Category Archives: Body Composition

Hit a Weight Plateau? 8 Ways to Get Things Moving Again

Whether you’ve been on a nutrition or fitness program, at some point you’ll hit a plateau where it seems efforts don’t equal results.
A weight loss plateau can zap your motivation, but understanding the reasons behind it can help you meet your goals. According to Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, “When you cut back on your calories, your body reacts as if there’s no more food coming its way. So it does what it’s programmed to do — it hangs onto stored up calories by slowing down the rate at which you burn them.”

Further, as your weight drops, your metabolic rate naturally goes down a bit, too. “That means as you lose weight, your calorie needs also drop somewhat. So, to keep losing at the same rate, you need to either cut your intake further, or exercise more — or accept that your rate of weight loss will be slower as you approach your goal.”

From an exercise perspective, you may be pushing yourself harder and harder but the results seem to be slowing. “Pushing your body to the point of exhaustion can spell disaster for your fitness goals. You’ve got to build in time for your body to recharge,” states former Olympian Samantha Clayton, Herbalife’s director, worldwide fitness education. “Then when you start training again, you’ve got a renewed energy and focus.”

Here are eight tips to move off the weight plateau:

•    Use a food diary to keep track of your calorie intake – You may have been more careful when you started your diet — weighing and measuring everything that passed your lips — but you might not be as accurate as you once were. This will get you back on track.

•    Replace two meals a day with a protein shake to help you stay within your calorie limit. When you make your shake, you know exactly what goes into it — and how many calories are in the protein powder, the milk and the fruit — so it takes the guesswork out of calorie counting. Use the shake for two meals a day, have a healthy third meal, and fill in with snacks of low fat protein foods, veggies and fruits.

•    Dine out less often – No matter how careful you think you are when you go to a restaurant, it’s usually difficult to accurately estimate how many calories you’re eating, because it’s often hard to tell exactly how foods are prepared.

24fit-strength•    Step up your activity, particularly strength training – If you’ve been working out for a while and haven’t increased the intensity of your activity, you might not be burning as many calories as you used to. Add some new moves to your exercise routine, increase the intensity, and pump some iron.

•    You might actually be at the right weight – If you can, get your body composition checked. Muscle is ‘denser’ and takes up less space than body fat — so if you are carrying more muscle than the average person, you might weigh more than you think you should. If your body fat is within normal range, then you may not have much — if any — additional weight to lose.

•    Avoid fatigue – Your body needs to re-generate, restore and repair itself often. Your pain receptors will make movements uncomfortable and your joints can become tender when you push your body too hard. The nervous system also needs time to rest in order to adapt and improve from training.

•    Follow your natural cycle – Athletes train in cycles for a reason, the timing of training may vary from athlete to athlete but one common factor in every athlete’s training program are pre-planned rest days. A well-rested body will get better results than a tired one.

•    Spark excitement – If you are putting your body through the motions day after day, you can become complacent and your exercise intensity is likely to drop without you even realizing. Taking a day or two off from your current workout routine can make you come back to the gym with a renewed commitment and excited approach.

Bowerman is a paid consultant for Herbalife.

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Why Do Women Lose Weight Slower Than Men

Fair or not, that’s just the way it is.  But why?

Too many women figure that they’re ‘not trying hard enough’.  But it usually isn’t that they aren’t doing enough – or that men are trying harder.  It really comes down to the fact that men and women are simply made differently – and those differences have a big impact on women’s weight loss rates.

Here’s what’s at play.  The number of calories that your body requires – just to fuel its most basic functions – is determined by a couple of things.  First is simply your total body size – it takes more calories to fuel a large body than it does a smaller one.  Most men are larger than women, so chalk up one for the guys.

Then there’s the issue of body composition – every pound of lean body mass you have burns about 14 calories a day, while every pound of fat you have only burns about 2 calories.  So, the more muscle you carry (and the less fat) the greater your daily calorie burn.   Score another one for the guys…not only are their bodies bigger, they tend to carry more muscle than women do, too.

As if that weren’t enough, men are more likely to burn more calories when they exercise.  Again, it’s not that they’re necessarily pushing themselves that much harder – it’s just that the larger the body, the more calories it takes to move that body through space.  A 250-pound guy is going to burn more calories running for an hour than a gal weighing 150 pounds – even if they go at the same pace.

So it boils down to this:  the number of calories it takes for the average man to maintain his weight is higher than it is for the average woman. And that can be a big advantage to men when it comes to weight loss.  A heavy-set guy who maintains his weight on 2500 calories a day can cut out 1000 calories or so from his daily intake, still have a reasonable 1500 calories to spend on his meals and snacks, and drop a couple of pounds a week.

On the other hand, his girlfriend who is struggling with her weight might be maintaining on only 1600 calories or so.  To lose weight safely, she shouldn’t cut her intake to less than 1200 calories a day – which means that while he can easily create a 1000 calorie-per-day shortage, the 400 calories that she’s able to cut means she’ll be hard-pressed to lose even a half a pound in a week’s time.

I think it’s great when couples work together to try to get in shape.  Because, when it works, they can help support and motivate each other.  But when it doesn’t work, it’s often because she resents him for losing more quickly, or he faults her for ‘not trying hard enough’.  It’s not a contest, and even if it were, the playing field simply isn’t level. And in any other match-up, that just wouldn’t be fair.