But just know if you have a meal that is higher in sodium than what you normally consume, you are going to retain water weight.
Yet that is just it, it is water weight, NOT BODY FAT.
And as soon as you get back on track to your normal routine it will excrete itself, which your body is great at doing. Hence why “detox teas” or “full body detox cleanses” are a total scam and waste of money.
Anywho, moving right along, let’s get into the next point shall we?
High Carb Days
First off, no carbs do not make you fat.
The only way to store body fat on your body is by eating in a calorie surplus, aka eating more calories than what your body burns.
Okay sorry I had to say that to start us off here, now diving in.
When we eat carbohydrates our body breaks them down to the simple sugar call glycogen.
We use this glycogen as our main source of energy for our entire body, including the main source of fuel to the brain.
Glycogen gets stored in different places in the body, the ones most apparent to this conversation would be the liver and muscles cells.
Cool Science But.. What Does This Have To Do With Scale Fluctuations?
I know I know sorry, I nerd out on this stuff from time to time.
For every 1 gram of carb you eat it causes anywhere from 3-4g of water retention in your body.
There are roughly 454g of water in every 1lb.
Your liver holds about 100g of glycogen.
Your muscles cells hold anywhere from 400g-700g of glycogen. This is much more dependent on the persons current body fat, skeletal muscle mass, diet history, to name a few.
Okay.. but scale fluctuations..
Let’s say you have a high carb day.
That extra water from the carbs is going to get stored as glycogen in your muscle cells, causing you to retain some water weight.
Yet again, this is okay and normal. No reason to freak out.
So next time you ask “Why does my weight fluctuate” but you just had a ton of carbs the night before.. now you know 😉 .
Sometimes you just gotta unclog the plumbing.
If you want proof that you can gain weight or lose weight simply losing the restroom, I urge you to head to my YouTube video I did on the difference between weight loss vs fat loss.
It is not uncommon for your weight to move between 1-4 lbs from simply using the restroom or not.
When people ask me the question of why does my weight fluctuate, they are usually blown away when they hear this one.
When you strength train you tear your muscle fibers apart.
This causes your body to start the inflammatory response to allow your muscle fibers to heal and recover.
During this inflammation process your body is going to
retain water weight
Increase swelling inside the body
Increase an uptake and retention of nutrients / water to the muscles
In the short term, this will reflect on the scale by going up.
Yet again, this has absolutely nothing to do with your long term weight loss progress.
In fact, this actually is going to help you lose weight long term because through the process of building stronger muscles you are going to increase your metabolism.
The more lean muscle mass you have the higher your metabolism is.
The higher your metabolism is the more calories your body burns ( from doing literally nothing by the way, this is why strength training should be prioritized over cardio for weight loss).
The more calories your body burns, the more advantageous your weight loss journey will be.
Therefore keep lifting heavy yet just know the next time you get done an intense workout session the scale may read higher, and that is okay.
Time Of The Month ( Ladies Only)
If you are a female reading this you are already probably shaking your head yes.
Ladies when you go through that time of the month, you are normally going to retain some water weight.
During this time period there are two phases we are going to look at, the follicular and your luteal.
Let me give you the good news first.
During your follicular phase, you can actually get some kick ass workouts and be strong as heck.
This is when your testosterone is highest and you can be empowered.
So, that’s at least some good news during this time.
Now the news you knew was coming.
During the luteal phase, this is where we see a rise in progesterone and in estrogen levels.
During this phase you are going to have some increased water retention and bloating, which can lead the scale to read higher.
Again, that is totally normal and okay.
You are not gaining body fat you are simply just retaining some water weight.
I tell all of my female online coaching clients I work with that even though the scale may go up, as long as you continue to eat in your deficit, not only will your weight go back down, but it will dip lower than before due to you losing body fat.
So ladies don’t sweat it and thank you for keeping the human race alive. Guys, just be thankful, that’s all.
Before I dive into cortisol and stress let me make something abundantly clear.
A lot fitness marketers will try to sell you on the fact that if you are stressed out that is the reason you are gaining fat.
They will try to sell you their diet or workout program and make you believe that is there reason you cannot lose fat.
That is f*cking wrong.
Let me tell you this in regards to stress.
Stress does not inherently make you gain fat.
What makes you gain fat is what you decide to do once you get stressed.
