On Plateaus

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  • I hate plateaus. In my first 16 weeks of 5:2, I did not lose an ounce in 9 of the 16 weeks. (Here is my rant on that: http://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/really-no-weight-loss/). Three plateaus of two, three and four weeks, respectively. That is just wrong. Weight loss is supposed to be steady (and fast).

    Posts on this site mention plateaus constantly. I even did independent research trying to find any kind of answer for the mystery that is a plateau. I remain totally unsatisfied. There isn’t even an accepted definition of a weight loss plateau.

    The minimum time before a plateau can be declared seems to be two weeks without weight or inches lost. So if you have not measured your waist, two weeks without weight loss may not a plateau make. Some say four weeks minimum, while one I ran into declares it can only be a plateau if you have gone 8 weeks without a loss (now that is hardcore, but if accepted would get rid of a lot of complaining about plateaus since you could not start complaining for 8 weeks and by then most plateaus have faded into history).

    Personally, I think there is no real plateau until four weeks have passed. If you weigh yourself on a day when your body is dehydrated (and also perhaps devoid of as much as usual ‘in transit’ food) you can easily get a weight reading two or more pounds lighter than ‘normal’. Given the slow weight loss associated with 5:2 (and most other diets), it can easily take three weeks for real fat weight loss to overcome any gain in weight associated with reestablishing normal water (and other) weight levels. That also explains why you can notice decreased measurements as the fat disappears, but not have a corresponding weight loss.

    If, however, you are experiencing a plateau of longer than a month, you may have to look at two other factors – what your TDEE really is, and how many calories you are consuming.

    TDEE is an estimate. And if you compute it on more than one TDEE calculator you can easily find on the internet, you will find you can get numbers that vary 400 calories per day, or more (here is one: http://www.mayoclinic.org/calorie-calculator/ITT-20084939). I actually know what my TDEE is, and I can say the calculator on this site gives me a number over 300 calories a day higher. If I ate to that number on my non-diet days, my weight loss would be quite a bit less than it has been. So I recommend that you try various TDEE calculators, put in less activity than you think you are doing and then take the lowest number you get as your base TDEE. If you start eating to that new, lower TDEE, you may find you will restart your weight loss. (Here is more on TDEE: http://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/tdee-for-the-curious-or-why-dont-i-lose-weight-faster/.)

    The basic reason for a long plateau is eating more than your TDEE amount (whatever it is) for your five non-diet days. Even though many people don’t seem to like counting calories (like me), that is about the only way to confirm you are not eating above your TDEE.

    Researchers looked at people who said they were eating 1200 calories a day but not losing weight. The dieters blamed slow metabolisms and thyroid problems (though not on medications) as the reason they could not lose weight. They were not counting their calories, however. Being experienced dieters, they had a pretty good idea of what they were eating.

    The research showed that, on average, the dieters were actually eating 47% more calories than they thought they were. Additional research indicated that dieticians (who should know their calories) estimated they were eating 16% fewer calories than they actually were. Added to this, the research subjects over reported their physical activity by 51% (that activity factor in the TDEE calculators again).

    So the most common cause for a long plateau (over a month) is eating over your TDEE on your non-diet days.

    ‘Breaking through’ a plateau seems to be a topic of much more discussion than its definition (or cause). All of the fitness based sites declare more exercise is the answer. ‘Mixing things up’ – even eating more – is another idea that pops up frequently (it is always interesting to be told to eat more calories to lose weight). Of course, some say eating less is the answer (but what do they know). However, none cite studies with control groups. So if a person suffering through a plateau exercises and starts losing weight again, who is to say they would not have resumed their weight loss without that exercise? I guess some feel it better to do something (anything) to get going again, rather than suffering in silence and inactivity.

    Of course, for some a plateau is a handy excuse to quit their current diet. After all, if it is not working, why bother? It is easier to declare the diet deficient and go back to old eating habits. They are easier, more familiar and perhaps more fun. And the weight gain side effect is to be expected, having been experienced before.

    However, in the 9 weeks when I saw no weight loss, I also noticed no weight gain. That was unlike what was going on before 5:2. I calculated my current TDEE (for I had lost some weight and my TDEE went down slightly as a result), made sure my diet days were 600 calories or less, and confirmed my non-diet days were averaging my TDEE (or less). And I waited.

