Almost everyone reaches a weight loss plateau at some point in their fitness lives. The plateau is a common problem among dieters and can typically be waited out. The reason is that the human body works hard to keep energy intake and output in balance. In other words, your body does not like to lose weight (not a revelation, huh?). After your initial weight loss, your progress will slow down and eventually stop even though your exercise and food intake is consistent. The bottom line is that the very efforts you make to burn more calories may eventually slow it down.  There are measures you can take to keep your chances of a plateau slim to none and under control!

* Keep your calories slightly below your maintenance calories so that your energy and metabolism remain high. A deficit greater than 500-700 calories makes it much more difficult to maintain your lean body mass. To determine your approximate daily caloric needs, use this formula:

kg (body weight) x 24 = kcal/day

kg (body weight) x 23 = kcal/day

Note: kg = pounds divided by 2.2 (i.e.: 180 lbs / 2.2 = 81.8 kg)

You can also calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate to determine how many calories you need to function, and then use a calorie calculator to add in calories you burn throughout the day and with exercise.

* Make sure you start (or continue) a complete weight training program that includes cardio and resistance training to help increase lean body mass and build muscle( muscle burns fat), which can help compensate for the loss of calories. When you weigh less, it takes fewer calories to move your body. A loss of any amount of weight will lead to a reduced energy requirement.

* When you start a new exercise program, your body responds quickly because you are forcing it to make changes to adjust to different workloads.  At this point your muscles build and this consumes all kinds of calories. Maintain your body’s adaptation period by changing the intensity, duration, frequency and the mode of exercise and include interval training.

* Take time to recover! Take a break for a few days, or try something gentle like yoga or a stretching routine. When you increase your exercise intensity, your body responds by decreasing the amount of calories you burn during the rest of your day.  After your break, get back to exercise just lighten up your original routine a little and increase your intensity only as necessary.

Congratulations! You’re officially in shape and healthy and your body is more efficient and it costs fewer calories to operate. Improved health means a lower resting metabolic rate and fewer calories are burned during normal daily activities. Part of this is because your cardio-pulmonary system is more efficient now and you have a lower resting heart rate.

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