If you're losing weight, your progress will stall at some point. Even if you are doing everything right, the number on the scale will stop budging. Here's what to do when this happens.
Image by Paul H
First, determine if it's possible that the number on the scale isn't budging because you're retaining water. Lyle McDonald, nutritionist and author of the blog Body Recomposition, explains:
Rather, there are often stops and starts or, as it's often referred to on the Internets, stalls and whooshes. I discussed this topic in some seriousness in The Stubborn Fat Solution and excerpted that bit in the article Of Whooshes and Squishy Fat. The main culprit here is almost always water retention which can mask fat true fat loss and make it look as if a diet that is otherwise set up perfectly (and working just fine) actually isn't.
Many people have an expectation of fat loss being this nice weekly linear thing that occurs in a predictable fashion. And certainly, for some people this can be the case. However, for an equally large number of people (and I'd probably tend to argue that these folks are in the majority), fat loss does not occur in a predictable linear fashion.
If you are on a reasonable caloric deficit and have been adhering to your protocol, then give it another week before you change your diet or exercise. If it's been two weeks or more and the number still isn't budging, then refer to the following chart:
|Average Weekly Fat Loss||Adjustment|
|Less than 500 grams/week||Reduce Calories by 10%|
|500-1000 grams/week||No Change|
|1kg+/week||If there is performance loss, increase calories by 10%.
Otherwise, no change.
As you can see, you shouldn't be decreasing calories unless you're losing less than 500 grams per week, assuming that your stall isn't the result of water retention. You might also consider increasing calories by 10% if you are losing performance, as defined by a decrease in strength, stamina, and so on. For more information, check out Lyle McDonald's article below on this topic.
Adjusting the Diet [Body Recomposition]