Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
18 Feb

Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau

weightscalePat yourself on the back: You’ve lost weight! Or, at least you had lost weight, but for the past few days or even weeks, the scale hasn’t been budging. You don’t feel like you’re doing anything different with your diet. You’re keeping carbs low, eating the appropriate amount of protein, and you’re moderating all of it with a consistent exercise program.

For most people attempting to lose weight, there comes a time when they reach that inevitable plateau where their motivation is soaring but they’ve stopped seeing results. If you’re nodding right now, don’t worry. What you’re experiencing is totally normal. Plateaus, whether they relate to weight, to your job, or your closest relationship, are a call to charge things up again, refine your strategies and keep moving forward.

So rather than give up and maintain your current weight, or worse yet, drown yours sorrows in a half dozen donuts, there are numerous actions you can take to reignite your program.

Here are our top 5 picks for breaking through your weight plateau:

Consider Intermittent Fasting

Although Conventional Wisdom tells us that fasting forces the metabolism into slow motion causing your body to cling onto fat stores, recent scientific studies have suggested otherwise. According to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, alternate day fasting may result in an improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, as well as decreases in fat mass. While science is still unearthing the precise mechanisms for why and how this occurs, the previously-held idea that you have to eat six meals a day or more in order to keep your metabolism stoked to lose weight simply isn’t true.

Lucky for you, intermittent fasting (IF) can be done in a number of ways. From daily fasting, by only eating during a 5-hour time period, or setting aside one to three days a week to fast, the combinations are virtually endless. The important thing is to know is what kind of intermittent fasting technique will work best for you and your lifestyle, and this can only be determined by a little experimentation. As long as IF is done correctly, it can kick your body off of its weight plateau in just a matter of days. And keep in mind that IF is not about starving yourself. It’s about eating in a manner that mimics the natural irregularity of Grok’s eating patterns.

Write it Down

A slice of bread here, a handful of tortilla chips there – it all adds up. When we start to lose weight, we might be inclined to loosen the reins on what we can eat. Even though occasional indulgences should be enjoyed guilt-free, when you’re still trying to lose weight, those seemingly benign snacks still count.

So for one week, write down everything that you eat. Everything. From the sugar packet you dropped into your coffee to the two bites of of Cherry Garcia you snuck from cousin Sal’s dessert bowl at your niece’s sweet 16, write it down. A food diary is an honest look into what you’re actually eating, not what you think you are eating.

Need more convincing that you might not be being honest with yourself? According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, those who kept a food diary in a 20-week study dropped double the weight of the dieters who did not chronicle their food choices. Keeping a food diary makes you accountable for what you eat because it forces you to consider your actions before you take them. This is an effective safeguard against mindless snacking or emotional eating.

If you’re looking for an online food journal, check out the one at FitDay.com. It’s free and super easy to use.

Side Note: The Primal Eating Plan is meant to be intuitive and easy. One of the great things about Primal eating is that you don’t have to count calories and track every bite of food you consume. This is why we only recommend the food diary as a temporary method to uncover any dietary indiscretions. Once you’ve honed in on and refined your behaviors we say ditch the journal and get on with eating Primal in a natural way that requires little to no effort.

Switch Up Your Workouts

They say variety is the spice of life, and this holds true when it comes to your workouts. Without change you might find yourself dreading the monotony of regular gym sessions and simply lose motivation. Additionally, your body can become used to to the same caloric burn and muscle exertion as it becomes more efficient at completing regular movements. Give your brain and brawn the wake up call they need by shaking up your usual routine with some new additions.

Try increasing the speed as you exercise and do short bursts of intense exercises (such as sprinting) for one to two minutes followed by small rest periods. These short bursts of anaerobic activity will stimulate your body to release human growth hormone, which helps to burn fat while maintaining muscle mass.

If that doesn’t do the trick, try getting super Primal by ditching the gym, shoes, and structure for some free form activity. If this doesn’t keep things interesting we’re not sure what will.

Keep in mind that 80% of your body composition is a result of your diet. The remaining 20% is determined by how you effectively manage your sleeping patterns and stress levels, how you exercise and other lifestyle factors. Increasing your workout intensity is but one way to tweak an otherwise optimized weight loss plan.

Reduce Carbs

Try reducing your carb intake to 50-100 grams per day to reduce insulin production and fire up your fat metabolism. Make sure that you’re eating enough protein for your weight (we suggest using the .7-1 gram per pound of lean body weight formula), eating the right vegetables and snacking on high-fat foods to keep you feeling satisfied.

Keep on Keeping on

Remember that losing 10 lbs when you are starting at 300 isn’t nearly as difficult as losing 10 when you are approaching your ideal weight (say, going from 170 to 160 for a male). Don’t let this come to you as discouragement. Just recognize that changes might not come as quickly as they once had and resolve to stay the course.

Also, know that The Primal Blueprint lifestyle is about long term goals. Though you can lose weight quickly on the PB, keep your head straight and remember that the emphasis should always be on a healthy, Primal lifestyle – not a get-fit-quick routine. You can do it, but it may take time.

Final Tips

If you haven’t done it already (or even if you have!), consider taking the 30-Day Primal Health Challenge. It may sound daunting, but employing the “act as if” tips will be sure to get you through those tough moments when a piece of dry toast looks better than a killer omelet (does this really ever happen?).

If you’ve tried all of these strategies and you’re still stuck, don’t hesitate to hit us up with a comment. Our experienced Primal community will likely be able to help.

Further Reading:

The Primal Blueprint: The Ultimate Way to Break any Weight Loss Plateau

A Primal Blueprint Sample Menu

Oprah Hits 200 Pounds. Again.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. A buddy of mine has been hitting this plateu bit for about a month now. We discovered that he may be overdoing the nuts and berries and mini carrots a bit. He is cutting back on those and I think the plateau is going to be a thing of the past. When in doubt.. cut some carbs!

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on February 18th, 2009
    • Great post- I had this question a while ago.

      Des wrote on February 16th, 2011
    • Sometimes a carb refeed after a workout is a great way to restore low leptin levels that are a result of a diet. Also a great way to boost muscle glycogen and enhance insulin sensitivity. I have found it is best to stick with white rice. White rice has no bran, which can irritate the gut, and virtually no lectins. Stick with primal starches and avoid “sugar” and fructose The weight/fat loss the next day will be apparent when you look in the mirror.

      Matthew Caton wrote on February 25th, 2012
  2. I think Son of Groke brought up a good point – it helps to talk it over with someone else… how and what you are eating, your exercise regimen, your sleep patterns, etc… they can take a more objective (and new) look at it and might be able to more easily find ways to pass the plateau.

    Jane wrote on February 18th, 2009
  3. Thanks Mark- another great post. Since I’m at the beginning of my weight loss I haven’t hit the plateau – YET. But it’s probably inevitable, and I’m bookmarking this to remind me to look at all my factors and tweak!

    And I agree with SoG- I was eating too many nuts and berries at first (because I think they’re a great combo of ‘transition food’) but they were hindering my weight loss.

    BEE wrote on February 18th, 2009
    • I have lost 70 pounds and did it by Weight Watchers and excriese. I have been told that you are to get rid of all the fat clothes because its to easy to say well I can just wear the bigger size if I gain . Its more of an incentive to stay in the smaller size by giving up the bigger ones. And thats what I did!

      Yolanda wrote on June 7th, 2012
  4. is it possible to still be losing fat when youre not losing weight? i mean, ive hit a plateau before and its taken me months to lose another 5 lbs but my clothes were loose fitting and people thought i was still losing weight but i stayed that weight for a long time.

    also, cutting carbs.. does that mean veggies too? i eat all my meals with a salad and i think thats where im getting all my carbs from…

    i do more weight exercise than i do cardio, i usually just walk my dog and once in a while do interval training but i usually just lift weights or do yoga.. should i do more cardio do you think?

    any help is appreciated.. ive learned so much here! and as summer is approaching, it would be nice to feel confident in a bathing suit for once in a very long time! lol

    thanks!

    anna wrote on February 18th, 2009
  5. Well, I have been in a bit of a plateau for a while now. Here are my efforts at the various strategies mentioned in this post.

    I do fast intermittently. Mainly by skipping breakfast 2-3 times a week. Sometimes if a tennis game goes on till late into the evening, I may skip dinner that day. However, of late, I have allowed myself a small, home-made, cappuccino on fasting days. I wonder how bad that little bit of milk is.

    As for exercise. I have become extremely committed to doing the Crossfit Workout of the Day. I generally do crossfit atleast 3 days a week (I manage 4 workouts a week quite often though). The other days I do tabata sprints, play tennis, or just walk alot. The crossfit workouts are pretty varied, but I wonder if I can do more in terms of shaking things up more. I also record my performance, and keep track of the progress. By and large my numbers have shown a steady improvement, from which I take great encouragement.

    I have maintained a food diary in the past, for 2-3 months at a stretch. I don’t do it any more. However, my most recent efforts with regard to food discipline have been to eat fewer nuts, and to cut carbs even further.

    My only carb sources for the last several months have been fruits and vegetables. My latest salvo has been to abolish the ‘apple a day’ (quite literally, no pun intended!). This followed Mark’s advice in a guest post on another blog which he shared here last week.

    As for nuts, I have begun to restrict my consumption my taking out a set portion (atmost 200 calories worth of nuts) in a day, and not consume more than that amount. Though to be honest, I tend to stray slightly above that on most days.

    These last two have been my latest efforts at breaking the plateau. Previous experiments which have not worked have been to reduce my meat consumption, reduce alcohol consumption, reduce dark chocolate consumption, and nearly eliminate cheese consumption.

    I now consume at most 8 oz of meat per meal; restrict alcohol to 2 days a week, and that too only two drinks (usually 2 glasses of wine) on those days; restrict myself to dark chocolate with very little sugar, usually only the stuff which is 85%+ cocoa content; and to eat small amounts of cheese irregularly (less than once a week). I reasoned that these measures should cut a good chunk of my calorie consumption. I kept to these practices for a while, but since they showed no appreciable difference, I must admit my diligence has waned somewhat of late: lately I have been consuming a bit more alcohol and cheese than I would like.

    So that has been my experience. I still have a pinch worth of stubborn flab around my belly. I am getting reconciled to the fact that it may never go away. Any suggestions on how to up the ante and make a more determined effort are most welcome!

