Weight Loss Plateau – My Metabolism is stuck!

I’m getting angrier and angrier by the day! being on a very Low-Carb diet (below 50g Carbs per day) makes you irritable and grumpy anyway, but when you’ve stuck to your diet religiously and monitored and measured and recorded every last lettuce leaf and drop of liquid that has entered your mouth and your weight hasn’t shifted for 15 DAYS! Then I am understandably  more irritable than normal – I am angry! so frustrated, so annoyed and I feel I have been lied to by all these experts who claim ‘anyone can lose weight’!

Nearly 4 weeks ago I totally changed my life – I now live, breath, eat and sleep this new way of life and its been tough! I went on a Low-Carb, High-Protein diet and I record EVERYTHING in the MyFitnessPal App. At the same time, I also started weight training with UP Performance as part of their group training 3x a week, plus 1 session of Crossfit at NorthernSoul and at least 1 run a week, such as the 5K parkrun. Initially I lost 8 Ibs, and I know 3-4Ibs of this will be water loss, common on Low-Carb diets when you deplete your glycogen stores (i.e. your Glucose/Carbohydrate stores).

However since then, my weight has gone up a pound, down a pound, but overall has remained unchanged for 15 DAYS! Its driving me insane! I can’t think of anything else.

It breaks the laws of thermogenesis and basic Physiology! To burn 1 Ib of fat, you need to use an extra 3500 Calories a week. for the last 15 days I have been in a 1000 KCal deficit every day, so I should have lost 4 Ibs in the last 15 Days – but nothing! Even my bodyfat hasn’t reduced in that time. I also don’t believe I have replaced fat with muscle as I understand that its very difficult to build more than 1 pound of muscle a month – especially for females – so I am stuck in a genuine weight loss plateau after only 2 weeks of dieting! I’m furious! I’ve stuck to the plan I’ve been given, I’ve also been reading the muscle for life website and following all of Mikes advise on there and nothing is working.

In fact the more I read the more annoyed I get, because I keep reading all these articles on ‘How to overcome a weight loss plateau’ but they just make me angrier as they try and imply that you are cheating without knowing it? i.e. they insult your intelligence and claim that you’re eating a bag of nuts because you think they are healthy? Erm sorry no I’m not – I have a PhD in life sciences and I know that 100g of nuts contains more than 600Kcal and contains more calories than chocolate. or the articles claim you’re not recording everything that enters your mouth…..Ermmm again sorry – I have recorded every last damn stupid lettuce leaf I have eaten! or the articles claim you’re measuring stuff wrong and using heaped scoops instead of flat scoops? Again no I’m not, I use a knife to flat scoop everything.

Very few of these articles actually consider that there are intelligent people out there who understand the science, don’t cheat or live in denial, and who are able to record everything they eat and stick to a diet plan without adding in ‘extras’.For instance a Muscle for Life article states:

         “If you’ve stopped losing fat, it’s because you’re no longer in a large enough calorie deficit. This is what it all boils down to.”

The internet is full of these generalised sweeping statements for everyone. I have 1000Kcal deficit a day! I think that’s probably my problem – my calorie deficit is too big and my body has gone into starvation mode!

My average daily calorie intake so far has been around 1300 KCal a day, which is below my Basal metabolic rate (approx. 1450 KCal/day) . My Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is above 1766 (with 1-3 hr activity per week, in reality I do more). I have been eating salads, greens, fish, chicken, whey protein, with the following macro-nutrients per day: 40% protein, 50% fat, 10% Carbs. According to my new FitBit watch, my average resting HR is 55-59 over 2 weeks. My average daily calorie burn is 2,500 calories, which leaves me with 1,200 Calorie deficit!

This is what I’ve eaten since starting: I suspect I started with too few calories….
Thurs 30th June – C 8%; F 48%, P 44% calories 1100
Fri 1st July –            C 10%; F 42%, P 48% calories 1140
Sat 2nd July –         C 3%; F 47%, P 50% calories 1024
Sun 3rd July –         C 6%; F 67%, P 27% calories 1274
Mon 4th July –       C 3%; F 40%, P 57% calories 834
Tue 5th July –         C 8%; F 48%, P 44% calories 1005
Wed 6th July –       C 14%; F 40%, P 46% calories 1000
Thurs 7th July –    C 12%; F 54%, P 34% calories 1205
Fri 8th July –          C 9%; F 51%, P 40% calories 1290
Sat 9th July –         C 14%; F 51%, P 35% calories 1347
Sun 10th July –      C 11%; F 56%, P 33% calories 1285
Mon 11th July –      C 6%; F 38%, P 56% calories 1155
Tue 12th July –       C 11%; F 47%, P 42% calories 1073
Wed 13th July –     C 10%; F 44%, P 46% calories 1323
Thurs 14th July –  C 12%; F 43%, P 45% calories 1331
Fri 15th July –        C 11%; F 46%, P 43% calories 1448
Sat 16th July –       C 52%; F 35%, P 13% calories 1297 (E-coli ill, couldn’t face meat, diary)
Sun 17th July –      C 5%; F 60%, P 35% calories 1650
Mon 18th July –     C 16%; F 43%, P 41% calories 1292
Tue 19th July –       C 14%; F 36%, P50% calories 1264

I believe my problem is that I was already eating a low amount of calories before I started and according to the MuscleForLife website “for consistent weight loss you want your metabolism to be running quickly before starting – you should be eating at least your total daily energy Expenditure (TDEE) without gaining weight before you start a weight loss routine”. So I should have been eating approx. 1750 before I started. I believe my body quickly adapted to the reduced calories I was feeding my body and in turn my metabolism has slowed down and hence my weight loss has stalled.

I have finally found a couple of articles which talk about the Metabolism slowing down due to the body going into starvation mode and I’m hoping that the suggestions in these articles can help me and hopefully other people in the same situation as me.

How to Speed Up Your Metabolism for Easier Weight Loss

The basic idea is that if your body is in a calorie deficit for too long, the body thinks its in starvation mode and your metabolism begins to slow down and the level of the  hormone Leptin reduces. Leptin plays a key role in regulating hunger and feelings of satiety so is vital for weight loss. Leptin is secreted by fat cells, and the more fat you have, the more Leptin you have, and vice versa.

  • Low body fat levels = low Leptin
  • High body fat levels = high Leptin

The problem is when you diet, Leptin levels plummet. In turn, your appetite increases, your metabolic rate crashes and you feel exhausted.

So the theory is that my Leptin levels have plummeted and now my weight has plateaued.

So….the solution is to either reverse diet by eating more, or do a ‘Carb-refeed day’. Carbohydrates cause Leptin levels to increase, whereas protein and fat are thought to have little to no effect on Leptin Levels. So the theory suggests that I need to abandon my Low-carb, high-protein diet for 1 day and replace it with a controlled healthy High-Carb, low fat diet for the day. I need to increase my calorie intake by approx, 30-50% for the day and eat starchy Carbohydrates and minimal fat – this supposedly kick starts the metabolism by raising Leptin levels.

So watch this space!





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