by Tony Gjokaj September 09, 2020 4 min read

We all witness the initial water weight loss that comes from dieting... it's so cool to drop 5-10lbs in one week when we start.

And then, it slows down... it even stops.

Some people get disheartened from this and believe that it's in their genetics... that the diet didn't work... that no matter what they do, it's useless.

I've been there.

In this post, let's talk about why fat loss is never consistent... and solutions that will aid you in dealing with these challenges.

The Random 5lb Drop

When I first started exercising as an overweight teenager, I did not see any weight drop until over three months later, I started dropping pounds constantly.

Within five months, I dropped 40lbs... and for the first time in years, I felt healthier, happier, and more confident.

I never really thought about it at the time, because I was excited that months of hard work eventually appeared on my body... something that was brewing within my body.

My Bodybuilding Phase

Years later, I would get so interested in this because I had an obsession with bodybuilding. I would go through constant mass gain and fat loss phases to build muscle and shed the fat I acquired from building that muscle.

In fact, there were times when I was fat loss dieting that I would randomly expect a five-pound drop after a month or so after not losing a single pound.

Doing it so many times allowed me to dive into the fat loss processes and realize that the random weight drop I experienced when I was overweight was a natural process.

Let's talk about this inconsistency.

Why Fat Loss Is Inconsistent

Just like muscle and strength growth can come weeks after the stimulus, fat loss works similarly. To give you a personal example, sometimes when I finished dieting, fat loss would continue slightly after as well, even though I ate more.

This inconsistency is a result of water retention and hormonal responses. When restricting calories, water retention is more common due to elevated stress levels.

Women have more inconsistencies as water retention fluctuates throughout their hormonal periods.

In addition, our appetite regulators significantly change as well: Leptin (appetite suppressor) is decreased, while Ghrelin (hunger elevator) is increased. While they both challenge us while dieting, leptin is a big cause of our fat loss inconsistencies.

Leptin

Leptin is a hormone that is primarily released from fat cells. It does MANY things, but we are going to talk about it in regards to dieting.

Leptin influences your appetite, in that it helps with satiety or fullness. It tells our body we have enough food, so we can stop eating. When dieting, lowered levels of leptin makes you less satisfied or full.

Lower levels of leptin and high stress are a result of water retention and why fat loss is consistent.

Leptin also promotes fat oxidation (burning fat), whereas fat loss dieting reduces leptin levels. Your body will do this to slow down significant fat loss.

So how do we bring up those leptin levels? I would like to note that carbohydrate overfeeding improves leptin levels drastically. Knowing this, we can create solutions while dieting to bring up our leptin levels.

Let's look at the bodybuilders with this one. Bodybuilders are pretty decent dieters (most of the time). Their solution encourages carbohydrate refeeds and diet breaks. In fact, there have been several scenarios where I have taken refeeds or diet breaks, and my fat loss accelerated as a result.

Let's talk about a few of these strategies in the next section.

Strategies To Help With Fat Loss

In this section, we are going to discuss two strategies that can help with fat loss - physically AND mentally. Before reading these strategies, consider the following: How long have you been dieting? 

If you've been dieting for a long period of time without implementing refeeds or diet breaks, it's time to read up and implement these ASAP.

If you are just getting started, consider reading the following strategies, and be prepared to implement them.

I. Carbohydrate Refeeds

Refeed days focus on increasing your calories by eating more carbohydrates, thereby improving leptin. Carbohydrate consumption (refeeds) also helps replenish glycogen stores and help reduce cortisol (stress levels) due to long periods of dieting.

This is done with the following steps:

  • On your Refeed day, increase your calories to maintenance calories.
  • Reduce your fat intake. Remember, leptin increases with carbohydrate consumption, so you want to limit your fat intake to around 50-60g.
  • It doesn't really matter what day you do it. Sometimes people use it on a training day because they like having more energy. Others like to "indulge" on their rest day (because carbs make them feel lethargic).

Carbohydrate refeeds are usually implemented 1-2x per week (depending on how deep you are in the diet).

You may feel hotter or sweatier when doing this. You might feel more lethargic that day. Remember that this is a leptin replenishment strategy, and it may help accelerate your goals.

    II. Diet Breaks

    After 8-12 weeks of dieting, sometimes you are so exhausted that you need a diet break... and that's entirely ok!

    A diet break is simply a break from dieting for 1-2 weeks, and then you will get immediately back on track. This strategy has been helpful for me and others over the course of months of dieting.

    As you know you're going to immediately get back on track, you won't disrespect your dieting progress by gorging on foods.

    Fat Loss Isn't Consistent

    Understand that fat loss isn't consistent... sometimes, there isn't anything really wrong with your diet. You may just need to be patient and more creative by implementing some calorie-increasing strategies.

    As you can see here, fat loss can sometimes improve by having a brief period of an increase in calories.

    If you haven't implemented any of these things while dieting, now is the time to do so. When you do, let me know how it goes!

    Any other questions or comments? Throw them below, or email me at tony@reforgedperformance.com.

    Until next time, Reforged Legion!

    Tony Gjokaj
    Tony Gjokaj

    Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.



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