Breaking weight loss plateau?

At the risk of being told I’m jumping the gun on a plateau here, I want to see what other folk think about my current nutrition/weight loss. Based on past experience, this pause on weight loss seems a-typical. A bit of inquiry on the google suggests plateau’s don’t break unless you shift your current plan. So, here we are.

30 years old
~148lbs muscle mass when last measured (putting me around 17% BF)
Estimated total daily energy expenditure of ~3000 cal based on the MacroFactor weight tracking app alogrythm.

Raise FTP from 218 to 300ish (or as high as I can get it), and drop weight to 160-165lbs (sorta arbitrary number, but this puts me around 8-12% BF which I’m hoping is high enough to feel energized while maximizing my W/KG? Definitely going to test this weight when I get there, may well end up at 170lbs for sake of feeling strong and fueled on bike)
For further reference, if it’s valuable info, my priority is ultra-distance riding. 200+miles in one effort.
I can visually see that my body is in the process of recomposition based on looking in the mirror, so maybe that’s all this is? Seems slightly odd as I’m not on a bulking diet right now, my deficit should be a major cut AFAIK.

I’ve been 178lbs for 10 days. In the past I’ve been able to drop sub 178 without too much effort, but that was on 1800 calories/day. I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to drop that low on calories right now based on training schedule.

I was 195lbs mid June 2022. This was after a 5 month slump/depression where I was virtually completely inactive. In Feburary 2022 I had finally dropped to from 185lbs to 173lbs following a 30 day weight loss challenge, but lost traction on my goals with the death of a family member. I know dropping to 173 lbs is very possible for me, but my current weight loss rate doesn’t match what I did in February despite a large increase in activity and only a minor increase in calories. I’m no longer looking to do a “challenge” but instead focused on sustainable change in approach to food. Thus-far, it feels very good. Plenty of energy and focus, no desire to “cheat”.

I’m lifting in gym 2x a week, combined with 2x days of interval training on bike, and 2-3 days of z2/3 endurance rides. I’m scheduling rest days post interval/gym days (2 days of rest/week). As for the z2/3 rides, some are 90 minutes, and some are 3-5 hours. Highly variable at this point, but the goal is to create consistency around long endurance rides.

I shoot for 1900kcal on rest days, and 2100kcal on interval/gym days, and drinking 1 Gal of water per day. I know part of my daily caloric intake should vary upon recovering calories lost on bike, but to be completely honest I’m not the best at recapturing all carbs lost on bike, so I’m probably underfeeding my workouts. I recognize this will ultimately hamper my ability to get faster/stronger. Working on increasing my on-bike feeding, I honestly just often forget to eat.
If my daily expenditure is truly ~3000kcal a day, then operating on a 900 to 1,100 cal deficit is already too low from my understanding.
I’m eating somewhere around .8g to 1g of protein per lb of body weight, and I don’t drink alcohol. My diet comes from my own kitchen around 85% of the time, with a major emphasis on made-from-scratch foods. Very little packaged foods if I can help it.
I’m adding 5g of creatine to my whey protein shakes every day, and I’ve been working on increasing my fiber with understanding that it helps increase nutrient absorption (This is new to me and not fully researched, would love to hear further information about fiber intake).
I track everything I eat, but I don’t measure everything. Some things I estimate, though I will recalibrate my estimations on certain things every once in a while to make sure I’m on target. I could be over or under estimating my calories by ~200kcal a day based on the estimation?

That’s all the information I can currently think to give. Wondering if anyone has any thoughts?

Thanks in advance!

10 days isn’t really that long to be considered a plateau in my opinion. If you continue not seeing progress I’d say you’re either over estimating what your burning or under estimating what you’re eating.


I think you need to add more calories for 2-3 weeks for a metabolic reset, then reevaluate. 20 pounds in 2 months is great but a lot. It’s also extremely hard to lose weight that rapidly and increase your ftp at the same time. You would do better seeking to maintain a consistent w/kg.

I lost 15 pounds in 3 months and took a temporary hit to my ftp. It took 2-3 weeks after my weight stabilized to get back to my w/kg prior to losing the weight.

What are your macros? How are you fueling your workouts?

1 Like

Agreed on simultaneous weight loss and ftp increase. My two main events are coming up in the next couple months and provided I don’t lose energy through the process, the quickest way for me to optimize w/kg is to lose the excess BF. I figure once I find optimal weight I’ll work on implementing maintenance calories to then improve FTP. I don’t expect to see any substantial gains in FTP until this winter.

To be honest I’ve not heard or learned anything about a metabolic reset. 10 of those 20lbs got me back down to my body’s natural resting weight (185) so I count those as easy pounds. Anything below 185 is a struggle for me to lose comparatively, so really it’s taken the majority of the two months to lose the 7 lbs. I also saw an increase in FTP because I’m recovering lost watts. I was 231FTP in Feburary, and when I retested post depression I was at 200FTP. Much easier to recoup lost gains than to create new ones.

Macros on a training day:
~180 Protein
~57 Fat
~200 Carb

I don’t hit exact targets every day so I’m giving rough estimates, please forgive if that doesn’t add up to 2100. I fluxuate under/over by 200 on a daily basis from what I’m tracking alone. Also acknowledging a error in measurement.

I’m fueling indoor workouts with baked sweet potatoes and maple syrup. Outdoor workouts with drink mix.
Somewhere around 20-50g carbs per hour at the moment. I know it could be higher but it’s not something I’m very good at being consistent with yet.

1 Like

I’ve hit a point with my programming that I’m really happy with. I went over it pretty extensively with forum members on this thread: Combining gym and bike training without overtraining - #32 by Henry

Sacrificing the gym days isn’t something I’m willing to do, even if it means taking longer to lose weight.

Raise your calories to maintenance for 5-10 days.

Edit: I read your post, not just the title. Your calories are too low, IMO. Shoot for -400 a day max, maybe -600 here and there. Ignore the scale and use a tape around your waist at the bellybutton and the mirror.

If you just want to loose 10lbs then your strategy will work but if you want to feel great everyday, raise your threshold and get as lean as you say, then you need to take a more moderate approach.

You may find the most successful way to get there is drop 2-3lbs then eat maintenance for a few months to lock that new body fat in, then repeat. The slow road is the fast one when it comes to getting really lean.


Intuition says you’re probably right on target.

I’ll aim to maintain and recomp for a while rather than shed lbs.

Thanks :pray:

1 Like

I think you’re doing fine. Give it some time. If you’re not hungry and not feeling deflated keep going. I’d drop the creatine though, and not sure how necessary the protein shakes are. I ride 250 miles a week, 3 intervals, 2 long rides, 10-15k climbing and need neither. I hover around 158lbs, am 6’ tall and I doubt my BF is sub 10. Probably around 12-13.

1 Like

There is a difference between loosing fat and loosing weight. If you keep eating at a healthy deficit, eat enough protein and lift weights, you are surely loosing fat. It is just that this might not always show up on the scale.

One thing that could be going on here is the famous Woosh effect, this is where your body holds on to water for a while, making it seem like your fat loss journey has stalled. But if you just keep eating at a deficit there will soon come a day when you let go of all that liquid and see a sudden large weight drop.


+1 to targeting a more modest calorie deficit. I think the gym work is good as well, helps to maintain muscle mass and keep metabolic rate high, not to mention general health benefits of lifting. Good work on cooking a lot of your own food, certainly helps, if you’re looking to fuel workouts naturally and increase fibre intake then I find things like dried fruit and trail mix to be a pretty good solution as an alternative to sweet potato (assume you’re training indoors, can’t imagine sweet potato and maple syrup works very well in a jersey pocket!).

Key to all this is sustainable, especially as you’ve seen some pretty big weight shifts up and down in the recent past. Would also add that given you have had issues with depression, then there is correlation between losing weight too quickly and mood swings, which is another reason to be more conservative with it.

If you have events coming up in a couple of months I think you could do a lot worse than aiming for a fairly balanced intake/expenditure up until your races, prioritise training and fuelling your key workouts. Just training for long distance events is going to send signals to your body to get lean, so you may well lose a few pounds anyway, and/or improve body composition. Then after your races you can target weight loss with a bigger FTP and higher metabolic rate which should make it easier.

1 Like

I sorta wondered if water retention was playing into this. I had a two day window that I missed creatine, but that seems too short a time span to see any substantial loss in water weight. Not to suggest creatine is the only cause of water retention, just an observation that could* correlate.

Sometimes all you need is a couple folk to say “it’s ok to slow down” haha.
Dried fruit is a win, and easy to grab from the bulk section, I had somehow forgotten that one! I hesitate with too many nuts due to higher fat content but depending on length of ride they are an excellent source of calories for sure.

Is this a chicken or the egg thing? My weight kicked back up post onset of depression in Feburary. And while admittedly I’m in another phase of depression right now (though less impactful thank you vitamin D), I’m using my hyper focus on diet and exercise as a tool to manage my depression. Does rapid weight loss/gain have a link of creating additional stress/impact on effect of depression?

Agreed, and if I force the issue of weight loss by going into massive deficit, then I’ll just end up losing muscle which won’t help at all :slight_smile:
If my body is stalling for whatever reason I’m just going to trust it, the math doesn’t check out for me to lower calories any more. If anything I should probably increase caloric intake to match expenditure on bike.

