Breaking Through Fat Loss Plateaus

Belinda Benn - VFT Featured Expert
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In today’s issue of FUN, HOT, NO B.S. Fitness Magazine!…

Belinda Benn – VFT’s Featured Fitness Expert, International Fitness Model and Transformation Coach is going to show you the pitfalls that jeopardize your efforts, that most people overlook when trying to reduce bodyfat.

You need to know these… if you want to tackle plateaus head on.

I hope you enjoy today’s lesson and PLEASE leave your comment BY CLICKING ON THE COMMENTS box below, we love hearing from you!


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It’s common to hit a plateau and stop making progress after the first phase of fat loss. It usually happens when we’re only 5-10 pounds (2-5 kg) away from our ideal or goal weight—or 3-5 % away from your ideal body fat percentage. Every day I get emails about this from people who are incredibly frustrated with their progress and begging me for help.

So today I want to share with you some of the most common areas that I’ve seen people neglect when they reach this point in their progress. I also want to give you some sound advice on how you can get the body you want without compromising your physical or mental health.

Keep It Simple

There is a ton of information available on every aspect of leaning out—macro and micro nutrient percentages; carbohydrate timing, types, and cycling; calorie deficit and optimal training; eating for your body type; “tricking” the body with cheat meals and, of course, supplements.

When you hit a plateau, the temptation is to start over and analyze your routine, often changing what has worked in the past. You might start to doubt yourself and do things that can actually make fat loss harder. Some examples include radically reducing your carbohydrates, skipping meals, not eating at all, rollercoaster eating and dieting, overtraining, or abusing supplements to artificially suppress your appetite.

Having leaned out to 8% body fat several times over recent years, I can tell you none of these are good solutions. They only make things harder and have the potential to create long-term health issues.

The Big Picture

Many of the clients I train in person and online are “on a mission” to get as lean as they possibly can. It’s a personal goal to see what can be achieved with their bodies and how awesome they can look. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, BUT it is important to be very clear on this important fact:

A super-low body fat percentage is not sustainable all year round without serious health consequences.

Most physique competitors—even fitness models—train in cycles and do not maintain the body fat percentages you see on the stage or on the cover of magazines. There are exceptions, of course, such as people who are genetically predisposed to naturally low body fat. But these exceptions are rare.

If your goal is to see how low you can go, remember that this goal should be limited to a brief window of time. It is not sustainable as a healthy lifestyle.

It’s important to accept that there is an ideal weight and body fat percentage for your body that is healthy and easily sustainable all year round. Part of your leaning out journey is discovering that point for yourself and learning how to manage your diet and training so you always have a strong, healthy, kick-butt physique.

Food Isn’t Always to Blame

If getting lean is your goal, most likely you are quite preoccupied with the scale and your body fat measurements. While it is important to monitor your progress to keep benchmarks and analyze how changes in your routine, diet, and training affect your progress, micro-analyzing every variation and thinking your plateau is related to your food intake can actually be detrimental.

Here are a few things that can dramatically affect your body fat reading and scale weight. Are any of them a factor in your life right now?

• Monthly hormonal fluctuations
• Water retention
• Alcohol intake
• Overstressing, overworking, or overtraining
• Not enough sleep
• Illness
• Travel
• A sudden change in your routine

Before blaming yourself or your diet, take a moment to check through this list. Did you answer “yes” to any of them? More than one “yes” means your body is in full preservation mode! This means your metabolism has slowed down and your progress has stopped. Forcing your body to keep burning fat by caloric reduction will only make the situation worse and compromise your health.

Try these tips instead.

• Focus on foods that help rebalance your hormones and reduce water retention —fresh, raw fruits and vegetables:

• Strawberries, papaya, raspberries, grapefruit, papayas, mangoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, snow peas, celery, and asparagus, carrots, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peas.

• Cut out all alcohol
• Make time to de-stress with a massage, a day by the beach, or your favorite outdoor activity
• Be sure to pay close attention to your sleeping habits and go to bed before 10 pm (one hour before midnight is worth one hour after)
• See your doctor to get any nagging health issues sorted out
• Recognize that travel puts pressure on your body. Make time to relax and rest rather than constantly pushing yourself
• Find ways to provide stability and predictability in your routine

Eat Nutritionally Dense Foods

I have a little saying I use to keep myself on track: “make every calorie count.” If you want a super lean body, you don’t have the luxury of wasting calories on nutrient-poor or diluted foods that offer very little nutritional value to your body. Consuming low-quality food is like asking your car to run the same distance on ½ the petrol. You want very high quality petrol—the most concentrated, energy-efficient product out there. The same goes for your body: all calories are not equal.

