I don’t know about you but for me one of the most frustrating things is lack of progress. There is no worse feeling than expending effort and not being able to see the full fruit of your labor. Plateaus come in all shapes and sizes. Weight loss, strength levels, physique, and/or other various forms of measurements can be extremely frustrating when you feel stagnant. Consistent progress is the key to creating a sustainable habit. If you are see progress you will be able to push through the adversity of behavior modification. If you aren’t seeing progress, it can be extremely frustrating and diminish will power. Today, I want to share with you a couple of my favorite plateau breakers to use when results slow down. These are simple and practical things you can implement to help move the needle without creating restrictive and stressful situations.
1.) Increase Movement
An increase in movement will ultimately lead to more calories burned in the long run. Going for a 15 minute walk during your lunch break doesn’t sound like a plateau breaker. However, if you walk 15 minutes a day, 4 times a week (60 minutes a week) that has the power to make some significant changes over the course of a few months and especially when you look at the year long model. In addition, movement does so much more than burn calories. Movement can help increase cognitive function, stress resiliency, mood management, attention span, motivation, heart health, and lung health to name a few. Try to add small low intensity bouts of exercise throughout your day. These little changes will lead to big results over time.
Sleep has a direct correlation to fat loss and recovery. Sleep (recovery) controls a lot of your hormonal responses which also can have an effect of metabolism. If you find yourself hitting a plateau then you might want to consider looking at your sleeping habits. Find small practical ways to increase sleep quality and quantity. Create a bedtime routine and consider a 'wind down'. Essentially this is a pre-determined time before bed where you can unplug from artificial light and start prepping your room for sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Try increasing your fluid intake throughout the day. This is such a cliche topic but it is so powerful. This has worked extremely well for me personally. Creating a water intake goal helps keep you full and focused throughout the day. Water also helps with digestion, joint health, oxygenation, mood, and internal organ health. Also, consider decreasing how many calories you are drinking throughout the day (tea, soda, juice etc). Stick to no or low calories drinks and aim for 1/2 bodyweight + 8 in ounces of water per day.
4.) Lower Meal Frequency
Try decreasing the number of meals you eat per day. While some of this is individualized, consider eating fewer meals and or limit snacking while still consuming plenty of protein. This will help you eat more satisfying and fulfilling meals and will help shift your brain to start thinking about other things rather than food. Think about it... if you eat 6 times per day you have to be constantly aware of your next meal (essentially eating every 2-3 hours). If you eat 2-3 meals per day you can let go of that constant need for food and focus on other aspects of life. Food should bring you joy but we shouldn't be consumed with it. Intentionally focus on other areas of life that you are passionate about and your ability to control caloric intake will skyrocket.
In addition to decreasing the amount of meals you eat, try slightly increasing protein. You should already be consuming at least .7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. As you move forward with the nutrition process, increasing protein by 10-15 grams can act as an effective plateau breaker. Protein has the highest thermic effect of digestion as compared to carbohydrates and fats (it takes more energy to digest and absorb protein). So essentially, if you increase your ratio of protein while keeping calories consistent, you can burn more calories without eating less food.
Regardless if you are struggling with exercise or nutrition, periodization needs to be a priority. Sticking to one method for an extended period of time will lead to various internal changes in our bodies. Caloric deficits over a long period of time can effect multiple internal systems. Exercise regimes without periodization can lead to injuries, exhaustion, and burn out. Periodization is essential to our human adaptation process. We need periods of stress and periods of recovery. That by definition is how we adapt. You should have re-feed days (days where you eat more calories) and rest days instead of your wellness program. Speak to someone you trust to help you find a system that works for you!
Hope this helps you in some fashion. This is by no means a complete list but something that has helped me in the past and just wanted to share it with you! If you are looking for nutrition help this year consider SparkThrive Nutrition. I've created a step by step nutrition plan to help you reach your goal (fat loss, muscle gain, recomposition). This walks you through the key components associated with results such as habits, strategies, caloric targets, adherence tools, nutritional periodization, progress points, and adjustment protocols inside of a user friendly app. Essentially, this app lays out the process with a practical daily to do list. Finally, SparkThrive Nutrition gives you an exit plan when you reach your goal! This 'lifestyle transition' allows you to sustain your results and THRIVE upon them for the rest of your life. If you want more information regarding SparkThrive Nutrition hit the button below!