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Old 01-23-06, 03:35 PM   #1
kuan
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Weight loss plateau help please

Friend of mine lost 100lbs. last year. The last few months he's stalled though. He's been at 203.5 for the last month. Daily caloric intake about 1300kcal, exercise about 1000kcal each time at the gym. That's about 75-90 minutes on the elliptical. The elliptical registers about 9 miles each time he's on it for that long. What's up here folks? I'm sorta his friend/cheerleader. He wants to lose another 50 and was hoping to do it by spring, but now it seems like it might be end of summer.
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Old 01-23-06, 03:52 PM   #2
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Does he do the same workouts over and over again? He's stuck in no-man's-land now where this set-point weight is balanced with his activity level. To progress further, he needs to improve his fitness as measured by:

- VO2-max
- resting-HR
- LT
- max-power @ various durations
- recovery-rate

Your friend needs to vary his workouts with some days of short intense intervals. Some days of tempo workout just at or under his LT (it's gonna hurt). And at least one day of true endurance, 2-3 hours and 2000-calories burnt. He should be doing that 1000-calorie elliptical machine workout just once a week. There's way too many other workouts that can help him out more, that if he does that same workout twice in one week, he's left off something else that could've been more beneficial.
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Old 01-23-06, 04:20 PM   #3
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I've read that with losing significant amounts of weight (such as 100 lbs.) the body needs time to adjust, skin to shrink, etc. Plateaus can be very good for this. You might encourage him to 'plateau for a month' where 200 is his goal.

Does he strength train?

He might try taking a 6 week break from the elliptical and try something else - swimming, running (with intervals), cycling, kick-boxing, any other activity. When he goes back to the elliptical after 6 weeks of something else, he will have a boost.

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Old 01-23-06, 08:25 PM   #4
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I highly doubt that your 200 lb friend is only consuming 1300 calories per day. That's a very low level, even for a small-bodied post-menopausal woman. For an active adult male, that level is very low and runs the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies (assuming no supplements).

It's more likely that your friend's metabolic rate (basal + exercise) has lowered to the point that it now matches his caloric intake...the fact that he is not gaining or losing seems to point in that direction. As we lose weight, the body's daily caloric requirements go down, so the level of food consumption that promoted weight loss at 300 lbs will no longer do so at 200.

To continue to lose weight, he needs to:

1) Eat Less

or,

2) Exercise More

or,

3) Do some of both.

Since he's already exercising pretty consistently, I think the answer is #1.
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Old 01-23-06, 10:09 PM   #5
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OK so maybe take a better look at the food, vary the workouts, and don't despair and let the plateau plateau for awhile?

Yes he strength trains but not heavy weights.

My weight loss has hit a plateau also so maybe I'll try and vary my workouts a bit too. 153 this morning, 154 like two months ago. Bleh... need to lose 10 more!
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Old 01-23-06, 10:34 PM   #6
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Fitday.com is good and free for monitoring caloric intake
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Old 01-25-06, 05:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan
OK so maybe take a better look at the food, vary the workouts, and don't despair and let the plateau plateau for awhile?

Yes he strength trains but not heavy weights.

My weight loss has hit a plateau also so maybe I'll try and vary my workouts a bit too. 153 this morning, 154 like two months ago. Bleh... need to lose 10 more!
Well, if the plateau lasts for more than 1-month, you can be pretty sure it's gonna stick. What you have to do is similar to what weight-lifter do when they hit plateaus. If you're stuck at 225lbs and have been doing 300 benches and 400 squats, going to the next stage will require doing 325 benches and 450 squats. So if you've been doing 10 sprints, 15 intervals, 60 minute of tempo, and 3 hours endurance work per week, you've got to up the workouts to 12 sprints, 20 intervals, 75 minutes of tempo and 4 hours endurance.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:16 PM   #8
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Your calorie calculations (either being consumed or being used during exercise or both) cannot possibly be correct. On days when he goes to the gym, he would only have 300 calories, supposedly, to maintain someone with a weight of 203. Your basal metabolism cannot possibly be this low even if it has been lowered by dieting for such a long time. Continue the exercise routine and double-check your calculations.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:39 PM   #9
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Calorie counts are tricky especially when it comes to machines (or heart rate monitors for that matter). I usually half what the machine tells me (if it says '1000 calories' I figure it's safe to assume I burned 500).

He also might be eating more than 1300 calories. I say this after having dinner with a friend the other night. She is a 'dieter' talks about 'dieting', and how she is 'stuck' at a plateau. I watched her eat a spinach salad with a raspberry vinegrette dressing (with walnuts and gorganzola cheese). Very good and I would have also guessed very healthy. She guessed that she ate 300 - 400 calories for the whole meal. When I did the numbers (and asked many many questions to the poor weight staff) when they finally brought out exact info, it turned out she actually ate 950 calories . . . for a spinach salad in a restaurant. And that didn't count the 1/2 a bread stick she forgot to count or the handful of those chocolate mints she had as we left the restaurant.

It's sort of tricky helping others discover where the problem is, but it often takes another person to 'observe.' I'm in the process of letting go some of my extra storage, so I find myself learning things at every corner. Observing others helps me observe myself more objectively.
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Old 01-26-06, 10:14 PM   #10
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I've been doing some more serious research on this myself, and I think it breaks down to a really simple solution.

During most of the day, for the first 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise, you are burning stored glycerin. Then you start burning fat. However, if you work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, you go into fat burning almost immediately. According to one source I read, this means that you will burn fat 300% more than you would in the middle of the day or the evening. So you get more fat burning out of a 30 minute workout in the morning than you would out of a 45 minute workout at the same level on your lunch break.

Additionally, some light strength training can do wonders. Add some muscle to help burn fat...1 kilo of muscle will burn 50 - 100 calories a day as opposed to the 5-7 that a kilo of fat burns. So add in 2 or 3 strength workouts a week to crank it up.

In any case, 100 lbs. in a year is beyond impressive. He very well may have hit a point where his body is adjusting itself. I'd guess that in any case, some sort of change is in order to get things moving again. Is his additional 50 lbs. realistic or would he be in better shape at 170?
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Old 01-26-06, 10:25 PM   #11
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Try this two week metabolism reset:
Raise caloric intake to 2500 per day.
Do low rep, max poundage free weight training (a qualified trainer is a must). Hit the weights 5 times a week, alternating upper body, lower body, and trunk on succesive training sessions.
Consume high-glycemic carbs (pasta, potaoes, etc.) immediately(within one hour) after each training session.
Consume 100 grams a day of high quality whey protein isolate.

Your friend will gain some weight, but more in the form of muscle than of fat. Muscle requires a higher level of metabolism to support.
After two weeks, continue on a low calorie diet, with long and slow aerobic exercise. Easy pace cycling is great. Some type of vitamin/mineral supplement is a good idea.
In a few months, after a new plateau is reached, do the two week metabolism kickstart again.
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Old 01-26-06, 10:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SSP
I highly doubt that your 200 lb friend is only consuming 1300 calories per day. That's a very low level, even for a small-bodied post-menopausal woman. For an active adult male, that level is very low and runs the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies (assuming no supplements).

It's more likely that your friend's metabolic rate (basal + exercise) has lowered to the point that it now matches his caloric intake...the fact that he is not gaining or losing seems to point in that direction. As we lose weight, the body's daily caloric requirements go down, so the level of food consumption that promoted weight loss at 300 lbs will no longer do so at 200.

To continue to lose weight, he needs to:

1) Eat Less

or,

2) Exercise More

or,

3) Do some of both.

Since he's already exercising pretty consistently, I think the answer is #1.
I agree with Shasta and I additionally think that what used to burn calories at one rate now burns at a slower rate as your friend has gotten in better shape. So, as everyone here as said, mix it up, use different muscles, etc.
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Old 02-07-06, 01:08 AM   #13
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Stop looking at the scale and start looking at the body. It's quite possible and likely that with his exercise program he's converting fat into muscle. If he's serious in finding out if this is the case he may want to invest in a fat analyzer like the Omron (no connection, just happened to use one at my doc's office today).

I've been at a fairly stable weight for a few weeks. Because I'm already pretty lean I can see where I'm losing small fat areas and building muscles.

It's not (completely) about the scale...
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