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Weight Loss Stall or Plateau

A weight loss stall or plateau is an extended period of time during reducing efforts where is there is no weight loss according to the scale and no loss of inches according to the tape measure. This is why it is so important to take your body measurements before surgery, so you'll have a reference as your weight loss progresses post-op. We suggest you take measurements of your chest, waist and hip, neck, upper arm, thigh and calf.

Be aware it is very common for your weight loss to "stall" shortly after surgery. Diana explains the reason for this below.


The Inevitable Stall

By Diana C.

A "stall" a few weeks out is inevitable, and here's why.

Our bodies use glycogen for short term energy storage. Glycogen is not very soluble, but it is stored in our muscles for quick energy -- one pound of glycogen requires 4 lbs of water to keep it soluble, and the average glycogen storage capacity is about 2 lbs. So, when you are not getting in enough food, your body turns first to stored glycogen, which is easy to break down for energy. And when you use up 2 lbs of glycogen, you also lose 8 lbs of water that was used to store it -- voila -- the "easy" 10 lbs that most people lose in the first week of a diet.

As you stay in caloric deficit, however, your body starts to realize that this is not a short term problem. You start mobilizing fat from your adipose tissue and burning fat for energy. But your body also realizes that fat can't be used for short bursts of energy -- like, to outrun a saber tooth tiger. So, it starts converting some of the fat into glycogen, and rebuilding the glycogen stores. And as it puts back the 2 lbs of glycogen into the muscle, 8 lbs of water has to be stored with it to keep it soluble. So, even though you might still be LOSING energy content to your body, your weight will not go down or you might even GAIN for a while as you retain water to dissolve the glycogen that is being reformed and stored.

Breathe, and fuggedaboudit for a few days.


What You Can Do About a Stall or Plateau

If you are experiencing a post-op weight loss stall or plateau further out there are a few possible causes. First, check that are you really in a stall. If the scale has stopped moving you may be losing inches, so check your measurements.

Too Many Carbs?
Carbohydrates can start sneaking into your foods without you being aware of how quickly they are adding up. For more information on carbs, see our section on Carbohydrates. If you are struggling with your weight loss you may want to examine your daily carb count. You can try to keep your carbs under 50g a day and see if that makes a difference in your weight loss. Do not eat carbs before bedtime as it triggers insulin and initiates fat storage. There are some great web site resources you can use to keep track of what you are eating.

Fit Day

Spark People
- If you join Spark People also join the DS group.
The Daily Plate

Calorie King

For more tips on keeping a food journal see the Personal Nutrition Guide.

Eating Enough?
If you are under-eating or go more than 4-5 hours without eating, your body will shift into fasting mode, slow your metabolism and conserve your stored energy (fat). This can contribute to a weight loss stall or plateau. Make sure you are eating small meals or small snacks throughout the day and also ensure you meet your daily protein requirements. Try eating some protein with every meal or snack. For more information on protein requirements see our section on Protein.

Drinking Enough?
An adequate level of water in your body aids in the effective breakdown of fat. The daily minimum recommendation is 64 fluid oz of water a day. If you are in ketosis you will need to drink even more water to ensure the ketones are flushed out of your system. You may also need more than the minimum amount of water if you are exercising or live in a warmer or dry environment.

Exercising?
Exercise can increase your metabolism and burn fat. Strength training will build muscles and will boost fat burning. In a stall you can try increasing your volume of exercise or changing up your routine to overcome a weight loss stall or plateau. If you have been doing mainly aerobic activity, try doing a bit of strength training, and if you have been doing mainly strength training, try an aerobic work-out.

The High Fat - High Calorie Stall Buster

Many DSers swear by the fat/calorie shock as an effective weight loss stall or plateau buster. Having a day of higher fat and calorie eating followed by a returning to consistent low carb eating can sometimes "shock" your body back into weight loss mode.



Now that you know about Weight Loss Stall or Plateau
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All material on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.