If you’re trying to lose weight, there’s nothing more frustrating than stepping on the scale and seeing the same number for days or weeks on end.
It’s a feeling almost everyone can relate to.
Many people hit a weight loss plateau at some point in their journey. And the good news is that there are simple solutions to help you break through.
In this podcast, you’ll learn common reasons why weight loss stalls and practical tips to help you overcome them. With these strategies, you’ll know exactly how to beat weight loss plateaus and get back on track towards your goals.
Listen and let me know your thoughts!
0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!
3:16 – When do you know that you have stopped losing weight?
9:08 – How does water retention affect weight loss?
17:07 – How do I plan and track food accurately?
21:27 – Save up to 30% on Legion Health Supplements this week only! buylegion.com
22:37 – How can I have cheat meals and continue losing weight?
33:39 – How much exercise do I need to keep losing weight?
37:32 – Why am I burning fewer calories?
Mentioned on the Show:
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Hello. Hello, I’m Mike Matthews. This is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me for another episode, which is going to be about weight loss and specifically what to do when you stop losing weight. What is going on and how do you fix it? And when you do stop losing weight and you don’t know why and you don’t know what to do, it can be pretty frustrating.
You think that maybe this is it, maybe the ride is over. Maybe your imagination was bigger than your metabolism. Maybe you just weren’t meant to have those abs, or maybe you just weren’t meant to reach your body composition stretch goal that you set for yourself. Fortunately, those things are basically never true.
Theoretically, you can lose as much fat as you want to lose. You can get as lean as you want to get. Now, practically speaking, You should not get too lean like in men. For example, once you get below seven or 8% body fat, you might think it looks cool, but unless you are taking steroids or at least on t r t, unless you are introducing exogenous hormones into your body, your quality of life is going to plummet.
If you get below, call it, you know, seven or 8% in men in. It’s probably 16, 17%. Once you get below that, energy levels decline, workout performance declines, sleep quality declines, and that then of course accelerates all the other negative effects. Not getting enough good sleep just makes everything else worse, appetite ramps up, sex drive declines, et cetera, et cetera.
And so that’s a limit of sorts. But fortunately, the vast majority of men and women who I’ve met over the years, Don’t even necessarily want to get to five or 6% if it’s a man, or 14 or 15% in most cases. Most men, they want to get to about 10% body fat where you have clearly visible abs and you’re gonna have a bit of vascularity.
You probably have a little bit of vascularity in your arms and your forearms. You look good. You look like you lift, you look athletic, but you don’t look starving and malnourished. Most women I’ve spoken to over the years, the look that they are after is probably around 20% body fat, where they look athletic, they’re lean, but they also look feminine.
They still have some curves. They don’t have a lot of vascularity. They have AB definition, but not like six pack abs per se. And the good news is basically anyone can achieve those goals, can get to those body fat levels and maintain them indefinitely if they know what they’re. And so in this episode, I’m going to be talking again specifically about what to do when you stop losing weight, because that is inevitable if you have a lot of fat that you want to lose.
I wish it was just a perfect linear approach to the. Goal, but that’s not how it goes. There are weight loss plateaus, and you just need to know why they’re occurring and what to do about it. And then you just need to be patient. And so in this episode, I’m going to break it all down for you so you know what to expect and what to do.
Okay, so let’s start this discussion with a question. When do you know that you have stopped losing weight? Many people. The reason I think we should start there is I’ve heard from many people over the years who thought that they were in a weight loss plateau, or that they had, quote unquote, stopped losing weight when they really had, not when they were progressing, but they just weren’t losing weight as quickly as they thought they should, or as.
Someone on social media has said that they lost weight. And so the person is thinking that a weight loss plateau is, is just not losing weight at a certain rate, and that is not necessarily true. Now, it can be true if you are losing one 10th of a pound of fat per week. That’s effectively a plateau, even though you are.
Losing weight or losing fat. But if you are losing somewhere between, let’s say 0.5 and 1% of your body weight per week, you are doing just fine. And how do you know if you are losing weight at an appropriate rate? Well, You have to track your weight, of course, but you have to track it correctly. What many people do is they just weigh themselves, either sporadically or they weigh themselves maybe on the same day each week.
