Despite metabolism slowing down, you can continue to keep losing weight. The first tip is to avoid very low-calorie diets. Moderate calorie deficits will work best, and while this does take longer to achieve your weight loss goals.
HOW LONG DOES A WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU LAST SUMMARY
Long-term calorie deficits can cause a weight loss plateau and a reduction in calories burned called adaptive thermogenesis or metabolic adaptation.
High protein diets, slow weight loss, and NEAT can all enhance weight loss while dieting.
WHY WEIGHT LOSS SIMULATORS DON’T WORK
When dieting, most people will use a diet calculator, which usually has a daily calorie reduction goal (i.e., 500 calorie deficit) and a long-term weight loss simulator showing how much you will lose at the end of the diet. Check out the NIH body weight planner for a prediction model for weight loss. The NIH planner will calculate the net calories needed for weight loss for your body weight and physical activity. The issue with weight simulators, as you will read below, is that it does not consider that metabolism will slow down as you diet.
Many people ask how to calculate weight loss percentage. For example, if you wanted to lose 10% of your body weight (e.g., You weigh 220 and want to get down to 198). You can also use a percentage of weight loss calculator to calculate total weight loss as they used in The Biggest Loser Show.
THE 3500 CALORIE RULE DOES NOT WORK
Every weight loss textbook will state that a 3500-calorie reduction per week will result in approximately one pound weight loss per week. The 3500 kcal rule was developed by calculating that one pound of fat stores approximately 3500 kcal.(Wishnofsky, 1958) This equation is based on the formula that weight loss will continue as long as a calorie restriction occurs. However, as mentioned previously, energy balance is not static; it’s dynamic. Meaning weight loss does not decrease like a slope (i.e., static weight loss); it decreases with ebbs and flows (i.e., dynamic).
STOP A WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU! HERE ARE 5 SCIENCE-BACKED CALORIE SECRETS TO LOSING FAT
For example, basal metabolic rate (i.e., energy burned at rest) and total energy expenditure (i.e., calories burned over the day) will decrease with weight loss, which results in lower calories burned. The best analogy is that if you had to carry a backpack that weighed 50 pounds on your back (i.e., excess body fat), it would take more calories burned over the day for you to move around. However, remove the extra 50 pounds, and you’re not going to burn as many calories each day because you weigh less. It takes fewer calories to move a smaller person.
BREAK A WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU WITH WEIGHTED VESTS
A new study found that wearing a weighted vest can result in weight loss. Researchers had subjects wear a weight vest that weighed 25 pounds (i.e., 11% of their body weight) for eight hours a day, whereas a control group wore a light vest that weighed 2.2 lbs. (i.e., 1% of their body weight). That may not sound like much, but at the end of the three weeks, those wearing the extra twenty-five-pound weight lost -4.4% of their body fat. The subjects were not on a diet; they were just told to perform their normal activities. The researchers suggested that the decreases in body fat were due to increased energy expenditure from carrying the weighted vest all day.(Ohlsson et al., 2020) Now, imagine the reverse, if you lose weight, the total energy costs go down because you weigh less and carry less weight.
Most of the reduction in calories burned from dieting and weight loss can be explained by decreased maintenance and metabolic costs of a smaller body (i.e., it takes fewer calories for you to move a smaller body), and, most importantly, reduced physical activity. When people diet, they tend to move around less. NEAT, or Non-Exercise Adaptive Thermogenesis, refers to the calories burned outside the gym. It has been suggested that around 11% of the reduction in daily calories burned is due to lower resting calories (i.e., decreased lean muscle mass), whereas 35% of the reduction in daily calories burned. At the same time, dieting is due to decreased NEAT/ reduced physical activity. In sum, the changes in weight loss and dieting-related changes in metabolism are related to a lower amount of muscle and less movement.(Westerterp, 2017)
A 500 CALORIE DEFICIT PER DAY WILL RESULT IN 1 POUND OF FAT LOSS MYTH
You can still reduce your calories by 3500 calories per week. Still, if your daily energy expenditure decreases from decreased lean muscle mass and reduced daily physical activity, as it has been well documented, the 3500-calorie per week rule will not be effective. In a paper by Thomas et al., who compared predicted weight loss based on the 3500 kcal rule to actual changes in weight, they found that subjects lost substantially less weight than the 3500 kcal rule.(Thomas et al., 2013) Other researchers have found that the 3500 kcal rule leads to an overestimation of weight loss in individuals.(Hall et al., 2011) Furthermore, the degree of weight loss depends on the starting body fat, as obese people lose weight faster than leaner individuals.