Frustrated Not Losing Weight? (Carb Cycling To Break Plateau)
What do you typically do when are you are trying to break a plateau in your weight loss?
Do you just spend more time in the gym? Well that’s the normal response when you are frustrated with your weight loss.
Do you try different supplements? That could help.
Maybe you try a Crossfit kettlebell workout?
Or do you maybe give up and “accept” that you will always struggle losing weight? I hope not.
See weight loss is a habit like everything else that we do and when we are trying to break a plateau, we need discipline not to quit or get frustrated and spend more time training.
First, why does weight loss stall?
Losing weight is simple on paper. If we eat less than we take in we lose weight and if we eat more than we put out we gain weight. The only reason people have this notion that it was “easier when I was younger” is because you likely were ridiculously active when younger, had less life stress (job, bills, kids) and overall attrition. If you’ve been constantly searching for your “best” body type and gaining and losing weight over the course of your 20’s then logically, you’ll have put some “miles” on your car.
Metabolic damage is the idea that following a crash diet or long term dieting may cause the body to go into a “starvation” mode and down regulate hormones making it harder to lose weight. This is most often seen in female athletes specifically those competing in figure, fitness and bikini shows.
Every time we either put on weight or lose weight we are adjusting our hormonal, metabolic and brain patterns that make the reverse harder.
What are the factors that we’re dealing with here?
Food quality and macronutrient composition
Sex hormone health
How we train-how often, with what intensity, what type
This is complex enough then we have to add in if we use medication, if we drink alcohol, our sleep patterns and our genetic history.
Can you see it’s a lot more than calories in versus calories out? At the same time, everything mentioned above is impacted by energy in and energy out.
Why You Hit A Weight Loss Plateau
Everyone knows that in order to burn calories you should eat less and exercise more. But what happens when that stops working?
Take a look at some of the more popular Crossfit athletes and their bodies. They all are pretty lean. They train multiple times per day.
So how do they avoid metabolic damage and fat loss plateaus? Since Crossfit workouts are more anaerobic and metabolically, their body has to continually adapt. With a traditional aerobic based workout, there’s a degree of slow down and adaptation since aerobic training primarily workouts the respiratory system as opposed to the muscular system.
Think about it. You start running a mile and it’s difficult but when you run a mile every day, it gets easier pretty quickly. That’s not the same with a heavy kettlebell workout.
These crossfit athletes need to eat to fuel their training. While fat loss and muscle growth is a goal, it’s also not the goal at the expense of performance and recovery,
When your goal is primarily fat loss, here’s why you get frustrated when you don’t lose weight.
You increase your activity and decrease your food intake
You don’t burn as many calories at rest because now you weigh less
You can’t absorb as many calories because you aren’t eating as much food
You eat less so you don’t have as many calories to burn.
Since you’re eating less you can’t train intensively so you don’t burn as many calories during your training.
Carb Cycling To Break A Fat Loss Plateau
Enter carb cycling to break a weight loss plateau.
Increasing your carbohydrates twice per week will provide the following
-Refilled muscle glycogen stores to maintain muscle size and possibly increase muscle growth due to the anabolic positive signaling of stored muscle glycogen.
-Reduced cravings and hunger due to the drop in the hormone leptin. Leptin increases as calories decrease.
-Improved energy levels to fuel training.
-Increased muscle recovery on training days associated with higher carb intake.
-Reduced cortisol output. The stress dieting increases cortisol which hides some fat loss.
In order to carb cycle you need to initially track your nutrient intake. Get a general idea of your intake. Once you have this general idea, monitor your physique progress over the course of the next few weeks.
Have you gained a few pounds? Great. Now you have a baseline.
Haven’t lost any weight? Now you need to know that you need to reduce your intake by around 5-10 grams. When you sustain this 5-10 gram drop of carbohydrates during the course of the week, you should notice the scale moving.
How To Carb Cycle
Let’s not over complicate this
-Carb cycling isn’t cheat days. Keep your carbohydrate sources relatively clean. Remember, the less processed the food the better it is for our hormone health and the more efficiently we can digest the calories.
-Space your carb refeeds out by 72 hours. This allows me to break up my training so that I’ll train on my carb refeed day and the day after to take advantage of those increased carbohydrates.
-On your carbohydrate refeed days. Keep your fat intake slightly lower. Just avoid one less serving of direct fats.
That’s it. Let’s not over complicate fat loss. If you are frustrated with a weight loss plateau, carb cycling is going to be your answer to help you feel better and burn more fat.