#1 Reason Why You've Reached A Fat Loss Plateau
You Eat Too Much!
To be more specific, you're eating too often.
I am often faced with the challenge of figuring out why a highly motivated trainee has reached a premature fat loss plateau. They train hard, consume real food, get enough sleep, and take high quality dietary supplements, but seem to be stuck at a higher than desired body fat level. After I make sure that their body fat goals are realistic, I review their current dietary habits. I often find that they are consuming a food or beverage(other than water) every 2-3 hours during waking hours. Contrary to popular opinion, eating 5-7 meals per day is not an effective fat loss practice for the average trainee.
The multiple-meal (5 or more meals/day) eating schedule is a standard practice for most athletes and physique competitors. The idea is to maintain stable blood sugar and a steady supply of nutrients so that you maintain an anabolic environment that promotes muscle growth and repair.
This practice is excellent for improving athletic performance, especially for athletes who train 6 or more times/week, but it is NOT the best way to lose body fat for the majority of exercise enthusiasts.
Mid-meal snacks do NOT boost your metabolism and they do not ensure against overeating. The type of foods you eat are the primary regulator of appetite for the next meal.
Despite what you’ve been told, evidence suggests that frequent-feedings is NOT the most effective nor healthful strategy for long-term health and fat loss (Taubes, 2007). Each time you eat(or drink calories) blood sugar levels go up. Insulin is secreted in response to the elevated blood sugar. When insulin levels rise, fat burning stops and fat storage increases. When insulin levels drop a few hours after a meal, you return to burning fat stores for fuel. Continually raising blood sugar and insulin does not allow the fat burning process to be maximized.
Chronically elevated insulin and blood sugar are bad for your long-term health. Elevated insulin levels are directly correlated to systemic inflammation and a cause of insulin resistance (Center, 2007).
If you are guilty of consuming too often, I suggest you try intermittent fasting. Adjust your meal frequency like you adjust your training frequency; it should be cycled based on training goals and needs.
“Our ancestors consumed food much less frequently and often had to subsist on one large meal per day, and thus from an evolutionary perspective, human beings were adapted to intermittent feeding rather than to grazing." (Mattson, M.P., PhD, Lancet 2005; 365:1978-80)
1. Eat 2-3 primary meals per day
2. Consume high quality animal protein with each meal
3. Eat good fats (butter, lard, olive oil, coconut oil) and avoid bad fats (vegetable oils, hydrogenated fats, margarine)
4. Eat plenty of organic vegetables and fruit
5. Follow a 16/8 Intermittent Fast(16 hours between dinner and breakfast, then an 8-hour eating window) 2-3 days/week.
6. Do not Graze between meals. Consume all extras, like nuts or berries, with meals
7. Do not consume calorie containing or flavored sugar-free drinks between meals (water only between meals). Black coffee of plain tea is fine if it does not negatively effect blood sugar levels.