I know a lot of us are very anxious to arrive at our goal weights as fast as possible, but our bodies don't always seem to want to cooperate with us. It's a frustrating fact of weight loss that stalls can and do happen to most of us at least once during our weight loss journey and weight loss isn't always as fast as we would like it to be. Stall-busters are sometimes needed to nudge a resistant body into resuming weight loss, but they can be, and often are, abused. Sometimes all that is needed is to just be patient and wait it out.
So...before you jump into the latest fat fast, meat and egg fast, Stillmans, etc....here are some things to ask yourself:
1) Am I really stalled or am I just being impatient? A stall is defined as 4-6 weeks without loss of weight or
inches. Going for 2, 3 or even 4 weeks without weight loss, while admittedly frustrating, is not a good reason to rush into drastic measures such as fat fasting or meat and egg fasts. Sometimes our bodies need some time to take a break, readjust or just plain put the brakes on for a while. Trying to override that may only prolong the stall and could wind up making your weight loss journey more difficult than it has to be.
Doing a fat fast (or any other fast) because weight loss isn't as fast as you'd like it to be (in other words, you're still losing, just not as fast as you'd like) is a bad idea and will more than likely backfire on you making weight loss even more difficult (slower loss, more frequent stalls, having to consume fewer calories due to lowered metabolism) even if it does result in the loss of a few quick pounds. We'd all like to wake up at goal weight tomorrow, but realistically weight that took us a lifetime to accumulate isn't going to be lost in a few weeks, months or even in some cases, years. Patience is definitely the name of the game.
Weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week is considered realistic and safe weight loss and while a few lucky folks may lose faster, the majority do not and some will lose slower. See this link for some thoughts on realistic weight loss: Did you really expect all your progress to be losses?
2) Am I eating too much? While Dr. Atkins did state that most following his plan would not need to count calories, he never said that they don't matter at all. If you are unsure of how many calories you consume in an average day, consider using a free online program such as MyP.L.A.N here on this site to track what you eat for a week. The numbers may surprise you and reveal the reason why you have stalled. Another point to consider is that as we shrink so, too, do our caloric requirements. If you are getting close to goal and have now stalled it may be that the calorie level that you lost well on when you were 50 pounds heavier is too high for you to lose on now that you are 50 pounds lighter.
If that's the case, you have a few options: drop your calorie level slightly, increase your level of activity or both.
3) Am I eating too little? Old low fat/low cal habits die hard. When weight loss slows, it's often second nature to start cutting calories even further in an attempt to keep the scale moving at the same pace it was. This practice can backfire, however, because when calories are cut too low the body responds by lowering metabolism in an effort to conserve what little energy is coming in. Many people have found that if they raise their caloric intake slightly, weight loss picks up again shortly after that.
4) Have I really
been following the plan or have I been kidding myself into thinking "a little bite here and there won't hurt me"? If you've been indulging in little cheats here and there, recommit yourself to following the plan as written...no cheats
! Dr. Atkins himself said, the "just one bite won't hurt me" line of thinking was the kiss of death to this WOE.
5) Have I been jumping from one plan to another without giving each plan an honest trial before deciding to try something different? Frequently switching plans every few days or weeks, especially if they are quite different from one another, only serves to further confuse your body.
Pick the plan that you think you can best live with long-term
and stick with it for at least 4-6 weeks before deciding to try something different. If you aren't sure which plan would be best for you, see this link for a good comparison of the major low carb plans out there: Plan comparison
The same advice goes for making too many changes to your plan too often. If you make a change, give it a week or two before deciding whether it did or didn't work and only change one thing at a time.
6) Have I been overusing low carb treats and products? While low carb treats and other products can certainly make our busy lives easier, add variety and be a plan-saver when faced with temptation, many have found that using them too much (sometimes using them at all) causes weight loss to stall. If you have been consuming low carb bars, shakes, candies, breads, sauces, desserts, etc...several times a day and they have come to take a prominent place in your daily menus, consider setting them aside completely for a few weeks and note whether or not weight loss resumes. Once you do decide to add them back in again, choose a few that you *can't live without* and only have them a few times a week at most.
7) Is this my second, third, fourth attempt at low carbing with periods of high carb eating and weight re-gain in between? Yo-yo dieting (weight loss followed by weight gain) tends to make our bodies more resistant to weight loss with each successive attempt. If you have a history of yo-yoing, it's especially important to be patient with your body and not jump right into various fasts. See this link
for a good discussion on the effects of yo-yo dieting. You may already have a slowed metabolism from yo-yoing. Tactics like fasts can potentially slow it even more (sometimes using a bigger hammer just does more damage!). You may also have to accept slower weight loss this time around and perhaps more frequent/longer lasting stalls. Once again, pick a plan that best fits you and what you think you can live with long-term and stick with it
. Slow weight loss may test our patience, but it's better than no
weight loss or, worse yet, steadily gaining.
8) Am I exercising? Yes, I know it's hard work, but choosing to skip exercising on a regular basis is not a good option when weight loss is desired unless your doctor has specifically told you not to. Along with aiding weight loss, exercise helps build fat-burning muscle, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, increases metabolism, builds cardiovascular strength and endurance and generally just makes you feel good. I've often said to my DH that I exercise because it feels so good when I stop; I mean that in more than one way.
If you're not exercising, start an exercise program before resorting to stall-busters. If you haven't done any regular exercise for a long time, check with your doctor before you begin. Pick something that you enjoy doing (or can learn to enjoy doing
). If you're already exercising, consider increasing the duration or intensity of your exercise regime. Shake things up a little; add some weight resistance to your cardio routine or some cardio to your weight resistance routine!
9) Have I ruled out all possible stallers
? Carb creep, food allergies, medications, thyroid, hormone and other medical problems, food additives and preservatives can all potentially cause a stall. Rather than immediately resort to stall-busting when your weight loss comes to a standstill for longer than 4 weeks, examine your menus closely for possible stallers, record what you are eating for a few days (be honest!) to make sure that you aren't consuming more carbs than you think and consider seeing your doctor for a checkup to make sure that there isn't a physical reason for your lack of weight loss.
10) Am I already at goal despite what the scale says? While we may not like the number that the scale shows us, our bodies often have other ideas about what is and is not a healthy weight. Consider also that weight loss through low carbing preserves lean body mass and can often add to it, leaving us smaller even though we are at a higher weight than previously at the same size since, pound for pound, muscle takes up less space than fat. If you are already at a reasonable weight for your height but still feel *fat*, consider toning and weight resistance training rather than trying to force the number on the scale lower. After all, the goal is to have a smaller body, not necessarily just a smaller number on the scale.
Okay...if you've read through and tried all of the above, given it a realistic amount of time to work and you're still stuck, then a stall-buster may be needed. Proceed with caution and don't stay on a stall-buster for more than 3-5 days. Have a plan in place for how you will transition back to your normal low-carb eating once you have completed the stall-buster diet and try to not be tempted to repeat the process too often (see all of the above before deciding to do it again).
Here are more links with further thoughts on stalls/plateaus/slow weight loss: