As you move through your weight-loss program, there’s a good chance that you will find yourself at a sticking point, where it just seems that no matter what you do, you just cannot lose any more weight. Typically, this happens when you're battling with those last five or 10 pounds; in some cases, you may just decide to live with that extra weight.
Don’t be so quick to give up this time. When you arm yourself with a few last strategies you can bypass this hurdle with success. If you implement two or three of the following quick changes, you should be able to drop five pounds in about two and a half to three weeks' time, which is a safe rate that will ensure it is fat loss and not lean muscle loss.
Here are five quick changes to drop five pounds.
1. Implement extreme carb cycling
You may already be on a diet that does make use of higher-carbohydrate days along with lower-carbohydrate days, but typical approaches tend to be quite moderate. When trying to strip off those last five pounds, you’re going to have to kick it up a notch and really go to the extremes.
Try making your low-carbohydrate days very low-carb, where you’re focused on strictly eating protein and fibrous vegetables. This will create a very high caloric deficit, thereby accelerating fat loss. Then, place your high-carbohydrate days on your training days and bring the calorie balance up to maintenance value -- or even slightly above -- by adding a very large amount of carbs.
Since carbohydrates are the macronutrient that most influences the metabolic rate, this drastic zigzag approach keeps the metabolism firing while you enjoy a faster rate of total fat loss.
2. Take one week off training
In some instances, the reason you’ve hit a wall with weight loss is because the body hasn’t received enough rest. When you’re verging on overtraining, it’s quite common for the body to actually retain water, making it harder to lean down.
Take one week off training while eating closer to a maintenance diet. This will help to reset the metabolism and water balance. Many people are very surprised at the impact taking one week off can make.
3. Shift the rep ranges of your exercises
Plateaus are quite common when you’ve been performing the same workout for a lengthy period of time and can keep you from dropping those last five pounds of fat. A simple way to crank up the calorie burn of your workout is to increase the reps to 10 for one single week while decreasing the rest period to only one minute between sets.
Note that you’re not aiming to make this a circuit training workout, but simply quickening the pace of the workout to add intensity. The nature of this protocol (10 reps with 1-minute rest periods), compared with a typical strength program of five reps and three-minute rest periods, tends to produce a greater release of growth hormone in the body, which is beneficial for promoting lean muscle mass development.
4. Increase protein intake
The fourth way to lose those last five pounds is to increase the protein content of your diet. It’s important to remember that the leaner you get and the lower you take your total calorie intake, the more protein you will need. This helps to prevent lean muscle mass loss and ensures recovery.
An added benefit of bringing your protein intake higher is that it will increase the metabolic rate. Over the course of a week or two, this could mean the difference between staying at a standstill or losing another half to one pound.
Great sources of protein to include regularly are chicken, lean beef, egg whites, white fish, and low-fat cottage cheese.
5. Combine sprint training with steady-state cardio
Finally, consider altering the method of cardio you’re doing so that you start with five to eight interval sprints of 30 seconds in length interspersed with 90-second rest periods. Then, proceed to finish the cardio session off with another 15 minutes of moderate paced cardio.
This gives you the best of both worlds, as you’ll get the metabolic spark that interval training offers along with the benefit of moderate cardio that strictly uses fatty acids for fuel.
It’s not too late
Don’t give up too quickly. Start making a few adjustments to your training and diet program and keep monitoring how it's influencing your progress. In time, you’ll be able to see what works so you can reach your end goal.