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Old 03-12-2012, 08:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Plateauing with calorie deficit?

I started working on losing weight at the end of Dec and for two months had very good results (losing 27 pounds). I have been exercising 5 times a week (3 days cardio and 2 days strength training) and tracking calories on Fitday throughout that time. My calorie deficit ranges between 500-1000 per day. Then two weeks ago I only lost 1 lb and this past week .5 lb, even though when I calculate my deficit for the week it should have been about 1.5 lbs each week.

Is it possible to plateau when I still have that much of a calorie deficit (about 5000-5500 calorie deficit per week)?

The other options are that I am gaining muscle so the scale isn't showing the change (I do measure myself once a month so I have a couple of more weeks before doing so again) or else my calorie burn on Fitday is not accurate anymore, but I don't know why that would be.

Thoughts?

Thanks!
Terri
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Is it possible to plateau when I still have that much of a calorie deficit (about 5000-5500 calorie deficit per week)? Yes. Also, your body gets used to what you do for exercise and becomes more efficient. Try changing your workout and/or cycle calories (higher some days, lower others, with the same average deficit over a week)

The other options are that I am gaining muscle so the scale isn't showing the change Actually, muscle doesn't build fast enough to compensate for what should be weight loss, unfortunately (I do measure myself once a month so I have a couple of more weeks before doing so again) or else my calorie burn on Fitday is not accurate anymore, but I don't know why that would be. Do you log in your sleeping hours? Many of us find we get really accurate results if we do that.

Thoughts?
Terri
Be patient, be patient, be patient. Plateaus happen, plateaus last sometimes, but hang tough and you'll see a drop again!

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Old 03-12-2012, 09:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree with everything Cassie said. It is pretty typical to plateau at about 3 months - most people seem to experience this. Patience as Cassie councils will see you through. Another thing to keep in mind is the lighter you get the less food you body requires for basic basal metabolism (totally not fair, IMO), so you may want to recalculate your daily requirement etc.

I had pretty good luck taking a 2 week break from the severe calorie restriction, upping the calories to my "maintenece" level then returning to the lower level. It can be a little tricky because you can't go crazy during this time, you still need to log your food and make sure you don't go over. And you have to have the discipline to return to the restricted level at the end. But it does help.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Check this out:

FitDay's Best of Series: Breaking a plateau
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by terrienne View Post
I started working on losing weight at the end of Dec and for two months had very good results (losing 27 pounds). I have been exercising 5 times a week (3 days cardio and 2 days strength training) and tracking calories on Fitday throughout that time. My calorie deficit ranges between 500-1000 per day. Then two weeks ago I only lost 1 lb and this past week .5 lb, even though when I calculate my deficit for the week it should have been about 1.5 lbs each week.

Is it possible to plateau when I still have that much of a calorie deficit (about 5000-5500 calorie deficit per week)?

The other options are that I am gaining muscle so the scale isn't showing the change (I do measure myself once a month so I have a couple of more weeks before doing so again) or else my calorie burn on Fitday is not accurate anymore, but I don't know why that would be.

Thoughts?

Thanks!
Terri
Terri,

I wouldn't really consider losing only a half a pound a plateau. I would consider staying at or above a certain number for two months a plateau. If the scale is moving, up or down, that is gain or loss. Do you weigh yourself daily or once a week? How much more weight do you have until your goal? Those are important things to note.

My advice is weigh and log that weight on Fitday daily, same time every day, preferably first thing in the morning... before exercise. My guess is you will see zigging and zagging of the weight from day to day with a steady downtrend in weight. That my friend, is loss! And it is consistent, a good healthy loss that will most likely stay off. Granted we all want to hurry up and lose! Get there get there, get there!!! Once it is all said and done, we will have to maintain, learn how to eat in our new bodies, etc. So think of this slower loss period as a teaching time to figure out what it is going take each day to live in your new body.

Check my signature line, that shows my weights on Wednesdays, just once a week since the week before Christmas, I had 15 pounds to go to get to my goal. I am fighting for every pound. Water fluctuations, hormonal fluctuations, life, all those things can cause that scale to be all over the place. Though today is not my official weigh in day for my challenge, I weighed in this morning at 135. I hope it holds for tomorrow's weigh in.
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I was weighing in at WW and losing weight. I had X number of 'points plus' to eat each day if I wanted. I was in the WW website (where my weight goes automatically when I weigh in at meeting) and whoa, I noticed that I had X-y number of points plus to eat for the day. Hmmm. Seems that WW website's software sees your weight (and knows your height, etc.) and adjusts downward as you lose weight. Yeah, that was mentioned in passing, once upon a time at meeting, but who pays attention to such a MINOR detail?

