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Weight loss plateau - how to get past this?

barrybridgesbarrybridges Posts: 420
I'm riding the marmotte in July and have been training seriously since 1st January. I started things very unfit and very overweight (for a marmoteer anyway!) at 15 stone 7 lbs.

Since January I have been on Weight Watchers which I've managed to stick to effectively alongside my training. I haven't been starving myself - and I've had no choice but to deviate from WW on a few occasions (you'd eat the entire WW allowance on the bike during a 90 mile ride) - but on the whole have been pretty strict with myself.

Since 1st January I've lost weight every single week and there hasn't been a week where I've put weight on, but in the past month the weight loss has completely plateaued in spite of the fact my training has got pretty full-on and I'm clearly burning a lot of calories.

I'm now 13 stone 5lbs, but wanted to have lost a further 1st by the marmotte (in 11 weeks time). In the last 5 weeks I've lost literally a few dozen grams each week. My BMI, for reference, has gone 25.64, 25.62, 25.48, 25.46, 25.42; although BMI isn't useful, you can see how the weight loss is negligible.

I'm on the bike 4 times a week (mix of road and turbo), sometimes peppered with a 5th session, but I just can't seem to lose weight now. Clearly it must be possible as at 13st 5lbs I'm most definitely not yet 'slim' (I'm 6ft 0).

I wanted to ask here for people's opinions and ideas, as I'm likely to get much more specific advice than if I post on Weight Watchers.

I understand fully that it's an arbitrage of calories in/calories out, but I seem to have a calorie deficit and the weight really isn't shifting very much.

Posts

  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,205
    If you have a calorie deficit you will lose weight. If you are not losing weight then you do not have a deficit. So you either need to eat less or train more or both.
  • antflyantfly Posts: 3,448
    It sounds obvious but If you have sugar in tea or with anything cut it out completely. Try to not have anything with sugar in it or have low sugar options if necessary, including drinks. Focus on cutting out sugar from your diet.
    Smarter than the average bear.
  • SetarkosSetarkos Posts: 239
    Caffeine and healthy fats support lipometabolism, avoid sugars and processed foods.
    Ride more ;)

    Although you should be careful - sometimes when you lose weight and exercise a lot your body goes into survival mode simply not burning as much as it normally would when you exercise saving as much as possible because it's not getting enough energy, so you overestimate the amount of calories you burn. My sister has that problem. It's important that you don't just eat even less in that case but rather eat more (especially before and after exercise) as to not give your body the message it's not getting enough. Of course by eating more, you won't lose weight but you'll gain the capability of losing more weight (this might not be in time for the Marmotte...) so you should try to gradually increase your calorie intake while maintaining your weight if the above is the case anyway.
  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    DOn't make the common mistake of over compensating for the calories you think you burn cycling. Some people can burn maybe up to 1000kcal an hour - but I certainly can't - more like 400-600 hour depending on how many hours. Extreme example : If I do 2 hours a day and assume I've burnt 1200 when in actual fact I've only burnt 800 that's 400kcal every day I don't need! which in a week is 2800 kcal - not quite a halv kilo of blubber....:-(
    Cut down food gradually - especially on days you don't exercise?
  • NUFCrichardNUFCrichard Posts: 103
    edited April 2013
    Its a difficult one, you could try slightly less powder in your drinks, or reducing the carbs you eat on your non-riding days.
    I find it difficult to train and lose weight. I want to avoid bonking but that means taking in extra calories...
  • simonheadsimonhead Posts: 1,399
    I had hit the same stage as you, had been dropping weight every week and it slowed right down. I have a pre breakfast work out of 30 minutes every day, usually a mix of x trainer and weights or intervals on the bike. This has really helped. 2 x 20 mile rides during the week and then one longer at the weekend, fuelling on the longer ride i am really careful about and ensure i am not over compensating. I calculate 2 hours 0 extra calories, every hour after that 400 calories and a bonus on the 5th hour of an extra 200 calories.
    Life isnt like a box of chocolates, its like a bag of pic n mix.
  • marylogicmarylogic Posts: 355
    It's definitely harder the closer you get to your target. I managed to lose a stone (from 10 to 9) but only by being fastidious. I would only deviate from the diet for long rides (2-3 hours+) but I would make sure I ate properly after intense sessions. If you do these just before you're going to eat anyway then you don't need to eat a whole lot extra. When you're training in Z2 I don't think you need any extra fuel - you should be using mostly fat stores anyway.