Maybe it’s Saturday morning, and that can cause problems because if you have a bad weigh in, not because you didn’t lose fat that week, but because you are holding more water than usual. You have more poop in you than usual, then you can think that you maybe even gained weight in the previous week and you’re thinking gained fat when in fact you lost fat, but are weighing more for reasons that I, I’ll get into in this podcast.
I just gave you two of them, but there are some others as well. And so to track your weight correctly, which I recommend you do when you’re cutting, if you are not confident enough. In the process to know where your calories need to be and where your macros need to be, and to know that you are keeping them where they need to be and to know that weight loss is not a linear process, your weight is going to fluctuate up.
And down. Basically, if you are not an experienced body composition transformer, if you haven’t gone through at least a few pretty significant cuts where you’ve lost a lot of fat, I would recommend tracking your weight regularly. And for me, for example, I don’t need to track my weight regularly the way I’m going to recommend, because I’ve just done.
Enough now to know where my calories need to be, where my macros need to be, how to do that, and what to expect, and I can really just judge my progress by what I see in the mirror. Stay patient and achieve my goal. Now, if I were trying to compete in natural body building, though, I would be tracking my weight because that requires more.
Precision, and there also are deadlines that must be met. Whereas if I’m cutting just to look a little bit better, I don’t really care if it takes me four weeks or even eight weeks because it’s not that big of a difference. It’s mostly just for me looking in the mirror thinking, eh, I’d like to be a little bit leaner.
And so what I recommend when you are tracking your weight is that you weigh yourself every day, but don’t put any weight on. Daily fluctuations. Instead, take an average every, let’s say seven days. Some people do 10 days, some people even do it every two weeks, but let’s say every seven to 10 days, you take an average of the previous seven to 10 day block, and then you watch that average.
So let’s say you’re doing it every seven days. Okay, good. You have your average daily, wait for those seven days, and then another seven days pass. You’re weighing every day first thing in the morning. I recommend after using the bathroom, before drinking water, same conditions, no clothing on. So you’re doing.
Day, and then you get your average weight and you see how that changes every seven days. And if that is trending downward, then you are losing weight. Your weight is going down. If it’s trending upward, you are gaining weight. If it is more or less the same. Then you are maintaining your body weight. So that’s my first little tip for dealing with the volatility of weight loss.
Weight loss is not consistent and predictable. You will not even if you have a perfect calorie deficit. Perfectly calibrated for, let’s say, a pound of fat loss per week. You may, on average lose a pound of fat per week, but your weight is going to go up and down. You are going to watch it trend downward for a week, and then you’re going to watch it look.
Basically the same for a week or maybe even two weeks. Then all of a sudden you’re gonna watch it drop rapidly. You’re gonna watch a pound per day, disappear for a few days, and then the following week you’re gonna suddenly gain a pound back and so on and so on. And again, that’s why you want to make sure that you are weighing yourself daily end watching that average.
Okay, so let’s say you’re doing that and you see that your average daily weight has not changed significantly, let’s say more than at least a few percent in a couple of weeks. Minimally two, but three plus weeks. While that. Is a weight loss plateau that qualifies as a weight loss plateau. Why? What’s happening?
Well, you could just be eating too much food and not moving enough. But there are other reasons that I’ll start with, and then we’ll talk about energy balance, calories in versus calories out. So one very common reason why people stop losing weight. Does not have to do with energy balance and actually can obscure fat loss.
So weight loss can stop, but fat loss can continue. And this is water retention, fluid retention. And this is particularly true for women because they are hormonally inclined to retain water and they also have to deal with the hormonal fluctuations. Come with their menstrual cycle. And so what happens here is you can lose a pound of fat in a week, but then you can pick up some additional water weight along the way, and that can then hide how much fat you’ve lost.
Or maybe it can make it look like you’ve even gained weight. Now, why can water retention go up? Well, there are a few common causes of water attention, especially indicting. One is elevated cortisol levels, so cortisol is one of the body’s stress hormone. And when you stay in a calorie deficit for a prolonged amount of time, research shows that cortisol levels go up and cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day based on our circadian rhythm and based on activity.
