Weight Loss
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Upping calories for weight loss?


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So, how long did it take most of you to plateau before yuo had to up your calories? After you upped your cal intake, did you lose the weight at the same pace you did before you hit the plateau?

Also, does anybody have any scientific reasoning behind why we plateau and why our bodies need more cals afterwards if you want to continue losing, even if yuo're eating less still?
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I plateaued after about 3-4 weeks, and I am still in a plateau mode(in my 3rd week of it).  Very irritating.  the last 3 days, I have let myself eat normally (no counting calories and such) hoping that would jolt it, and lo and behold, the scale is now up 2 more lbs.

But I'm not going to freak out.  I'm just going to get back into the saddle and now that I have had a few days of possible "over eating", I am going to go back to 1300 cals a day for a few days and see if that's enough to jolt me out of the plateau!
I don't know if this is really about plateaus, but it's scientific and quite interesting explanation for why one's weight can blip upwards 4-5 lbs after even just one night of eating at maintenance or slightly more (but still less than would constitute 4-5 lbs of fat gain): google the term "gycogen storage effect."

The idea here is that the muscles preferred fuel is glycogen, which is stored in the muscles. Over time, we can deplete our glycogen stores through very low calorie diets and/or excessive exercise. For example, a marathoner can deplete glycogen in about two hours - this is the "hitting the wall" effect. For those of us who are not marathoners, it would take longer.

When glycogen is depleted and we then indulge in a little extra calories, the muscles soak up the excess and store it away in the form of glycogen - NOT fat. But for every pound of glycogen, the muscles *also* store 4 lbs of water, which is needed to make ready use of the glycogen!!

The one thing I have not been able to figure out through my googling is just how many lbs of glycogen the average body holds. Because I don't know about you, but I want my body to have this ready fuel.  Without it, my exercise efforts won't be very efficient and I won't be able to burn as much fat. And fat is what I really want to lose!

I figure this would easily explain why someone on a diet with higher than the recommended 500 calorie deficit, who exercises a lot, who then increases calories while continuing to exercise a lot, sees their weight shoot up after raising their calorie level. It's not fat the body is gaining - it's just glycogen + water. Eventually the body will have enough stored and exercise sessions will become more efficient. Then the body can get back to the business of burning off fat.

Then there's also the concept of "leptin refeed" - I don't know enough to explain it all that well, and I'm NOT a scientist or a doctor,  but interested people could google it themselves. The concept here seems to be that periodic refeeds (such as with zig-zag diets) boost the level of leptin in our bodies, and leptin plays a role in fat loss.

With all that said, I've always interpreted the word "plateau" to mean that one has dieted down to a weight that supports the dieting calorie level. I.e., using myself as an example and making the numbers easy, to maintain a body weight of 120 versus 110, there's only a difference of 50 calories per day. If I just cut 25 calories a day, I will eventually plateau out at 115. I would have to cut another 25 to reach 110.

However, I don't think that's what's going on here when people are on a diet with a calorie level that's lower or close to what it would take to maintain their eventual goal weight, or what is going on when people experience the starvation rebound effect.

Again - I'm no expert in any of this - just a lay person who's done some googling. If it interests you, google is your friend.  And if you do google and find out I'm wrong or have explained it wrong, or if you find more interesting data, please do share! I find this stuff fascinating. :-)
This article on Dieting and Metabolism explains it better than I could.
I started my weight loss May 2006 and hit my first plateau in late June.  I didn't last long.  I hit another one early August, that lasted about a month.

I'm currently on my third plateau, although the scale seems to be going more downwards these days
Here is a great example of this that I am going through right now.  OK I was loosing 2 pounds a week for 3 weeks. Then 2 and half weeks ago I only lost one then the next week it was only one.  Then a few days later it went up one.  Then I up my calories cause I read it on here that exercising more you need more.  So now its been a week of eating either at 1400 calories or up to 1600, most days. :)  I have lost 3 pounds.  No flipping clue why you eat more and loose way more than I thought would.  But I thought it wasn't healthy to loose more than 2 a week so I am not sure what my body is doing.  But having more calories seems to be working.  4 more pounds to go. :)
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