    Thanks,
    Apurva

    Apurva Mehta wrote on February 18th, 2009
    • Really? You can’t figure it out?? ;) Maybe try NO alcohol, NO cheese, NO chocolate. I mean come on! You’re dieting to drop bodyfat, if you get stuck, all “sensible indulgences” are temporarily GONE. You can have those things again when you reach your goal weight. I hate to bust ba**s but it sounds like you need more DISCIPLINE. Going from fat to “normal” is easy. From normal to ripped is HARD. …No matter what diet your on.

      Fixed Gear wrote on October 15th, 2009
    • I agree with Fixed gear, if you want to get ripped you have to drop the chocolate and alcohol. I know you can do it without dropping them, but it makes it easier and faster to get ripped. Out of all of the training I have done, the best thing is muscle confusion. I know some people don’t believe in it, but I think they never really experienced it. I hit a plateau myself at 172 lb 5’9″ at a medium to large build. I started to do p90x weight training and insanity cardio work out interchanges. The main thing when losing fat at the plateau is cardio cardio cardio, the weight training will boost your weight so it is best to measure for fat. Measuring by weight is the least effective when determining fat loss(check out 4-hourbody by Tim Ferris for most effective ways). I will do this training schedule 5 days a week with break days in between, because I believe the body needs more rest than what Tony H. or Shaun T. says. The only sugar that I eat is sweet potatoes right after the work out ( 1/3rd of a large one). I do have to admit I drink 2 to 3 glasses of red wine though, but the rest of my diet is fish, grassfed beef, organic bacon, eggs and vegetables(yep that’s right no fruit, besides the wine lol). This is working for me I started and this is my 4th day on the rotation since plateu, I dropped 2lbs now weighing in at 170. You also have to remember I am doing weight training so that means I am going to lose weight slower. On my break days I go out and play sports or hike, plus I eat just breakfast and lunch to fast to the next morning(if I am feeling it, have to listen to your body you know).
      Another good thing is to never sit still for more than an hour(on computer or tv) get up doing 100 jumping jacks or go for a 5-10 min walk. I hope this helps, Sincerely the Pupil of trying everything :)

      Ken wrote on March 8th, 2012
    • Apurva,

      Your post on breaking thorough your plateau is quite old but it is nearly identical to my current predicament. Just wondering how you’ve done since?

      Thanks-
      Michael

      Michael Moriarty wrote on March 15th, 2012
  6. What works best for me?

    Sprints. (Bike, elliptical, or running.)

    Fast until about 2:00 P.M. two days a week.

    Throw in some very low calorie days.

    No carbs after 7:00 P.M. (Even fruits and vegetables.)

    And my least favorite, but the most effective…cut out all alcohol.

    SuperMike wrote on February 18th, 2009
  7. 1) Can’t “plateauing” weight wise still mean you’re overall fitness is improving because you could be trading fat for muscle?
    2) I don’t think there’s enough paper to truly document everything I eat…

    Eric wrote on February 18th, 2009
  8. Excellent post which has come just in time, I don’t consider myself in a “plateau” so to speak as it’s only been a week but to date since 18th October 2008 I’ve lost 35lbs (I have 100 to lose). I was losing consistently about 2lbs a week and two weeks ago I started really getting serious about exercise doing at least 30mins a day of low level aerobic, HIIT, yoga and weights. I’ve been a lot more hungry since doing this which is frustrating, should I be eating more or is there a way to avoid the hunger? I’m really loving the exercise and know it will help with giving me a better looking body as I get smaller and it is also helping with my general anxiety. Should I just continue to exercise and eat a little extra if I need to and it will work itself out or should I not eat any extra? Everyday my carbs are around 40gms which comes from salad/veggies and the smallest amount of veggies, no high carb foods ever and approx 1500-1800cals per day. I’m 5’6” and weigh 200lbs. Any suggestions appreciated :)

    Michelle wrote on February 18th, 2009
    • If you were REALLY sedentary before, and now suddenly you’re moving your body a lot the cardio could actually be building some muscle. You certainly won’t “bulk up” doing cardio, but if you were a couch potato you probably had very little muscle mass to start and you’re growing SOME muscle in response to the cardio. I would guess after a week or two that will max out and stop and you’ll drop pounds again. You probably ARE dropping fat right now, you just can’t tell on the scale because of the muscle you added simultaneously. …I’m no expert, just my 2 cents. ;)

      Fixed Gear wrote on October 15th, 2009
    • If you are in the Sarasota area, I am a NSCA CPT and specalize in weight loss. Visit my website at GulfCoastPersonalTrainingLLC.com

      Matthew Caton wrote on February 25th, 2012
    • Michelle, if you want to lose the weight quicker stick to cardio and cut your calories a little bit, I think for women it is 1800 daily so stick to 1300-1500. Eat primal foods, and make sure you get the protein like Mark says especially if your doing weight training. Getting hungry is normal when you start working out, because your metabolism is increasing. 30 mins a day and eating right you will shave those lbs off in no time. I wouldn’t necessarily work out every day, do something else like hiking, swimming or some kind of sport. Good luck with your fat loss adventures :)

      Ken wrote on March 8th, 2012
  9. Does fasting between meals really count as fasting? If I didn’t “force” myself to eat lunch I would only eat dinner every day (I don’t really even get hungry OR thirsty until around 7 PM).