But they also settle to a baseline level like insulin. And the longer we diet for, the higher that baseline generally is, and that in turn can cause several unwanted effects in the body, including increased water retention, and the best way to manage this, the best way to reduce cortisol levels and to.
Them generally low are to get plenty of sleep to eat a moderate to high carb diet. Research shows that low carb dieting can particularly exacerbate this, so if you combine low carb dieting with calorie restriction with a fair amount of physical exercise, Cortisol levels can become quite elevated and that can lead to elevated water retention among other problems.
And you also wanna make sure that you are not trying to lose weight too quickly. You don’t want to be too aggressive with your diet. Or you can really skyrocket cortisol levels. Another reason why water retention can spike is sodium just eating a lot of sodium because sodium brings water into cells, and that’s why eating salty foods can make you gain several pounds of water weight in just a matter of hours.
And this, by the way, is probably why you have seen your weight balloon overnight when you’ve had a cheat meal or a treat meal. If you’ve had a very salty high carb meal and you are eating, let’s say, a lot more salt than you normally do in a day, and you are eating a lot more carbs than you normally eat in a day, that can cause several pounds of weight.
Overnight, and many people freak out when they see that and they don’t understand what is going on. But the good news is if you bring your sodium intake back down to normal, and if your carbohydrate intake comes back to whatever the normal level has been, then within a day or two you should shed that extra water.
But it does often take a day or two of normal eating again to. Lose that water weight. And so there’s nothing wrong with eating more salt than you normally do sometimes and eating more carbs than you normally do. Usually more sugar than you normally do for a cheat meal or a treatment. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you just have to keep.
The after effect in mind when you are interpreting your rate of weight loss. And some people, what they do is they simply don’t weigh themselves in the one to two days following a really high sodium high carb. Cheat meal, which is totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with skipping a couple of weigh-ins just because you know it’s going to muddy up your data.
It’s not actually useful data because within a day or two, you are now going to be down three or four pounds. Now, I mentioned carbs here a couple of times, and water weight. How does that work? Well, carbohydrate is converted into a substance in the body called glycogen, also glucose, but glycogen, and this is a form of carbohydrate.
It’s stored in our liver, it’s stored in our muscles. But it is also stored with water. So when a gram of glycogen is stored in our muscles, it is also stored with about three to four grams of water. And so what can happen then is a high carb meal, just one high carb meal, can cause an upward swing in body weight because a certain percentage of those carbs are going to be converted into glycogen and stored in the muscles along with.
And it can be quite a bit. I mean, think about, let’s say 150 grams of carbs. Let’s just think about that number with another 600 grams of water. So we’re at 750 grams. That is almost two pounds. And one other thing you should understand about glycogen and dieting is glycogen levels are going to be lower when you are dieting, especially if you’ve been cutting for a bit, your carb intake has gone down simply because that is the easiest way to create and maintain a calorie deficit.
You are not going to dramatically reduce your protein intake. You are going to maybe even increase your protein intake over your maintenance or lean bulking protein. Targets, and you might reduce your fat intake a bit. You might go from 30 to 35% of daily calories down to 20 or 25% depending on how your body responds.
But most of your calorie deficit is probably going to be driven by a reduction in. Carbs. And so what that means then is our glycogen stores are going to be lower than usual, and there is a lot of room for us to store glycogen in our body, especially in our muscles if we are fairly muscular, if we have more muscle than the average person.
And if I’m remembering correctly, research shows that I believe this was in. Trained men. Upward of a thousand to 1200 grams of glycogen was about the max, I believe. If I’m remembering correctly, this one study that looked at carbohydrate over feeding, and I believe it was about a thousand, 1200 grams of glycogen, was basically the most that these men could store in their muscles.
In particular, I believe it may have included the liver as well. And saying that though, is if you are maybe not following a low carb diet, If your carbohydrate intake is generally lower, is lower than it usually is, then your body is hungry for glycogen and if you give it a bunch of carbs, it is going to store a fair amount of those carbs as glycogen with.
Water. And just to put it in perspective, like two slices of bread. So if your body were to store the carbohydrates in two slices of bread, that would come with about an extra one third of a pound of water. So now think about like a high carb Italian blowout. Let’s say that’s your treat meal, right? You like pasta, like me, you like pasta.
That’s one of my favorite treat meals is pasta. So you go to the restaurant, you’re eating bread, you’re eating carby, appetizer. You then are eating a bunch of pasta and a dessert. That meal can cause a lot of overnight weight gain because of the sodium and the carbs. So those are the most common reasons why people retain water.
And that’s it for this first point of water retention, which. Again, can make it look like you are not losing fat when you actually are. And let’s move on to now the second reason why you stop losing weight, and that is an energy balance related one. It is not planning or tracking your food intake accurately.
And this one can be really insidious because you can think that you are following your meal plan perfectly without realizing that you are accidentally eating more than you should or more than you intend to eat. Some common mistakes that people make are measurements like, A tablespoon of this or a cup of that and not realizing that their heaping tablespoon that weighs 42 grams, let’s say tablespoon of peanut butter is not the, let’s say, 18 or 20 gram.
Tablespoon that MyFitness Pal is working with, and that is basing the calories and the macros on. And the same thing goes for, let’s say you are making some oatmeal and you are supposed to measure out half of a cup of oatmeal dry and then cook it and eat it, and you get your half. Cup out and you have a heaping half cup that let’s say has 20% more oatmeal if you were to measure it in grams than the half of a cup or the cup in the food database again, that you are using to create your meal plan.
And many people, Forget to count the calories in. Little things, sauces, salad dressings, or ingredients that go into even homemade salad dressings, like vinegars, uh, balsamic vinegar, for example. Some of them actually have. Quite a few calories, at least enough that needs to be accounted for. Um, butter, you know, you put a pattern, two of butter on your toast and enough of those little hidden calories, as I call them, can add up.
I mean, that could be, let’s say two, 300 more calories per day, just from little things, the splash of creamer in your milk. Little bit of butter here, little bit of oil there, maybe oil. Cooking that is being soaked into the food, it’s not being accounted for Individually. Those things may not matter much cuz let’s say they’re like 50, 60 calories each.
But when you add them up, now you are eating two to 300 more calories per day, then you should be eating or then you intended to eat. And if you are a smaller woman, that might be. 60 to 80% of your calorie deficit right there gone. You might only be shooting for a three, four max, 500 calorie deficit per day.
And if you then combine that with the previous mistake of mismeasured food, not measuring by grams, but just by eyesight, that can completely wipe out your calorie deficit and. Put you in a slight calorie surplus. And so what happens then is you think you are following your diet and you’re not. And although you, let’s say you’re not in a calorie deficit or you are in a very small calorie deficit, it’s too small to really matter.
You might think that you are not going to experience any hunger or any unwanted side effects associated with dieting because while you’re kind of not dieting at this, You are just maintaining, or maybe even lean bulking, the nocebo effect can kick in and the psychological and emotional responses to dieting can still be present.
So you can have people who still feel like they’re dieting and who are experiencing some negative symptoms associated with dieting without actually being in a calorie deficit, without anything to show for. So this is why it’s important to follow a meal plan when you are dieting, especially if you are pretty new to all of this.
And doubly, especially if you have never followed a meal plan before. And if you want to learn how to do that, however, to legion athletics.com and search for meal planning. And you’ll find an article that I wrote that breaks it all down. It is pretty straightforward when you know what to. If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me keep doing more of it, please do check out my sports nutrition company Legion, because while you don’t need supplements to build muscle, lose fat, get healthy, the right ones can help.
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This week only [email protected]. B U Y L E G I O N dot. Okay. Another reason why you stop losing weight is you are not cheating correctly, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with cheat meals or cheating on your diet. And put that in scare quotes or as I like to call them, treat meals just to take any negative connotation away from eating off your plan, and in fact, doing that regular.
Can help you get better results. It can help you better stick to your diet. It can help you lose more fat over time if you do it correctly. Cause it’s something to look forward to. Many people who have successfully transformed their bodies will talk about that. They would do one treat meal a week where they would go to their favorite restaurant and they would eat more food than they usually do.
They wouldn’t binge, but they wouldn’t restrict themselves. They would. Maybe eat a little bit less that day. Maybe just kind of eat protein and vegetables and they’d go to the restaurant and order the appetizer they like and the entree they like and share a dessert that they like and have a couple of drinks and just unwind.
And they would look forward to that every week. And it was kind of like a, an emotional or a psychological release valve that would just help them shed any of the. Kind of internal tension that that can build up when you are dieting. However, there are right and wrong ways to do that. So one of the wrongest ways to do it is to do the cheat day where you just eat whatever you want for an entire day.
Usually means a lot of fatty foods, a lot of highly processed foods, a lot of sugar, and it usually means a lot of eating too, where you are basically having, you know, several big meals and then having all kinds of snacks in between, and then you add some alcohol on top of that, you can easily undo an entire week’s worth of fat loss or even two weeks worth of fat loss in one day of eating and drinking.
Way too much. Now as far as individual meals go, there are a few common mistakes that people make. One is just having too many cheat meals because cheating often involves at least a slight calorie surplus for the day. Ideally, you would end the day somewhere around the number of calories that you burned, but if you are slightly over that, let’s say you are 10 to 15, max 20.
Over that, and especially if it’s a high carb meal rather than a high fat meal. And if it doesn’t involve alcohol, that shouldn’t get in the way of anything. But if you do that several times per week, you are now taking out large chunks of your. Weekly calorie deficit. So if you look at your daily calorie deficit and you start adding it up day by day, and then you have two or three cheat meals per week that end you, let’s say, one to 200 calories above your energy expenditure for those days, and maybe it’s even 300.
Well, if you, if you do that three times per week, let’s say it’s two to 300, You’re looking at now taking out 600 900 calories from your weekly deficit, which may only be a few thousand calories, so can you keep losing weight, losing fat that way? Yes, but you can also dramatically slow down your. Weight loss.
And if you are operating that way, inevitably there are going to be weeks where you really eat too much. Maybe on some weeks you’re not that bad. Some weeks you’re somewhere in the middle, and then some weeks you really do eat too much. You have like four cheat meals and you are ending 500 to a thousand calories above your daily energy expenditure on those days, and there’s alcohol, and so that’s enough to.
Delete that week. Basically, you got no leaner by the end of that week, and that then happens every so often. Maybe that’s every four or five weeks. And then you have some mediocre kind of in the middle weeks where you lose, let’s say half of the amount of fat that you intended to lose because you kind of overdid it a little bit.
And then every so often you have the. Mild cheat weeks, let’s say, where you achieve most of your fat loss goal for the week. But when you put all of those things together and you stretch it out over time, you see how it can add a lot of time to the process. It can make what should be a three or four month cut, or let’s say it.
Two or three month cut, it can double that. It can turn the two month cut into the four month cut or the three month cut into a six month cut. So another common mistake that people make with cheat meals is they just eat too much in an individual meal. And that’s because many people don’t realize just how many calories their favorite cheat meals contain.
And so they just end up eating far more than they anticipate. Often they. Eat too quickly too. They will order the loaded nachos and then they’ll smash that down. And then right after that is the bacon cheeseburger with french fries, and they finish that and they’re starting to feel full. The satiety is starting to kick in, but they go right from that to the dessert.
And then in, let’s say 30 minutes or 60 minutes later, Absolutely stuffed and they have eaten thousands and thousands of calories. Another cheat meal mistake is eating too much dietary fat. So when you combine that with just eating too much food, so too many calories and too much dietary fat is basically the one of the most effective ways to just gain body fat from an individual meal.
You add alcohol to that and. Is the recipe for maximum fat gain. You want a lot of calories, a lot of dietary fat, plenty of alcohol, and you are going to store a considerable, uh, amount of that dietary fat, those calories that come from the dietary fat, as well as the calories that are coming from the carbs as.
