Question: I am 35 years old and I recently lost 10 kg by changing my lifestyle. I am still exercising and eating healthily but my weight has stagnated and don’t seem to be able to lose more weight. I would like to lose 20 more kg and I have tried excluding carbs and reducing my kcal intake even further but nothing works anymore. What can I do to lose the last these 20 kg?
Rula B, Dubai
It is normal after dieting for sometime to stagnate. This is because the human body is programmed to regulate itself at a fixed weight, so when you eat less your metabolic rate slows down and your natural caloric burning process adjusts involuntarily to the reduced calorie intake.
The only safe and permanent way to reach your goal is to understand the biological process of weight loss and abide by it. As an example, if you were consuming 2000 kcal calories a day and you dropped to 1500 kcal, your body would initially burn some fat to compensate for the caloric reduction. If you continued on 1500 kcal, your body would inevitably slow down its metabolism to adjust to the reduced caloric intake. In other words, ‘no more weight loss’. At this point, people usually drop their calories even further, say by 300, and again the body will initially lose some weight but then stagnate again to cope with the reduction of kcal intake. If you are particularly stubborn, misinformed and desperate to lose weight you can continue to cut down your kcal intake again and again until you admit defeat and have a crashed metabolism to prove it. When you start to eat normally again, your body thinking that is still in the starvation mode, the weight will pile on again. The only way to keep the weight off is then continuing the starvation.
The best way to lose weight long term is to use the zig-zag method. Quite simply, you reduce your calories for a few days, 2-5, then before your body has time to adjust and slow down the metabolic rate, you increase your calories for 1-2 days without bingeing. Not only can you zig-zag your kcal intake but also your carb, protein, and fat intake. Your body not only adapts to the amount of kcal you give it but also to the amount of carbs, protein and fat. That is why people who have been on a high protein diet can actually lose weight by including more carbs in their diet. The important thing here is to change your diet. Also varying the kinds of food you eat is also important for continuous weight loss.
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