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Plateaued after significant weight loss

I am a 23 year old female who used to weight about 265lbs at 5’4. Over the course of a year and a half, I was able (thank God) to lose 100lbs. For most of it I did a low-carb, high-protein diet of whole, natural foods. I also Zumba-ed everyday. Once this stopped working I experimented with a few other diets to try to get my metabolism going again (all-meat, no-meat, vegan, etc.) I lost the rest of the hundred pounds slowly. Now I am eating a pescatarian diet and doing cross-fit training, and I feel like my body has just shut down. I cannot lose anymore weight for the life of me. I only have about 25lbs left until I reach my goal and I just can’t get that deep-seeded fat that has been there for years to budge. I’m thinking about trying a dietary supplement like Hydroxycut or Vyper. Are these supplements safe/could they help? If not, do you know of supplements that would? I am almost positive there is nothing more in the diet realm that I can try that I haven’t already. Thank you so much.

Answer:

Congratulations on your weight loss! Your inability to shift any more weight, is a very common situation in people who have successfully lost a large amount of weight. Unfortunately the body is very clever at trying to hold onto fat wherever possible as its a survival mechanism, and as you have found, you needed to change and alter your diet to trick the body into losing more weight. The fact that you have plateaued sounds like your body may have gone into starvation mode, where it is doing its best to hold onto every calorie you consume. You may have become leptin resistant. Leptin is a hormone released mostly from fat cells and it signals your brain about your fat stores, effectively letting your brain know “we have fat, and we have reserves”. If your fat stores diminish, your leptin decreases. If your calorie intake decreases, your leptin level decreases. When leptin decreases, it can trigger the starvation alarm. In response, your brain sends out signals to decrease your metabolic rate so as to preserve fat stores. What you need to do is “reset” that mechanism by letting the brain know that calories are in abundance and its ok to burn fat. Introducing a cheat day into your diet is a great way to achieve this reset. Having one day a week where you allow yourself to eat anything you want, resets this mechanism, so the following days when your dieting and exercising the body starts to burn fat again. What also often happens with people who successfully lose a lot of weight, is that they also lose a significant amount of muscle mass. In doing so they reduce their metabolism, as its muscle which is responsible for burning a lot of your daily calories consumed. You say you are now doing cross-fit, which is an excellent way to develop all round fitness and strength. However without the right nutrition it can also be catabolic and cause you to lose muscle mass if you are not consuming enough protein and getting adequate rest and sleep. Making sure that following your cross-fit workouts you consume a rich source of protein along with some carbs will help prevent any muscle loss and keep your metabolism elevated. Regarding the use of supplements such as fat burners/stimulants. I would recommend against them for a number of reasons. 1- Safety – There have been a number of cases where people have suffered serious/fatal medical consequences because of their use. 2- Contamination – there have been cases where the product has claimed to be natural, but pharmaceutical substances have been found in some of these products. 3- Effectiveness – many of these products are nothing more than very large doses of caffeine combined with a few miscellaneous herbs that have little genuine scientific evidence to back up their effectiveness. A similar effect can be achieved drinking a few strong cups of black coffee prior to a workout. If you are looking some alternative ways to induce some fat loss going beyond following a standard diet, there are cheaper safer ways to do so. For example, grapefruit or its juice has been shown to inhibit the absorption of dietary fat when consumed with a meal. If you consume either the juice or the fruit itself with each meal you will prevent your body from absorbing a certain amount of calories in each meal. Consuming rich sources of fiber such as Oat bran can also have a similar effect, the fiber in the Oats binds with fat in your diet and simple caries it out of your body without being absorbed in your digestive system.

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