Why fat loss stalls after first week

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This is cutting season with summer right around the corner in the northern hemisphere and many people are thinking about cutting or have already begun.  When it comes to losing weight, a lot of people become irrational ADD micro-managers of their bodies and work themselves into a frenzy.  Set a good course and hold it!  The easiest way to do this is to use my simple cutting meal planner.  I guarantee you that if you eat these meals, and drink nor eat nothing else, you will lose fat at the indicated rate +/- 10%, its physics that no human is immune to.  Many people are ecstatic about their first week of weight loss then get discouraged about a plateau that they cant break thru, lets take a close look at the one week plateau issue using my experience of the last week as an example.

weight loss plateau

In one week, I lost an inch on my waist and lost 5 pounds of “fat”.  Why did I put fat in quotes?  Because I know with 100% certainty that I did NOT lose 5 pounds of fat and thinking so will only mess with my mind.  The cutting meal planner predicts body weight loss on the caloric restriction – energy in, energy out.  The meal planner tells me that I should have lost 1 pound of fat in the week, and I completely believe that – its simple equations.  So what is the other 4 pounds I lost?

My normal nutrition is very high in complex carbs, probably 60% from carbs, predominately legumes like black beans but also a lot of oats.  I started using the prescribed meals in my cutting meal planner seven days ago, the macros for that meal plan are 45% protein, 30% carbs, and 25% fat.  Dropping from my normal 60% carbs down to 30% carbs and dropping my calorie intake by 25% is a HUGE change for the body.  When you make changes to your bodies food intake or exercise program, it takes awhile for your body to come up with a new equilibrium and this can take a full week.  Any time you make a nutritional change you have to give the body time to adapt to it before you start counting inches.  Switching from a high carb diet to a carb constrained diet (not really low carb because its 30%), causes the body to retain less water.  That 4 pounds I lost was water, simple water.  Yes, my waist measurement went down 1″ for the same reason – 4 pounds of water came out of the fat in my midsection.

So here is what happens to many people.  One week, their weight drops 5 pounds and they cinch their belt up one notch – they are on the top of the world!  Then week 2 comes along.  They eat exactly the same thing … but don’t lose a single pound! Discouraged, they frantically turn another diet or cut their calories further.  STOP!  Hold that course, its a good one, just give it time to work!  If after 4 weeks of weighing yourself accurately and using my cutting meal planner your weight loss has still stagnated then I would be willing to bet with a 99% certainty that one of the following is the problem:

  1. You are eyeballing rather than weighing your portions
  2. Your kitchen scale is not accurate
  3. Your body scale or skinfold caliper measurements are not right, read about how to weigh yourself accurately
  4. You are drinking something with calories
  5. You are consuming calories other than what is in the prescribed meals.  Even GUM has calories as does the cream in your coffee and all those little factors add up.

Many people have trouble measuring their bodyfat accurately, please read this page on bodyfat measurements.   NO, electronic fat measuring devices are NOT accurate – do NOT use them.  If you don’t have a skinfold caliper or cant use it accurately then don’t measure your bodyfat at all.  In fact, don’t measure your weight at all.  How to measure progress then? Your primary direct and simple measurement of success is the tape measure. If your waist is getting smaller, you are losing fat – easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I am getting ready for my men’s physique contest this spring so I have started my cut.  I am not really that far off right now, I am 10% and need to get down to 6% so I need to cut less than 1 pound a week – a pretty slow fat loss rate.

why fat loss stalls