You tend to eat more calories.
You tend to skip workouts.
Leading you to not be in a calorie deficit which is the only way to lose fat.
It is not inherently the stress or cortisol in your body, it is what actions you take once you get stressed that lead you to not be in a calorie deficit which leads you not to lose weight.
Whew, alright, now that I got that out of the way.
Let’s talk about what stress can do.
When cortisol (stress) is increased it can make you retain water weight temporarily.
This would make you weigh more on the scale.
Then when you get out of that stressed state, you normally flush all of that water weight out.
In this episode of the Eric Roberts Fitness Podcast I talk about how to lose 50 lbs.
I break down step by step what it takes to create a plan for you to reach your fitness goal.
So many people have the big goal in mind they want to achieve, but don’t have an action plan on how to actually get there. Without knowing what you need to do day by day to get there, you will never be able to achieve it.
This podcast breaks down how to achieve your fitness goal no matter what it is may be for you.
I really hope you enjoy this podcast and if you do, let me know 🙂
In this episode of the Eric Roberts fitness podcast I talk about what supplement to take on your fitness journey. I go over the ones I find to be effective, and the ones that may just end up being a waste of money.
By doing this you can get multiple forms of data to see if what you are doing is working or not.
So now that you have multiple forms of progress to let you know if what you are doing is working or not, let’s talk about what to do when your weight loss plateaus.
When To Make A Change?
Before you go assuming you are in a weight loss plateau, I want you to run through this checklist below.
Are your measurements going down or progress pictures looking different?
If yes, then what you are doing is working, and you need to keep pushing. Do not, I repeat do NOT quit.
Has it been at least 14-21 days since the scale has not gone down?
If no, then keep going. Remember, not losing weight for 5 days isn’t a weight loss plateau. That is simply apart of the journey.
Have you been at least 90% consistent with your plan?
If no, then you are not in a plateau and you simply need to adhere to the plan better. You cannot tell if something is working or not working if you do not truly give it a chance.
Let me also say this. If you are that person that is thinking “I eat 1200 calories but don’t lose weight!”.
Remember this. If you are in a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. I would strongly suggest looking at how you count calories and make sure you are counting them correctly.
Head to one of the most helpful articles I have ever written HERE to ensure you are tracking your calories correctly.
If you got through this check list, you have been very honest with yourself, and you have determined you are truly in a plateau then keep on reading for what your options are next.
What To Do When Your Weight Loss Plateaus
Option #1 Decrease Calories
This is normally the most obvious and sought after option.
It takes the least amount of time and effort while usually being the easiest to adhere to.
How Many Calories To Decrease?
Assuming you are following the fat loss calorie calculator I give out for free on my YouTube channel which means you have your calories in a safe spot, there is a range of calories you could pull from.
Every time one of my online coaching clients weight loss progress has stalled usually anywhere from 75-150 calories a day from your current deficit should be enough to restart progress.
Where Should These Calories Come From?
These calories usually come in a reduction via carbohydrates.
You should never, I repeat again, never take away calories from protein.
Aim to keep your protein intake high, roughly .8-1 x per lb of bodyweight = grams of protein per day.
You also should be keeping your fats around .4 x per lb of bodyweight = grams of fat per day.
This means if those two things are in place, you can reduce calories via carbohydrates.
Does This Differ For Women And Men?
Great question, so glad you asked 😉 .
Yes, it can.
For women I would normally lean towards the lower end of the calorie range.
While men can usually lean towards the higher end of thats calorie range.
This is simply because first and foremost women are normally eating lower calories to begin with.
As well as a woman’s metabolism can take more of a hit when decreasing calories, so going slower and less aggressive is the more optimal approach for you ladies.
How Low Is Too Low In Calories?
Man, you have some good questions today don’t you?
The true answer to this question is my favorite answer ever, and that is, it depends.
It truly depends on your current calorie number, your previous diet history, your current training routine, your current sleeping schedule, to name a few.
So rather than giving you a certain number I am going to give you some questions to think about below :
Is your workout performance / strength significantly decreasing week to week?
Has your sleep completely been thrown off?
Has your sex drive dipped down to next to none?
Are your stress levels higher than normal?
Are you constantly moody and or easily irritable?
If you answered yes to any of these I would say your current calorie intake is too low.
