Breaking weight loss plateau?

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.


Damn Barry, thats some heroic level weight loss. And the fact that you’ve sustained it for 9 years speaks loads to your shift in lifestyle.
So damn impressed.


Damn impressive Barry. That takes a huge amount of willpower and dedication. Thanks for being an inspiration!

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Thanks. It’s been worth it.

A few thoughts…firstly, eat a lot more carbs and less protein. Protein is extremely overrated for endurance athletes. You need enough, but after that calories are better off going to carbs.

I don’t think you should be focusing on weight with your current power output. Increase that first, and weight loss is much easier. Even just 300w threshold will mean you’re burning quite a lot of energy and I think you’ll find you can more or less forget about it and will happen over time.

I find that article a bit dubious but is there more peer reviewed available?

Also to the others mentioning metabolic reset: isn’t that just a rest? Sounds like potential bro science to me.

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I think the Whoosh effect is a fact. It is mentioned many times and I have also experienced a stall in weight loss followed by a sudden drop. This is for sure water, but the exact mechanism behind is probably not certain.

Well, Google scholar returns nothing and it is purported by a lot of keto Reddit pages. Not so convincing.

I’ve seen similar effects so I can see where you’re coming from, but on a long enough time scale you’ll see the gradual weight loss as expertly shown at the start of this thread (kudos Barry!).

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What I mean by metabolic reset is to slowly increase carbs so that your body adjusts (without significant weight gain) to the new intake. When I lost, after 4 weeks of reduction, I increased carbs 30g for 3-4 weeks, then another 45g for 3-4 weeks. I only increased 1-2 pounds in weight but performance on the bike went up. Then, I cut back 45g and have lost an additional 5 pounds. I am pretty much at the ride weight I desired.

Now that the OP is close to his A events, he needs the additional carbs for performance. 10 days or so after the last A event, he can cut back again. FWIW.


Interesting stuff though I just do not see the mechanism. Why would when chemically speaking carbs always require a % of water composition to exist then the body gets used to an increased amount? Different storage mechanisms? (I genuinely do not know so I am not trying to be a pain!)

In my case, the metabolic increase must, then, have happened pretty quickly. If I remember my weight initially went up a kg but over 2-4 days settled back down. The water increase might account for the 1-2 pound weight fluctuation. In my case, I just did what my dietician told me to do. :slight_smile:

A lot of the discussion about a metabolic reset comes from Lyle McDonald and his discussion of flexible dieting. There are studies that have looked at how people have lost weight with the question of how to prevent metabolic slowdown that is observed as one loses weight.

The flexible dieting strategy as advocated by Lyle is to diet to a certain point (8-16 weeks) then take about a 1-2 break by eating at around maintenance calories minus 10-20%. Studies (and they are there, I just don’t have time to find the references right now) show that this may counteract the slowdown in metabolism, from losing weight. It is theorized that the slowdown is combated as your hormones are regulated back to normal giving your body a break from the dieting performed. Typically these diets are higher in protein and the move to maintenance increases carb intake which should help to regulate hormones. However, the downside of the strategy is that your time on a diet is effectively lengthened which many don’t like to do. Link to a good discussion of why you may not be losing weight from him is here:

In terms of when to take this diet break, Lyle discusses that here:

Lyle is also one who reported the anecdote of the woosh effect here (note the 2009):

Since then this observation has been taken up and discussed more on internet forums. The one that is typically pointed to when someone has been on a diet, has increased their exercise activity, but has not seen the scale move is this one from reddit:

IMO, 10 days isn’t really a long time to worry about a stall. It should be around 3-5 weeks of being stalled that you should be worried. Focus on making sure you’re tracking your macros correctly and if you are in a deficit, you have to be losing fat (which is a good thing). The scale doesn’t reveal that.


Nutrition science is still at a very early state, and is as much an art as a science. While there is some great work being done, and certain broad principles are becoming better understood, there is still enough individual variation that some trial and error is inevitable. I also know that many usable strategies for weight loss and/or athletic performance get dismissed in casual conversation because they take weeks, months, or even years to show benefits. The search for a silver bullet is misguided, in my experience.
Best to develop good filters, search out reliable sources that represent broad consensus, and then commit to a given strategy for a period of several months. Even then, small tweaks from a well founded strategy are more likely to be efective than wholesale changes in diet.

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100% agree on the early stages of it. I have worked in research, I was a lecturer too, and do have to say the standard and rigorous nature is, well, pretty poor compared to the other sciences, but it will catch up. It does not help that it is exploited by large-scale advertising too.

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My academic background is in experimental psych, with an emphasis on research design and data analysis. It drives me more than a little nuts to see the lack of controls, low n, and ambiguous designs used by researchers and marketers who trumpet the latest silver bullet for weight loss or athletic performance.