Not so fast, there may be one thing you forgot!
If you’ve made progress so far using the 8 steps I outlined here, that’s great.
Exercise, sprinting, dieting/fasting/cutting calories. Having a large caloric defict combined with a high activity level, lack of sleep, work stress, smoking, bills, overtraining, etc. Everything literally adds up to a big total amount of stressors. And if you’ve been working out and fasting for a long time, among other things, all that stress could be catching up with you.
If you are doing intermittent fasting, try eating more or larger meals once or twice a week within your eating window, especially if you have been working out intensely, like I do when I lift big heavy things. The caloric excess within the eating window will help to make your body think you are living in a situation of abundance. It will trick your body to temporarily cut back on it’s survival response (if you are reading this and have stalled, you may be experiencing it right now), which is to store body fat for later use.
An easy way to do this is to carb-load on the weekend, especially if you have been cutting carbs heavily during the week with your IF program. This plays a little trick with leptin signalling. Make sure to only eat Paleo approved carb sources like starchy tubers and veggies, and some more fruit. And always practice moderation.
Having this periodic feast will spike leptin. Be reasonable, there’s no reason to eat so much that you puke! I’m thinking keep carbs in the low 100 grams, and no more than 400g, depending on your goals. Your metabolism wil temporarily pick up, and fat will be mobilized for use from adipose tissue. Go for a long walk and use that newly mobilized fat! It’s also the perfect time to plan a sprint session!
You might even want to skip IF completely for a week or two. Start eating an earlier breakfast for that period, extending your eating window. See how that works for you.
Exercise is also a major source of stress, especailly for those of you who may be doing a bit too much chronic cardio. It causes systemmic inflammation after a while, leading to joint pain and lots of cortisol release. That can really harm fat loss in the long run, and be the one thing holding you back from leaning out that extra few %. Try eliminating cardio all together. Instead, do HIIT sprints once a week. Or even cut sprints to once every other week. Lately I’ve stopped them all together to see what happens. I’ve also been on a my 3 day lifting routine, so I have more rest days.
Obviously I’m not saying you should become totally sedentary. That’s just stupid. We evolved to be constantly active at very low activity levels: Lots and lots of walking and carrying. Plenty of heavy lifting. Very fast sprinting every now and then. You have to find a balance.
Get lots of sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep you will be throwing your whole body out of whack. You will also slow down your recovery time. It will take much longer to heal from your workouts if you are lacking in sleep. Testosterone and HGH are correlated with REM sleep patterns. This is where most of our muscular growth and recovery happens. Melatonin, vitamin D, and magnesium can help.
Are you getting enough nature? Nature is a huge stress reliever. It’s also been shown that there are huge health promoting benefits to getting plenty of it. We are animals, after all! Nature separation, not enough sunlight, modern life. It really messes with you!
Make sure there isn’t something else going on in your life that might be causing undue stress. Sometimes you just can’t help it. Not everything is in your control. Sometimes you just have to roll with it. Most of the time, though, we can do ourselves a favor by chillin’ out and taking things easy. See what works best for you. Write things down, keep track. Minimize the negative external stressors, and don’t overuse the positive stressors like diet and exercise. As always, it depends on the individual. Some of us (mostly men) respond to high stressors in a more favorable manner than others. So pay attention to yourself. If you try something new, and it doesn’t work out as expected, don’t get disappointed. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to better understand what personally works, or doesn’t work, for you.