    I hate waiting. But it works.

    simcoeluv

    wow! great post 2 a master researcher

    so so tru

    “I hate waiting. But it works.”

    take care,
    usa

    keep us posted

    happy nonfastdays & fastdays or 5/2 & 4/3 & 6/1 & adf (alternative day fasting ) or 4/2/1 or 3/3/1 or 5/1/1 (the 1 is the day where you can eat anything u want day no counting cals or following any type of food) those r nice 😀 or adf w/1 & or eodd (every otherday diet by krista varady) or add (alternative day diet krista varady) or lchf (low carb high fat) or cc (carb cycling) or lchfmed (low carb high fat mediterranean) or the new atkins or the flexitarian or the vegetarian all kinds & as long as u integrate all of ur food w the fdl (fastday lifestyle) 😀

    4got 2 say i always put in my tdee not active even though i am

    of course if u r a daily weight lifter who wants super big muscles or an addictive 2-3+ hours daily sweating out ur addictive must exercise per day

    would not recomend a not active tdee 😀

    Could I be a contender for the title of “longest plateau holder”? Between the end of September 2013 and beginning of February 2014 I lost NOT A SINGLE OUNCE (or gramme for that matter). So what are those losing 1lb a week moaning about? I’d KILL to lose 1lb a week!

    This morning it appeared that I had finally lost a kilo in this past week. This brings my total loss over 55 weeks to 7 kilos – 15.4lbs. Somewhat disheartening. Especially as I still need to lose at least 10, or better 15, more. But I’m still hanging on in there as this is the only way of eating that has ever worked for me albeit at the pace of severely disabled snail.

    Nevertheless BP is now on the low side of normal, cholesterol has dropped to 4.8 and quite a few inches have gone, not all in measurable places, e.g. shoulders. Of course this time next week, the scales might tell me I’ve put at least a kilo back on.

    great post thanks. I was thinking about the logic of ‘going back to old eating habits’ it’s an interesting way of thinking because that’s what caused the problem in the first place–sort of cutting of my nose to spite my face.
    It would be fascinating to get an insight into the inner workings of our bodies and how food is processed and fat stored and energy expended. the body’s instinct to go into famine mode, and what is the tipping point that alerts the body to store fat ready for the supposed impending crisis, and more important to know how to get the body to ‘relax’ and use up fat storage. It almost seems an oxymoron that eating fat can aid in weight loss, of course it depends on the type of fat– good high quality fats like olive and coconut oils.
    so maybe we rename plateau famine mode

    double happy:

    Thanks for the compliment on the post. (also thanks to wiltdnrUSA)

    For people on weight loss diets, there is no such thing as famine mode or starvation mode (see FAQ, above). Research shows that people put on semi-starvation diets that equaled one-half of their TDEEs for six months, combined with additional exercise, lost significant amounts of weight. However, their metabolisms did not seriously slow down until they reached around 5% body fat. At that point, metabolisms were about 40% lower than average, but they continued to lose weight – just at a slower pace.

    The only way to lose weight is to consistently eat less than your TDEE. How much less determines the amount and rate of loss. But to put it in perspective, if an average woman eats nothing each week, she can expect to lose between 3 and 4 pounds – 12 to 16 pounds a month with 0 calories for the month. Many don’t understand this, and think their diets should give them consistent two to three pounds a week weight loss. That is totally unrealistic unless you are doing real, long term fasting.

    my apologies team I was quite wrong and too quick to press the enter button–I would delete my posting if I could. I stand corrected.

    simcoeluv

    please add ur valuable info by replying in this link in our forum do not want u 2 get lost in the shuffle

    u r such a good writer u might also want 2 redo it all

    go 2 the latest post it is where the latest got added

    everything a newbie/poster might want 2 c, use & read

    http://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/everything-a-newbie-might-want-2-c-use-read/

    the dr fung series who believes in fasting will blow ur mind because he really explains the body everything concerning diets/disease/weight

