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Plateau Busting Weight Loss Tips
Part 2 - Vegetables, Alcohol, Water, Workouts and Body Fat

Vegetables can help you break through a plateau.
Vegetables can help you break through a plateau.

Dieting is difficult. It’s incredibly frustrating when you hit a plateau, and the weight loss stops. It was often assumed that a slowing metabolism was the cause. But as I said in my previous column, when researchers put it to the test, the biggest reason was that people weren’t as strict.

The most important way to keep the weight coming off is to track everything you eat. You can use a logbook, computer program or smartphone app as long as you have a way to hold yourself accountable. But other things can help as well.

Add more vegetables to your diet by including them in every meal. Researchers found that diets with lots of vegetables tend to produce the greatest fat loss. They’re packed with fiber, beneficial nutrients and low in calories. As long as the vegetables aren’t deep-fried or covered in fattening sauces, they’ll fill you up without fattening you up.

For anyone who’s not a fan of vegetables, try getting them in stealth mode. Grind them up into a casserole, bake them into muffins or blend them into a drink.

Cut back or cut out the alcohol. Suppose you’re one of those people that can have just one drink, great. But most people enjoy two or more. It’s not just the calories; it’s the choices. Alcohol removes inhibitions, so after a couple of drinks, your decisions get worse. That can be a problem for anyone who has issues with compulsive eating disorders.

Alcohol has a secondary problem. When you take a drink, your body treats it as a poison. Your body puts all its attention into taking care of the alcohol first. Any foods you may have eaten are changed into fat, held onto until the alcohol is digested and then carried away for permanent fat storage. If you’re trying to lose weight, you want to get energy from food, not have it stored as fat.

The third problem is that alcohol is an appetite stimulant. Take a drink, and hunger can be kicked up to the next level. When researchers reduced the alcohol intake in a diet study, it led to a reduction in overeating and more significant overall weight loss. Avoid alcohol if your weight loss has stalled.

Drink water before every meal.

Drink 16 ounces of water (about two-level cups) before every meal to jump-start weight loss.

Throughout a three-month study, water drinkers lost an average of 15.5 pounds compared with a loss of 11 pounds for the control group. After a year, the water drinkers lost even more weight for a year-end total of 17 pounds weight loss. Meanwhile, the non-water drinkers gained weight and ended the year with an average of only 9 pounds of weight loss.

But there’s a catch. It didn’t work for people who were under the age of 35. It takes longer for an older person’s stomach to empty, so researchers think the water made them feel fuller and less hungry. In younger people, the water leaves the stomach much quicker and may not provide the same feeling of fullness.

Change your workouts and consider increasing the intensity. On average, you should be exercising at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week. If you’re getting bored, skipping workouts or just not as enthusiastic, you should change things up.

To burn more calories, you should track things like your heart rate when doing cardio. Log your weights and reps when strength training. Make sure that you’re doing at least as much as you did when you first started. After a month or two, it’s good to change the program and do something different, so your body keeps getting challenged.

Measure your body fat percentage. Strength training builds muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat. It’s possible to lose fat and have your waist size drop without much weight loss because of the muscle gains. The difference can be measured in shrinking waist size, less jiggle when you move and a lower body fat percentage.

Finally, reevaluate how many calories you can eat. As weight drops, so does metabolism. Building muscle can only cover part of that loss. If you’re following a strict program, you might have to make adjustments to accommodate your new size and slower metabolism.

Click Here for Part 1

Part 1 2

Reference Links:

The Relationship between Vegetable Intake and Weight Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies

Monica Nour, Sarah Alice Lutze, Amanda Grech and Margaret Allman-Farinelli
Nutrients 2018 Nov; 10(11): 1626. Published online 2018 Nov 2. doi: 10.3390/nu10111626 PMCID: PMC6266069 PMID: 30400139

Click Here for the Study

Does metabolic compensation explain the majority of less-than-expected weight loss in obese adults during a short-term severe diet and exercise intervention?

N M Byrne 1, R E Wood, Y Schutz, A P Hills
International Journal of Obesity 2012 Nov;36(11):1472-8. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.109. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Click Here for the Study


Metabolic slowing with massive weight loss despite preservation of fat-free mass

Darcy L Johannsen, Nicolas D Knuth, Robert Huizenga, Jennifer C Rood, Eric Ravussin and Kevin D Hall
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2012 Jul;97(7):2489-96. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-1444. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

Click Here for the Study


Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition

Erin Fothergill, Juen Guo, Lilian Howard, Jennifer C. Kerns, Nicolas D. Knuth, Robert Brychta, Kong Y. Chen, Monica C. Skarulis, Mary Walter, Peter J. Walter and Kevin D. Hall
Obesity Research Journal First published: 02 May 2016 https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.21538Citations: 281

Click Here for the Study

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Updated 9/14/2021