Body fat and that process is enhanced. That storage process is enhanced by the alcohol, and this is the opposite of what many people think. Many people think that high carb diets and high carb meals cause maximum fat gain. That is not true. It is high fat diets as long as there’s a calorie surplus and high fat meals.
That result in maximum fat gain because dietary fat is chemically very similar to body fat. It doesn’t need to be processed much at all to be turned into body fat to be stored in our body fat cells. Whereas carbohydrate is quite different chemically and it needs to undergo process. To be turned into dietary fat, and research shows that that process actually rarely occurs.
It only occurs, it appears to only occur when we eat huge amounts of carbohydrate. In one study, it took several days of men eating over a thousand grams of carbohydrate per day for this process, which is called de novo Lipogenesis. To occur in any meaningful degree. Now, if you add alcohol into the mix, that can change a little bit.
You’ll get more de novo lipogenesis than normal if you add alcohol in. But carbohydrates rarely is directly converted into body fat. Instead, it can contribute to fat gain by enhancing the storage of primary. Dietary fat. So that’s normally how our body works. It normally stores a lot of the dietary fat that we eat as body fat, and it needs to do that to replenish the body fat stores that it has to tap into every day.
Cuz that is our body’s primary source of energy when food energy is not present. So we eat some food, our body has some energy, it runs off of the food energy, but eventually our body finishes processing the meal, and that might be only a couple of hours if it’s a smaller meal. And then what? Where does it get energy to stay alive?
Primarily body fat. And so we are, for that period of time, we are getting leaner. We’re not gonna see it of course, but our body is chipping away slowly at its body fat stores just to stay alive and wait for the next meal. And then we. Feed our body food and it no longer needs to break down body fat for energy.
It can then run off of the food energy and it flips between those two states, fed and fasted. And so when we eat a mixed meal of say, protein, carbohydrate, and fat, what usually happens is a fair amount of the dietary fat is stored as body fat, but not the protein and carbohydrate. And so when you are dieting, Technically the meal that is least conducive to fat gain, if we look at it just as an individual meal, would be a high protein meal.
Like that would be the best, just eating a big pile of lean meat , or lean fish or poultry or whatever. But that’s not very enjoyable. So the second best option that many people actually can enjoy is a high protein and high carb. So maybe that’s the, the lean meat now with some nice carbs that you like to eat that don’t have a ton of fat.
And if you are like me, your favorite sheet meals don’t really involve protein. Like, I really like pasta. Do I care to ask them to? Give me some chicken on the side. No, I don’t really wanna do that. So what I often do is I will go into my cheat meal with my daily protein intake done. So let’s say it’s a dinner and it’s at 6:00 PM by 6:00 PM I’ve had all the protein I need for the day, something around, let’s say 0.8 to one gram of protein per pound of body weight.
And if you are very overweight, Gives you a very large number that doesn’t really make sense. You can go one gram per centimeter of body height. That can work well as well. So I’ve got all my protein done, taken care of. So when I go to the restaurant, I’m gonna eat the stuff that I like. It’s gonna be carby and probably some fat as well.
But I try, if I’m dieting and I, and I have a reason to really care about this, then I try to go for a high. Cheat meal rather than a high fat cheat meal. And the final mistake is drinking a bunch of alcohol with the cheat meal already talked about this, especially a high fat cheat meal because alcohol blocks fat oxidation, it blocks our body’s natural fat burning mechanisms, I guess you could say.
And that in turn accelerates the rate at which dietary fat in particular that you eat is. As body fat. Okay, so that’s it for the cheat meal section of this podcast and how cheating incorrectly can screw up your weight loss. Let’s now talk about exercise. Let’s talk about the energy out component because a reason why many people stop losing weight is they are not exercising enough.
They are not moving their. Enough, and you don’t have to exercise to lose weight, but if you want to lose fat as quickly and as healthy as possible, and if you want to preserve or even improve your body composition, you want to be doing at least a few strength training workouts per week. And if you want.
To have an easier time of fat loss. You also want to be doing some sort of cardiovascular exercise, and that includes walking. One of the easiest ways to lose more fat is just to walk more, figure out how you can walk more, and if you can get outside. And put your phone away and walk more, that’s a double win because you are not only going to lose fat faster, but you are going to be in a better mood.
You are going to just feel better, and that’s good for many reasons. And one of them relates to dieting because the better. You generally feel, the better your mood generally is, the better you are going to be able to stick to your diet. And something else that is interesting related to physical activity and exercise research shows that.
A larger amount of physical activity appears to just work better for weight loss than a smaller amount of physical activity, even when the calorie deficit is equal. So for example, if you have one person who does a few hours of exercise per week and is restricting their calories, three to 500 calories per day, they are generally going to.
Easier time of it. They are going to be less hungry. They’re going to experience fewer of the unwanted side effects associated with dieting than somebody who, let’s say, has the exact same body composition and is also restricting their calories, three to 500 calories per day, but is only doing, let’s say an hour of exercise per week.
So when you are cutting more physical activity is better. Up to a point. Of course, what I. Recommend for most people is three to five one hour strength training workouts per week, and then maybe one to three, let’s say 20 to 30 minute moderate intensity cardio workouts per week and basically unlimited walking.
You would be hard pressed to walk so much that it would. Be a problem and practically speaking, the 10,000 steps per day target is reasonable. It’s not an evidence-based target does represent probably about an hour and a half of walking per day for most people, and that’s going to burn several hundred calories and benefit your body in other ways as well.
If you wanna learn more about the. Benefits of walking. Head over to legion athletics.com. Search for easiest Cardio and look for an article that I wrote that here I’ll search right now. It is the easiest cardio workout that you can do that actually works. Check out that article. And so what most people.
Do who do well with this stuff is they do three to five hours of strength training per week. They do a couple of kind of cardio workouts, like actual cardio workouts, moderate intensity, maybe even a little bit of high intensity if they wanna do that. And then they make sure to get in, let’s say, eight to 10,000 steps per day on average, and at least half of those steps, or at least a third to maybe a half of those steps are.
Going outside and going for a walk as opposed to the steps that you rack up just doing your normal daily activities. Okay? Another reason why you stop losing weight is you are now burning fewer calories and you need to adjust. So this is the metabolic adaptation point, not metabolic damage. That’s a myth.
You are not going to damage your metabolism with dieting. Even if it’s extreme dieting, your metabolism is going to adapt, but it is not going to become damaged. You’re not going to have to repair it or reverse diet for a long period of time to get your metabolic rate back to where it needs to be. But what is true is as you reduce your body weight, you are also reducing the.
Energy that you burn during physical activity, and that’s physical activity of all kinds. That’s your workouts, that’s your walking, that’s everything because it costs less energy to move a lighter body and it costs a lot less energy. I weigh about 200 pounds on muscular, my basal metabolic rate, so the amount of calories that I burn every day at rest if I just don’t move around is, oh, about 2100, maybe 2200.
Calories. My wife probably weighs 105 pounds, maybe 108 pounds, and it’s not muscular per se, but she rides horses and that does require a fair amount of strength. It’s isometric, it’s a bit different, but she probably has a more muscle than the average woman. Her size and her baso of rate is probably like 1200 calories, no more than 1300.
That’s a huge difference. So as you lose weight, your metabolism naturally. Shrinks, you are now burning fewer calories. Also, when you restrict your calories and you feed your body less energy than it burns, your metabolism starts slowing down in other ways. It starts to burn less energy in addition to the less energy that’s required to move a lighter body.
And research shows that the more you restrict your calories, the faster and the greater. Down regulation occurs. Now, fortunately, this is quickly reversed. It disappears when you stop dieting and your metabolism starts to run exactly as it always has. There, uh, are no lingering effects, but while you are cutting, you can expect your body to burn fewer calories than it normally would if you were eating more food.
Another. Reason why this happens is research shows that when we are restricting our calories for fat loss, our body increases its energy efficiency, meaning that it actually burns fewer calories doing these same activities, and that’s not because of the reduction in. Body weight. Uh, there’s research where scientists have even artificially increased people’s body weight, who were restricting calories for weight loss, and they found that their energy expenditure during exercise was still lower than normal.