    there r also other dr’s & michael’s stuff

    anyway would love ur opinion

    take care
    usa

    ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´happy nonfastdays & fastdays or 5/2 & 4/3 & 6/1 & adf (alternative day fasting ) or 4/2/1 or 3/3/1 or 5/1/1 (the 1 is the day where you can eat anything u want day no counting cals or following any type of food) those r nice 😀 or adf w/1 & or eodd (every otherday diet by krista varady) or add (alternative day diet krista varady) or lchf (low carb high fat) or cc (carb cycling) or lchfmed (low carb high fat mediterranean) or the new atkins or the flexitarian or the vegetarian all kinds & as long as u integrate all of ur food w the fdl (fastday lifestyle) 😀 ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´

    hermajtomomi

    since i started in march went through many plateaus where the weight stayed

    the same 4 super long don’t know how long 😛

    however, i did lose inches :o)

    so now i will add happy plateau breaking 2 b low 😀

    ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´happy nonfastdays & fastdays happy plateau breaking or 5/2 & 4/3 & 6/1 & adf (alternative day fasting ) or 4/2/1 or 3/3/1 or 5/1/1 (the 1 is the day where you can eat anything u want day no counting cals or following any type of food) those r nice 😀 or adf w/1 & or eodd (every otherday diet by krista varady) or add (alternative day diet krista varady) or lchf (low carb high fat) or cc (carb cycling) or lchfmed (low carb high fat mediterranean) or the new atkins or the flexitarian or the vegetarian all kinds & as long as u integrate all of ur food w the fdl (fastday lifestyle) 😀 ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´

    double happy

    ur r allowed 2 mess up on this forum

    we r all human 😀

    wish u success

    ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´happy nonfastdays & fastdays & ★★ happy plateau breaking ★★ or 5/2 & 4/3 & 6/1 & adf (alternative day fasting ) or 4/2/1 or 3/3/1 or 5/1/1 (the 1 is the day where you can eat anything u want day no counting cals or following any type of food) those r nice 😀 or adf w/1 & or eodd (every otherday diet by krista varady) or add (alternative day diet krista varady) or lchf (low carb high fat) or cc (carb cycling) or lchfmed (low carb high fat mediterranean) or the new atkins or the flexitarian or the vegetarian all kinds & as long as u integrate all of ur food w the fdl (fastday lifestyle) 😀 ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´

    thanks for that…USA and I have met with success–yesterday reached my goal weight, started in November and have gradually dropped 7kgs, so feeling pretty chuffed. Did the last bit by the fast diet but All in all my total loss is 20kgs, The programme that made the most sense and has best for my sense of well being has been the Fast Diet

    thanks for that…USA and I have met with success–yesterday reached my goal weight, started in November and have gradually dropped 7kgs, so feeling pretty chuffed. Did the last stubborn 7kgs by the fast diet but All in all my total loss is 20kgs, The programme that made the most sense and is best for my sense of well being has been the Fast Diet

    double happy

    u should b called happy2infinity

    WOWWOWWOWWOW

    CONGRATS!!!!!

    so now u r in the elite group THe maintance group COOOL!
    that we r all striving 4 dr mosley mimi HAVE ACHIEVED & NOW U!

    so

    ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´happy nonfastdays & fastdays & maintenance life style the 6/1 & becoming super healthy 😀 ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´

    yep great to gain that membership card and I’m going to keep up my dues !! ummm shh maybe I will even add in some exercise now.
    Something I have found really interesting is that on previous (numerous) diets i would lose a bit and then find myself sabotaging myself, so ending up back where I started, originally I figured I had some deep seated self esteem type issues–or some such and certainly ‘how pathetic am i for…and so the vicious cycle goes. But now realise of course it is the very nature of the strict everyday eating regimes that makes one feel continually deprived–the Fast Diet sets us FREE.
    During the stretches that I have plateaued it has been this forum that has kept me focused. Decided even on plateauing that I wasn’t going to revert back to old habits but to hang in there and hope for the best
    There was mention of unmedicated underactive thyroid as a reason for weight gain–that happened to me 20 years ago–I would urge anyone with that condition to get it seen to, not just for weight issues but it can turn into a serious condition and affect the immune system. And it is amazingly common. Even though I was on the correct dose I felt in a continual fog with low energy, now I feel great and have to put it down to the Fast Diet.

    happy2infinity

    so so tru

    Thanks simcoeluv, makes sense. My personal experience reflects this perfectly. Didn’t have much to lose and put my plateau down to that, however, once I was honest about by non-fast day calorie intake and became a little more anal about what I was eating I have lost 1.5kg (have followed 5:2 for 4 weeks and only just lost the weight in week 4. I thought if lost in the first week, but learned it wasn’t real “weight” I had lost. It really does matter what you eat in your non-fast days, not to the point of feeling on a diet but certainly mindful eating – don’t get me wrong, I still have a cup of praline and cream!

    A friend has been following for 2 weeks and is fed up and thinking about throwing in the towel, this is after only completing 3 fast days!! I explained it’s not a quick fix and convinced her to do another 2 weeks and make a decision at that point. I think when you have a small amount to lose it will take a min of 4 weeks before you will see any loss.

    Hi wiltldnrUSA,

    I realise I’m not alone in sitting for prolonged periods on a series of plateaux. It was just that 5 months seemed rather a long time. However, I’m not giving up and will probably continue with 5:2 for a very long time to come. I’ve considered 4:3 but am not sure I could handle it. I’ve become very good at staying under 500 cal two days a week, but three is more than a little daunting. As for non-fast days, I eat what I like, but in much smaller quantities than before 5:2. Too much and I feel extremely unwell.

    What I found really disheartening was ditching the diet for holidays, Christmas etc., eating what I liked and not gaining an ounce. It made me wonder why I was bothering at all.

    hermajtomomi

    will be away 4 18wks

    u have 2 look for the positive

    instead of disheartening turn it in2 wow i ate what i wanted & did not gain anything yayyayyay cool lifestyle!

    do keep posting ur trials & tribulations & will reply way after

    also watch that dr fung series he really explains it is not 2 w/ calories etc the link is in this post

    ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´happy nonfastdays & fastdays & happy plateau breaking ♥ღ♫.•*´¨♥*••♫.•*´ღ¨ღ*••♫.•*´

    take care
    usa

    @hermajtomomi
    Hi hermaj – well at last I got round to making the Skipper’s Soup today – a non fast day. Why did I wait so long? It is absolutely delicious! I found some sliced ‘chorizo pamplona’ in Aldi which seems to have slightly less fat than others and the added bonus is, it’s easier to use just 25g. I have another helping in the fridge waiting for my next non fast day (Friday).

    Congratulations on ‘stepping off the plateau’ – we have to take whatever we can get in terms of amount lost, and just be thankful I suppose. Weight loss is certainly not an exact science.

    My weight loss journey is a bit of a roller coaster at the moment – one on; two off etc..however the trend is downwards and I did manage to hit the big ‘Five O’ total loss last week which is a milestone – and no longer the millstone I was carrying around a year ago.

    Hope the current project is going well. Take care.

    Enjoy your time away USA.

    xx

    Hi sylvestra,

    I thought you would like the Skipper’s Soup. It and other soups definitely take the edge off fast days. What’s more you can have a larger portion without increased calories simply by adding a bit more water.

    For many years now, I’ve found I can’t face food before around noon. Breakfast is a definite no-no. All of a sudden I’m finding that on non-fast days the more calorific sandwich lunch, which of course involves carbs, leaves me feeling queasy. It was so bad at the weekend I spent both afternoons in bed feeling rather sorry for myself, only getting up for a very meagre dinner before going back to bed.

    Every cloud has a silver lining, though. I’m a great believer in listening to your own body. What I’m going to try is, even on non-fast days, keeping lunch to a minimum, maybe just a piece or two of fruit or the usual lean protein and salad sandwich filling, but without the bread. That way I can enjoy dinner in the evening, which is when I really am hungry. And on non-fast days it could even leave room for the odd treat.

    So far the latest kilo hasn’t crept back on again. Perhaps the new regime will help keep it off and maybe even make a few more disappear, even if very slowly.

    Hi hermaj

    I enjoyed the soup so much I went back and looked for more beans in the larder. I had some so I used the rest of the chorizo to make a bigger batch of soup and have frozen it in single portions.

    I don’t have lunch on a fast day but on a non fast day it will be ideal along with my toasted half pitta bread with houmus and salad. I can’t do heavy lunches nowadays, but the toasting process seems to make the pitta lighter!! One meal in the evening is enough with some fruit at other times throughout the day.

    Thanks again for the recipe!!

    xx

    interesting

    in my 9 weeks, i did not lose a pound in 8 of them! yes, you read that right!
    i still lost 9 pounds in all.

    weird weird weird x

    ooh, this thread is about 93 years old! hahahahaa

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