    Good luck.
  • edhornbyedhornby Posts: 1,780
    do you go to weightwatchers each week? ditch the class and you'll get another 2 hours of L2 to ride :) other thing to consider is whether you are getting enough rest, sometimes you need to mix up the routine to fool the metabolism and let the legs rebuild a bit

    well done for getting this far though ! to drop over 2 stone and be in a position to do the marmotte is a win all by itself
    "I get paid to make other people suffer on my wheel, how good is that"
    --Jens Voight
  • Thanks for your replies. It's the online membership of WW I have; I'm not sufficiently blobby that I'd need to go to the classes, and I'd feel bad turning up when I'm not really that overweight. I was, but not so now.

    Maybe squeezing a short TT session before work might be the answer here; just to mix things up a bit. At the moment I've done everything I can think; eating less would be quite drastic as I already feel a bit hungry.

    Bidons are filled with water and nothing else; sweetener replaced sugar a long time ago. It's incredibly boring, but the weight loss was very good to begin with (and over 2 stone since January is pleasing).

    As long as I'm not the largest person doing the marmotte I'll be happy!
  • marylogicmarylogic Posts: 355
    I used to think that weight loss was just about less energy in = weight loss but I've come to realise there's more to it than that. The effects of protein on hunger are really important - I make sure I always have some protein with each meal to help feel full and when I was really struggling with hunger I would have a protein snack - a couple of slices of bresaola and a can of diet juice - it worked wonders - perhaps not that healthy but it was only short term and it worked. You could always have a healthier protein source like chicken or fish and drink fizzy water instead.
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,205
    marylogic wrote:
    I used to think that weight loss was just about less energy in = weight loss but I've come to realise there's more to it than that. The effects of protein on hunger are really important - I make sure I always have some protein with each meal to help feel full and when I was really struggling with hunger I would have a protein snack - a couple of slices of bresaola and a can of diet juice - it worked wonders - perhaps not that healthy but it was only short term and it worked. You could always have a healthier protein source like chicken or fish and drink fizzy water instead.

    But it is about this "I used to think that weight loss was just about less energy in = weight loss" how you manage this is what everyone is talking about. Most people overestimate the calories lost exercising and underestimate what they eat. I doubt you can lose weight without being hungry at least some of the time.
  • markp80markp80 Posts: 444
    I don't know the details of the WW diet you're following but it might be worth looking at the type of calories you're eating, as it's not just adding them up. There are a few good articles on TrainingPeaks that you might find interesting -
    http://support.trainingpeaks.com/articles/nutrition/a-calorie-is-not-a-calorie.aspx
    http://support.trainingpeaks.com/articles/nutrition/energy-partitioning.aspx

    Lots of other good articles on there as well which might help you give the weight loss a kick start.

    Cheers,
    MarkP
    Boardman Road Comp - OK, I went to Halfords
    Tibia plateau fracture - the rehab continues!
  • marylogicmarylogic Posts: 355
    FatTed wrote:
    But it is about this "I used to think that weight loss was just about less energy in = weight loss" how you manage this is what everyone is talking about. Most people overestimate the calories lost exercising and underestimate what they eat. I doubt you can lose weight without being hungry at least some of the time.
    I agree that for some people it's about getting the calculation wrong but there is more to it than that.

    What do you think happens if you train in the morning and eat a 200 calorie snack consisting of protein and carbs immediately afterwards? Will it be the same as if you eat a 200 calorie snack of sugar and fat just before bedtime?

    and if you used to eat a dinner of chicken, potatoes and veg for tea but want to cut 200 calories from it will it have the same effect if you 1. reduce portion size of everything or 2. cut out the potatoes or 3 cut out the chicken?
    My argument is that the results will be different - even if it's just as simple as being a bit less hungry it will help you stick to your diet.

    Losing weight is hard, any strategy that can help which isn't deleterious to health is surely a good thing?
  • team47bteam47b Posts: 6,424
    I assume you keep a food diary and weigh everything you eat and have cut out most simple carbs, sugar, potatoes, white rice, white pasta, white bread etc

    Two more things to try, eat more fibre, become vegetarian :D
    my isetta is a 300cc bike
  • 56mph56mph Posts: 70
    I think the key thing is to just keep at it, eat sensibly (I try to cut out alcohol and desserts) and cycle regularly. In my own experience getting in shape for the Etape every year the weight doesn't come off in a straight downwards sloping line but it definitely will do over time if you stick to slightly less calories in than out. My suspicion is that part of the reason it isn't a stright line is to do with the fact that you are building more muscle in the legs which is denser than fat lost, but the excess fat will go in time.
  • Let's hope so!