I thought about it. It made sense. If I lose weight eating x number of calories (the deficit has been figured in) and then I have a smaller body, I should be able to eat the same amount as I used to eat to fuel a bigger body? Hmmm. Guess not! A large person becoming a slender person should still be eating what they were eating while losing weight, even though they are no longer a large person? NOT.

I guess I thought being on a diet meant I would not be working my way to FEWER daily calories, and fewer and fewer, until I hit the level that matched my 'goal' body. I would just be eating fewer calories and that would always work. NOT.

Oh, and the downward adjustment to fewer points plus is pretty gradual. After increments of blocks of pounds, it seems, not when you lose a pound or two. AND the option of 'working off' calories is part of the WW plan - but the working off part is pretty strenuous to compensate for eating calories....

A variation of this idea is what I heard some fitness gurus propose: that you set your calorie limit to be the calories you would eat if you DID weight z number of pounds - and just keep eating that. You can use any number of calorie calculators to figure that number of calories. My bmr (basal metabolism rate) would only be around 1200 calories - yikes!
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Old 03-14-2012, 05:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone for your responses! I am loving all of the learning I am doing as I go through this weight loss/get healthy experience. My family is already getting tired of me giving them health tips. LOL. If you make it through this message I have a couple of more questions at the end.

When I first started tracking calories and activities I was losing more weight than my calorie deficit showed I would, so I guess I was burning more calories somehow. I didn't add sleep into my activities because that would have been even less accurate.

I looked over last weeks calories and activities and added sleep (as suggested) to last weeks activities and my .5 pound loss is pretty accurate with sleep included. I guess my body has started to adjust to the new weight and activity level. So now I know I need to include sleep in my records to have a more accurate deficit.

I know I have also started to gain some muscle because when I flex my arm and leg I can feel and see muscles in my biceps and calves. Wow! No one else will notice them, but I do.

Someone asked about how often I weigh myself. I weigh myself once a week, about the same time of day each weigh in. Sometimes I am tempted to do it more often, but I know that with normal body fluctuations it would just be frustrating so I don't.

I am going to start varying up my exercise routine too. I have started walking on the treadmill at an incline of about 2 at a speed of 4.1. I cannot find anywhere a calculator that will include speed, incline and your body weight to calculate calories burned and Fitday doesn't have anything that would match this activity either. Very frustrated with this.

A couple more off topic questions-

So as you lose weight your calorie needs are less. I am already at about 1850 calories before exercise. I thought 1800 calories was supposed to be an average calorie maintenance level for a woman. But I still have 40-50 pounds to lose, so how low will my calorie needs go when I get to a new low maintenance level? I hate the thought of eventually only needing 1500 calories for maintenance and not being able to have a decent calorie deficit.

Also, how do I create a signature in Fitday?

Thanks!
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Old 03-14-2012, 01:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I hate the thought of eventually only needing 1500 calories for maintenance and not being able to have a decent calorie deficit.
This is why exercise is important. Walk, do a spinning class, do something to get the cardio going and start out easy, eventually you'll build endurance.

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Also, how do I create a signature in Fitday?
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by terrienne View Post

So as you lose weight your calorie needs are less. I am already at about 1850 calories before exercise. I thought 1800 calories was supposed to be an average calorie maintenance level for a woman. But I still have 40-50 pounds to lose, so how low will my calorie needs go when I get to a new low maintenance level? I hate the thought of eventually only needing 1500 calories for maintenance and not being able to have a decent calorie deficit.

Thanks!
Terri
It's really not fair, is it? Remember that 1800 calories might be an average number that you read somewhere, but that's for women of all heights, all builds, and many different activity levels. Often those 'averages' are assuming you are average height (maybe 5'6" or 5'7") and that you are working out 3-4 times per week for at least 30-45 minutes per session -- or whatever "assumptions" they're making in there!

When I was bigger (215 lbs.) I used to be able to blast out a 7,000 calorie deficit per week with no sweat (figuratively speaking... I sweat a ton in reality!). Now if I hit 3,500 per week, I feel satisfied. That's a 500 calorie deficit per day, and if you can keep up those numbers, you will lose on average a pound per week, and that's really not so bad

The reality is that you will lose weight more slowly as you get thinner. Those are the unfortunate facts - can't escape the math and biology. You'll find out the number of calories that you can support daily on an exercise regime that you can maintain for the long term, and that will be YOUR number. It might be 1500 calories, it might be 1800, it might be 1200, or anywhere in-between. Each of us has to find what individually works.

Don't give up, keep up with it! Patience and understanding and listening to your body WILL get you where you need to be!
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Female, 31 years old, 5'4 1/2" tall
Starting weight 1/4/11 = 215.2 lbs.
Weight 9/19/14 = 176.6 (net: -38.6)
Last mini-goal: 180 lbs. REACHED! Reward - new sports bra
Current min-goal: 175 lbs.
Next large goal: 165 lbs. by 12/25/2014
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