If you find yourself answering yes to any of these as you try to decrease calories then I would no longer decrease calories and head to another one of the options listed below.
What To Do If You Don’t Want To or Can’t Go Lower In Calories?
If you don’t want to go any lower in calories there are a still a few different options available to you, don’t worry.
Option #2 Increase Cardio
To be very clear, the priority of your exercise should be strength training and building muscle.
This will have much more impact on increasing your metabolism and calories burned long term.
If you aren’t currently strength training, feel free to head HERE for some totally free workouts I can give to you.
Beyond that, cardio can certainly be used as a tool to increase energy expenditure for the day to create a larger calorie deficit.
How Much Cardio To Add In?
The first thing I am going to recommend to you is something I have every single one of my online coaching clients do and that is simply ensure you get 8-12k steps a day.
There is nothing overly special about this number of steps, it is just a great goal to shoot for to increase your NEAT.
NEAT is just a fancy acronym for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
That fancy phrase just means how many calories your body burns throughout the day without any dedicated exercise.
For most of my clients, that is all the dedicated cardio they do. Therefore if you are not doing that currently I would absolutely start.
That being said if you are, or if that is not an option for you, keep on reading.
Your goal should be to do as little cardio as possible and still see results.
Why you ask?
A few reasons.
Cardio takes significantly more time than making nutritional changes.
The more your body gets used to doing cardio, the less calories it burns.
Cardio can add stress to your body which can increase cortisol which can make it harder for you to lose weight
Too much cardio can negatively impact your strength training, which can negatively impact your ability to speed up your metabolism
So how much should you do? Well, it would depend on what kind of cardio you are talking about.
There are two main forms of cardio, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS ( Light Intensity Steady State).
Let’s talk about both and which is better for fat loss.
What Kind Of Cardio Is Best?
HIIT cardio can be useful for someone who does not have a ton of time on their hands and needs to make the most of every minute.
LISS cardio can be just as useful and is personally my favorite form of cardio.
The answer which is the best truly depends on the person.
If you are going to go the HIIT route, I would say 1-2 hrs a week of HIIT should be more than enough.
If you are going to go the LISS route, I would say 2-3hrs a week of LISS should be more than enough.
Remember, this is why doing as little cardio as possible in your weight loss journey is important.
If you are doing no cardio to start (besides walking 8-12k steps a day) and then you throw in 2-3 hrs of LISS, bam you will kick start things back up.
Yet if you are already doing 2-3 hrs of cardio, adding 2-3 more hours on top of that can become daunting.
This is why having a tactical, planned out approach from the beginning will serve you well.
Now if you don’t want to decrease calories or increase cardio there are other options.
Let’s dive into them now.
Option #3 Diet Break
This option is one most people do not think of but can serve huge benefits.
Listen, dieting is a stress on your body.
It is a stress mentally. You are always thinking about food, you are constantly thinking about making sure you hit your calorie deficit.
This can make sticking to your diet that much more difficult. This can cause your consistency to dwindle slowly but surely.
It is also a stress physically. If you are eating less calories than what your body burns for an extended period of time that is a physical stress on your body.
This causes your metabolism to down regulate.
Before you ask, No, Starvation Mode is not a real thing. Just no.
Have you ever seen a prisoner of war or a starving kid in Africa overweight? No? I rest my case.
Alright where were we.
Oh yea, stress on your body.
Taking a diet break can certainly be one of the options of what to do when your weight loss plateaus.
How Can A Diet Break Help Kickstart Your Weight Loss?
I mentioned above that being on a diet mentally and physically causes stress.
A diet break can mentally give you a break from the diet.
You can get a break from tracking your food so meticulously.
You mentally get time off from having to be so perfect and worrying about food 24/7.
This can do a few things. The two major ones would be decreasing cortisol while also increasing consistency and adherence.
You may take a diet break and see the scale drop down simply because you are less stressed out from the diet, which decreases cortisol, which decreases water weight. (More on this in option #4 reverse dieting — see below).
The second part of this is if you take a diet break you can increase your metabolism once again because you will be eating more calories, increasing your total energy expenditure for the day.
How Long To Take A Diet Break For & How Many Calories To Eat?
The answer would yet again be, it depends. This time it depends on how long you have been in a true calorie deficit.
I would say if you have been on a diet for 4-8 weeks and are experiencing weight loss plateaus then a 2-3 week diet break should be a good time length to see positive adaptation in your metabolism.
