Your body likes to stay the same. It’s called homeostasis.
Your body does NOT want to change. Sometimes it will work really hard to keep you from changing. But change CAN be good if it’s done right.
Are you down to the last 10 or 20 pounds and can’t seem to get it off? It might be time to change things up.
Switch from high carb to low carb or vice versa. Try intermittent fasting. Try a refeed day or even week (a day when you consume a NORMAL amount of calories NOT a binge). You need to “shock” your body into NOT being in homeostasis anymore- and that means doing things differently.
The most common thing to do is to cycle lower calories with refeed weeks or sometimes even months (also known as cutting and bulking cycles). This gives the body a chance to reset itself and get your metabolism humming along again. It will adjust to the lower calories which is why you only want to do low cal for 6 to 8 weeks at a time.
When I work with creating a caloric deficit with my athletes- I like to start small, especially on days they are training.
Then on rest days, we can play around with it a bit- I might have them try intermittent fasting, low carb, etc or just cutting the total calories all together.
I also find that if my athletes feed themselves for their needs and let the exercise and post exercise burn create the caloric deficit this is far more effective then trying to eat 1200 calories a day and get through a work out. You can read about chronic undereating here.
However you have been doing it in the past, if you are stuck, we need to make changes to get you unstuck.
This could be as simple as adding in some refeeds, or you might need to change up your macro ratios altogether to see what you can do.
As a rule, I find that my women athletes do best with a higher carb, moderate to low fat, higher protein way of eating. Most men just need to make sure they are getting adequate protein intake and eating enough overall.
That all being said, every person is different. Some people don’t like the higher carbs- it makes them feel bloated or weighed down, and other people really like to eat a lot of fat or don’t want to count their protein intake.
And again, if you are stuck, look at how you’re eating and figure out what you need to get the system shaken up and burning fat again.
The other factor that you want to consider is stress.
If you’ve been low cal or low carb for a while and that tire around your tummy won’t go away AND you are stressed out all the time– it’s not gonna budge till you work on your cortisol levels.
If you’re trying to lose weight but have other life things going on balance your diet first in a healthy fashion. DON’T worry about cutting calories until life is in balance, then go from there.
Being on a diet is hard enough, managing life while on a diet is just ridiculous. And yes life is still going to happen, but if you are in a place say where you’ve just started a new job or are going through emotional issues just feed your body good, whole, healthy foods. Don’t try to compound your stress by trying to manage a diet too.
So the takeaway here: If you are stuck trying to lose those last few pounds and the scale won’t budge– look at ways you can shake things up to get things rolling again.
My go to suggestions would be:
- If you’ve been low cal/low carb for awhile try either a refeed day or week depending on how long you’ve been dieting.
- If you’ve been low carb for a while, try going high carb (ease back into it slowly to manage the bloated feeling).
- If you’ve tried the other two and they didn’t work- up your cals on training days and try intermittent fasting on rest days (you can go for a calorie cut on IF days but eat those calories within a specific time frame- i.e. from 12pm to 8pm)
- Lastly, if you still feel stuck, consider upping your calories to a healthier range but still at a deficit. Maybe somewhere around 1800 to 2400 depending on gender, age, and activity levels. Consider adding in some moderate aerobic activity- such as 30 to 45 minutes on the assault bike three times a week. Or take a 30-minute walk. This kind of exercise burns fat the best and will not add to your strain or put you at a risk of over-exercising.