Is a stall ever a good thing?
Definitely not when your car stalls out on the way to work.
As an athlete, a stall (AKA slump) could put a major dent in your playing time.
And during a fat loss phase, that’s about the most frustrating thing possible.
When you’re set on losing weight, a stall can do more than just temporarily stop your progress. From my own experience and that of working with others, a stall can stop your progress and the journey all together.
But stalling in your fat loss doesn’t have to mean the end of the journey.
I want you to think of fat loss as one big road trip.
When you set out on a road trip, you load up the car with supplies, put the directions into your GPS, and head out.
In terms of a fat loss journey, that part is the determining your method for fat loss, getting set up in a training program, determining your food intake, setting yourself up with someone for accountability and motivation, and jumping on board.
But what happens after a few hours in the car?
You have to make a pit stop.
At pit stops you refuel the car, go to the bathroom, stretch, pick up snacks, grab some fluids, and whatever else a gas station or rest stop will let you do.
Growing up on our family road trips, pit stops were fun. We were typically heading to my grandparents’ house and stopped at the same couple of gas stations so we loved to see what had changed, the people, and what good treats we could talk our parents into buying.
Well, in dietary terms, that pit stop is your stall and like we’ve already said, those are not fun.
Now, I cannot guarantee a fat loss stall to ever be as fun as our pit stops growing up, but what if I could help you make it more tolerable?
First things first, you need to understand metabolism and metabolic adaptation.
A few years ago, nobody knew where or what the metabolism was.
Today, people through out things like:
“My metabolism is damaged.”
“I’m eating this to speed up my metabolism.”
“I hate my husband for his metabolism.”
Okay, so maybe I’m the only one who says the last one, but seriously, have you seen the boy and what he eats??
But most don’t even know what the metabolism is….
According to the Mayo Clinic, metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.
There are four components that make up your metabolism.
- Basal Metabolic Rate (70% of daily calories burned)
- Thermic Effect of Food (~10% of daily calories burned)
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (10-15% of daily calories burned)
- Thermic Effect of Exercise (5-10% of daily calories burned)
Now there’s SO MUCH about each of those that’s so important for your health that I will save that for another blog so we can get to how to get out of this stall faster…
The other important piece we need to talk about is metabolic adaptation because THAT is a HUGE contributor to whether you’re losing weight or stuck in a stall.
During a fat loss phase, you’re challenging your body to change its metabolism (whether you know it or not). In order to combat this, your body goes through what’s called metabolic adaptation. Our body’s love homeostasis or staying at the same place, and it will do whatever it needs to in order to get there.
There are 4 things your body does to metabolically adapt.
- Your BMR drops as you lose weight since a smaller body requires less calories.
- TEF drops as you eat less food.
- NEAT calories drop to save for “more important” bodily processes.
- Leptin decreases to decrease energy expenditure.
Now you might remember the Calories In vs. Calories Out relationship, and that fat loss can only take place when calories out outweighs the calories in.
Well, metabolic adaptation is the body’s way of decreasing the calories out portion of the equation in an attempt to conserve energy and maintain homeostasis.
But is it really the reason for your fat loss stall?
Let’s go back to the road trip analogy.
You just put gas in at the gas station, but your car stalled out 30 minutes after you got on the freeway. Running out of gas is definitely not the reason, so you have to look underneath the hood and dig a little deeper into the real root of the problem.
Same goes for your fat loss stall.
Metabolic adaptation CAN cause a fat loss stall, but in my experience with my clients, once we look under the hood and dive a bit deeper, we find the cause is actually one very simple thing:
Now, we’re human and we make mistakes, but during a fat loss phase the majority of people make errors in their measurements in the kitchen AND gym.
Let’s take a look at HOW.
Estimating Portion Sizes
If you really want to master your Calories In Vs. Calories Out equation, then you better be tracking your foods accurately. I get it can be a pain to pull out measuring cups or the scale every time you’re preparing a plate of food, but is it less than the pain of not reaching your goal?
Heaping Scoops and Rounded Measurements
None of us realize how small are measuring cups are until we’re scooping up the very thing we’ve been craving…
It’s really easy to not level off scoops and to say “good enough” after measuring on the scale.
That can add A LOT of calories. Check this out.
Calories from Toppings, Oils, and Condiments
Do you ever put together a salad and decide certain toppings or condiments don’t count because “it’s not that much?”
There are some ingredients that can really sneak right by your tracking methods but can add up to 100 or more calories per day.
That can really add up! Let’s take a look at a few commonly passed over ingredients:
- Oils (Olive, Avocado, Coconut)
- Salad Dressings
- BBQ Sauce or Steak Sauces
Skipping Bites, Tastes, and Nibbles
How many times over the holidays did you “I just want to taste it” about a dish or dessert? Or how many times do you taste while you cook or say “just another bite” after you’ve finished your meal?
For me, too many times….
One simple taste can turn out to be about 50 to 100 calories, so when you take 3 or 4 can really add up!
Off the Grid Cheat Days
It’s really easy to take the “Screw It” mentality to your cheat days. You decide that since you’re going to cheat and go over on your calories that it’s not worth it to track at all.
Tracking around your cheat meal (and even some general planning for said cheat meal) can really spare you some calories and to really allow you to enjoy your meal guilt-free!
Then there’s the fitness side of this.
It’s your off day from the gym, and you decide it’s time to hit the recovery hard so you go completely off the movement grid.
Just because you’re off from the gym, it doesn’t mean you completely ignore movement.
Use a wearable device or set a goal for the number of times you’ll go for a 10-minute walk or loop around the block.
Staying active can help you burn more calories on your day off!
Getting TOO Flexible
Flexibility is great, but TOO MUCH can be really bad for your progress. Eating out and flexibly measuring and tracking foods at home can prevent you from tracking accurately and eventually lead to stalls.
This also goes with your workouts, if you’ve been following a program for a while, it can be easy to get too flexible with the exercises and weights. Stick to the exercises in your program instead of subbing for easier exercises, and keep the weights challenging to continue to work your muscles.
Underrating RPE or Intensity Level
This is ONLY workout related.
The gym is a really easy place to just go through the motions. You go in and go through the workout without REALLY challenging yourself. Well, your body continues to adjust and the less that you challenge yourself, the less calories you burn.
Track your weights and intensity level for each workout so you’re able to reflect and build upon that each workout.
The hardest part about fat loss stalls is that they’re SO FRUSTRATING that our vision tends to get clouded. We lose our ability to neutrally look at what we’re doing and identify where we might be making mistakes.
That’s why accountability is so key!
Find a coach, mentor, friend, or anyone who you know will tell you the truth.
Ask them to take a look at what you’re doing – food log, training log, or just an outside perspective.
Then be OPEN to their honest feedback and advice.
If you’re looking for someone to give you an assessment or just take a look at what you’re doing, sign up for a FREE SUCCESS SESSION here. I’ll take a look at what you’re doing and make recommendations to get out of this stall. FOR FREE.
About The Author
Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.