And they were exerting themselves as hard as when their natural body weight was higher, and yet they were still burning fewer calories. It’s interesting. Something else that you should keep in mind is research shows that dieting reduces the amount of spontaneous activity that we just naturally engage in.
And so that means fidgeting, that means pacing. That means how close we park to the entrance of the grocery store without really even thinking about. So we don’t have to walk as much that’s taking the elevator instead of the stairs when maybe we normally would take the stairs. This is known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, often referred to by its acronym.
Neat. And research shows that this. Point alone can vary by up to 2000 calories per day from person to person. Now that’s an extreme, in most people it is in the range of several hundred calories per day. But you might start a diet burning 600 calories a day, let’s say, from neat. And now you are a few months into your diet, and that’s down by 300 calories.
You’re now burning half, you’re burning 300 calories per day because of meat and. Could be your entire daily calorie deficit or most of it that has been lost through attrition, so to speak. And so ultimately these mechanisms just allow your body to slowly undermine your calorie deficit until it just is completely negated.
And so when that happens, of course, you just need to widen that gap between the energy and the energy out. And the best way to do that is. What I already mentioned to max out on exercise, which again, let’s say three to five hours of strength training per week, maybe two hours total of moderate intensity cardio.
If you wanna do some high intensity, let’s limit that to one hour per week, plus your hour and a half-ish of walking per day. Some people, they can do just fine with more exercise than that, but I think that that’s a reasonable ceiling for most people when they’re cutting. And so once you’ve done that, Do you do next?
Well, you need to eat less, and so there are a few steps. The first step is to realistically assess your current total daily energy expenditure and your meal plan and see if. Though if your meal plan needs to be adjusted, maybe you assumed that you are actually burning more calories than you do. And if you’re not sure how to do that, head over to legion athletics.com and there’s a, a section of the menu called Learn If you check out tools and then you go to T D E E calculator, that’s total daily energy expenditure calculator that will help you figure.
Total daily energy expenditure out, so then you can compare it to what you are eating and see how it looks. And practically speaking, what I’ve found is once you have been dieting for some period of time, and you’ve done a lot of the things that I’ve talked about in this podcast, and you are not losing weight, you can cut your daily calories by a hundred to 150 calories.
And I’ve always done that by just taking them from. So just cutting, you know, upward of, let’s say 40 grams of carbs from my daily meal plan. And that has usually kind of bought me another maybe seven to 10 days of fat loss before it would stop again. And then I would reduce my energy intake by a further a hundred to 150 calories per day and repeat that process until I’ve reached my goal or my calorie intake just gets too low.
I generally would stop at. Basal metabolic rate, which if you want to calculate yours, you can do that [email protected]. Uh, same tool, actually, total Daily Energy expenditure calculator will give you your basal metabolic rate, your B M r plus, your total daily energy expenditure, your t d e, and I think it’s okay to go at least slightly below your B M R maybe for a short period of time.
But once. Start eating less than your B M R and to put that in perspective, so again, I’m 200 pounds pretty muscular. My B M R is around 1800 calories. So if I were eating 1500 calories as a muscular 200 pound guy, that’s extreme. That’s like the end of a grueling six month body building diet where you’re having to get very unhealthily lean, right?
And so I generally recommend. Stopping calorie reductions at or slightly below your B M R, riding that out for as long as you can if you’ve needed to take it that far. And this usually only is required when you are lean, wanting to get very lean. Like if you’re a guy and you’re trying to get to five, 6% body fat ab veins, you are gonna have to suffer a little bit.
You probably will have to eventually get down to around your B M R maybe a little bit higher in my case, instead of 1800, maybe you. 2000. I don’t know if I’ve really gone lower than 1900 to 2000 calories per day, but that is not a lot of food for somebody like me, especially not a lot of food when I’m eating that way for several weeks on end.
And so that’s basically the end of the cut. After several weeks of eating right around your B M R, it’s time to take a break. It’s time to then like actually take a diet, bring your calories back up to your maintenance, calculated newly at your current body weight and. Give your body a break. Give your mind a break, and if you have more fat, you wanna lose, start over again and repeat the same process.
Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.
And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.