My Weight Loss Has Plateaued… Any Advice?

My Weight Loss Has Plateaued… Any Advice?

Question:

About 7 months ago, I weighed about 200 pounds with little to muscle at all. I decided to start working out heavily and I completely revamped my diet, cutting out most fats and carbs, and keeping my protein intake very high. It is important to mention that I am a vegetarian, so most of my protein comes from dairy products such as Greek yogurt and eggs. I kept my calorie count below 1,700 and saw some immediate effects for about 3 months. After the 3 months, I decided I wanted to put on some muscle as well as lose body fat. I started to eat a bit more increasing my daily protein intake to 180 grams, and eating about 2,000 calories. I also gained a good bit of muscle in the beginning but after 4 months, I am in a stalemate. My body fat percentage won’t seem to decrease, and I am gaining muscle at a very slow rate. However, I am increasing my strength as I consistently add more weights to my workouts. Should I try a new diet plan, or just stick with my current one and eventually get over my plateau? 

– Krishna

Answer:

As you have discovered, plateaus are tricky, Krishna. Perhaps your current diet has run its course, as your stalemate has lasted 4 months. You describe your recent intake as about 2000 calories with 180 grams protein, mostly from dairy. The missing details may offer opportunity for improvement.  

  • How much fiber are you consuming? The goal is at least 25 grams daily, which you are likely not achieving on a self-imposed carbohydrate restriction. 
  • Are added sugars comprising more than 10% of your calories? They are easily absorbed and metabolized into fat. Many smoothies have sherbet or fruit syrups contributing to refined sugar intake. 
  • Do you eat when you are not hungry just to stay on schedule? Listening to your body’s signals and responding appropriately may mean not pushing 2,000 calories. 
  • Are you eating close to bedtime? Those calories are easily stored since you don’t effectively burn them while sleeping. 

If your main goal is strength and muscle development, stay the course. But if you primarily want to lose weight, consider focusing on some details other than protein & calorie quantity. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Nutrition Advice for Those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Nutrition Advice for Those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Question:

I am a healthy male who just turned 63. I have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (mid-range) and have been told to watch my protein intake.  Can you suggest some alternative foods/ingredients that might benefit me for muscle health & growth but will not impact me negatively as a protein supplement would? Or, is protein the same in any form? I’ve been working out steadily for the past year and a half and have lost weight and inches but have not gained that much muscle. I was with a trainer for a year and he taught me new exercises which I have maintained. He also had me focus on fat burning heart rates rather than high impact exercising. 

– Paul G.

Answer:

Gaining muscle weight & strength is possible without additional protein intake. Just look at the many vegan athletes! For muscle growth with moderate protein intake, I’d suggest you focus on the best sources of carbohydrate and fat at optimal ingestion times.  

Right before your workouts, a simpler carbohydrate will fuel muscles readily so they can do the greater work required to stimulate muscle growth. Lower-fiber fruits (e.g. applesauce, grapes, melon) and starches (e.g. animal crackers, white bread, saltines, pretzels) are choices to consume in the hour preceding exercise and in the half-hour following exercise. For your regular meals, concentrate on higher-fiber complex carbohydrates like whole grains, potatoes and vegetables which break down slowly and provide sustained energy. 

Consider incorporating medium chain triglycerides, known as MCTs. This type of fat is readily absorbed and metabolized so it may offer an alternative fuel source during longer workouts. Food sources include coconut, palm kernel oil, and dairy fat, particularly sheep and goat’s milk. As a supplement, a tablespoon of MCT oil contains 115 calories and 14 grams of fat, similar to cooking oils. Gut tolerance dictates that you should start with a teaspoon and increase dose slowly, reaching no more than 4 tablespoons daily. A modest 6-gram MCT dose in combination with other factors was used with success to treat muscle wasting in frail elderly*. 

* Medium-Chain Triglycerides in Combination with Leucine and Vitamin D Increase Muscle Strength and Function in Frail Elderly Adults in a Randomized Controlled Trial. Abe S, Ezaki O, Suzuki M. Journal of Nutrition 2016 May: 146 (5): 1017-1026. 

Consult with your medical care professional before using a dietary supplement or starting on an exercise program, especially if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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What is The Nutrition of Quinoa Seed?

What is The Nutrition of Quinoa Seed?

Question:

What is the nutrition of quinoa seed?

– Phuoc T.

Answer:

Cooked quinoa has 222 calories per cup, 8 grams protein, 3.5 gm fat, 39 gm carbohydrate (incl. 5 gm fiber, 1.5 gm sugar). For vitamins, 1 cup cooked contains thiamin 0.198 mg, riboflavin 0.204 mg, niacin 0.762 mg, B-6 0.228 mg, folate 78 micrograms, Vit A 9 IU, and Vit E 1.17 mg.  For minerals, 1 cup cooked contains calcium 31 mg, iron 3 mg, magnesium 118 mg, potassium 318 mg, zinc 2 mg.

Compared to cooked whole-wheat pasta (wheat is a staple, but most people don’t eat boiled wheatberries), quinoa is similar in calories, fiber and sugar, but has less carbohydrate and protein. Quinoa has more riboflavin, B-6, folate, Vit A, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium than cooked whole wheat pasta.

Values from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 28.  Actual values may differ based on seed variety or cooking methods.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Is Organic Food Worth The Extra Cost? | QA

Is Organic Food Worth The Extra Cost? | QA

Question:

I have a question concerning organic food. Is organic food worth the extra cost? And what organic foods should you try to consume (i.e. fruits, chicken, meat, vegetables, etc.)

– O. Akanbi

Answer:

Organic food (grown without pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, hormones/antibiotics or gene splicing) is worth the extra cost for the foods you eat regularly if you are concerned with long-term health implications from traditional farming, but I would recommend to focus your funds. If you’re immediately targeting a heart-healthy diet after a recent cardiovascular event, spend the money on specialty items for that right now (like salmon instead of regular ground beef). Condiments and obscure items that you rarely touch won’t pose as much threat as your daily fare, so they can be last on your list.

My priority for organic shopping:

First, make sure you’re able to afford an overall healthy diet with vast array of fresh foods including ample produce, sufficient dairy and raw meats/poultry/fish. Those tend to be most expensive. Although finished vegetarian products are costly, dry beans are a cheap ingredient and can be incorporated into many meals. There’s no sense in buying organic if it means you’ll give up nutrient-rich foods elsewhere.

Second, choose organic for the produce you eat the most of, especially produce that’s on the pesticide “dirty dozen” list from the Environmental Working Group. For 2017, produce with most pesticide residue were identified as strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes. You can save by purchasing conventional sweet corn, avocado, pineapple, cabbage, onion, papaya, asparagus, mango, eggplant, honeydew, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit, deemed “the clean fifteen.”

Next, as your budget allows, look at staple items like wheat and rice, as well as your protein sources. The difference may be tiny for vitamins and minerals, but organically grown wheat and animals raised organically may develop more robust defenses against environmental stressors. That could mean they pass super antioxidants and other beneficial compounds on to you.

Lastly, organic soda and sweets? Consider whether you should even be buying them at all.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

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How Many Calories Should I Cut For Weight Loss? | Q+A

How Many Calories Should I Cut For Weight Loss? | Q+A

Question:

I am 35 years old 6 foot 2 inches, my weight is 225 lbs. I want to go down to 210 lbs., my current body fat is 18%. How many calories should I be taking in?

– Frederick B.

Answer:

It’s a lot easier to cut 500 calories daily (for weight loss) than to count up to 2,000+ calories for a full day. If you know how many calories you’re already consuming, you can reach the desired deficit by reducing portions and substituting lower-calorie foods. For example, you can save over 300 calories by switching from 3 large slices of pepperoni thick-crust pizza to 3 medium slices of cheese thin-crust pizza.

Let’s say you have no idea what your current energy intake is. One calculation estimates you’d need to consume no more than 2100 calories (2600 – 500) per day to lose weight, assuming 30 minutes of daily moderate physical activity. Another indicates 2500 calories under the same conditions. The actual amount you need depends on your activity level and individual metabolism.

The real question is how you’ll count all those calories. You could use a diet analysis app or follow a plan that has 2200 calories already calculated. See a sample plan in my answer to a similar question here: Food Options to Drop Weight & Tone | Q+A.

If your weight plateaus, you don’t necessarily need to cut back further on your food! So that you don’t end up under-eating and missing nutrients, you may want to consider increasing your exercise to create a sufficient caloric deficit to lose those 15 pounds.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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