For clarification, presuming one is targeting a 500kcal deficit per day, do they replace all calories lost on bike via carbs up to the point of matching intended deficit?
EG: Cyclist has BMR of 2300, normal cutting diet would be 1800cal/day, but with addition of 60 min indoor workout burning 400 cal, they would eat 2,200cal that day with 400 of those additional calories being comprised mainly of carbs.
Please correct me if I’m wrong in my understanding!

Yes, the woosh effect is typical when on a diet. Your body temporarily holding on to water is why there is a stall in weight loss, but I guess there can be many reasons for why water is temporarily being retained:

1 Like

Correct on the calorie maths, yes. Add the calories from your workout (preferably determined by a power meter) to your BMR and then work out calorie deficit from that. If doing longer rides of 3+ hours then it gets a little skewed as you’re kind of double counting a bit. Does Macrofactor allow for importing of workouts or syncing with anything like Garmin or Strava so it can just update automatically with workout calorie expenditure? Timing of eating also quite important, particularly for the key workouts where you want to be fuelled going into them and then taking on nutrition after to aid recovery.

On depression and weight loss it is a bit chicken and egg. Particularly if you are using your weight loss or calorie counting as a tool to manage the depression in which case the danger of course is that if your weight loss stalls that can trigger negative feelings. And big calorie deficits can lead to low energy and mood swings. Complex area, I’m definitely not an expert, but given your history just something to be aware of.

Others are saying to maintain also, especially with two A events coming within 8 weeks. FWIW, if it were me, I would reduce protein down to 150g and increase carbs 35g. On the bike, move upwards to 60g Carbs depending on workout intensity and duration. On your events, aim for 80-90g of Carbs. :slight_smile: BTW, I don’t count the bike nutrition as part of the macros.

1 Like

Creatine will definitely make you hold on to water. That is just a fact.

Additionally, I find that I hold onto more water in the warmer months. I do longer rides in hotter temps, and this seems to trigger something in my body to hold water.

As long as you are making improvements in other areas and not gaining fat, keep doing what you are doing and reassess in a few months.

I lost 160 lbs. Weight loss isn’t linear, and 10 days isn’t a plateau. You could spend weeks or months in a 5lb range and still hit long term goals.
Stick to a reasonable, sustainable plan, and you’ll hit your goals. Stress over every time you slip a little or stall for a few days, and you’ll be fighting your own progress.


Wow, 160lbs @Barry_Bean ! That’s amazing. Tell us your story; how long did it take, did you use cycling to help lose the weight? Congrats on that weight loss - that’s a massive effort.


I agree, don’t stop the Gym if you are trying to decrease body fat. you need both the strength and muscle.

I could write a book about all the things I did along the way, but in the simplest terms, I stuck to a few principles:

  1. Whatever I did had to be sustainable in the long term. I was making lifestyle changes, not changing my diet for the short term.
  2. I did some sort of exercise every day.
  3. I made gradual changes to my diet and activity level so as not to burn out.

So initially, as a couch dwelling guy with blood sugar and blood pressure issues and a drinking habit, I made very modest changes. I reduced the amount of soda and beer I was drinking, made it a point to do at least 20 minutes of exercise a day (walked a treadmill while I watched the news), and started logging my meals.
Over time, as these goals got to be easier, I increased the amount and intensity of exercise, started to set specific macro goals for my diet, and eventually quit drinking soda completely (the only thing I completely gave up). I identified bad habits (like opening a beer and having a snack as soon as I walked in the door after work), and reinforced good habits (like daily exercise, no matter what).
After a few months of this, I found that success bred success, and I was losing a steady 1-2 lbs/week on average, barring the occasional plateau. Through logging, I was able to make better choices about what I ate and drank, and my tastes began to shift from beer and pizza to salads and tea.
As I lost more weight and stepped up my exercise, I eventually added a bike to the mix, and within a few months went from primarily walking and doing yoga to primarily riding the bike.
By the time my weight got down to 200, a friend turned me on to crit racing, and I got the racing bug. I continued to add volume and intensity to my cycling, got better at controlling macros in my diet, and in another few months hit my goal weight of 175.
Because success breeds success, I dropped another 10 lbs, but began to add in a few more calories and settled in to the weight I’ve been at since 2013 (175 +/- 5 lbs)
FWIW, this process also brought my blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc all out of the borderline ranges and into the excellent range, and reduced a lot of problems I didn’t realize were weight related (sinus, back, sleep, etc).
It was simultaneously the hardest and the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it was completely worth the effort.