T Nation

Anybody wanna take a stab at this?

I originally sent a PM to Tampa Terry but I’d like other opinions too.

Long story short:

  1. Was once obese (340)
  2. Am now 240
  3. Got there with weight training, cardio, diet, etc.
  4. Have been stuck at 240 for a total of roughly 3 months

My diet on the way down was straight forward – I ate 6 times a day, 3 meals of carb/protein and 3 meals of protein/fat (this was before the JMB food combining era, I just did this for convinience). The calories were low due to me having no real knowledge as far as nutrition goes. I got roughly 1900 calories per day. I also used ephedra (on and off in 2 week intervals)

Everything went smooth for awhile. I altered between various training methods, and kept my volume in lifting relatively low, and the weight heavy. The cardio I did evolved from walking, to jogging, to running, to HIIT – based on my ability to do those.

I hit pleateu’s, but got over them in 1-2 weeks usually… so obviously here’s my problem… I’ve been stuck for a good 3 months at 240.

I experimented a bit… I upped my calories to 2500 and gained nothing. I upped them to 2600 and gained nothing. I dropped them to 1700 and lost nothing (besides my sanity). I dropped them to 1650 and lost nothing. All of my weight testing was done on a medical scale.

My macronutrient breakdown is 45/30/25 protein/carbs/fat respectively. At the moment I eat 2400 calories. I combine food based on JB’s suggestions. My food choices for protein are tuna, chicken, salmon, some steak. My food choices for carbs are oatmeal, brocolli, cauliflower and surge post w/o. My fats are 6g fishoil, some natural pb, and some flax.

So really my question si what exactly do I do to get weight dropping again? I have tried everything that I PERSONALLY can think of, thus me asking for help. I weight train 4 days a week, do HIIT 3x a week and 1 session of moderate cardio 1 time a week. (note I have tried upping cardio to 6x a week of low intensity on an empty stomach. it did not help, it’s also very boring compared to HIIT)

I’m fine with pleateu’s as long as I know I’m not doing something wrong… but a 3 month complete stall kind of tells me I’m doing something wrong.

Also, I do not know my bf% exactly, just that it’s still up there. I know that refeeds are relatively useless for anybody over 15%, and I know I’m still over 15%


Get your bdyft% tested in order to figure out exactly how much lean mass you have and how many cal a day you need to maintain your current weight. Then eat 500 cal less than that a day. Your food choices sound good (quality carbs+proteins). Also try the german body comp. program with Hot-rox, should offer a change of pace and help bust your platue.

What type of weight training? How many sets and reps. I think you may be overtraining, atleast cardio wise. Post a typical work-out for us.

I was thinking it may be an overtraining issue too, but not sure.

I train westside – with a bit of reduced volume. My strength itself has gone up (currently 435 dl, 405 sq, 290 bp) but I have stalled considerably in that area too for a long time.

As far as the german body comp goes – respectfully no. I really enjoy training for function/strength. I have thought about the idea of a cycle of higher reps, since I’ve been low reps high weight from the start. It’s something to consisder.

I will get my bf% tested on monday.


Ok, I am going to make a suggestion based on experience, and only on experience. Repeated experience mind you.

You’ve been dieting too long. You need to take a good two weeks completely off your diet and just eat more food. You can still make wise choices, but you should NOT be dieting here. Increase calories, increase carbs, everything.

Cut out your cardio, cut out all training and just enjoy yourself for a couple weeks.

There comes a point where your body just says no, period. You need to respect that. You’ve done exceptionally well already. I realize you still have goals to reach, but they’re arent going to be met this week.

You’ve been plateaued for 3 months. You have to take this time off.

I suggested this to another person here who had reached a plateau. Two weeks off the diet and eating basically whatever was desired resulted in a 3 pound loss, with literally zero effort and no training.

Trust me on this one.

training prog etc

What’s your macro-nutrient profile look like? Micro-nutrient profile…got any deficiencies? Glucose tolerance? Are you a diabetic? Just tossing out ideas. :wink:

Hi, there, John. I hope along with being frustrated (because you want break your plateau) that you give yourself a pat on the back from time to time for what you’ve accomplished thus far. You’ve done an absolutely FABULOUS job!!!

Okay. Let’s see if we can get you the rest of the way to where you want to go.

First off, wideguy is absolutely dead on. You’re at a point where numbers and details matter. Find a PT who’s had some experience doing BF testing and who you know will be around to take your BF% in the future. You’re at a point where it would be helpful to get your BF tested each month. As you make subtle changes to your program, you need to be able to determine if you’re making progress.

Let’s define progress. Once you have your BF%, you’ll know how much LBM you have and how much FM you have. If LBM is going up and FM/BF% is going down, it doesn’t matter what the scale is doing. It’s possible to stay roughly the same as far as scale weight is concerned, but gain LBM and lose FM.

When I get your BF% and LBM, I’ll run the numbers on protein and fat requirements. Those numbers are based on LBM. Carbs you have to play around with a bit.

You touched on cardio and different things you’ve tried. If you’ve read any of my posts, you’ll know that I’m a fan of longer-duration, fasted state cardio. But let’s talk about why. Sure it’s boring (45 minutes of sweating is NOT my favorite thing in the world). The reason for doing it is because when you wake after 8 or so hours of sleep, liver glycogen is depleted. The glycogen stored in the iver is responsible for maintaining blood sugar levels. Doing the longer-duration, fasted state cardio (LD, FS) further depletes liver glycogen, which puts you into a serious fat burning mode.

From there I’d make sure my first three meals are P+F meals. No insulin spikes. You’re still in fat burning mode. Carbs (your P+C meals) are taken in PWO when the body is most insulin sensitive.

So that’s the “Why” I’m a fan of LD, FS cardio. LD for me means 45 minutes (you can go up to an hour). Moderate intensity means 65-75% of MHR. I use a heart rate monitor. It doesn’t matter what type of cardio equipment you choose. Pick your favorite, change 'em up. I’ve even done walk-run around my neighborhood in a pinch. Since my goals (and challenges) are similar to yours, I do 7 days a week of LD, FS cardio; 45 minuts @ 70% of MHR.

You said you got no results. Honestly, cardio is only one part of the equation. If we don’t get your diet right, you’ll see no benefit for all your sweating. But if we optimize your diet, the cardio will be HIGHLY complementary to your goals.

BTW, be sure to take 10-20g of BCAAs before and during your cardio session to preserve LBM.

Anyway, John, get me your BF%, and I’ll run the numbers for you. You’re at a point that if you keep doing what you’re doing, things aren’t going to change. It’s time to shake things up a bit, try something different.

I did want to say that your food choices are excellent. I’m impressed.

Take care!!!

Have you had any labs done? I’d be curious about thyroid. How tall are you?

Weird as this sounds, I say take a two week break. One week at the minimum. Eat whatever you want, then go back to training like you are. This will alleviate any overtraining.

Either that, or totally remix what you’re doing. Reverse the sets/reps (i.e. 3 sets of 10 becomes 10 sets of 3) up the weight, change the exercises, change your split, change your diet, change your supplements. Go to LSD cardio. (Long slow distance). In other words, change every parameter.

Also: your plateau is as much mental as it is physical. Sounds weird, but is true. That’s the main reason that I suggest switching everything around so much. That being said, only you can discover what’s causing it.

Anyway, a few thoughts off the top,


Everybody has got some good suggestions here. I’d take them all. Get your BF% tested while taking a week or a little more off. If you need to feel like you are in the game do some active recovery-go hiking, play your favorite sport, swim before fall sets in and do a lot of research. I like to take a few days off now and again in between changeing up my routine just to give me time to plan and think about what is to come. Another crazy thing that happends, as Thunder pointed out, is that I will generally fudge my diet on those breaks and still loose weight. When you get back into it go with Terry’s suggestions. I know you want to do strength oriented work but the size of the muscle makes a differance in both total calories burned and strength if you put on functional mass. So a mass high rep plan might help you in the long run. My own two cents are to do some sort of routine like the Power-Circuit by Christian Thibadeau or Meltdown II by Don Alessi. These are strength oriented programs that can virtually replace cardio for a short period of time. I’m not saying you should replace cardio but after you do what Terry suggests you will still need to change it up and give cardio a break. Maybe now is a good time, before the cardio? Only you will know. Terry also suggested to me to try the Zig Zag Diet. I had already been following the basics of it when she posted the suggestion but I do know it definately works especially when you hit a plateau. Lastly micro-cycles might work really well for you as your body may not be able to adapt in short intervals. Look up Machines Hot-Rox tranformation to get an idea of what micro cycles are like. Also, they are much more fun since you are changeing it up a lot. BTW you have already made some very serious progress! Don’t sell yourself short! A three month plateau is not really that long though it is very smart of you to notice it and change it as soon as possible. Once you have been doing this a few years you will begin to feel the adaptation coming on and change it before you even hit a wall. Goodluck!

one week wont cover any overtraining, it may, but not always. overtraining preformance deteriation can last up to 3 month + after reduction is volume and intensity.


Just a few suggestions from a former fatty here. As everyone has suggested get your bf tested it will be a great help.

Second I was in the same situation as u for about a year. I had dropped roughly 100 lbs and just got stuck there.

Personally for me several items combined to start the process again. I started, as TT stated in her post, long periods of fs cardio. It was kinda boring but it worked. Just go on a 45 min walk.

Another factor that helped me was my diet. I had beeen on a low carb diet for my whole losing process, and I was very strict. I then decided to throw in a change that proved to be very helpfull to me. I would every now and then just change my diet for a week. Still with good food choices but I would change from a low carb to a higher carb diet for a week and then go back. It seems that your body adjust to this constant diet and the occasional shock will keep it going in the direction u desire. It was responsible for quite a bit of my final progress. So I would suggest changing to a high carb diet for a week, while keeping roughly the same calorie intake and sensible food choices.

The last thing I have been using over just the past few months is the occasional refeed,and take a week off of training as others have stated . I was personally in an overtrained state and the week of rest for my body led to major gains that I thought werent possible. I come back from these periodic rest and get some of the biggest gains in the first few weeks following them and the occasional refeed. For now I would suggest during these refeeds except the occasional 1 meal here and ther I would keep the same diet and just raise the cals for a couple days. Just to give your metabolism a kick in the rear.

I hope some of this might help. It is all about experimenting and finding what works for you. Above all though good job on the progress and keep it up.


I tend to agree with Thunder. You’ve been dieting too long and your body is tired of it. So take some time off.

I’ll also touch on another point. I don’t think that refeeds are necessarily bad for people who have 15% or more BF. It depends on the person. I think that in your case, given that you used to be REALLY fat and are now considerably slimmer, it might work pretty well, regardless of what your current number is. If someone were used to being extremely thin and was bulked up to 15%, then probably not. But that’s not your situation.

I agree with thunder and dan, take some time off.

With that long of a plateau your body is telling you something, listen to it.

I’m curious about the role stress has on, as Thunder put it the body saying no more, and also being out of fat burning mode. Another point in favour of giving the battle scarred old bod a rest. This may also increase the effectiveness of TT’s fasted state training.

I’m going to kick in here. I’m 270ish, down from 308, and have been at this weight for 4 months, training 4x/week, eating strong on low carb, and even running a 2 month stint of ephedra. SAME situation my friend. This is what i’ve discovered:

  1. Ephedra does seem to have its limits and tolerance levels. No one really mentions this, but I have experienced it. There is something odd when I can do all of that mentioned above, pop 3x3 hydroxycut a day for a month, take the week of now and then, and lose ZERO fat. So I think your body becomes tolerant or accoustomed to ephedra. My theory, which sucks, exists in the fact that I think using ephedra as much as I did actually lowered my body’s natural metabolism and ability to burn fat as effectively as it once did. I could be WAY off, but i’m only reporting what it feels like. It pretty much sucks! I am completely off ephedra now, and i’m not gaining anything back, etc. It’s all really weird. Again, there is no science behind that. Only my experience.

  2. Get your thyroid checked. I’ll be doing that in about a month (new job, waiting for health ins to kick in again.) I tried a new supplement that counters thyroid issues Thyro-metabolean or some crap like that… My energy immediately went up, fat started burning pretty hard, my mood became awesome, and I felt “fulfilled” in some way. It was really weird.

  3. Get your T levels checked. That’s on the agenda as well for me. A lot of guys reccomend that.
    SO I’d check into that stuff.

Good Luck.

I saw your post and thought I might offer some thoughts based on both science and anecdotal observations over a long period of time.

First, let me state that I agree with Tampa on much of everything. In addition, I would also suggest you have your thyroid checked as mentioned.

However, I do not think you should take two weeks off or “take a break” unless you yourself feel you need this. From a science standpoint, doing such will have no effect whatsoever on your adipose tissue metabolism.

You mentioned refeeds aren’t an option at this point becuase of your current bf%. I think you are correct. My suggestions are to follow, and many might take exception, but you asked, so I will offer:

Go keto: see relevant threads for info on this; get rid of the surge and post-wo carbs right now. As you mentioned, since your bf% is still somewhat up there, you should not be worried about LBM loss at this time.

Keep cardio as you have it

Perhaps decrease time in the gym. Continue to lift three x per week. You are not going to add LBM and decrease adipose tissue simultaneously. There is some chance this is possible, but given your current situation, focus on fat loss, not muscle gain. With some HIIT and a program such as HST at 3 x per week, you should start to see your plataeu again be broke.

Eat 3x per day and do cardio on an empty stomach (as per Tampa). The 3x meal patterning is for a reason. It gives you more time in a fasted state with concomittant decreases in LPL activity at the adipocyte level and in inrease in HSL activity. Given your current bf% (based on your description) such meal patterning is not going to result in any clinical signifcant decrease in metabolism etc. I have references to back this up.

You mentioned you utilized an ECA stack. Continue as per your titrated basis. Also through in Yohimbe and make sure to utilize ALA (preferably the racemic compound).


I would also like to respectfully disagree with something TT said. Again, I base this on my experience working with competitors. Seven days a week cardio is too much. You can reach a point where you’re just doing too much cardio, and rather than it helping your progress, it hinders your progress.

It is something that definitely works for a period of time. However, there will come a point, where not only will it stop working, but it will be counter productive and you’re going to need to correct what you’ve done.

I have with my people, and I’m sure many here would agree, that going from that much cardio to a more reasonable amount actually increases fat loss.

My 3 cents.

Vain, sorry bro, you know your science, I’ll give you that.

But you’re flat out wrong here. Science and theory is all fine and dandy, but sometimes you (not you specifically) need to get out of the lab, and on the field.

Anecedotally, time off is a very effective method. I have done this repeatedly for years now with people, and without fail it got the ball rolling again.