General Diet Plans and Questions - Plateau Busters




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Gamababa3
07-10-2006, 03:09 PM
http://www.***********.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=516

Fitness Articles

Plateau Busters - Part 1
Eat the Right Nutrients at the Right Times

-- By Nicole Nichols, Personal Trainer

We hear it all the time—you changed your habits and lost weight steadily, but after awhile, that progress halted. You’ve been stuck at the same weight for days, weeks, or even months. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying your best, feeling like you are doing everything right, yet not making any progress towards your weight loss or fitness goals.

Before you inhale a bag of cookies to console yourself, realize that weight loss takes work, and isn’t always perfect. But, there are plenty of ways you can re-energize your program (and motivation) to bust through your weight loss plateau.

But…what is a plateau anyway?
If you’ve been exercising and cutting calories for several weeks, and you’re no longer seeing the same results that you experienced in the beginning, then you’ve probably hit a plateau. This occurs when your progress comes to a standstill, and can be described as not making any “gains” (such as improving your fitness level or losing weight), but not necessarily moving backwards (losing endurance or gaining weight).

Because every individual is unique, there’s no way to actually predict when a plateau might happen. However, the following principles of nutrition, rest, and variation will jumpstart your body, mind, and metabolism. (This article, part 1 in a series of 3, will focus on nutrition.) Incorporate some or all of the following suggestions to both prevent and overcome a weight loss plateau. With just a little tweaking, you’ll be in your skinny jeans in no time!

Eat the Right Nutrients at the Right Times

1. Make sure you are following your *********** nutrition plan correctly. During set-up, did you accurately account for your level of activity? Or, if you are more or less active than when you started the program, have you changed this option in your set-up so that your caloric plan will be accurate for you? This is very important so that you don’t eat too little for your body’s needs, which can actually hinder your weight loss.

In addition, are you accurately tracking your foods in the Food Tracker daily, yet not reaching the minimum number of calories that is recommended? It’s common to think that cutting MORE calories will result in faster weight loss, but that’s not actually the case. You should never consume less than 1200 calories per day. Eating less than this (or too little in general) makes your body think it’s starving (known as “starvation mode”), so it holds onto every calorie, slowing your metabolism. Increase your calories to fit into your recommended range, and you’ll notice a difference.

2. Your body can only do so much with the tools that it has, so eat well. Aim for a wide variety of foods (instead of the same old thing day in and day out) from every basic food group. Try new fruits and vegetables, ethnic cuisines, and a wide range of lean proteins, including non-meat sources like tofu and legumes. All (or most) of your grains should come from whole, unrefined foods like whole-wheat breads and pasta, and brown rice.

These healthy foods, especially when eaten every three to four hours, will help raise and stabilize your metabolism (and energy) to optimal levels. With fewer ups and downs, your hunger will stay in check, and you’ll have plenty of energy to finish a tough workout.

3. After a workout, refuel with a balanced snack or meal within 30 minutes to 2 hours. Remember, “balanced” does not mean just protein. In fact, most individuals—and even athletes—need less than 10 grams of protein post-workout. Carbohydrates are actually more important, so try to eat an additional 30 to 60 grams at this time, when your body is primed to uptake glycogen into the cells to replace the energy you just used up during your workout.

4. Don’t overlook your huge need for water. Hydration is very important for stable energy levels. (You store 3 molecules of water for every glycogen molecule). Plus, hydration promotes muscle building (powering your metabolism), while dehydration promotes muscle breakdown. So drink up—before, during, and after your workout sessions. The standard “8 cups a day” might not be enough for you, especially if you are exercising regularly.


Gamababa3
07-10-2006, 03:10 PM
Fitness Articles

Plateau Busters - Part 2
Include Adequate Rest in Your Exercise Program

-- By Nicole Nichols, Personal Trainer

We hear it all the time—you changed your habits and lost weight steadily, but after awhile, that progress halted. You’ve been stuck at the same weight for days, weeks, or even months. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying your best, feeling like you are doing everything right, yet not making any progress towards your weight loss or fitness goals.

Before you inhale a bag of cookies to console yourself, realize that weight loss takes work, and isn’t always perfect. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can re-energize your program (and motivation) to bust through your weight loss plateau.

But…what is a plateau anyway?
If you’ve been exercising and cutting calories for several weeks, and you’re no longer seeing the same results that you experienced in the beginning, then you’ve probably hit a plateau. This occurs when your progress comes to a standstill, and can be described as not making any “gains” (such as improving your fitness level or losing weight), but not necessarily moving backwards (losing endurance or gaining weight).

Because every individual is unique, there’s no way to actually predict when a plateau might happen. However, the following principles of nutrition, rest, and variation will jumpstart your body, mind, and metabolism. (This article, part 2 in a series of 3, will focus on rest. Click here to read Part 1 first.) Incorporate some or all of the following suggestions to both prevent and overcome a weight loss plateau. With just a little tweaking, you’ll be in your skinny jeans in no time!

Include Adequate Rest in Your Exercise Program

1. Always allow 1-2 days of rest between working muscle groups. During a strength training session, tiny tears occur in your muscle fibers. That, along with some lactic acid build up, causes that all-too-common muscle soreness that lasts about 1-2 days after lifting weights. In order for those tiny tears to repair themselves—rebuilding as stronger muscles than before—you MUST rest those muscles. For example, if you lifted arms on Monday, you should wait at least one day, preferably two, before overloading those muscles again (Wednesday or Thursday). If you don’t rest long enough for repair to occur, you will actually get weaker, which is the opposite of everyone’s goals, and a common plateau-causing culprit. (For an in-depth look at strength training, check out ***********’s Reference Guide to Strength Exercise.)

2. Try active recovery. Research shows that engaging in lower intensity exercise after a strenuous workout session may be more beneficial than resting completely. There are two types of active recovery. The first is the typical cool down phase that you perform at the end of your workout. Properly cooling down has been shown to help your muscles recover faster, and reduce the levels of lactic acid in the muscles (so you’re less sore overall and soreness dissipates more quickly). The second type of active recovery involves exercising lightly in the days following a hard workout. So, rather than taking a day or two off from the gym, consider exercising at a lighter intensity level (go for an easy walk and follow up with some stretching, or try some gentle exercises such as yoga, for example). In addition to helping your muscles rebound, active recovery has also shown to enhance relaxation and psychological recovery.

3. Get plenty of sleep. While most people are familiar with the concepts of rest, not everyone equates resting with sleeping. However, a significant amount of muscle repair occurs during your slumber. In turn, inadequate amounts of shut-eye hinder your ability to recover from exercise, making plateaus more likely. While every individual’s needs for sleep are different, most experts recommend getting AT LEAST 8 hours per night. Make sure this sleep is consistent during the week and through the weekends. After all, there is no real way to play catch-up when it comes to sleeping. If you are exercising intensely (long workouts most days of the week, or training for events such as marathons), your need for sleep may be even higher—up to 10 hours a night or more!

Recent studies show that inadequate sleep can increase hunger and affect your body’s metabolism in a way that makes weight loss more difficult. Read Insomnia Can Hinder Your Weight Loss to learn more.

Gamababa3
07-10-2006, 03:12 PM
Fitness Articles

Plateau Busters - Part 3
Add Variety to Your Workouts

-- By Nicole Nichols, Personal Trainer

We hear it all the time—you changed your habits and lost weight steadily, but after awhile, that progress halted. You’ve been stuck at the same weight for days, weeks, or even months. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying your best, feeling like you are doing everything right, yet not making any progress towards your weight loss or fitness goals.

Before you inhale a bag of cookies to console yourself, realize that weight loss takes work, and isn’t always perfect. But there are plenty of ways you can re-energize your program (and motivation) to bust through your weight loss plateau.

