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Understanding Weight Loss Plateaus

Obstacles to Strength, Endurance and Weight Loss

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Updated January 24, 2005

Almost everyone reaches a weight loss plateau at some point in their fitness lives. The reason is that the human body works hard to keep energy intake and output in balance. In other words, your body does not like to lose weight (not a revelation, huh?). After your initial weight loss, your progress will slow down and eventually stop even though your exercise and food intake is consistent. The bottom line is that the very efforts you make to burn more calories may eventually slow it down.

Problem 1. Lowering your calories too much
Fact: It takes calories to burn calories. When you decrease your food intake, your body simply lowers its metabolic rate in response. This still allows the body to function properly, but ultimately your body requires fewer calories which creates hunger and prevents you from losing fat.

Solution:
Keep your calories slightly below your maintenance calories so that your energy and metabolism remain high. A deficit greater than 500-700 calories makes it much more difficult to maintain your lean body mass. To determine your approximate daily caloric needs, use this formula:

    Men
    kg (body weight) x 24 = kcal/day

    Women
    kg (body weight) x 23 = kcal/day

note: kg = pounds divided by 2.2 (i.e.: 180 lbs / 2.2 = 81.8 kg)

You can also calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate to determine how many calories you need to function, and then use a calorie calculator to add in calories you burn through out the day and with exercise.

Next page More Ways to Break the Plateau!

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