You’ve been working out hard and doing everything right — cardio, strength training and dieting — but suddenly all progress has come to an halt. Why aren’t you losing any more weight? The answer is simple. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the energy required to keep your heart pumping and other vital functions going when your body is at rest has decreased.
BMR decreases as your body mass decreases from losing body fat. For example, you weigh 125 pounds and eat 1,800 calories a day. To lose about a pound a week, you would need to cut about 500 calories from your diet a day. So you begin to eat about 1,300 calories a day and the weight is coming off nicely. Two months go by, and suddenly your weight refuses to budge and you’re not seeing a huge physical difference in the mirror. This happened because along with your fat loss, your BMR has declined. Where your body used to burn 1280 calories a day, now it’s only burning 1,100 calories a day.
At this lower weight, there’s less of you to move around, so you burn fewer calories doing the same workout. Your calorie expenditure is close to or slightly less than what you’re taking in, and thus you’ve hit a weight loss plateau.
Although you feel stuck, you’re probably still losing fat and weight, just not enough to show on the scale. Instead of losing a pound per week, now it’s probably closer to a third of a pound.
Watch the Calories and Increase Activity
To beat the weight loss plateau you’ll need to closely watch what you eat. Look for places that calories tend to hide such as dressings, sauces, and condiments. If cutting out any more food isn’t an option, you’ll need to up your workout activity. Remember that for each pound you want to lose, you’ll need to cut at least 3,500 a week, Adding an extra 10-15 minutes to your daily treadmill run should do the trick.
Add More Resistance
Another way to boost your BMR is to increase your resistance training. Increasing your muscle mass as you lose body fat can compensate for the decline in BMR induced by weight loss. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR.
Keep up the healthy eating and physical activity and you’ll have the body you’re looking for in no time!