But…what is a plateau anyway?
If you’ve been exercising and cutting calories for several weeks, and you’re no longer seeing the same results that you experienced in the beginning, then you’ve probably hit a plateau. This occurs when your progress comes to a standstill, and can be described as not making any “gains” (such as improving your fitness level or losing weight), but not necessarily moving backward (losing endurance or gaining weight).

Because every individual is unique, there’s no way to actually predict when a plateau might happen. However, the following principles of nutrition, rest, and variation will jumpstart your body, mind, and metabolism. (This article, part 3 in a series of 3, will focus on exercise variety. Consider reading Part 1: Eat the Right Nutrients at the Right Times and Part 2: Include Adequate Rest in Your Exercise Program first.) Incorporate some or all of the following suggestions to both prevent and overcome a weight loss plateau. With just a little tweaking, you’ll be in your skinny jeans in no time!
Add Variety to Your Workouts

Incorporate variation into each workout. Variety is critical because your muscles become very efficient at the exercises they are accustomed to doing. Switching things up or doing something radically different during each workout session is more challenging to your muscles. This concept should be applied to both aerobic exercise and strength training.

An individual who always does the same exercises will usually plateau sooner than someone who continually makes changes. If you don’t feel comfortable doing a different workout each time you hit the gym, try to change your exercise routine at least every 6-8 weeks. Changing your routine is crucial to keeping your body/muscles surprised. They'll have to work harder, you'll be challenged, and you'll burn more calories and build more lean muscle in the process.

1. Change your cardio activity:

* Change the type of exercise you usually do. The possibilities of aerobic exercise are endless. If you walk, try cycling. If you take kickboxing, try the elliptical. Consider adding some of these possibilities to your routine: running, jogging, walking, elliptical machine, swimming, cycling, indoor exercise, outdoor exercise, hiking, fitness videos/DVDS, group fitness classes like kickboxing, aerobics, spinning, stair steppers, etc.—anything, just change it up!

* Change the duration of your workouts. Try to increase your minutes as you become fitter, and occasionally, try a shorter (but more intense) workout.

* Change the intensity of your workouts. This is something you can play with on a daily basis. This includes working at an incline or harder level, sprint work, distance work, maintaining intensity, or interval work (shifting between fast/hard and easy/recovery intervals).

2. Change your Strength Training Routine:

* Change the mode of exercise. If you are using machines, move to free weights. If you are using body weight, try resistance bands. If you are doing free weights, add a stability element like a BOSU ball or stability ball. Try doing exercises while balancing on one foot or switch between any and all of these.

* Change the exercises you actually do. If you have been doing chest press, change to a chest fly or use the pec deck machine. Think of an alternative exercise for each muscle group and you’ll have an entirely new workout! Check out ***********'s Exercise Demonstrations for more ideas.

* Change your resistance level and/or number of repetitions. Be sure to increase your weight regularly. Make sure you are lifting to fatigue with each set. If you typically lift 12-15 reps, try doing 8-10 (with a higher weight) or vice versa. Play with your weight and reps in each set. Try lifting (as an example) 25 pounds for 15 reps, then 30 pounds for 12, then 35 pounds for 10 reps on your third set. You can also do it backwards, starting with high weight/low reps and working the weight down.

There are lots of ways to add variety to your workouts—and it's SO important that you do to continue losing weight and improving your fitness level. By always challenging yourself, you will avoid hitting a plateau in the first place, and overcome the one you're stuck in now.


The principles of nutrition, rest and variation all work closely together. When not followed properly, they can instigate a negative snowball effect: Repeating the same exercises can cause overtraining, which leads to plateaus and an inability to sleep. Lack of rest hinders you progress, making recovery take much longer, especially if you are not well-nourished and hydrated.

The human body is amazingly adaptable. By making a few changes in these areas, you can jumpstart your routine and see those positive results in no time.


winkie03
07-10-2006, 03:13 PM
Good info Barbara! Thanks for sharing!

Gamababa3
07-10-2006, 03:22 PM
Winkie your welcome. I'm looking at joining a gym and Part 3 really helped. Since there are many who are big on exercising it might help them also.