When you’re hungry and ready to grab a snack, ask yourself, “Is this the absolute best source of calories and does it provide optimum nutrition for my body?” If not, then don’t eat it—it’s that simple. If you do, you’re only kidding yourself and wasting calories on foods that will not fuel your body adequately for the journey ahead.

You must commit to eating a wide variety of quality, whole foods with no additives, preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors. If you want a Ferrari body, then you need Ferrari fuel.

Don’t Overtrain

In an attempt to burn calories, you might be tempted to up the ante on your training. Ironically, during the last stages of leaning out and losing those last few pounds, this can be the worst thing to do. Training hard requires your body to work overtime repairing and building new muscle. If your body doesn’t find a nice surplus of calories for the energy it needs, fat loss slows down as the body tries to preserve itself.

We have to gently nurture our bodies and coax them into losing those last few pounds. This means taking care of all aspects of our health and switching the focus to more aerobically challenging workouts such as full-body circuits and HIIT rather than heavy weight training which requires big recovery cycles. In terms of muscle development, this means you must be happy with your current physique before you enter into the leaning out stage. Trying to make advances in muscle development while focusing on optimal burning of fat in the last phase of leaning out is very difficult for the average person.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Underestimating the mental and emotional strength required to maintain a super healthy diet is very common. Quite simply, the body doesn’t like being constantly told “no” when it wants its favorite foods and little treats. In my experience, this is one of the most difficult aspects of getting lean, and it’s the most frequent progress blocker.

It’s very important to realize that this feeling will intensify over the leaning out process, and it can lead to feeling more emotional than usual, irritable over minor things, and just generally out of sorts. This, of course, only compounds the cravings for your favorite unhealthy foods, and that can lead to getting discouraged and critical of yourself.

Being prepared for this stage can make the difference between success and failure. You need to compensate for not being able to have your favorite ice cream by rewarding yourself with your favorite “feel good” food alternatives. Those will be different for everyone, but whatever they are, you must make time for them. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself back at the refrigerator and undoing all your hard work.

Enjoy the Journey

Getting lean doesn’t have to be a torturous undertaking. You can eat well with minimal hunger and optimum results. But it does take discipline and commitment to consistently doing the right things, every day. This doesn’t mean there won’t be any speed bumps, but you need to pick yourself up straight away and get back on track. Most of all, your success is dependent on understanding your own personal physiology and knowing what works best so you can fine tune your nutrition and training over time.

Remember, there is no one “right way” but “your best way.”

Belinda

—————————————

Belinda Benn: As someone who hadn’t exercised until I was 37, I know how tough it can be to get into shape—at any age.

In my 30s, I realized that my body had paid the price for years of office work, eating a lot of sugar and fat, and a lack of exercise. I made some drastic changes—both inside and out—and after a few years backpacking around the world and learning to surf with the pros, I hunkered down in my 40s to study nutrition, leaning out, and body building.

It’s all paid off! Now I’m a leading Fitness Expert and Transformation Coach and an internationally published fitness model. My no-nonsense, down to earth approach to nutrition, food preparation, and fitness has proven results for both men and women who want to lean out, get fit, and be the best they’ve ever been—at any age! Get Lean Program.com
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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

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  1. Nimmi
    1 year ago

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for writing this article. I read it just when i was about to give up. I am a 29 years old woman, 164 cms in height.Since September 2011, I have lost 20 kgs; from 80kgs to 59-60 kgs. I am happy with what I have achieved, but I really, really want to be down to 55-56 kgs. I have been trying my damndest hard since past 4 months to lose these last 4-5 kgs, but nothing works. I was ready to give up today on even trying. But what you wrote makes sense to me. May be its not my body which is tired and does’nt want to change. May be its ME! So often, I train really hard, and when I dont see the results within 3-4 days, I go out and binge, and then feel bad again, and train doubly hard. it has become a vicious cycle for me. You are right, I have to now look after myself emotionally and mentally. Thank you sweet heart, I needed to hear these words from someone!!


    • Mandy Gibbons
      1 year ago

      Hey Nimmi

      First up, congratulations! 20 kilos is an awesome effort. Please, Never give up! You so deserve to have the body and life that you truly want.
      Everyone’s body is different. We all have plateaus, and we need to tweak our programs and nutrition to suit our goals, our desires, how it makes us feel along with how our bodies adapt personally to the changes we make. Then there’s issues with hormones and how that effects fat loss as well – not to mention our emotions.

      As women, especially, we tend to be so hard on ourselves. Make your changes bit by bit, and don’t overwhelm yourself, Nimmi.

      I wrote this blog post the other day… read it and be kind to yourself, ok…
      http://virtualfitnesstrainer.com/fitness-motivation/do-you-ever-feel-unworthy-of-your-fitness-goals/

      hugs
      Mandy xo

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