Hitting a Plateau?

So I’ve been eating healthy and exercising regularly for the past 2 months. I’ve lost 7 pounds and 3% body fat. I also joined the Transformation Challenge on Bodybuilding.com’s website and have been tracking my progress with measurements & weekly photos as well. I feel that my changes aren’t as drastic or pronounced like many of the other members who share their changes on the website.

I keep my caloric intake to 1600 calories a day (give or take depending on lows/cardio days). My macronutrient percentages come out typically like this: Fat 20%, Protein 50%, Carbs 30%. I’m wondering if it’s my late night cottage cheese snacks or casein protein shakes that prevent me from losing extra fat? I typically eat them 30 minutes or less before going to bed.

My workout schedule is typically 4-5 days of weight-lifting (I lift heavy, no pansy 10lb weights for me) and I try to fit in 3-4 sessions of cardio (45-60 minutes of either HIIT or anything that keeps my HR >155).

My eating schedule is typically:

6AM: 1 slice of whole grain toast, 1 T PB, 1 T SF Jam

Post-workout: ½ cup soy milk, protein powder, 70g frozen, unsweetened fruit

Lunch: Green vegetables that weigh out to 25-30g carbs and 4 oz meat

Snack: 1 cup cottage cheese and <6 carbs of fruit

Dinner: Same as lunch

HS snack: ½ cup soy milk, casein powder (or 1 cup cottage cheese)

I typically do my weight lifting in the morning after breakfast and cardio at night. I have a feeling that maybe I should put more emphasis on cardio as I’m not seeing a very big difference in fat loss but I’d like others opinions as well. My lows are few and far between so I don't think that plays a big role in caloric intake.

I also found more motivation. I’m signing up for the Tough Mudder competition this June in Colorado… it looks intimidating but a lot of fun once I’m strong enough to handle it! www.toughmudder.com

Ok, I really don’t know you or your circumstances and I don’t know how much training and dieting experience you have, but I’d like to bring out just a couple points to think about.

First, you may have unreasonable expectations, newbie gains allow you to readily gain/preserve muscle while losing fat, but that dream time does not last very long.

Second, if you don’t really know your caloric requirements and you restrict yourself too much you can mess up your progress and stall your progress. I might figure your BMR to be perhaps 1500 calories, and if you are active like you say you are, then you may need more than 2500 calories a day to sustain yourself. Taking in 1600 may just be too much of a calorie restriction.

Third, most of the transformations I have seen have focused mostly on cutting, trying to lose body fat. Is your nutrition and exercise focused on cutting? Or are you trying to gain muscle and cut? Once you are past being a newbie, you can’t really have your cake and eat it too.

And take all my comments strictly at face value, none of my abs are showing so I am really one to talk.

One thing that has always made a big difference for me during a plateau is to completely change the workout for a couple weeks. If you’re doing 8-12 reps, go 15-20 with 60 sec rest between sets. Change what exercises you are doing too. Cardio is the same way, if you’re running distance all the time or just doing HIIT, your body will adapt. The P90X guy is absolutely correct with muscle confusion. I have to change my workout ever 5-6 weeks with 2 weeks of shock workouts to rev my body up. The other thing is that you may need a break. Your body and CNS can become fatigued with long-term workouts. Every 6-8 weeks I take 3-4 days off, completely off. I may go for a walk, but I’ll just enjoy my free time. This will relax you and you will come back really fresh. Just make sure you adjust your diet to completely eliminate fast-acting carbs during that time as your insulin sensitivity will change.

I am also in a big time plateau, so I feel your pain. I can’t gain weight to save my life and my lifts have stalled because of it. Opposite end of the spectrum, but we all have our times where we’re just stuck.

Thanks for such a quick & educated reply… I can always depend on you for an informative and knowledgeable response! I will definitely try out the different reps, weights & times. I do change my exercises and reps but it’s not that drastic, so the results of these new reps/weights will be interesting. I guess I could whip out my P90X DVD’s but I’m so noisy I’m afraid I’ll be getting a knock on my door at 6AM from all my stomping around. The rest days also seem like a fabulous idea as well since I usually count my 12 hour nursing shifts as my “days off” anyways. Probably not the best idea but I feel guilty just hangin’ around on my days off. Good luck on beating your plateau as well and thanks for the tips! :slight_smile:

Thanks for your information. I calculated my BMR a few weeks ago using the Katch-McArdle formula (BMR based on lean body weight) as it seemed the most accurate to me.

BMR (men and women) = 370 + (21.6 X lean mass in kg)

I did the formula for myself & got the following

I weigh 154 lbs & 23.4% body fat (lean mass=118 lbs ~54kg)

My BMR= 370+ (21.6 x 54) = 1536

Calculating my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure)

I fall into this category: Mod. active = BMR X 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)

So 1536 x 1.55= 2380 calories TDEE

It suggests not dropping more than 1,000 calories from your TDEE & states -500 is a good place to start. The max drop in calories (-1,000) would be 1,380 calories/day for me & I think I would starve! I currently eat 1600 (take more than give) calories/day.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that calorie levels never drop below 1200 calories per day for women or 1800 per day for men. I understand that if I drop my calories too low my metabolism will slow down as it kicks into “starve” mode and will hang on to those few calories even stronger. (That’s my theory anyways)

I have a feeling that maybe I am just expecting too much too soon and just re-evaluate where I am in a couple weeks. It’s just disappointing to compare myself to some of these people who seem to drop fat & gain muscle like it’s their job. Thanks for the advice! I’ll let you know if I ever get some real abs!

Well, I would figure you would fit into the next activity level up since you are lift ing 4-5 days a week and then doing cardio on top of that. That says you are running a deficit of more than 1000 calories a day. I’m just sayin that if you believe “calories in/calories out” you should be losing more than 2lbs/week. Instead, you have gotten stuck.

I also think SuFu is quite correct, and for muscle gains it really works. I just believe your main issue is cutting. And I don’t think with a 1000 calorie deficit you are going to gain muscle unless you are newbie, the absolute best you could hope for would be to maintain muscle mass.

Which brings up another possibility from SuFu’s post. Overtraining. You don’t get big and strong from lifting heavy weights, you get big and strong recovering from lifting weights. Your symptoms could be a sign of overtraining. I am old, I struggle being able to do three weight training sessions per week and properly recover. Often, all I can do is two. Remember, the rest is actually as important as the exercise.

In italics would be my recommendations to kickstart your metabolism.

Also at night, I think the soy milk and 1 cup of cottage cheese may be a little too much fat. I would drop it down to 1/2 cup cottage cheese unless you are using fat free. There is also a TON of sodium in cottage cheese, which if you’re looking for weight loss may falsely stunt the numbers because of water weight.

6AM: 1 slice of whole grain toast, 1 T PB, 1 T SF Jam

1 slice toast, 1 T PB, 10-20 g fruit

OR 1/2 cup (cooked volume) old fashioned oatmeal and a light yogurt

Pre-Workout 60 minutes before workout- protein powder, 20 g slow digesting carbs (whole grain bread w/ PB, crunchy granola bar (1 of the 2 bars) with 1 T PB, Apple

It has been shown in multiple trials that people who eat before their workout will workout longer, feel better about their workout and somewhat counter intuitively burn more fat than those who workout on an empty stomach

Post-workout: ½ cup soy milk, protein powder, 70g frozen, unsweetened fruit

1/2 cup soy milk, protein (both whey and casein), 30 g fuit

REASON - 70 g carbs is WAY too many for any meal. Try to never intake more than 40-50 on a regular basis. Obviously, a supper out may result in more.

Lunch: Green vegetables that weigh out to 25-30g carbs and 4 oz meat

perfect; add a cup of coffee

Snack: 1 cup cottage cheese and <6 carbs of fruit

Dinner: Same as lunch

HS snack: ½ cup soy milk, casein powder (or 1 cup cottage cheese)

you could even drop the soy milk here and use only casein powder to drop the calories and fat from your nighttime. The only problem may be that fat is a great way to keep overnight BG stable, but you also want to use up your glucose stores. That’s the reason for the extra carbs in the morning. You are more sensitive in the morning and will burn them all day long. .

I think I wrote it out a little confusing. When I write 70g of fruit, I mean 70 grams as in weight (between 6-7 carbs total). I have an electronic scale and I try to keep pretty accurate measurements of my food, I’d rather use ounces but not all nutrition facts are according to ounces. I try to keep my meals under 30 carbs and snacks between 15-20 carbs. Thanks for the help, I’ll put them to use!

ohhhhh ok. I get it now. I was like GEEZ that’s a TON a fruit! Good work!