Here is the situation.. You’re sticking to your diet, you are training hard but fat loss appears to have stalled..
There are a number of reasons this can happen (don’t worry..this is not another article about not using the scales to predict fat loss). And I want to talk mainly about one reason which in my opinion is often over looked but to give a little background let’s first consider the most common and obvious reason:
The most likely reason is almost certainly under reporting calories or inaccurate tracking.
A simple way to assess this is either by getting your client (or yourself) to have an ‘audit’ or, as I like to call it an ‘anal’ week. This involves weighing EVERYTHING down to the gram.. basically being anal as hell about every little thing you consume.
Or, if you/you’re client feels like they are already doing this then write a meal plan to follow for a week or two which you have created to meet their/your calorie goal exactly.
If weight is still stable after following this CONSITENTLY for 2 weeks then it is likely that calories need to be lowered or, energy expenditure increased to continue to lose weight..
I.e you are not in an energy deficit and you need to create one to continue to lose weight.
This isn’t exactly what I want to talk about here, I want to talk about when you THINK your fat loss has stalled but it hasn’t.
This isn’t another article about the scales masking weight loss due to water retention.. This is about rates of fat loss and what you can realistically expect as you reduce your body fat level.
Or, put in another way, are you being too impatient and expecting the scales to be sensitive enough to measure small changes in energy storage.. which they can’t.
So, if you have ruled out the most common explanation which is that you are not in a consistent energy deficit.
We can consider other reasons for your lack of progress. One of the most common and frequently dismissed reasons is that..
You are in an energy deficit and you are still losing weight.
But, rate of fat loss is comparatively slow as it is a representation of the total amount of body fat you have to lose. Which, as you successfully diet reduces.
This means that fat loss is easily masked on the scales from day to day and even week to week. When it comes to losing fat this slowly the scales often aren’t a sensitive enough measure to see fat loss from week to week. This is especially true if you are not using average daily weight to account for normal fluctuations in weight. And, instead relying on a once weekly weigh in.
This is something a lot of people do not consider and often results in being too quick to lower calories.
This in turn often leads to there being no where to go or, the diet being too restrictive and resulting in poor adherence.. unsurprisingly!
Let’s put this into context..
When you start out you may easily lose 2-3lb a week for a few weeks depending on your starting point.
However, as you successfully diet and thus have less fat to lose you can’t expect to be losing this much. Frequently with relatively petite women you can’t even expect your ‘text book’ 1lb of fat a week.
In fact, 0.5lb a week of fat still isn’t that likely if you don’t weigh very much or you don’t have much fat to lose.
So, if we are talking about fat loss of as little as 0.25lb a week can we really expect to see this on the scales given all the other influences?
No, no absolutely no.
I have had countless clients in this situation.
Basically, you need to be more patient. Yes, I know that isn’t fun or what you want to hear.
Slow fat loss does not mean you are at maintenance. The less body fat you have, the less body fat you have to lose and as a result fat loss will slow.
The only positive is that as you get leaner even small reductions in fat are going to show!
- Do not lower your calories too quickly.
- Rate of fat loss will slow
- You are going to have to accept this
- Quick fat loss usually results in weight regain.. it is not a race.
By Emma Storey-Gordon