    Eric wrote on February 18th, 2009
  10. I meant smallest amount of berries not veggies LOL

    Michelle wrote on February 18th, 2009
    • In your current profile photo, you appear to be a perfectly healthy weight. Since this post is like 5 years old, I assume something has changed. May I ask if you were able to break the plateau and, if so, how you did it? I’ve lost around 85 but I have around 30 more to go (probably 40, but I would be happy with 30). It has been 2 years since I have lost any real weight–though I haven’t gained in that time either. I eat around 1,500 calories a day, weight train twice a week, and try to get 10k steps daily–but only inconsistently do “sprints.” HIIT may be the missing component, but I just hate doing it. I really don’t want to add anything to my regimen that I’m not willing to so for the rest of my life, so fasting, ditching fruit, more that an hour or so of exercise a day are not really options. I eat a very clean diet with tons of veggies and very few and infrequent indulgences. I am nearing 50, and my age and hormones can’t be helping, but I struggle to understand how someone who eats the way I do can maintain this weight.

      Merry wrote on August 8th, 2014
    • It turned out that I have a thyroid disorder, and that is why it is was so difficult for me to lose any weight. I have been taking natural thyroid support and it has made a remarkable difference. When you correct the underlying cause, things just start working again.

      I can finally stop worrying about the scale. After eating one meal I would have gained around 5 lbs. I can now eat a balanced diet, and never gain more than 1 lb or so. How liberating that is, I cannot tell you.

      I spent entirely too much on doctors telling me just to eat less and exercise more. I needed a diagnosis so I could take it from there, and I did correct my imbalances without a doctor.

      Thanks for the

      Cheryl wrote on August 8th, 2014
      • I was going to say, thanks for the response back.

        Cheryl wrote on August 8th, 2014
  11. Good reminder to mix it up some. I’ve been at my current weight/body composition for quite a while now, but I have some unwanted pounds I’d like to shed. It will take some focus.
    It’s not so much the weight I care about as body composition. This brings up the old question: What’s a good way to estimate body composition (lean/fat)?

    WT wrote on February 18th, 2009
  12. anna, Eric – Yes, of course. In fact that is a nuance to the weight loss plateau that I neglected to mention. Your may be building muscle faster than you are losing fat.

    Thanks for the tips, SuperMike. It is great to hear what someone is doing that has seen great results.

    (Check out SuperMike, everyone: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-testimonials/)

    Apurva – Thanks for the update. I’d say you should pay particular attention to the last tip: Keep on keeping on. Stubborn belly fat can take a long time to lose. Keep doing what you are doing. Over the long haul I’m sure you’ll see the results you are looking for.

    Eric – If you are trying to lose fat then I’d suggest you listen to your body and NOT eat when you don’t feel like it. Don’t force feed. It may be your bodies way of telling you that you don’t need it.

    WT- Great question. I’m going to reserve my answer for a future blog post, so you’re going to have to wait! Cheers!

    Mark

    Mark Sisson wrote on February 18th, 2009
  13. Re Eric
    for what I know, there’s no need to stuff oneself with a meal if not hungry – metabolism will not slow as long as you keep adequate intake of calories.
    Technically, the answer to “Does fasting between meals really count as fasting?” is : all fasting is between meals (except for the last fast in one’s life, that is).

    zbiggy wrote on February 18th, 2009
  14. I understand the IF concept but it doesn’t sit well with me. I believe in doing the things that are healthy habits, the things you will continue to do after you’ve lost the weight.

    Tweaking your intake food and workout routine is one thing, but IF? Nah.

    On the other hand, fasting to cleanse the body or for spiritual purposes is totally different. Just my 2 cents.

    Yum Yucky wrote on February 18th, 2009
  15. Thanks for your answer, Mark. Your words are reassuring. That being said, this lifestyle makes me feel so great that I have no hesitation to keep on going. It feeds itself, really. My previous comment was made primarily as an invitation for suggestions for further optimizations/improvements in my lifestyle.

    Apurva

    Apurva Mehta wrote on February 18th, 2009
  16. I gotta say that I am a huge fan of IF. I started doing it “instinctively” about a month or so ago, in the midst of an over-intense workout regimen. I would just wake up and decide that I wasn’t going to eat or workout that day, and suddenly it felt like this burden had been lifted off my shoulders and I could truly relax.

    My favorite part of the day long fast has to be late in the evening, when the craving for dinner has passed and you sort of reach what I refer to as an elevated state of consciousness. Your mind seems sharper, colors seem brighter, etc. Any doubts you had before about whether or not fasting was a smart move are thrown out the window when this happens.

    On a related note, it is almost a universal experience that I will have a dream about food during a late afternoon nap during a fast. The last one I remember well I dreamed about a Taco Bell burrito! I wonder if some of the Paleolithic era cave art we see depicting the hunt might have been inspired by these sorts of dreams.

    Rick wrote on February 18th, 2009
  17. @Rick: mmmm…..Mammoth…..drool….

    Mike Boudreaux wrote on February 18th, 2009
  18. Currently using a lot of flax seed meal and oolong to reduce weight – 7 pounds in 2 weeks.

    Zen Fritta wrote on February 18th, 2009
  19. I’m the friend Son Of Grok was talking about. I’ve been on this plateau about 5 or 6 weeks. This post couldn’t have come at a better time and it simply reinforced most of the advice SoG has been giving me. I think this plateau will end soon as I’ve already noticed in my belt size in just the past week.

    Roger De Rok wrote on February 18th, 2009
  20. Mark – do you ever buy into the theory that a plateau might mean you’re not eating enough? I’ve been talking to a few people about whether this notion is really fact or a myth. What’s your opinion?

    john wrote on February 19th, 2009
  21. Wonderful Post Mark!
    I esp. love the write it down, that’s something that is a huge help to me to keep track of and keeps me on track!

    One thing that i try to encourage people asking me advice to lose weight, i also suggest to NOT eat past 6:00 p.m.
    Doing this you’ll be hungry upon waking up. For me, eating breakfast gets me going.

    Donna wrote on February 19th, 2009
  22. Thanks for the great post Mark. I love the reminder to write it down. As a formerly obese person (morbidly so if you trust the BMI) I have always seen great results when using Fitday, but then I get cocky and think I don’t need it. Guess what happens…

    Pete wrote on February 19th, 2009
  23. Very happy to read this and all the comments. I, too, am probably eating too many nuts, and maybe too much fruit and berries. I try to have a day where I do eight 100m sprints, but I’m going to try throwing in Tabatas on the exercise bike to make my week look like this: weights, bike, weights, bike, rest, sprint, rest. Shuffle as needed to keep it interesting, I guess.

    Evan wrote on February 19th, 2009
  24. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. After my 6 week plateau and today being weigh day, I was happy to see that after my adjustments I finally had a 7 pound weight loss. Phew!

    Roger De Rok wrote on February 20th, 2009
  25. Great article…as plateaus happen to anyone who never seeks to change up their routine (hence I can’t stand the Zone or any other eating plan that strict). As they say…if it ain’t working, mix it up…whether workouts…eating less/more…cycling carbs…etc. The body likes variety…it hates routine.

    A good analogy could be like driving a car…if one person is stuck on cruise control on the highway…and another is stop and go (with enough speed) city driving…which burns more gas (or energy)?

    My best routine breaker is going for a trail run and just doing whatever pace I feel like…sprint the hills…walk a bit….lots of ups and down…no flat pavement or treadmills for me.

    Mike OD

    Mike OD - IF Life wrote on February 20th, 2009
  26. Opps…just saw I need my new contact info. :)

    Mike OD - Life Spotlight wrote on February 20th, 2009
  27. I continue to watch my diet very strictly and somehow I managed to gain 15 lbs. which I cannot lose. It appears I am holding alot of water which I cannot get rid of. There was a period of time where I just gained 1.2 lbs per day until it stopped at 15 lbs. Now my weight is holding but I cannot break that plateau.

    I am drinking two litres of greens and 2 litres of water per day. I eat two meals per day. I load up on alot of veggies. Should I just be patient or is it time to see a doctor for a possible thryoid condition???

    Nothing is working please help me.

    Cheryl wrote on February 21st, 2009
    • Cheryl, 15 lbs from water(if it is water weight) is too much. What do you mean drinking 2 liters of veggies, that is just crazy. If you drinking veggies that means it is condensed and a lot more food and carbs that you could normally intake. I don’t drink those super veggie shakes or v8′s, have you seen where one veggie shake equals like and ungodly amount of vegetables and your drinking 2 liters? Plus you don’t need to drink 2 liters of water. I consume about 6-7 glasses a day and that is with extreme workouts like p90x, the rest you will get from your food. For people that do moderate exercise, I would say 4 glasses of water with and the food you eat is enough for the body. 3-4 lbs is probably from the excessive water your drinking.

      Ken wrote on March 8th, 2012
  28. Reiterating the question a few others have asked above, when limiting carbs for breaking a plateau, does that include veggies? I keep wondering, if I still feel hungry at the end of the day, what’s the best snack I should opt for – a bowl of broccoli, lean protein, fatty protein, tablespoon of coconut oil?

    Sarah wrote on February 21st, 2009
  29. 1. Increase the frequency of exercise

    2. Increase the intensity of exercise

    3. Increase the amount of time you exercise

    4. Change the type of exercise you are currently doing.

    F – Frequency
    I – Intensity
    T – Time
    T – Type

    5. Nutrition – Take another look at the type of food you are eating and the amount.

    Stephanie wrote on July 6th, 2009
  30. Well after months of “effortless weightloss” I AM STUCK. I rocketed down at 1-2 pounds a week from 200 to 162. For the past 3 weeks I’ve been stuck at the exact same 162 and 14% bodyfat. Says the weekly weigh-in on my scale and pictures I take, since the mirror can lie but the computer screen doesn’t ;) It’s great to no longer be fat, but I sure didn’t set “slightly better than average” as my goal. I want to be LEAN. Single digit bodyfat. There’s no reason I can’t achieve that.

    I haven’t broken this plateau, so I can’t tell you for sure what works, but I have an idea. First off, I think it’s just a whole lot harder to go from normal —> ripped, than it is to go from fat slob —> normal.

    Secondly, I’ve tried I.F. but never for a full day. Just skipping the first 2 meals of the day. BUT… what I think is happening is I just make up for it with dinner and then another meal after dinner. I’m probably eating way more than I realize in those 2 meals. Probably a full day’s worth of calories. Doh! I have not incorporated HIIT yet.

    So this week I will try sprints on the beach one day, and a full day of fasting on another day. I think I have to do a full day, because if I do partial day, I just over-eat in the afternoon and wind up nowhere. I’ll post back here and let you guys know if these 2 things help! :)

    Fixed Gear wrote on October 15th, 2009
    • I assume you are male. At 14% BF as a woman that would start getting into the unhealthy range. Getting ripped (single digit BF)is HARD. There are no health advantages. The only reason to do it is for the challenge and/or esthetics. First re-evaluate wether or not it is worth it. If it is (I understand I have similar goals) then the only way is through diet.

      No amount of exercise is going to help. It is way easier to consume 1000 less calories than it is to burn 1000
      calories through exercise.

      Also, IF is going to do you harm if your in a healthy range and still trying to drop BF. You will end up catabolizing muscle to feed your brain. It takes 3 days for you brain to switch to ketone bodies for fuel. It takes another 3 weeks for your muscles to switch to stored fat for the majority of energy needs.

      You will have to get into the LBM x 1-1.25g in protien you will not get ripped either. Ask a bodybuilder.

      If you are doing aerobics you will not get ripped but you will catabolize your hard earned muscle. Ask a bodybuilder.

      Lift weights 1 time per week for to failure keeping the total work out to less than 20 min and that will be the only amount of exercise your body will be able to handle on a calorie deficient diet.

      chima_p wrote on October 15th, 2009
      • “You will have to get into the LBM x 1-1.25g in protien you will not get ripped either. Ask a bodybuilder.”

        What? (post got srcabmled)

        You will have to get into the LBM x 1-1.25g in protien or you will not get ripped either. Ask a bodybuilder.

        chima_p wrote on October 15th, 2009
        • I am unsure of what is happening here…

          ohhhhhh! I was using greater than less than symbols and the post deleted every thing in between.

          Last time… promise.

          You will have to get into eating less than 50g of carbs per day for several weeks or you will not get ripped. Ask a bodybuilder.

          You will have to eat greater than your LBM x 1-1.25g in protien or you will not get ripped either. Ask a bodybuilder.

          … and please work post.

          chima_p wrote on October 15th, 2009
      • I just have to follow up here because some of the things being said are simply NOT TRUE.

        It’s been 7 weeks since my last post at 14% bodyfat. I’m now down to 11-12% bodyfat and STRONGER in the gym in everything! I incorporated 4 or 5 days of sprinting in that time, no more than once a week. I did 2 different days of intermittent fasting on different weeks. The fasts I did were 36 hours. I’d stop eating at like 10pm on a Monday, not eat all Tuesday and then start eating again 10am on Wednesday. ….not easy!

        In the workouts in the gym after the fasts I was STRONGER not weaker. I did more reps or more weight in all my exercises. You simply cannot catabolize muscle and get stronger. Don’t believe anyone who says a day of fasting will tear away all your hard earned muscle. It just didn’t happen that way! One day of fasting, even an extended 36 hour day is NOT going to catabolize muscle. As long as you get enough protein the other 6 days of the week you’ll be fine. It does exactly what Mark says it should do and burns fat.

        As for protein. On the LOW end at .7grams/pound of lean bodymass, I can BARELY make gains in the gym. Like 1 or 2 reps per exercise per week, but it’s still progress. A little higher like .9/pound LBM, I make SCREAMING progress. So this whole business of “you need at least 1-1.25 grams/pound of LBM” is simply not true. I doubt it would hurt, but I’ve found you don’t need THAT MUCH protein. And on a DIET, to drop bodyfat, maybe it would hurt, just because it’s excess calories. I’m looking for the low end # while my goal is fat loss.

        So in the real world #s…, my lean body mass is 140. So .7/per pould lbm works out to about 100 grams of protein a day. I can still make progress in the gym, with that little protein! And I’m not just doing isolation curls, I do big compound lifts like deadlift. My deadlift is UP with that little protein. Conventional wisdom says you need way more protein…. I just have not found that to be true. I wasn’t packing on pounds of muscle, but I could eek out a rep or two every week. On a DIET, where my goal is fat loss, I’m 100% happy with that. A little higher around 125 grams a day, I really make progress and add multiple reps or weight to the bar every workout.

        All of this of course is assuming NO hard cardio. Chronic cardio = muscle loss. Doing cardio while trying to add muscle is just totally counterproductive.

        My workouts are 3X/week about 30-40 minutes each. Nothing outrageous.

        All told fasting and sprints was a raging success. I got stronger and lost 2 more percent bodyfat. I’m closing in on my goal of 8%. What more could I want? Note that this didn’t happen overnight. It took 7 weeks (almost 2 months!) of disciplined dieting including 2 fasting days to drop about 3 pounds! To get below 15% bf for a man, I think it’s just that difficult. Just gotta’ be patient with it. Realistically, to go from 12% to my goal of 8% will probably take about 4 more months.

        fixed gear wrote on December 7th, 2009
        • 100g or even 150g protein is not much. That’s literally like the palm of your hand in size i.e. piece of beef or a can of tinned tuna which is 130g (drained).

          Surely that’s barely enough for ONE meal on its own without too much veg and zero carbs (by carbs I mean starchy or processed). How do you make up the rest of your daily allowance of food? Surely a few vegetables is not gonna make up the difference to keep you from being hungry.