    To be honest, I've found WW very useful in supporting my training. I do keep a record of pretty much everything that I eat or drink - although I've never found it a struggle to keep within my points allowance (except for on very long rides, where I allow myself to deviate from my daily points, not that that's not allowed, if you know what I mean).

    On the plus side I am still losing weight, albeit very gradually, so I should just keep chipping away. I'm happy to forego some of the luxuries on WW like a glass of wine etc, if that helps over the next 10 weeks. If I can notch away 1lb a week, that's still a big difference between now and July.
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,205
    MaryLogic

    "What do you think happens if you train in the morning and eat a 200 calorie snack consisting of protein and carbs immediately afterwards? Will it be the same as if you eat a 200 calorie snack of sugar and fat just before bedtime?"

    Why should it be any different? You may feel different but it is still more out less in leads to weight loss.

    Any strategy that helps you lose weight is a good thing I agree on that.
  • markp80markp80 Posts: 444
    FatTed wrote:
    MaryLogic

    "What do you think happens if you train in the morning and eat a 200 calorie snack consisting of protein and carbs immediately afterwards? Will it be the same as if you eat a 200 calorie snack of sugar and fat just before bedtime?"

    Why should it be any different? You may feel different but it is still more out less in leads to weight loss.
    Well, there's some info that suggests that eating late at night being "bad" is a myth, but there's also a fair bit of evidence that 200 calories of protein and carbs has a different effect on your body to 200 calories of sugar and fat. So I would have to say that from what I've read, it's far from as simple as a simple calorie balance. There are some really interesting articles on Training Peaks that talk about this, specifically how the different foods are metabolised, which are really worth a read, and I'd recommend them to anyone. Plenty more info available elsewhere too.
    I do keep a record of pretty much everything that I eat or drink - although I've never found it a struggle to keep within my points allowance (except for on very long rides, where I allow myself to deviate from my daily points, not that that's not allowed, if you know what I mean).
    barry, WW points aside, have you looked at the breakdown of the types of fodd you are eating? Have a look at those articles, and you might think this is worth looking at.

    Cheers,
    MarkP
    Boardman Road Comp - OK, I went to Halfords
    Tibia plateau fracture - the rehab continues!
  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    If I remember correctly metabolising protein 'costs' some energy (calories) whereas carbs are metabolised at little or no energy cost. So 200kcal carbs is just that but 200kcal protein perhaps is 190kcal (& 10kcal energy). Also proteins are not stored - they are used directly - and excess excreted in urine. So calories are treated differently by the body and clearly this will have an impact on weight loss. But 200excess calories is just that - excess....
  • After all this debate, my weight dropped 3lbs this week! No movement for a month and then a nice healthy drop, likely as a result of upping the number of sessions I'm doing.

    Then again, might also be related to the fact I was on the turbo in the sun yesterday, sweating like a beast...
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,205
    Great well done, keep at it, it is worth it.
  • markp80markp80 Posts: 444
    FatTed wrote:
    Great well done, keep at it, it is worth it.
    ^ This
    Boardman Road Comp - OK, I went to Halfords
    Tibia plateau fracture - the rehab continues!
  • team47bteam47b Posts: 6,424
    FatTed wrote:
    MaryLogic

    "What do you think happens if you train in the morning and eat a 200 calorie snack consisting of protein and carbs immediately afterwards? Will it be the same as if you eat a 200 calorie snack of sugar and fat just before bedtime?"

    Why should it be any different? You may feel different but it is still more or less in leads to weight loss./quote]

    The difference is...

    If you eat a "200 calorie snack consisting of protein and carbs" immediately after a ride the carbs will replenish your glycogen stored in your liver and muscles and will not be available as glucose in your system for energy, so will not be stored as fat if you have stopped exercising.

    "A 200 calorie snack of sugar and fat just before bedtime" will produce glucose for energy to a system that already has full glycogen stores that are full from dinner, so will be available for nightime exercise (!) or stored as fat as you will probably not be exercising.

    When you eat is as important as how much.

    Little and often causes less insulin to be produced and as one of insulin's jobs is to store fat, it is best to keep insulin levels as low as possible.
    my isetta is a 300cc bike
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