I’ve discussed plateaus many times before, and I’ve always encouraged you to have patience and follow Atkins exactly how it is written, with the idea that soon you will start to lose weight again. But, there comes a time when you feel you’ve done everything exactly right, and the weeks (and maybe even months) continue to pass without any noticeable weight loss. At times like these you need to remember that your body is not a machine. Nor is it a duplicate of anyone else’s body. It has its own system, its own agenda and it own timetable. In the long run, it nearly always responds to sensible management by the person in charge – you.
But in the short run, your body may decide to go its own way, for its own reasons, which perhaps we don’t understand. Don’t get mad at it. Its a good body or it wouldn’t have gotten you this far. Be patient; you can afford to outwait it and know that Sometimes we simply don’t know what’s going on, but there are a few things to consider.and explore.
After losing a certain amount of weight, sometimes your body decides it desperately needs to hold on to any remaining pounds you would love to lose. Why? Centuries ago, when you had to hunt for your food (or grow it), you might not always know when or where your next meal would be coming from. Your body ensured your survival by stubbornly holding on to any remaining fat stores so that you could stick it out until your next meal, whenever that was. Unfortunately, in our modern society, your next meal is as close as your refrigerator or fast-food drive-thru, but your body will still stubbornly hold on to your fat stores because it’s an age-old response that has been ingrained in us for centuries.
Insulin is another factor to consider. It took you years to gain this weight, and most likely your body became used to producing excess insulin (hyperinsulinism) or was unable to process insulin (insulin resistance) during this time. These factors make it very challenging to burn fat or lose weight. Even as you embrace Atkins and its low-carbohydrate approach (which has been proven to be effective at bringing your insulin levels back under control), keep in mind that since it did take years to put on this weight, losing the weight and changing how your body processes insulin will take time.
The inability to burn fat or lose weight—the phenomenon called metabolic resistance to weight loss—is not uncommon. The use of prescription drugs or hormones that inhibit weight loss, an underactive hormone and overgrowth of yeast, as well as excessive insulin and insulin resistance—usually accompanied by high triglycerides—is one of the four major categories of problems that contribute to metabolic resistance.
If you are experiencing what seems like a never-ending plateau due to any combination of these factors, having patience with the process is so important as your body resets itself and learns to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs. One of our Atkins Success Stories, John Smead, has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to have your weight loss come to a complete halt for a lengthy period of time, but he is also a testament to the importance of sticking with the program. His reward for sticking it out? A total weight loss of 180 pounds:
“After about a year I had lost 85 pounds. But then, I just stopped losing altogether. Even though I wasn’t losing weight, I continued with the lifestyle throughout that time. Instead of giving up, I decided I really needed to do something to break the plateau I was on, so I started keeping a journal of everything I ate. The journal helped me to keep my carbohydrates, which enabled me to see where I could do better. It paid off and I have now lost over half my original body weight.”
The lesson we can learn from all of this is that consistency is the key to success. Don’t get frustrated and try changing too many things at once, or you will never know what is working or not working. Keep tracking your progress, and try recording everything you eat to ensure you aren’t unintentionally consuming too many carbs (or even too few).
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What’s the longest plateau you’ve been on? What helped you stick with it until you started losing weight again? I’d love to hear! Please share your thoughts with the Atkins Community and also let me know what you’d like to hear about in the future.