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Saturday, September 20, 2014

5 Steps to Break Any Fat Loss Plateau

Beyond the basics
“My most challenging one took over three months of trial-and-error before we pinpointed her issue,” I said, stabbing a black olive with my toothpick as I sipped a glass of pinot noir.
“What was the needle mover?” someone asked. The entire table remained riveted to hear my answer. “Hashimoto’s,” I replied. “Pulling gluten did wonders, and she went on to work with a thyroid specialist.”

Audible aahs! and a “Wow” filled the table.

Yes, nutrition and fitness professionals remain complete dorks even when we're having a dinner-and-drinks girls' night out. We talk about non-industry related things, but for some reason we always work back to our professions because we're that passionate about what we do.

In the beginning I became known as
a fitness plateau buster, but along the way those plateaus included fat loss. With some hard work on their part and detective work on mine, I’ve helped nearly every client become lean and fit even if every other plan on the planet had failed them.

I eventually developed an easy-to-implement five-step plan to help clients break those plateaus. We always start with the first two, which work well for most people who want fat loss and better health. Others will need to dive deeper and determine what potentially stalls their goals. For the most stubborn resistance, I bring in the big guns with step five.
I’ve worked with the worst cases, and I can honestly say with these strategies, you can lose weight and become your very best self. Never settle that your case is hopeless. It isn’t.

Step 1: Pull the Junk
“Cut out all the white stuff,” I usually begin, and for some clients that’s all they need to drop excess weight and become healthier.

That sounds easy, but hidden sugar lurks nearly everywhere. You know that chocolate cake isn’t doing you any favors for your midsection, but did you know whole wheat bread or pasta also convert to sugar and stall fat loss?

I also find hidden sugars slipping into places like salad dressings, “lite” yogurt, and meat sauces. I feel bad for these people, since they’re following all the rules and still can’t lose weight. That’s why I tell people they need to become sugar sleuths and scrutinize labels.
If that becomes too much of a chore, just eat real food that doesn’t come out of a box or contain a barcode. Focus on anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods like wild-caught fish, loads of leafy and cruciferous veggies, healthy fats like avocado, and fiber-rich starchy carbs like quinoa and sweet potatoes.

Step 2: Address Lifestyle Issues
Sleep and stress are deal breakers to build muscle and burn fat. You could eat a pristine diet, but if you’re not getting at least eight hours’ consistent sleep every night and controlling stress levels, your best efforts will fall short.

Exercise can become another plateau deal-breaker, but you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. I often find heavy lifting and burst training are the needle movers that, coupled with a clean diet, push people past their plateaus.

Step 3: Remove Food Intolerances
When pulling junk foods and addressing lifestyle issues aren’t enough, I then address food intolerances that could hinder fat loss.

In her book The Virgin Diet, my friend JJ Virgin addresses seven foods that could hold your weight hostage. Usually pulling those seven for three weeks and then challenging them does the job. JJ provides detailed instructions in her book, so check it out.

If pulling those foods doesn’t do the job (it usually does), I ask clients to take an IgG Food Sensitivity test, which can pinpoint specific foods that your body reacts to. The biggest offenders include gluten, dairy, and soy.

Not to sound like a broken record here, but the easiest way to eliminate most food intolerances is to eat whole, real foods. You know that apple doesn’t have gluten, right?

Step 4: Supplement Smartly
If you’re doing everything else correctly, a few well-chosen nutrients might give you that boost to shed excess pounds.

I’m assuming you already take a high-quality multi, fish oil, and a probiotic. Those are foundation nutrients. If you’re lacking in even one vitamin or mineral, your metabolic machinery can come to a grinding halt. Digestive enzymes can also help better break down food.

As for weight loss supplements, we get into murky territory. My favorites include conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), green tea, and good old fiber. I recently wrote a blog entitled “Don’t Expect Any Miracles,” which pretty much sums up my opinion about weight loss supplements. 

Step 5: Deep Dive into Hormonal Imbalances
About 80 percent of my clients get results with those four steps. If you’ve given them all your best shot – I’m talking at least a month or two of solid effort and tracking everything – yet the scales aren’t budging, you could have a hormonal imbalance that creates a fat-loss roadblock.

Now, I know enough to trial-and-error my way though what might cause that obstacle. It could be adrenal or thyroid imbalances. Estrogen dominance and low testosterone could be the problem. Usually with insulin resistance comes other imbalances like leptin (which tells your brain to stop eating) and ghrelin (which tells your brain to eat now).

Testing can pinpoint many hormonal imbalances and other issues that create weight loss resistance.  I have clients do this test themselves. The easy-to-interpret results put you in the driver’s seat to work with an integrative practitioner (or not) and create a customized, health-restoring plan.

Your Turn

Nothing motivates me more than hearing how you overcame your fat (AKA weight) loss plateau. Share your story below or on my Facebook fan page

You have permission to do so, free of charge, as long as the byline and
the article is included in its entirety:

Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at© 2014 Jinifit, Inc.

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