Weight loss plateaus and stages

It took me a few years to internalise this-you can’t use the same diet pattern to achieve a target. As your body changes with fat loss, you’ll have to re adjust your approach to keep progress going.

It looks obvious and straightforward when I say it or think about it, but putting it into application has been a pain and it has been very easy to lose track of what is happening and suffer very avoidable setbacks.

First stage-
-Pretty severe obesity. 20+ kilos to lose
-most people I know are in this stage
-women usually start off at 45 to 50kg in their early twenties
-now they are in 60 -80kg range
-men start off in 50-70kg range in their twenties and end up at 80-110+ in their middle age
-they need to break out of metabolic syndrome
-they need to lose weight fast
-easiest way to do that is to cut carbs.
-aim is to return to some sort of metabolic health and restore insulin sensitivity.
-avoiding pounding your system with excessive carbs is the easiest, safest way
-the approach stays very similar for most people at this stage
-and depending on how strict they are, they’ll transition to second stage in 3-6 months time
-exercise at this point will be strength training thrice a week
-cycling, walking or swimming thrice a week

-around 10kgs down.
-if you’re lucky 15kgs down in 6 months
-start carb cycling
-one meal a day would have carbs
-I’d prefer this meal to be lunch
-carbs would preferably be rice or starchy vegetables
-quantity would be roughly the size of your fist, by volume
-carb cycling will have to begin early if there is a stall in weight loss in the first stage, in spite of being strict. But be honest with your self assessment, regarding whether you have been truly strict. Carb cycling will also have to begin early in first stage if the dieter has thyroid issues or if the cholesterol spikes unduly on a low carb diet

-mainstay of exercise should remain strength training to increase muscle mass
-cardio stays thrice a week, but very low intensity and not excessively long.  Keep it under an hour

Third stage
– very close to your goal weight
– around 2-3kgs left to lose
– you can stay in the border between second and third stage indefinitely with no health issues
– being 2-3kgs overweight with good bone density and adequate strength will not have any negative effects on your health.
-adequate strength would mean a double body weight dead lift, body weight barbell squat, and a bodyweight overhead press (tough for women)
-you might never actually reach those strength standards, but continually striving for them over the long term will let you get close and keep you healthy
-conversely, being in a hurry to reach those strength standards will also get you injured
-diet wise, you’re now very well adapted to fat burning, so intermittent fasting will help
-16:8 would be ideal
-intermittent fasting can be started from the first stage itself, and ideally should be too, but if you’ve gotten to this point without it, you’ll definitely need to start using it now, to make progress
-carb cycling continues, with the bulk of the carbs coming in at noon, or immediately after strength training session
-weight and body composition needs to be watched closely as you increase carbs
-if you’re gaining weight too fast, cut back again
-if you’re losing strength in the weight room, you’ll have to cut back on excessive cardio, which is the most common temptation most people succumb to.
-if you’re getting soft, but not gaining weight, you’re probably either doing too much cardio or not sleeping enough/well.
-microworkouts that last 10-15 minutes and are sprinkled throughout the day at random is a useful tool in this stage particularly, because it gives you training opportunities without frying your nervous system and recovery.

I’m presently in the third stage and I’ve been here for two years now. Hovering between 65-67. Not in a hurry. I’m focusing on strength training and consciously cutting back on cardio, based on the feedback I get from sleep tracking and muscle soreness from the strength training workouts.

If you’ve got questions, please let me know in the comments, so that I can develop this idea further.

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