If you have been on a diet for 12+ weeks, normally a 3-6 week diet break is a good time length to see positive adaptation in your metabolism.
The next option would be something I mentioned above and that would be reverse dieting.
Option #4 Reverse Dieting
I will not cover reverse dieting too much here in this article, but that is only because I did an entire in depth YouTube video on it.
If you want to dive more in depth on reverse dieting, I strongly urge you to take some time to watch this video here below.
In layman’s terms, reverse dieting is simply the strategy of increasing calories to improve body composition.
This is more of a long term strategy rather than a short term fix.
This option would be right for you if you are currently already at a really low calorie number, you are doing hours of cardio, and you still cannot see results.
Like mentioned above, reverse dieting can help increase your total energy expenditure for the day, which is going to help speed up your metabolism.
Reverse dieting can also decrease cortisol that is present from dieting, which as a result can flush out some of the water weight your body may be holding onto.
Normally adding anywhere from 50-150 calories per week to your current calorie intake until you reach your maintenance calories is a great reverse dieting strategy.
If you want a sample of what reverse dieting may look like I strongly urge you to check out the YouTube video I mentioned above.
Now that we went over 4 solid options for what to do when your weight loss plateaus, let’s talk about the simple fact that losing weight may not be your best option right now.
What To Do When Your Weight Loss Plateaus
Time To Build Some Muscle
Whenever I ask new clients that potentially sign up with me I always ask them,
“What is your goal body weight?”.
They answer with some number.
My response always is
“Okay got it, so you aren’t going to be happy until you see that number? Or are you chasing more of a look rather than just a number on the scale?”.
Every single time they respond with
“Well I guess it is more of a look rather than just a number on the scale. I want to look a certain way”.
I am going to let you in on a secret. If you are reading this nodding your head like “yep me too!”, it may not be the fact that you need to lose anymore weight.
It may be that you need to spend some time building lean muscle mass.
How is building lean muscle mass going to help you?
Well first off that “look” is going to be attained through building lean muscle mass. Ever heard of the term “skinny fat”?
You aren’t that overweight, you are skinny, but you don’t really look the way you want to look?
This is because you don’t have the appropriate amount of muscle mass on your body.
Second is because it can increase your metabolism.
The more lean muscle mass you have the more calories your body has to burn throughout the day.
This in turn can
Help with future weight loss
Allow you to eat more food without gaining weight
How Do You Know When To Build Lean Muscle Mass?
You should always be training to build and or retain lean muscle mass for the reasons I mentioned above.
Beyond that, if you have lost a good amount of weight and it has stalled out for you, follow this guideline below.
For women, if you are 18-22% body fat, it may be time to go into a muscle definition phase.
For men, if you are 12-15% body fat, it may be time to go into a muscle definition phase.
The one thing I am going to make very clear is during a muscle definition phase you will gain some body fat, scale weight, or both.
This is totally normal, okay, and necessary.
Think of this as building the foundation of your overall health.
Your metabolic health will increase as well as you will be able to attain that look you are chasing.
If you are looking to gain as minimal body fat as possible, I would strongly suggest following the reverse diet video I included in this article.
Find your maintenance calories (which the video will tell you how to do), and then go 150-300 above maintenance calories.
So, Do You Now Know What To Do When Your Weight Loss Plateaus?
I truly hope this article equipped you with the information necessary to know what to do when your weight loss plateaus.
I know this weight loss game can be super frustrating and monotonous process at times.
My two cents to you would be to remember this:
No one ever got closer to their goals by quitting.
As long as you don’t quit, I promise you will do this.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Weight Loss Plateau Article”.
In this episode of the Eric Roberts Fitness Podcast, I talk about the ways fitness helped mold me as a human being and how it has helped built my business to where it is today. I often talk about fitness being more than just weight loss, and in this podcast I dive into specific qualities that has come from my own fitness journey that helped shaped the human being I am today.
I hope you enjoy this episode. I don’t talk about myself a ton on any of my social media platforms because that is just now who I am, but if you enjoy this episode feel free to let me know and I will consider sprinkling in some more content about myself 🙂
If you enjoy it also feel free to leave a 5 star rating and review on iTunes (huge thank you to those who have thus far).
If you are interested in coaching with me I will link my application form here below.