What is it about the last 10 lbs? Whether you have lost 200 lbs or 20 lbs, it always seems like the last 10 lbs are the hardest to lose. When you first start a new diet or exercise program, the weight seems to fly off effortlessly. At some point though, usually with 5-10 lbs to go, your results hit a plateau.
Are you gaining muscle? Have you maxed out your potential? Are you just meant to be a little thicker than those around you?
Whatever the reason may be, the bottom line is you aren’t completely satisfied with where you’re at. You have reached a point where simply “eating healthy” or “eating paleo” is not enough and you have to take things to the next level if you really want to reach the six-pack you set out for. If you follow these 10 rules, you will get there. Here’s how to lose those stubborn last 10 lbs.
1) Every time you open your mouth, eat meat, vegetables, and healthy fats.
I can’t reiterate this enough. If you only do one thing from this list, make it this. Forget about breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Stop worrying about meals and snacks. No more relying on nuts and trail mix to get you through the day. If you are hungry and want to eat something, you must eat meat, vegetables, and healthy fats. It doesn’t matter if you are eating 6 times a day or just once. Eat when you’re hungry and eat these 3 components every single time. The chart below has a basic list to get you started. Choose at least one item from every category to create all of your meals.
2) Workout less.
No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t work out. I’m not even saying that you should work out less than the average person does. I’m just saying you should work out less than you think you need to in order to lose the last 10 lbs. I’m guessing if you made it this far then you probably already established a workout routine where you are exercising several times a week. That’s plenty. More is not the answer. You don’t need to spend 2 hours a day working out. In most cases, the extra workouts will screw up your hormones and just make you hungrier. I recommend working out 4-6 days a week for no more than 20-30 intense minutes at a time. Intensity is far more important than the length of your workouts. And diet changes are much more important than overdoing your workouts.
3) Sleep more.
I get it people. Sleeping is not sexy. You would rather have me tell you that you need to work out 3 more hours a day instead of sleeping an extra 3 hours. But I can’t. Because sleeping works. Sleeping enables recovery, improves fat loss, and helps to regulate hunger. Some studies even go as far as to say that lack of sleep could actually cut your fat loss rate in half. Sleep loss also triggers a hormone called ghrelin, which increases your appetite. So not only are you awake for more hours in the day, but you are hungrier for all those extra hours. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. And all this could happen after just one or two nights of bad sleep. 8-10 hours of sleep per night is what you really need if you want to maximize your fat loss potential.
4) Limit fruit, sweet potatoes, and other starchy carbohydrates to your post-workout meal only.
I’m not against carbohydrates. They taste amazing and they can be extremely beneficial for active individuals. But carbohydrates have a unique effect on the hormone insulin that protein and fat don’t have. Insulin is a storage hormone which means that carbohydrate-containing foods like fruit, sweet potatoes, yams, plantains, and other starches will have a tendency to cause you to store more than you burn. When you have just finished an intense workout and your body is ready to rebuild and recover, the storage effect of insulin can be extremely beneficial for shuttling nutrients into your muscles. Your body will utilize those extra carbohydrates and refill your glycogen stores. During the rest of the day though, insulin can cause you to store more fat than you want. By limiting carbohydrate containing foods to the post-workout period when your body is most sensitive to insulin, you will be enabling the body to use stored body fat as its fuel source for the rest of the day.
5) Cut out all liquid calories.
It goes without saying that if you need to lose 10 lbs that you shouldn’t be drinking Coca Cola or Capri Suns. Hopefully you already know that. But even healthier liquid options like fruit juices, smoothies, and coconut water need to be removed if you really want to break through your weight loss plateau. The only liquids you should be drinking are water, black coffee, and herbal teas. We love making bulletproof coffee with butter or even coconut butter, but even these should be off-limits for a couple weeks if you are struggling to lose those last couple lbs. And coconut water is just like other carbohydrates in that it is going to create an insulin response that you don’t need if you are really trying to lose the extra weight. Limit coconut water to your post-workout recovery period only. And of course, don’t drink any alcohol.
6) Eliminate whey protein and other supplements.