          I ask because I have had only very limited success with low carb diets. I’ve read the Primal BluePrint. I eat mostly protein and green vegetables like lettuce and spinach (no more than about 50g of these per day) but I don’t lose weight as my hunger levels drive me to eat more than 170g of protein a day – if I cannot add any carbs to my diet. My muscle mass is 154 pounds, around 30% fat and I’ve got about 50 pounds to lose, which means according to the Primal Blueprint I should eat around 150g of protein per day.

          How do I make up the rest of the food I need? I know the PB says it should be fat that makes up the difference but what kind of fat is palatable on its own (without being attached to protein or carbs)? I don’t eat dairy as it irritates my eyes so that rules out yogurts, butter or cheeses. Also when I eat a lot of plant based fatty foods like avocados or nuts like almonds I simply don’t lose weight. Any help would be appreciated.

          g00na wrote on January 10th, 2012
        • A can of tuna is only 30g of protein, not 150g of protein. A piece of beef the size of the palm of your hand is also 30-40g of protein.

          Bob wrote on January 10th, 2012
    • At your stage if you want to get ripped I have 4 words for you that will work without a doubt.

      “MORE CARDIO” “LESS CALORIES”

      Ken wrote on March 8th, 2012
  31. “Also, IF is going to do you harm if your in a healthy range and still trying to drop BF. You will end up catabolizing muscle to feed your brain. It takes 3 days for you brain to switch to ketone bodies for fuel. It takes another 3 weeks for your muscles to switch to stored fat for the majority of energy needs.”

    Sounds nice, but I don’t agree with this at all. Primal man had times of feast and times of famine. The whole REASON humans and other animals store bodyfat in the first place is for times of famine so we can LIVE off our bodyfat without food and not die! In modern society there is no time of famine. If it’s all FEAST 24/7, of course you’ll get fat. I think a day of fasting makes perfect sense. This “OH don’t do THAT or you’ll catablolize muscle!” is conventional wisdom rubbish. I refuse to believe our precious metabolisms are THAT delicate. I think the body WANTS to burn fat in a time of famine, not hoard it and burn muscle. A day of fasting will do far more good than harm, burn far more fat than muscle.

    …..and I don’t need to ask a body-builder anything, I’m asking Mark. Mark has the medium build muscle mass and “elite level” low body fat I aspire to. It sounds like he achieved that at least partly through the use of IF. And in the “success stories” part of the site I can find 4 or 5 other guys with similar builds.

    The REAL threat to muscle mass is cardio. When I surfed hard for a month I lost 4 pounds of muscle. Look at marathon runners and tour de france cyclist. Excessive cardio is kryptonite to muscle mass.

    Why do I want single digit bodyfat? Are you kidding?! I’m shallow. I want to be HOT. The same reason everybody wants it. At least I admit it. I’m a single man. Single women are THROWING themselves at me now -Vs- 7 months ago at 26% bodyfat. …turns out they’re shallow too. ;) I don’t feel bad about that at all. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to LOOK good. That’s the image conscious world we live in. ….why would you want to? Jeeeez! You crack me up.

    Fixed Gear wrote on October 15th, 2009
    • “Sounds nice, but I don’t agree with this at all. Primal man had times of feast…”

      Exactly. Primal man was not fat and did not have unlimited fat reserves like we do now for the reason you mentioned, however, 1 day is not famine. The body will resist using precious fat stores and will use a more metabolically expensive tissue (muscle) until it is perceived to be in a real famine.

      “I think the body WANTS to burn fat in a time of famine, not hoard it and burn muscle”

      Agreed but again one day is not a famine. I am not saying IF is bad or useless. I am saying to get down to single digit BF IF is counter productive.

      “A day of fasting will do far more good than harm, burn far more fat than muscle”

      Agreed. Only if your body is primed to burn fat ie. less than 50g carbs per day for several weeks. The brain uses approx 100 g of Carbs (glucose) a day. It takes several days for the brain to start using ketone bodies as fuel. The brain cannot use free fatty acids for fuel period. This is CW but like “smoking is bad m’kay” CW. To get 100g of glucose for the brain, the best way is to break down amino acids in the liver. The amino acids come from “stored protein” aka muscle tissue. Do a google search on ketosis. Very, very interesting stuff.

      “..and I don’t need to ask a body-builder anything, I’m asking Mark.”

      I only mention this because bodybuilders do what you are trying to do 1-3 times a year. Also I don’t think Mark was 26% BF at the time of developing PB if ever.

      “he REAL threat to muscle mass is cardio. When I surfed hard…”

      By aerobics I mean “low to mid intensity steady state activity” like marathon running, marathon cycling, and shivering in the ocean for 4 hours a day. So again agreed.

      “Why do I want single digit bodyfat? Are you kidding?! I’m….”

      Agreed! Again! Haha I see a trend. Anyway, my goals are also single digit BF (again). I am 34 just divorced and was at 26% BF only 4 weeks ago. I am down to 22% since applying the PB to my lifestyle. I also want to be Hot! I am doing a 4 week stint at ketosis levels starting this week to see how fast I can drop the fat.

      I don’t mean to offend or come off as a know it all. I just thought I would add my 2 cents since we seem to be in the same boat striving for hottness!

      I hope Mark reads our little Necroposts and chimes in to see if I am off base here.

      Good luck! I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing if you have any other views!

      chima_p wrote on October 16th, 2009
  32. I broke through the plateau! After 3 weeks in a row with the scale reading 14.4% bodyfat, this week it dropped to 13.6%. You may argue that BIA bodyfat scales aren’t accurate. I would agree with you, IF you just jump on them whenever you want, you’ll get wildly different readings. But if you get on them under the same conditions with the same hydration levels they are extremely accurate. I hop on mine once a week on Wednesdays, same sleep schedule, same time of day after breakfast and the gym, but before lunch. And the readings are very consistent. So much so that I read a consistent 14.4% for 3 weeks straight. Even if I’m not 14%, and I’m actually 17% or 11% the RELATIVE accuracy is valid. And that’s what I care about, is it going UP or DOWN?

    It was NUTS. I realized I was eating over a POUND of nuts every week. While I’m sure Grok came across nut bearing trees in his travels, he had to pick them (possibly climbing the tree) and then he had to crack open the shells one at a time. That is an entirely different proposition from the 1 pound shelled, salted, roasted goodness available at Trader Joes. It’s a lot easier to over-do it that way.

    I also started sprints on Friday. But only 2 for my first go at it. Two 800 foot dashes. That’s not much. It probably helped. But I think it was ditching the nuts mainly. I’m pretty sure I ate MORE food overall. But it was more fruits/veggies/meat, less nuts. I don’t do cheese, because it’s not primal.

    I have not had to incorporate IF yet. But we’ll see, I’m still a ways out from 9% bodyfat. I kinda’ want to save that one for when I REALLY need it. …like being stuck at 10% bodyfat. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” So this week, I’m going to do exactly what I did last week. Primal, no nuts, no cheese.

    Oh, for all the cardio-holics, I did ZERO cardio this week. None. Na-da. Don’t cardio off the fat, DIET it off.

    Fixed Gear wrote on October 22nd, 2009
  33. when you say “lower the carbs,” does that include vegetables?

    i understand that carbs drives insulin drives fat, but vegetables are so low in carbs and calories that eating three huge salads a day with some eggs or a piece of meat seems like a reduction in calories which would reduce bodyfat…so when we say “lower the carbs,” are we just talking about fruits and nuts???

    bfaber87 wrote on February 21st, 2010
  34. Oh, those dreaded Plateaus! I found that if I cut way back on the carbs AND did IF by shortening my meal window (eating within 8 hours and fasting 16) I got off the plateau within a few days. Keeping a food journal has been a boon to me on this journey.

    micki wrote on April 19th, 2010
  35. I think that the best way to break through a weight loss plateau is to constantly change your workouts to challenge your body. Most people keep the same intensity level throughout their workouts.

    If you are doing this you will most likely reach a plateau and it will be very hard to get past it until you intensify your workouts.

    Sometimes it could be something as minor as tweaking your diet a little to get past that point.

    Patrick Kallie wrote on July 9th, 2010
  36. HIIT is also great. The original Tabata method only takes 4 minutes

    Jeff wrote on November 10th, 2010
  37. Hey Mark, this is a great article; I always wondered how to break past this cycle.

    Many of the people in my inner circle are always complaining how to get past their plateau. This is a GOLDEN article I will take to heart.

    Thanks again,

    Ontarian

    Ontarian Hawkins wrote on November 22nd, 2010
  38. This type of training worked as a short-term kick, and resulted in some good gains. But, it’s important to remember that this type of training isn’t for everyone; and for the long term, I believe it’s not for anyone.

    Asian Tv wrote on June 24th, 2011
  39. I was at 300 pounds at my heaviest, which was in mid-February. Right now, I’m at about 225, and that’s where I’ve been for about 3 weeks now. I’m working out as hard as ever, my diet could probably be a bit more strict, but I’m doing very well. I had a goal to get to 220 by July 4th (as well as 200 by Labor Day and 180 by New Year’s). As of a few weeks ago, 220 looked easily attainable, but it might be tough to lose these 5-7 pounds in a week. Any tips?

    Pat wrote on June 26th, 2011
    • I know you posted this a year ago, but I am in almost the exact same position you were in when you wrote this. I started at 317 and am right now at 225. I have been stuck for going on 3 weeks. The weight came off much easier earlier. What’s the update and can you give me some suggestions on what you did to progress on your journey?

      Kevin Turner wrote on June 22nd, 2012
      • Hi:

        Funny, you should mention that. It has taken me 9 months to lose 12 lbs. I seemed to hit plateau after plateau. I am on another one now.

        My advice is to stick to it and please do not give up. Your body has to get used to that weight for awhile, and if you can keep that at the same number for awhile you will keep it off. Don’t be in a hurry, I promise you, it will start coming off again. Sometimes we get sloppy and end up eating more rice in the pot when we put it away. LOL Be aware of what you are eating and maybe cut back on your carbs a bit.

        Good luck and I hope you start losing weight once again. I know you will.

        Cheryl wrote on June 22nd, 2012
  40. If you really Struck weight loss plateau then you had really doing nothing still now . But by eating Green Vegetables it really help me to reduce upto 2 % within couple of weeks . Also the TRIMMY exercise that give a great lift to me to reduce really the shape of my body. I can see real change in my look now.

    babu wrote on July 26th, 2011

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