The Honeymoon Phase: What to do when it’s over, and the diet stops working!

You’ve made it! You’ve cut the calories, counted the carbs, pounded the protein, and you are FINALLY  seeing the scale move in the direction you want. Until… your progress comes to an abrupt halt. When you find yourself cursing the scale for tipping the wrong way, remember what I’m about to say: even weight loss has a honeymoon phase.

Why the lack of consistency? Why is there a noticeably exponential decline in progress? No matter what diet you do, you’re going to experience the lull. Here’s why:

The Snapshot of Your Journey

Day 1: You step on the scale, you’re less than thrilled about those numbers, but you’re motivated. Almost always your new diet is going to involve a major cut in carb intake. As you slowly learn what a carb is and that it is in everything that you were eating, you replace your candy bar stash with a box of protein bars.

Day 2-3: It’s a miracle! You’ve lost 3, maybe even 12 lbs and you feel great.

Well, I’ve got some good news and bad news for you.

Good News: You look better, you feel better, and you’re off to a great start

Bad News: This weigh-in is a bad representation of the entirety of your weight-loss journey. Unfortunately, losing 3-12 lbs every three days isn’t sustainable. That reality will set in on…

Day 10: You stop losing weight, or (even worse) you gain half a pound. The frustration creeps in as you see your progress slip from your fingers and you say goodbye to motivation. WHY?

The Big, Fat (Watered-down) Disappointment

Insulin

The reality is that you just got rid of 3-12 lbs of water that your body has been storing to process carbs. Here is what happened and why it happened. Introducing… the insulin reaction.

  1. You ate sugar
  2. Your pancreas pumped insulin into your bloodstream to process the sugar
  3. That insulin reaction retrieved the energy in your bloodstream to begin storing it for later
  4. Your body required water to process that glucose
  5. Your body remembers this reaction and starts storing water for the next time you eat sugar

What does this mean? Simple. More sugar = more water. If your body thinks it will need the water to process the sugar, it is going to hold on to it. This reaction is so consistent that you can use a formula to calculate just how many grams of water it will take to process your sugar intake. This is why a glucose meter can be so helpful.

Now that you are cutting back on your carbs, your body is going to notice that and start letting go of all the water it was storing.

Gluten

Another thing to keep in mind is that high-carb foods are typically high-gluten too. Most people are a little bit allergic to gluten; when you have that allergy, eating gluten will cause inflammation and swelling. Once you stop eating the gluten, you’ll start to shrink. It’s not a big deal in most people, but the side-effect is definitely real.

The Honeymoon Phase

You fooled the water retention cycle. This is the honeymoon phase and, obviously, it doesn’t last. The moment that water is gone, you’re going to start burning real fat. That is when weight loss gets hard. Many people get to the edge of the honeymoon phase, realize it is more difficult to keep going, revert back to old habits, and put all that water back on. This is when all of your cheat treats start to matter: your body starts holding on to the water again. If you are cheating after the honeymoon stage, you won’t be burning fat.

The Night I Cheated

Just because you cheat after the honeymoon stage, it does not mean you are throwing your progress out the window. Rather, understand what is happening to avoid the emotional trauma of the scale betraying you.

When I was in the thick of my weight-loss journey I hit the wall. I was down 65 lbs, and I was tired of not eating what I wanted. I ate a McDonald’s ice cream cone and the next morning I stepped on the scale… having gained 5 lbs. It was horrifying! The math just wasn’t adding up. That ice cream cone didn’t even weigh 1 lb; it was less than 200 calories. If a pound of fat is 3500 calories it should’ve taken me eating 18 ice cream cones to gain 5 lbs. So what happened? The ice cream had 40 grams of sugar. I ate the sugar, the insulin started pumping, and my body started retraining water. Three days later, the extra pounds came off and I was back to normal.

Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. Understanding why this was happening became my new goal.

The Good Type of Yo-Yo Effect

During the honeymoon phase you lose weight every day, but once you enter fat burn mode, forget about it. Why? Because water (your best friend) replaces fat burn, and water weighs more than fat. You could be burning, but the scale will go up before dropping down again. That is why it looks like you’re gaining weight. You simply haven’t let go of the water quite yet. It is common to go up and down, just remember the biology behind the yo-yo effect.

You should also keep this in mind when you are determining a weigh-in schedule. If the scale is making you too frustrated, you are going to lose motivation and start throwing in the towel. Women especially will encounter this frustration because their cycle wreaks havoc on the scale. We also did a podcast on this, which you can listen to, here.

The Right Way to Measure Progress

Trust me on this, if you are following your Weightix plan, you CANNOT gain fat. Your scale tips are based on water, not fat. So, how do you make sure you are heading toward your goal without stepping on the scale?

  • Learn to trust the numbers and KNOW that if you aren’t cheating your macros, you’ll lose the weight.
  • If you are doing CarbX-Keto, use keto sticks. They will tell you if you are in ketosis, which means you are burning fat.
  • If you are doing CarbX-Keto, do the breath test. If you are burning fat, you will most likely have bad breath, at least for a time. (not everyone does, though, so don’t be frustrated if this doesn’t apply to you).
  • Watch your energy levels and ask yourself if you feel better or worse.
  • Regularly take measurements of your waist, arms, legs, and neck.
  • Understand that fat-burn and scale-movements don’t happen at the same time. (You might be burning fat, even if the scale isn’t moving)

A Healthy Rate of Weight Loss

The honeymoon period doesn’t last, but typically losing 1.5-2.5 lbs a week is considered a win. If that isn’t motivating enough for you, think about it this way: It probably took you 3+ years to put on 35 lbs. (That means you were gaining a .25 lbs a week). And now you are burning almost 2 lbs a week. Trust me; you are headed in the right direction. Also, remember, the Whoosh Effect is a real thing.  You might see a small loss (or no loss at all) one week, and a HUGE loss the next week! You can read more about how that works, in this blog article.

We did a podcast on this

You should definitely spend an hour and listen to the podcast we did on this, where we went DEEP into this topic. You can listen to it, here.