixing it up a bit. A change is as good as a rest
- Zig-Zag Calorie Intake
Zig-zagging, or calorie cycling is the process of varying daily calorie intake, while maintaining the same weekly intake. Instead of consuming (for example) precisely 1000 calories each day – you can mix it up.
Eat 1000 calories one day, and 700 calories the next. This can be as simple as swapping meat for fish or adding a shake into the plan.
If your daily calories for fat loss is 1000 a weekly zig-zag would look like this:
3. Strength Training
Many people follow a basic and fairly repetitive routine of walking. This is a great start, but it’s time to add some resistance into the mix. If you are not doing this as part of your program or lifestyle, then it’s time to start. Working your muscles will help to strengthen bone tissue, increase lean mass, and ultimately boost metabolic rate.
Have you tried HIT training? It’s a good intermittent way to boost your body.
There are so many things you can do:
* Join a gym and get a trainer to make you a program.
* Follow a bodyweight program.
* Get some some dumbbells at home.
- Change Your Exercise Routine
Following on from the previous point: You must change something in your exercise routine. If you walk a lot, then try jogging, or swimming, or cycling — anything that will change the way your body is working.
If you are doing low intensity cardio work, then try some high intensity (short duration) exercise.
For example: instead of your normal slow jog – run as fast as you can for 30 seconds then walk for 30 seconds. Do this 4 times in the middle of your jog.
Need More Exercise Ideas?
* Try an exercise DVD
* Some of us happen to like dancing around the room knocking over coffee tables and other assorted furniture!
* Gym class
* Yoga, pilates, or zumba to name a few
* High Intensity Interval Training
* Social sports
* Join a volleyball team
* Meet your friend for a walk, instead of meeting for a coffee
* Go hiking
* Get a cool bicycle, and don’t leave it in the garage gathering dust
* Got kids? Get into the playground with them instead of sitting on the side
* Video games with movement
* Get a Nintendo Wii (or even Xbox with Kinect) and get some good fitness games
* Park your car further away from the store and walk a little further
The key point here is that you MUST change what you are doing. Keep your body guessing. Notice how quickly you can adapt to a certain exercise.
- Change Meal Frequency
Stop focusing on 3 meals a day and opt for a more Mediterranean way of eating. 5-6 smaller high protein meals per day with balanced intervals in between.
It’s a well known technique for body builders: they eat 5+ meals per day. They claim the thermic effect of eating helps to burn fat.
There is energy expenditure involved in the body processing food (particularly protein).
The Thermic Affect of Food (TEF) is very real. A recent study of gastric bypass patients showed enhanced TEF after surgery – leading them into a pattern of little and often.
What You Can Do
* If you can’t move away from eating three square meals a day – start adding snacks in between (which will mean reducing the portion size of the main meals)
* If skipping breakfast has been your thing – maybe it’s time to change that
* Be aware of missing meals and start writing a food diary
* Set your self an alarm on when to eat
- Some Extra Things To Try
Still not working? Here are some more things that have worked for some people:
* Get more sleep, a good night’s sleep can often work wonders
* Stop when satisfied – don’t over eat or try to finish your plate
* Change your goals / obsessed with the scales? Think about focusing on something else like being able to run 5 km or getting stronger
What Happened to Me…
Some of us seem to have more adaptive bodies than others.
Some patients will lose the weight and drop a dress size without even thinking.
For others it will feel at times that having surgery was a waste of time.
But don’t be disillusioned – we have to work against Mother Nature at times and if we can learn to adapt our routines and work with our tools – we can SUCCEED.
So what was the answer?
Chill out and back off… I was becoming obsessed with the scales and the measure.
I started to increase my fluids and gradually increased my cardio levels.
After two weeks of control I gave my body and mind a break. Increased my yoga and meditation and in the process I have learned to eat more intuitively and healthy.
Every person is unique, and we must learn how our individual body responds – and how to work with that.
Finding the right balance in critical, we have a period of 12-18 months before things really start to slow down. So make the most of this “sweet spot” and the future will be cemented for you.
Feature courtesy of The Gastric Guru