Whey protein certainly has its place in a healthy diet. It can be a powerful muscle builder and even provide you with an immune boost. But in the context of losing those last 10 lbs, we could certainly do without the stuff. We just discussed in our last point how liquid calories should be off limits, and whey protein shakes should be included in that. What most people don’t realize though, is that whey protein, even though it doesn’t contain carbohydrates, actually creates an insulin response similar to other carbohydrates. Again, this insulin response could help rebuild muscles after a workout, but is going to hinder fat loss at other times of the day. The same can be said for other supplements that have been loaded up with sugar and other sweeteners to make them bearable to consume. If you want to get some of the muscle-building properties of whey protein without the insulin spike, then I recommend supplementing with BCAA’s instead. Otherwise, limit yourself to basic vitamins and minerals and a heavy dose of real food.
7) Experiment with intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a specific period of time that you choose to go without eating, usually lasting between 12-24 hours at a time. Most people think of fasting as a negative thing. It’s a desperate way to lose weight, and it’s sure to slow your metabolism down over time. But intermittent fasting could be one of the healthiest things you can do for your body and can actually increase your ability to burn fat. Let me first be clear that intermittent fasting is not starving yourself. In most cases, you are eating just as much food as you normally do, just condensed to a shorter period of the day. The benefits of intermittent fasting come not from consuming less food, but by giving the body specific periods of time without food. Fasting periods of 12+ hours will turn on repair mechanisms like autophagy, boost growth hormone production, and increase fat loss. I recommend experimenting with intermittent fasting by eating in the middle of the day only. By having your first meal at 10 am and your last meal at 8 pm or a similar 10 hour time frame, you will allow your body to go 14 hours straight without food. This 14 hour fasting period (including time spent sleeping), will turn on important fat burning mechanisms that will help you shed those last 10 lbs.
8) Watch out for trap foods.
As I have said before on this blog, I hate counting calories. And it is my hope that you can lose those last 10 lbs without counting a single calorie. If you are hungry, you should eat. It’s that simple. As you focus your diet exclusively on real foods, your body will begin to regulate hormones and feelings like hunger and satiety will make a lot more sense to you. Essentially, your body will stop lying to you. But there are certain foods that are both paleo and healthy for us, that we can easily overeat without even noticing. These are called trap foods. Trap foods vary from person to person but the usual culprits are fruit, nuts, nut butters like almond butter, coconut and coconut milk. The common mistake for people is to use trap foods as their “snacks”. An apple with almond butter, a few handfuls of trail mix, or a coconut milk smoothie. Over time these “snacks” end up encompassing the bulk of many of your meals. If you really want to lose those last 10 lbs, you have to be very strict with how you incorporate trap foods. In some cases, you may need to eliminate them completely. Remember to build all your meals around meat, vegetables, and healthy fats, and incorporate trap foods as a small component of a bigger meal, not the meal itself.
9) Get outside and walk everyday.
I’ve already wrote an entire post on the superhuman benefits of walking. For the purposes of losing those last 10 lbs, walking is especially good for regulating blood sugar and insulin levels, which will help burn body fat. Also, because of its slow, constant nature, walking and other low-level activities will use fat as their primary fuel source, instead of the glucose that is used more often in high-intensity exercise. Personally, I have even noticed that while intense exercise will make me hungrier, walking doesn’t have the same effect. It seems to be an easy way to burn body fat without the equivalent increase in hunger to offset it. Walking also has the added benefit of getting you outside and getting Vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to boost your mood, help with the absorption of other minerals like calcium and magnesium, and other important functions that may indirectly affect your ability to burn fat.
10) Focus on performance goals.
The last component we need to watch out for is stress. Stress can weaken our immune system, alter our gut bacteria, and cause us to hold on to our precious body fat. It can certainly be the defining factor that prevents you from losing those last 10 lbs. But instead of telling you to stress less, (which will only make you stress more) I would much rather you focus on a few performance goals that have been in your sights. Instead of staring at a mirror or hopping on a scale every time you use the bathroom, what if you made a rule that you couldn’t do either until you got your first muscle up, or your first pull up, or until you could walk 20 ft on your hands. Performance goals can change your focus and take some of the pressure away from your desperate attempt to finally have a six pack. Have some confidence that the changes you have made to your diet and lifestyle are going to work and focus on ways to enjoy the process. If you really want this time to be different, then you have to focus on something different.
Commit to these 10 rules for 2-3 weeks and I guarantee that you will look and feel better than you ever have in your life. You don’t need any special supplements or nutritional programs to get the body you have always wanted, you just need to do the basics better than you ever have. It won’t be long before those last 10 lbs will be just like any other milestone that you have blown right by.