Suppose you set yourself the target of losing 25 pounds. You make a good start and are able to stick to the program of lowering your intake, controlling portions and increasing your physical activity.
For a time, things seem to be working out well and you see a steady loss of weight – perhaps you lose up to 10 pounds. You may have lost a dress size or two and you start to feel good and more confident about yourself.
After these 10 pounds of weight loss, however, you seem to be making no progress. The weight loss seems to have stopped or stagnated, and you wonder why! Quite simply, you hit a plateau right there. After a period where the weight seemed to be coming off quite effortlessly, this can be quite a blow, denting your motivation and making you question the efficacy of your program.
The reasons why we hit that weight loss plateau
A major reason is the fact that your body becomes more fuel efficient; your metabolism adapts to this newer routine. Say you were taking in X number of calories a day at the start of your weight loss routine and were working out for X amount of time in a day. This was a reduction of caloric intake from before and an increase in caloric expenditure from before and this caused the body to lose weight. However the body soon adapts to this change and perceives the consumed calories as being enough to sustain the body. In effect it adapts to fewer calories and functions as well on those.
Also the amount of calories you needed at the start of your diet was suitable for the amount you weighed before you started to lose the weight. Now that your body itself weighs less, you obviously need fewer calories to nourish and sustain it; hence the plateau!
Another reason is the fact that your body becomes better able to perform the exercises that you have been performing. For instance if you practice long and hard enough you will be able to run, cycle or swim faster and more efficiently; with fewer calories being expended. Quite simply you have learned to do it better.
When you hit a plateau you know you have to make changes in the way you work out, the amount you eat and your overall weight loss program. The important thing is to understand the way your body works, to tweak your routine and to remain motivated!