Even though you’ve cleaned up your diet and sweated away quite a few pounds, you may find your scale suddenly seems stuck—right before the final 5 or 10 or 15 pounds melts away. This last-few-pounds plateau is common… and frustrating.
What makes the last 15 pounds so hard to lose? One reason could be a decreased metabolic demand: As you lose weight, the number of calories your burn just going about your day decreases, to the tune of 20 fewer per day, per pound that you lose. This makes the final few pounds harder to lose than the first 20 or 30 or more.
But don’t worry—there are still ways to jump start the last phase of your slimming program. Here’s 10 of them!
Focus on fats… the healthy kind, that is! Good fats—the kind found in health-boosting foods such as avocados, nuts and olive oil—reduce hunger, regulate your metabolism, and nourish your body. Get familiar with how fats and oils react to temperature changes. Try using Paleo-friendly coconut oils for high-temperature cooking. And above all, avoid trans fats, which are a health disaster. Trans fats are almost always found in processed foods, however, so a nature-based Paleo diet will ensure you stay trans-fat-free!
Correct your carbs. Carbohydrates are not a bad thing—in fact, Paleo-friendly vegetables and fruits are primarily carb-based foods. The key is to avoid carbs that drive up insulin levels. This certainly means items made with white flour and processed sugar. If may mean avoiding naturally sugar-rich fruits such as grapes, apples and pineapple. To do carbs the Paleo way, eat low-sugar fruits, lots of vegetables, avoid grains, and above all avoid processed, sugary junk foods. That’s the correct way to eat carbs.
Don’t pass on protein. Try including a protein source (nuts; organic meat, poultry, eggs; or low-mercury seafood) at every meal. Protein satiates the appetite and supports muscle growth. An added bonus? It has “thermic effect,” which means your body burns more energy digesting it, relative to carbs and fats.
Increase intervals: To melt more calories, kick up your cardio with high intensity interval training (HIIT). To do so, alternate between bouts of moderate activity (that makes you slightly breathless) and a vigorous intensity (you can only manage a few words between breaths). This helps boost the metabolism and can help you burn more calories all day long—even at rest!
Work the weights: Combine strength training with cardio for the ultimate fat-blasting blitz. Cardio (such as cycling or jogging) burns calories right away, but lifting weights boosts your metabolism over time. Try a circuit that alternates one minute of intense cardio with one minute of resistance work.
Stay hydrated. Ditch the liquid calories and choose water when you drink. Opt for healthy teas or plain old water when you are thirsty. Consume water-rich fruits and vegetables to enhance hydration. And drink a glass of water if your craving a snack and wait 20 minutes before eating—thirst is easily misinterpreted as hunger.
Slow down the salt. Salt itself is not a bad thing—natural sea salts are in fact healthy additions to the average diet. However, we live in a world with excessive, processed table salt loaded into the majority of convenience foods and restaurant meals we eat. If you want to get lean, high sodium is not good: it creates “bloat” from water weight, it is not uncommon for people to lose 5 pounds of water weight after removing processed salt from their diet. Avoid high-salt items, and conservatively salt your own foods at home with high-quality sea salt or other spices for flavor.
Catch some z’s. Sleep deprivation can lead to significant slowdown in your weight loss journey. Science tells us that sleep-deprivation can lead to late-night, high-carb snacking, and to selecting bigger portions of food. Not good! Plus, sleep is essential to muscle growth post-workout. Snoozing is important to refresh and reset your mind—and your weight loss!
Minimize stress. Chronic stress disrupts the healthy functioning of the endocrine system and in particular the hormone cortisol—the so-called “stress hormone.” Ongoing worries can create to chronically elevated levels of cortisol. This leads to greater hunger, disrupted sleep, and “stubborn fat” that is hard to lose. Consider lifestyle changes that decrease sources of stress, and experiment with natural mind-body relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
Maintain motivation. Staying slim for life is about maintaining the momentum of small successes over time, rather than arriving at an arbitrary “finish line” of a fad diet. Lasting weight loss comes from cumulative lifestyle changes. The small decisions you make every day add up. Surround yourself with people who support you in making positive choices—studies show that being around health-driven people makes weight loss easier. Remember, a weight-loss plateau is not the end; it’s just an opportunity to reassess, regroup, and recommit to positive, Paleo lifestyle choices.
Gary and Heath’s Links:
Online “Real Paleo Store”
Check out Heath Squier’s complete diet here: