OK, you’ve decided to lose your excess weight.
To achieve this, everyone already knows one has to create a calorie deficit. This helps our body to use up its excess fat reserves for energy. Even with plant-based eating.
Sometimes I wish to write “Especially with Plant-Based Eating” because it can be so easy with our delicious options to over-carb ourselves with comfort foods like pasta, sweet potato, oats, rice, quinoa, nut butters, avocado, etc.
And before we know it, we’ve consumed calories more suitable to someone riding in the Tour de France. 🚴♂️
Now comes the first hurdle…..
The four-letter word of ‘diet’.
That four-letter word can cause night sweats and stress because straight away we fear being hungry. [FOH= fear of hunger is a ‘thing’]
To overcome this, we should look around for a sustainable enjoyable eating plan that makes us feel satiated but can still create a calorie deficit for weight loss.
Plant-based eating, such as used in our plans, is an excellent choice because it doesn’t restrict portions of filling vegetables, salads, or soups.
Let us say you’ve found your ‘forever way of eating’ that suits you perfectly. It’s filling, delicious and you can see yourself sticking with it AND you are starting to see results. YAY. 🤩
The 1st phase of weight loss
This is usually our favorite one. During the first 2-4 weeks most of us experience the fastest weight loss noticeable on the bathroom scales.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean we have lost much body fat. The actual ‘behind the scenes’ action is that we are losing mainly stored glycogen and the fluid that is attached to it. Especially if we have reduced our carb intake.
Glycogen is the storage form of glucose and carbohydrates and they get stored in the liver and within the muscles. Each gram of glycogen binds about 3g of fluid to it. Or water weight, as it’s sometimes called.
So during phase #1, these get released by your body. Looks terrific on the scales and makes us feel successful in our endeavors of losing weight.
But then comes an important phase we have been actually looking forward to.
The 2nd phase of weight loss.
After the initial fluid and stored glycogen loss, our body starts losing body fat. By creating a calorie deficit we are actually manipulating our bodies to draw on their fat reserves for energy, instead of only using what we eat.
But now weight loss becomes slower.
It’s more complicated to burn off fat than to release excess fluid and stored glycogen.
However, as long as we still lose something, we’re on track.
Even if it’s only half a pound every week.
Remember: if you lose only half a pound a week, that is still a loss and in a year’s time you could be 26 pounds down!
But then eventually phase number 3 hits.
The 3rd phase of weight loss
The dreaded Plateau. 🙄
This is the most frustrating time. Namely when the weight just does not shift.
One is still sticking to the plan…and yet, nothing is happening on the bathroom scales. The number just doesn’t change.
There are several reasons why this might happen.
If food intake has not crept up [that can easily happen….better check] then perhaps these following points could be the culprits.
1) A lighter body.
By now your body would be weighing less because you have lost some weight. A lighter body needs fewer calories. Therefore the calorie deficit you created some time back at the beginning of your journey is not a deficit any more. It might be just the right amount for the new body weight.
2) Thermic Adaptation
The plateau can be due to Thermic Adaptation. This happens when your body ‘thinks’ you are starving and it turns down its metabolic rate. This in turn will slow down fat burn.
It’s simply your body’s mechanism preserving your life whilst not enough food is coming in.
Therefore, what can one do to restart weight loss?
The usual recommendation is to exercise more and eat fewer calories.
But that can be counter-productive.
At this point in time, that can further slow down your metabolism and you might be nudging towards the area of nutritional deficiencies.
After all, if we don’t eat, we can’t hit our recommended dietary intakes.
Enter the popular and successful strategy of ‘re-feeding’. Or calorie cycling.
Sometimes also called calorie shifting.
In short: you stop the strict calorie reduction and start to consume more calories for brief periods. When done correctly, this can slowly activate metabolic recovery.
It’s a way to signal to the body that the famine is over and sends the message that it can start to crank up its fat burning again.
Next week I will explain how this ‘calorie shifting’ method can be applied using our plans.
I think you will like it 👍