It is quite common for people on a weightloss programme to ‘hit a plateau’ at some stage or another. Some will get quite desperate even blaming the programme and saying things like, “this programme has stopped working” or “my metabolism must have slowed down so much that I can’t lose any more weight.” And so I thought that this week we should take a brief look at some ‘Tips’ for getting off the weightloss plateau.

Tip #1: Don’t panic.

Apparently these were the words that Comrades marathon legend, Bruce Fordyce, would write on the palm of a hand before the start of Comrades. Weightloss is a marathon – an ultramarathon and never a sprint. Its key that you accept that you don’t have to lose weight every day or even every week. In fact, it’s very unlikely that this will happen so hang in there and don’t panic.

Tip #2: Watch out for ‘carb creep.’

Make sure that you are not having more carbohydrate to eat than your programme allows. We call this ‘carb creep’ and if you are following a Low Carb Healthy Fat diet then having more carbohydrate than is recommended could mean that you are no longer experiencing nutritional ketosis, i.e. you are no longer in optimal fat burning mode. It may sound obvious, but it’s worth remembering that carbs, and to a lesser extent protein, cause blood sugar to rise, which in turn means insulin is secreted, which is fine in normal circumstances. But a sustained higher than normal insulin level is likely to exacerbate any pre-existing insulin resistance and thus not only prevent weight loss but even stimulate weight gain.

Tip #3: Calories do count.

It’s true that a number of experts in the low carb community maintain that calories don’t count and up to a point I think that they are spot on. But if you started out at 90kg and the weight came off and you are now at 70kg and you’ve hit a weightloss plateau, try throttling back on the amount of energy you are consuming. It stands to reason that, all things being equal, you need to take in less energy at 70kg than when you weighed 90kg. Only eat when hungry and remember that there is no weightloss law that says you have to eat 3 meals a day.

Tip #4: Watch your protein intake.

While protein is an essential macronutrient it is converted into sugar in the body raising blood sugar, thus increasing the amount of insulin secreted, especially when consumed in excess to the body’s needs. And remember LCHF stands for low-carb healthy fat and not low carb high protein.

Tip #5: Medication & artificial sweeteners.

Certain medications, especially those used to treat diabetes and depression can make losing weight difficult, and may even contribute to weight gain. Insulin that is injected or medicines that promote the secretion of insulin are prime examples. Other medicines that may prevent weightloss includes antidepressants, blood pressure medication and steroids. Some experts believe that artificial sweeteners too may ‘block’ weightloss, although this view is not shared by all experts. ‘Err on the side of caution’ is probably the way to go for now.

Tip #6: Get some exercise and enough sleep.

Research show that exercise does not cause weightloss but it is really good for us at a number of levels, not least of all when it comes to motivation. Exercise helps us to ‘feel good’ and thus stay motivated. Sleep too is a proven weightloss aid as it help to regulate stress hormones, as well as other weight control-related hormones. Chronic stress definitely impedes weightloss.

Tip #7: Contact me.

If you have reached a weightloss plateau and would like some help, please don’t hesitate to email me at askdrhill@upforit.co.za.

I’m Dr Peter Hill for UpForIt. Until next week – ‘Make Better Choices For Better Health’.