Today we’re going to talk about those dreaded weight loss plateaus. What do we do about them? What should you look for? We all dread them. They are going to happen. It doesn’t matter what we’re taught. You’re going to go through plateaus. What do you look for? What can you do to break through the plateaus? At some point you need to think about whether it’s your weight maintenance. That’s a slightly different topic. We’re not going there today. I’m going to just assume that you’re not where you want to be and not where you can be. So subsequently you’re at a weight loss plateau.
What is a weight loss plateau? Sometimes we look at the scale and it hasn’t budged in three days and therefore it’s a plateau. That’s not really a plateau. A weight loss plateau is when you’re doing the right things and your weight is stuck for a few weeks. So, for two or three weeks nothing is happening. Subsequently then, yes, you can be in a weight loss plateau. Shorter than that means there can be just a lull in the action, so-to-speak. Your body adjusts. As it adjusts, it’s going to try and turn off weight loss. It doesn’t want you to lose weight. With any weight loss plan, your body is going to assume you’re in a state of deprivation. So, it doesn’t actually want you to lose weight. It wants to hang on to that energy source if you truly were in a famine.
We’re in a weight loss plateau. What is going on? What I usually do is give people questions to ask themselves about certain things. I’m going to give you this list of questions and we’re going to talk about what some of the solutions are.
Question #1—Have you actually cut your calories too low? Sometimes people do cut their calories down too low. If you cut them down too low, your body is going to go into starvation mode and you’re not going to lose weight very well. It’s hard to put an exact number on that. Potentially if you’re going lower than 1000 calories and you’re not in a medically supervised plan, that’s generally not the greatest thing. In the surgical plan right after surgery you’ll often be between 700-800 calories. Long-term that’s really not the right answer either. You want to make sure you haven’t cut calories too low.
Question #2—Are you getting enough water? This is probably one of the most common reasons I see initially in a weight loss plan and especially after surgery when things start slowing down. If you start to get a little behind in your water, the body will tend to hang on to everything-fat included. I encourage people to push the water.
Question #3-How many carbs are you really taking in? At The Center for Weight Loss Success we talk about restricting carbohydrates. Everyone is going to have a tipping point with carbohydrate. If you go above that tipping point you struggle with weight loss. Are you above your tipping point? If you don’t know what your tipping point is, it’s hard to know that answer. It is something we can figure out. It’s not necessarily easy to do. You have to write it down! That goes along with one of our solutions-Journaling! Write these things down, especially carbohydrate. If you’re going to measure one thing, count your carbs. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that over the past couple of years.
Question #4-Are you getting enough protein? Carbohydrate influences insulin. You want to keep your insulin level as low as possible. Insulin is a hormone we can’t survive without. You’ve got to have some but you want to survive with the absolute smallest amount possible. Insulin can cause so many problems. Weight gain is just one of them. If you’re not getting in enough protein, your body will preferentially break down lean body mass, slowing your metabolism down. Protein manipulates other hormones too. Protein is more satisfying so you stay fuller for a longer period of time. It also increases growth hormone and glucagon. Glucagon is the opposite hormone of insulin. Insulin is telling your body to store fat. Glucagon is mobilizing the fat. As adults we don’t need that much growth hormone, but we make it because we can’t survive without it. If we can optimize what we do make, it’s going to help you preserve lean body mass, keeping your metabolism higher. So you want to make sure you’re getting in enough protein.
Question #5-Is your exercise too routine? Your body will get used to whatever exercise program you’re doing. When you’re body gets used to it, it doesn’t get the same out of it as it did originally. If your exercise gets too routine you don’t get as much out of it. The real trick with exercise is you want to preserve lean body mass to keep your metabolism as high as possible. Exercise alone typically doesn’t make you lose weight, but if you can preserve or build lean body mass you’re going to increase your metabolism and keep you on a weight loss track. The flip side to your exercise routine is whether you are exercising too hard? That can also slow down weight loss. Inherently that doesn’t make sense but it actually can do that because too much exercise can cause our stress hormone, cortisol, to go way up. When cortisol levels go up, it’s hard to lose weight. It makes us resistant to weight loss. This was a survival mechanism when we were stressed. Typically our biggest stress was not being able to find food. Stress typically makes us resistant to losing weight. It leads us into the next question.
