You’re doing well–you found the right combination of foods and exercise that’s helping your weight move in the direction you want it to. But then your progress slows, or maybe even stalls. You’ve hit a plateau.
First of all, don’t stress about it. This is the time to double down on the self-love, and look at some other factors that can have a big impact on your ability to lose weight. Start with these five elements to get off that plateau or make it easier to accomplish your weight loss goals.
Countless research has shown that inadequate or poor quality sleep inhibits weight loss. Studies suggest one of the reasons women who don’t sleep enough gain weight is due to excess calorie consumption, particularly late in the day. Muscle repair, cellular detoxification, and other critical process occurring during sleep may also play a role.
Most experts recommend 7-9 quality hours of sleep per night, and even some “make-up” sleep if you’ve been chronically sleep deprived. If you’re not hitting the pillow before 11pm and still getting up at 5am to do your workout, this might be the time to focus on sleep and shorten the workouts. Just this one change could help you get back on track.
2. Improve Your Gut Health
You may have heard how important your gut and gut bacteria are to the health of your immune system. Researchers are also discovering that gut bacteria may play a role in metabolism, body weight regulation, food cravings, and caloric consumption If you’ve been neglecting your gut health, have recently taken antibiotics, almost never eat fermented food or don’t take probiotics, you may have an inadequate ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ gut bacteria. It’s this imbalance that could be to blame if your weight loss stalls and carb cravings return.
Now’s the time to choose a high quality, high CFU probiotic (‘good’ bacteria) supplement or start consuming fermented foods daily. Most experts suggest a forkful of raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut or kimchee with each meal, though other options include kefir (if you tolerate dairy) or kombucha.
3. Drink Tea
It seems every wellness websiteis abuzz with the idea that tea boosts metabolism. Though many such claims are overblown, there is some science behind it. Researchers have found that the combination of caffeine and catechins (such as EGCG) in tea can increase activity and calorie burn. The research is particularly strong for the combination of
green tea and exercise at increasing metabolic rate. Pu-erh tea, while not as famous as green tea, also has promising research suggesting that it can prevent
weight gain and target reductions in abdominal area fat.
Incorporating tea into your daily routine could help you get over the hump as it lifts metabolism for increased fat loss. While most of the research has been focused on green tea, all types of tea are likely to provide some benefits, so choose a kind of tea you like and aim for 3-5 cups per day.
4. Manage Your Stress
Though stress could merit an entire post of it’s own, here are just a couple of ways stress kills weight loss progress. Excess stress leads to the production of the hormone cortisol, which overtime encourages the body to store fat on the mid-section. Stressful events and circumstances also reduce ‘feel good’ hormones in the brain, lead to impulsivity, and reduce ability to make good decisions. The consequences are a craving for carbs to boost feel good hormones and a knee-jerk reaction to choose the bowl of pasta or ice cream over a salad or piece of fruit, or to just go for all out binge eating.
Whatever the cause of your stress, learn to manage it with feel good practices–perhaps meditation, a hot bath, massage, extra sleep, hugging a loved one, playing with a pet, or doing a creative hobby. Reducing stress will help to diminish your belly and increase your confidence and ability to make the right choices.
5. Practice IF
Intermittent fasting (IF) can be an incredibly powerful tool for weight loss and restoring metabolic health. Intermittent fasting is an approach to eating in which at least 12-16 hours of the day you go without food–usually this means your first meal of the day is lunch and your last food intake finished the night before by 8pm. Another timeframe is a 36-hour fast, during which only 500-600 calories total are consumed, and normal eating patterns resume afterward. (I encourage those prone to binge-restrict style of dieting to use caution with this approach as it could perpetuate disordered eating.)
The benefits of IF go far beyond the calorie restriction. Besides being longevity-enhancing, IF can help retrain a derailed metabolic system by increasing insulin uptake and utilization, improving the body’s ability to burn and use fat for fuel, and resetting leptin and ghrelin to again experience true feelings of satiety and hunger. Intermittent fasting may be a good choice to kickstart weight loss again if you’re not underweight or undernourished, not overexercising, and not susceptible to extreme food restriction. For women, start with only 1 fasting period per week and see how your body responds.
To get more out of your weight loss efforts or overcome a plateau, incorporating any or all of these elements into your plan may be beneficial. While you may not see results in a day–and that’s a good thing–over the course of a few weeks each of them could make a big impact.
Learn more about the wellness teas at WorldVitae.com.
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