Women in their 40s and 50s often experience plateauing on their way to reaching their goal weight – their weight loss has stalled. Hormones play a significant role and can derail plans that might well be successful for men.
The underlying metabolic processes are the same but there is less tolerance for error. It is likely that you will need to make a stronger commitment in order to achieve your goal.
Moderate carbohydrate restriction may be enough in the early stages, but for those with the metabolic syndrome, greater dietary restriction may be necessary.
Dairy products may trigger hormonal changes and may need to be temporarily removed from the diet, at least until weight starts to fall again. Removing a food group such as dairy from the diet is not easy. Be prepared to transition in a steady mindful way rather than “cold turkey”.
For the purposes of this short summary, I assume you have been on the correct diet and have been losing weight. It is very likely you are on a low carb, moderate protein diet. If you are trying to lose body fat, eat minimal amounts of dietary fat. Just enough fat, with protein, to maintain satiety. This should help with stalled weight loss.
Tips for Stalled Weight Loss
Here are some general rules, and then we’ll look at intermittent fasting.
- Don’t confuse total weight with distributional weight. Sometimes the total weight stays the same, but the waistline continues to shrink.
- Beware of calorie creep. A few macadamia nuts or some extra cream in your coffee does make a difference. They are both full of fat.
- Eat when you are genuinely hungry. Don’t eat according to the clock.
- Don’t eat because you are bored or need comfort. Find another way.
- Eat slowly and mindfully. Stop when you feel comfortably full. Store the remains in the fridge.
- Don’t confuse thirst with hunger. Try sparkling mineral water maybe with a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Protein can’t be stored in the body. If your body has no use for that extra protein it is turned into sugar which, in turn, causes insulin release which stalls any hope of burning body fat. Any fat you eat, while it may not lead to insulin release will certainly reduce the amount your body will need to burn.
- Fortunately, a little fat and the right amount of protein is very satiating.
- Beware of mindless eating with friends, particularly where alcohol is involved.
- Restaurants are a problem. Somehow, they hide sugar somewhere.
- Plan meals ahead and pre-cook where appropriate. Leftovers from dinner can be tomorrow’s lunch. Cook hard-boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge. The options are endless.
- Have a variety of foods in the fridge, freezer or pantry that you can use to make a satisfying meal at short notice.
- Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners.
- Just say “No” to snacking. If you find, as many do, that you feel hungry at the same time each day, often late afternoon, find a way to distract yourself from those macadamia nuts!
What about non-food factors?
- Many medications are likely to cause weight loss to stall or reverse.
– NSAIDs – used for arthritis
– Steroids – including local injections
– Insulin and sulphonylureas
- Stress needs to be dealt with. A separate topic, but use mindfulness to reverse stress.
- Lack of sleep can stall weight loss.
- Limit reading your phone or computer in the evening – use amber glasses if you must.
- Drink only caffeine-free coffee later in the day.
- Avoid alcohol in the evening. See which alcohol drinks are lower in carbs.
- When things go wrong it is OK to put the dieting to one side for a limited time and then return to it when you are ready. But do not take the opportunity to gorge yourself with forbidden comfort food.
Here’s some more tips on Portion Control.
Intermittent fasting is a potent way of overcoming a plateau.
There are many forms of intermittent fasting such as 5:2, 16:8 and Eat Stop Eat, including multi-day fasts. It’s best to talk through the options with an adviser with the knowledge. I have used all these methods over the years.
A few general tips for fasting:
- Transitioning from normal, even a low carb diet to fasting requires a period of transition that varies from person to person. In transition, some cream (not milk) in coffee or a little fat in the bone broth can help.
- Some people add coconut oil or butter to coffee. Not good if you are plateaued.
- If you are always hungry at 5.30pm, make sure you are busy at that time.
- A cup of natural fat-free bone broth with some salt can be very helpful.
- Herbal teas are likely to be free of any calories but check they haven’t added in some honey!
A low carbohydrate, moderate protein diet with a small amount of dietary fat can be deficient in vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, omega 3 fatty acids and the like. This is particularly likely if your diet is plant-based, vegetarian or vegan.
A diet with optimum nutrient density is likely to consist of free-range grass-fed beef, supplemented by eggs, bone stock, liver, and oily fish which provides the optimum combination of energy, protein, fat-soluble vitamins, and trace ingredients in the right proportions.
An animal-based diet is optimal for animals like us.