Question # 6- Are you handling your stress alright? If you’re going through a stressful event, whether it be social, work, family, or medical, if you’re not handling stress well then it could turn on the plateau.
And, finally a couple things to look at as far as asking yourself about weight loss plateaus. What about caffeine and artificial sweeteners? Inherently both of those don’t make sense in a weight loss plan of turning off weight loss. But some people are sensitive to caffeine because it will increase your stress hormone because it’s a stimulant. Increasing stress hormones can make your resistant to losing weight. You want to be cutting back or getting rid of the caffeine. Caffeine can stimulate appetite which makes it harder to stick with the plan.
Artificial sweeteners can turn off weight loss for a couple of reasons. They can make us want sweet things. We get used to the sweet taste. They tend to be so much sweeter (even 1000 times) than sugar. Artificial sweeteners have no calories but it trains us to want something sweet. It makes it harder to stick to the diet plan. Also, they can often increase insulin levels. Inherently that doesn’t make sense. The sweetness you’re tasting from the artificial sweetener make the body think that you’re getting something that has a lot of calories. It’s expecting those carbohydrate calories so the body releases insulin. Hunger and cravings will increase. Insulin tells your body to store fat. Artificial sweeteners can turn your body into fat storing mode even though there are no calories in it.
What do we actually do about this? These are questions to ask yourself once you’ve hit a plateau. What are we going to do about these things? Some of these answers I hit a little bit on during the questions themselves. What can you do?
Write it down. Go back to journaling. It is a basic thing. If you don’t write it down, you’ll never really figure out where the problem area it. You have to write down everything. I’m referring to what you’re eating, drinking, and how much activity.
You need to make sure you’re counting the carbohydrate, protein, and water. You want to watch all those things. If they’re all good, then we have to figure out how we work with that. Push the water. Hydration!!
Go back to the beginning. Many people do the Jump Start diet. It’s using some of the protein meal replacement shakes. It gives you a good protein source, controlled carbohydrate, calories will be fairly low, and it gives you exact numbers so that you know exactly what happens when you have X amount of calories, carbs, and protein.
Look at the exercise. Is it routine? Now it’s time to change gears. You really want to make sure you’re doing plenty of resistance training. You can do body weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats). You don’t necessarily need weights to do it. The best exercise for weight loss is high intensity interval training (HIIT). The best piece of exercise equipment you can have is a heart rate monitor. You’re pushing your heart rate up to near max, back and forth. Potentially you’re going into the anaerobic training where you go up to your heart rate max. You’re crossing over into anaerobic metabolism which gives you the best fitness gains. You can’t do that if you’re just starting in fitness. But if you are into fitness and you’re good at that, this is something that can really get you going and get you back on that weight loss plan.
Something I mentioned is ratchetting down that carbohydrate and lifting up that protein. You can do it with food. Again, you have to count it.
We can start looking at over-the-counter products. There are a lot of different things out there. Green tea is actually one of the things that can be helpful. It can boost your metabolism about 4%. In a 2000 calorie diet that’s about 80 calories. If you’re on a 1000 calorie diet, it’s about 40 calories. It’s not really that much but enough that can help to get you back on the weight loss curve. Cayenne peppers as a supplement or eating the food can boost your metabolism. There’s some evidence that probiotics can change your intestinal flora. Often it can help with weight loss.
Make sure you’re doing the basics. Are you taking your vitamins? We often think of B-vitamins as our energy vitamins. You can either do B-vitamin injections to potentially jump start a weight loss plan or a high dose of B-6. I would encourage doing an activated form of B-6. It can bump up your metabolism some. We’re talking about 50 or 100mgs. If you’re buying B-6 by itself it’s usually 1 or 2 tablets.
It’s kind of like an amino acid. It helps mobilize fat molecules into the mitochondria. The fat molecules are what you’re trying to get rid of. The mitochondria are your energy furnace. That’s what is actually being burned for energy and truly converted to energy. By itself it’s not energy until it’s converted to ATP. That happens in your mitochondria. Carnitine helps mobilize fatty molecules into the mitochondria. It’s like a steam engine. You’ve got to get the fuel into the furnace. Carnitine gives you a bigger shovel so it’s easier to move the fuel into the furnace. Typical you may need to take 1-2 grams of carnitine. You can find it in most health food stores.
Those are some things you can do as far as working through some weight loss plateaus. We went through a lot of information. Weight loss plateaus are very common. It happens to everybody until their finally in maintenance. So it’s literally going to happen to everybody. You want to work through it. The last thing you want to do is throw in the towel. You can go through those questions as well as the solutions that I talked about. You can also use appetite suppressants. They are carefully regulated by the FDA. But if you’re in a medical or surgical weight loss plan and are stuck or have cravings, appetite suppressants can be very helpful. They just have to be monitored very carefully. Some people are not candidates for them. Another thing that helps with cravings is chromium. It’s a mineral just like sodium and potassium. We need minerals in tiny amounts. If we take them in higher doses it can help with cravings. You can buy it at health food stores, pharmacies, and here at CFWLS. You do need to take it three times a day. It will say take one a day on the bottle. That doesn’t work. You usually need to take it three times a day.
There are lots of little solutions. Hopefully something there will help you with your weight loss plateau. Work through it. If you have questions please let us know. We’re here to help. If you want more information go to our corporate website which is www.cfwls.com If you want to join me each week in a webinar, we talk about all kinds of different topics about weight and overall health. You can go to losing weight USA and sign up there. The website is: www.losingweightusa.com Sign up and you’ll get access to me plus recipes and tips every week. Thank you all for listening. If you have questions just give us a yell here at Center for Weight Loss Success. I will talk to you on the next podcast. Remember-it’s your life. Make it a healthy one!
Low Carbohydrate diets actually have a lot of misconceptions. So we’re going to go through a bunch of them. Let’s start out with the first two I hear most commonly.
The first misconception: Ketosis is dangerous.
The second misconception: Low carb diets make you lose bone mass and are bad for your kidneys.
Ketosis just means you have ketones in your bloodstream. We have ketones in our bloodstream all the time. It’s just the level of ketones. Ketones are really just an energy source. They come from the breakdown of fat. Isn’t that what you want in a weight loss plan? You want to have some ketones in your bloodstream so you can use them as an energy source. Ketosis is often confused with diabetic ketoacidosis, and that’s a completely different thing. That occurs when the ketones get about 10 times the level of what would happen in a low carbohydrate diet. Ketosis by itself is not dangerous at all. It’s just an energy source.
Initially in low carb diets we saw that there was some extra calcium in the urine. But long-term we found that we actually absorb more calcium. So for a little bit of calcium that’s lost in the urine, there’s still a positive calcium there. We don’t actually lose bone mass. We can actually improve bone mass. Kidney failure doesn’t happen. There’s a difference between kidneys that can have low carb diets and kidneys that shouldn’t have low carb diets. What I mean is, with kidneys that are normal, there’s no problem with having a low carbohydrate diet. Kidneys that are abnormal should not be on a low carbohydrate diet. Typically, on a low carbohydrate diet, you’re going to have a little more protein, and it’s the protein that’s the problem. It’s the extra nitrogen in protein that kidneys can’t handle if you’ve got bad kidneys. If you have normal kidneys, it could actually improve kidney function.
It’s often thought that low carbohydrate diets are only good for short term weight loss because they cause you to lose water. Isn’t that bad?? Yes it is good for short term weight loss is because you lose water. The reason you lose water is because insulin levels will go down on low carbohydrate diets. Insulin is a hormone that tends to make you retain sodium. When you retain sodium, you’re going to retain water. So, when insulin levels go down on a low carb diet, you no longer will retain sodium. Subsequently you’re going to get rid a lot of that extra water that goes along with the sodium. One of the nice things about that is you can actually have a little bit of extra sodium because you won’t retain it. So, yet, you will lose weight fairly quickly on a low carb diet because you lose some water weight. But you’re also losing fat.
Ingredients 1 lb ground beef or turkey – your choice!
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 can Rotel tomatoes ( I like the cilantro one)
1 pkg cole slaw mix
1 4 oz. can sliced black olives
1 4 oz. can diced jalapenos – optional 1 avocado
3 green onions – sliced
Shredded cheese & sour cream for topping
Brown ground meat and stir in seasoning packet.
Add tomatoes, olives & jalapenos.
Stir in cole slaw mix and onions (save a bit for garnish).
Serve with diced avocado, shredded cheese & sour cream. Sprinkle with remaining green onion.
Makes 6 servings
Nutrition Facts: (does not include sour cream & cheese – add accordingly)
Total Fat 17g
Total Carbohydrates 10g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Note: You can control the heat on this one! Using salsa in place of the can of Rotel won’t change the nutritional data too much.
Magnesium is a mineral and everyone needs it. Is it a “magic bullet?” Maybe not quite but just about everyone can benefit from taking it. Most people don’t get enough magnesium. It’s very likely that if you got your blood levels checked your magnesium would be normal. It’s not your blood that needs magnesium. You need it in your tissues. Magnesium plays an essential role in over 300 bodily functions.
-You can’t produce ATP (energy) without magnesium. It’s essential to build strong bones.
-It also helps the formation of insulin-like growth factor, which is very important in muscle growth. So, we need it for growing muscles.
-It also helps improve stress hormones.
-It increases serotonin levels which helps with better sleep.
-It helps with overall relaxation and helps improve mood.
-It is very important for muscle relaxation. If you’re prone to muscle cramps or if you have a hard time going to sleep and can’t relax, magnesium can help.
-It’s also important in regulating blood sugar.
-It decreases inflammation, improves immune function, and improves and relieves constipation. -Magnesium is the working ingredient in Milk of Magnesia.
One of the things that can decrease your overall magnesium is caffeine. Phosphoric acid decreases magnesium. It’s in almost all sodas and steals magnesium so it’s not available in your tissues. Alcohol and chronic stress also steal magnesium. Some things we can avoid but others we can’t completely avoid.
The bottom line is that almost everyone can benefit from extra magnesium. So, how much or what should someone take? I encourage people to start with 500mgs a day. You may want to slowly increase that, especially if you’re prone to muscle cramps and tight muscles. You can take massive doses of magnesium as long as you have decent kidneys. So if you have kidney problems or poor kidney function then you do have to be careful with magnesium. If you don’t have kidney problems you can take big doses because your body will get rid of it if you get an excess. The way it gets rid of it is—well it relieves constipation! If you do have constipation just start taking 500 mgs of magnesium a day and just start increasing that.
Each day you can slowly go up. You’ll get to a level that keeps things regular for you. If you take too much, you’ll get loose bowl movements but that’s about it. I take about 1000 mgs of magnesium every day. If I stop taking it for a few days or I miss a few days I’m really prone to muscle cramps. If you’re prone to muscle cramps you know what I’m talking about. It’s misery! Magnesium probably isn’t the cure-all but it does help with better sleep, better mood, lowers stress, improves energy, improves flexibility, and prevents cramps. What’s not to like!?
If you cannot find a qualified bariatric surgeon or comprehensive follow up program in your area, you will have to either compromise what you want/ need or continue your search until you find the surgeon/program that will meet and/or exceed your expectations.
A few experienced surgeons offer a travel program for surgery. At the Center for Weight Loss Success, we offer such a program for appropriate surgical candidates. Not only does the program include surgery with arguably the most experience bariatric surgeon in the United States who has performed over 5,000 weight loss procedures, but it also includes our comprehensive Weight Management University for Weight Loss Surgery™ program. In addition, it is one of the most affordable options available in the United States. You can learn more about it at www.cfwls.com
The bottom line is that you have to be comfortable with your choice. We are fortunate to have many excellent bariatric surgeons in the United States. Your long-term success is the most important thing under consideration here. I hope this book has helped to inspire you, answer your questions and better prepare you for an amazing journey. Only you know if this journey is something that is right for you. If we can be of further assistance in any way, please let us know at email@example.com. If you desire additional information and would like to view helpful videos that address each of these questions, please visit our main website at www.cfwls.com or at www.myweightlosssurgerysuccess.com.
Rhonda’s Opinion: Travel to the surgeon/program of your choice – it’s all worth it!
The search for a qualified weight loss surgeon can be completed in a number of ways. Some of the more common methods include:
Personal referral from someone you know
Referral from your primary care practitioner
Author/Expert Publication such as a journal or the book you are reading
Local marketing (i.e. radio, billboard, TV, newspaper or other publication)
Remember to ask the questions reviewed in my previous blog. Evaluate the available options and select the surgeon, staff and program that will best fit you and your needs. This is a decision that requires careful consideration. Talking to someone who has already had surgery with the surgeon you are considering is often very helpful.
