Dr. B Centurion
Group: Super Administrators
Joined: Aug. 2006
Location: Clearwater, Florida
Height: 5' 10"
||Posted: July 05 2007,14:05
Q16: Help! I've only been on the diet for [2 or 3 - it varies] weeks and my weight loss has stalled. I lost [10, 15, 20, it varies] pounds so far, but I've only lost [1 pound, or zero pounds, or I'm up a little] this week. I'm worried about stalling so soon into the diet.
A16: It may be of comfort to know that this happens to most people when they first start any new diet, including Dr. B. While it is completely normal to panic and think "OMG, if I'm stalling this early, is this going to work", have no fear, all will be fine. This is a great opportunity to develop a mindset that will carry you through the rest of the diet.
First, you must accept that the scale is only a rough indicator of what is going on. It can, does, and will deceive you. Remember, you are trying to lose fat, not weight. Your scale can only tell you if you've lost or gained weight. Even if you have a scale that does body fat by electrical impedance, electrical impedance varies so much due to changes in hydration level, etc., that it is only useful on the macro scale (longer time frame) and useless on the micro scale (days or weeks).
Most likely, by the time you hit this "stall" you've already lost enough weight to be a great loss for the month (or more on any other diet). The reason for the apparent stall is that in your first weeks your body is assaulted with a massive change in the way you are treating it. You're probably eating less than you ever have, drinking more fluids than you ever have, consuming better (and more) minerals and nutrients, etc. Your body has to adjust to all of these things. Usually what happens is that you blow off a bunch of weight for the first week, two, or three. Most of it is not fat, most of it is you depleting your glycogen stores and the water that is bound up along with the glycogen. Your hydration level also fluctuates as your body gets a handle on what's going on. At some point (the point of the apparent "stall") your body recovers a bit, and maybe starts holding on to a bit more water, etc. now that it has figured out what you're doing to it, and numerically the scale seems to level out and not change much.
This is to be expected and is nothing to fret over. In fact, you should adopt the mindset that any time you have an extra good week of loss, the following week is likely to be disappointing because part of the previous week's loss wasn't real. Most likely it was that you were a little more dehydrated than usual, were particularly empty in the bowels, etc. Conversely, if you have a particularly bad week, you may find that the following week is better than usual. Perhaps you were over-hydrated, or more full in the bowels, but next week you're back to normal and show a "big loss".
The examples I gave above should press a point -- not all gains and losses matter or count for anything. Again, you're trying to lose fat, not weight. Having extra empty bowels doesn't count in that picture, nor does it matter if they are full. Focus on the long term goal and staying strict and not letting the scale mess with your head too much.
By now you should be "burning ketones", and as long as your strip is positive, then you're losing fat. Stay 100% strict and now that your body knows what is going on you'll settle into a nice, steady loss.
All of that said, if weeks go by with no losses, and there is nothing to explain it (like massive constipation or water retention requiring medication), then perhaps something does indeed need adjusting. Of course that's what the clinic staff is there for -- to help solve these problems.
[Edited to add: If the above didn't help, please go read my summarized journey which describes my own experience with this topic, back before there was a FAQ or anybody to tell me it was normal.]
Being 100% strict is for losers! You want to be a loser don't you?
If you're new to the diet, be sure to check out Question #16 of the Dieters FAQ. It might help save you some needless worry.
American College of Sports Medicine - Certified Personal Trainer
ACE Certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant