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Fitness Gains Stalled? Change Up Your Routine

All too often, your diet tends to lose steam just as you’re starting to make progress. Don’t worry—it’s a perfectly natural effect of losing weight. The key is to add variety to your routine and mix things up once in a while. Try these six simple tricks.
Fitness Gains Stalled? Change Up Your Routine

So you’ve just started a fab new diet, and you stick to it faithfully. In a couple of weeks, you’ve lost three pounds; another week and you’ve dropped five. So you keep going—you might have actually found something that works! But after a while, your weight no longer seems to budge, even if you’re as consistent as ever. It seems you’ve hit the wall, as you have with all your past diets.

This is called the weight loss plateau, and it happens to anyone who’s trying to lose weight. It happens when your basal metabolic rate (BMR) drops as a result of lower energy consumption. As you lose weight, your body’s BMR, or ability to burn calories, also decreases. So if you were burning 1,500 calories a day before your diet, by the time you lose your fifth pound, you’ll probably be burning around 1,300.

So how do you get out of the rut? The best way, believe it or not, is to get out of your routine. A little break will give your body time to rest, so when you start back on track, it’s ready to work again. Here are some ways to change up your weight loss routine and keep your weight loss consistent.

1. Break your own rules. Once a week, treat yourself to the occasional hamburger or pint of ice cream. The body tends to crave what it can’t get, and if you keep depriving yourself, you’ll become less efficient. Be careful not to overdo it, though.

2. Crank it up. If indulging yourself doesn’t seem to work, try doing the opposite: increase resistance. Jog an extra mile, lift heavier weights, increase the tension on your bike. This will push your muscles to work harder, and boost your metabolism so you burn even more calories when you get back to your routine.

3. Eat more meat. Studies suggest that trading fat calories for protein can help keep your BMR in place. Protein also helps build muscle, which increases metabolism. Meat, eggs, and legumes are all excellent sourcesof protein. But don’t go overboard; too much protein can be bad for you, too. Limit your consumption to about one-fourth your total calorie intake.

4. Alternate. When you’ve been doing the same thing for a while, your body tends to adapt accordingly and become “immune” to your routine. You can prevent this by having an alternate form of exercise or switching between heavy and light eating days. A good combination would be aerobic exercise and weight training, or actual diet days and more lenient “maintenance” days.

5. Change your meal frequencies. Eating three large meals a day isn’t exactly the best way to lose weight. If you’re used to the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner, try snacking in between meals and reducing your meal sizes to compensate. Snacking lightly throughout the day will keep your metabolism up, and you’ll even feel more motivated to exercise.

6. Stop watching your weight. Unless you’re grossly overweight, measuring yourself pound for pound isn’t the best way to monitor progress. Getting in shape means you’re trading fat for muscle, not just losing fat. So if the scales won’t budge, don’t fret—as long as you’re not cheating, you’re still right on track.

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