You will want to attend an on-site seminar with the surgeon (not just his/her assistant or office staff). This is a great way to get to know the surgeon, learn about the various procedures he/she performs, their particular outcomes, the comprehensive program they offer, get to meet their staff and learn more about your options. If you are unable to attend an on-site seminar, many surgeons also offer a comprehensive online webinar such as the one on our website at www.cfwls.com.
Particularly if you have a number of medical problems, your primary care doctor and your bariatric surgeon will need to communicate openly throughout your pre-operative and post-operative phases of weight loss surgery. In addition, some insurance carriers require a letter from your primary care physician indicating that you are an appropriate candidate for weight loss surgery and/or “cleared” for surgery. If this is the case, the staff at your bariatric surgeon’s office will be able to help you facilitate receiving such information prior to authorization for surgery.
Amazingly a number of people do not have a primary care provider. If this is the case for you, your surgeon will likely recommend that you find one. He/she will want to communicate your progress and have someone to refer you to in the event you have a medical problem unrelated to surgery and/or necessary medication changes as you lose weight following surgery.
Some questions you will want to discuss with your primary care provider include:
Are there any medical reasons that would prevent me from being an appropriate candidate for weight loss surgery?
Do you recommend any particular weight loss surgeon and the reason(s) why?
Are you able to provide my surgeon with any necessary documentation or clearance that might be required?
Most primary care practitioners are comfortable answering these questions and used to working closely with an experienced local bariatric surgeon. Some may be limited in terms of who they are able to recommend due to required referral patterns within health systems. However, this is not generally the norm and the final decision is yours.
If you are considering weight loss surgery, you are likely quite savvy in your research and know what you are looking for. In fact most people research weight loss surgery for at least one year prior to deciding to have surgery and choosing which qualified bariatric surgeon will perform their procedure. This is actually refreshing to me and my professional team at the Center for Weight Loss Success. I welcome any and all questions and actually worry a bit if there are no questions. I will answer your questions with sincerity and honesty. This is very important because your relationship with your surgeon is for life and ongoing support is critical to long-term success.
Below is a basic list of questions you should ask any bariatric surgeon under consideration. Although most are a standard part of your initial meeting and individualized consultation, they are important to know. You will likely have others so be sure to add them to the list prior to your individual consultation appointment.
How many years have you been a bariatric surgeon?
How many and what types of weight loss procedures have you performed and do you perform each year?
Are you a board-certified surgeon?
Are you a member of ASMBS (American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery)?
Based on my personal health and weight, what surgery do you recommend for me?
What are the advantages/disadvantages/risks of this procedure?
Do you perform the surgery laparoscopically or open?
Will you perform the procedure, or an assistant?
Where will the surgery be performed?
Is the hospital or clinic a Center of Excellence?
What pre-op testing will be done?
What post-op testing will be done?
Do you have a comprehensive pre-operative and post-operative program including nutritional coaching, fitness, ongoing support groups, ongoing education and availability of a psychologist?
What changes will I be expected to make with regards to diet and exercise?
Do you have an insurance and/or financial coordinator available to patients?
Do you have a dietician or nutritionist available to patients?
Do you have a psychologist available to patients?
Do you have a support group for patients?
How are questions during non-office hours handled?
What should my expected weight loss be?
Ask for specific statistics regarding complications and outcomes with your particular type of surgery. They should be willing to provide the information and not try to hide any negative results.
Do you have patients who are willing to share their experiences with me?
If you can find a bariatric surgeon who is also experienced and/or board certified in bariatric medicine, that is an added bonus since they will also be equipped to assist you in losing weight prior to surgery. They also understand medical weight loss methodology that helps the further out you are from surgery. There are only a select few bariatric surgeons who are also board certified in bariatric medicine. I have chosen this route because it is my passion and I feel it provides me with the added knowledge to assist patients with or without surgery and also enhance their long-term success.
Your individualized consultation with your prospective surgeon should be thorough and informative. In addition to your surgeon, you will want to feel comfortable with the office staff and overall customer service experience. You are becoming a new member of their weight loss surgery family when you choose to have surgery. Your surgeon and his/her staff are your extended support system. They should also provide you with the opportunity to include your significant other each step of the way so they can also understand what to expect before, during and after surgery.
Rhonda’s Opinion: This is different for everyone. I looked at the experience and program offerings of the physician. With Dr. Clark it seemed like a no-brainer.