Have you ever been in a situation where the pounds are dropping off week after week, then all of a sudden weight loss stops?
Your efforts for weight loss seem to no longer be making an impact. This plateau is a fairly common phenomenon during weight loss.
It can be frustrating for sure, but continuing to follow steps for weight loss can help you break through to your goal.
As weight loss happens, metabolism, food intake and exercise should be adjusted.
As weight comes off, your body needs less energy and will burn less energy. Therefore, continuing to adjust these can help you break through a plateau or avoid it.
These tips can help you avoid an unnecessary weight loss plateau, but keep in mind even if you reach a plateau in your journey it can be normal.
Breaking through a plateau takes the same discipline and effort as your initial weight loss.
#1 – Avoid mindless bites throughout the day
One reason a weight loss plateau can happen is because you gradually start to eat more calories throughout the day without realizing it.
You may be diligent to not eat an extra snack or meal through the day, so how could you be getting extra calories? Mindless bites.
Mindless bites could be a few pieces of candy at the office snack bowl, extra bites of food when cleaning your kids’ plates at meals or an extra handful of chips you reach for without realizing it.
They are small amounts of food we can eat through the day without realizing it.
Taking them together, they could add up to a sneaky way of you getting more calories than you need.
Being aware of mindless bites may help you avoid a plateau with weight loss.
Keeping a food journal can help keep you honest and spot any areas of mindless bites.
You may have done a food journal at some point in your weight loss journey.
Doing it again for a few days may help you see where extra calories are sneaking in.
#2 – Keep adjusting your food intake and exercise with weight loss
As body size gets smaller, metabolic rate drops. Your body won’t require as much energy to run as weight comes off.
That means as weight loss occurs, your baseline of calories you eat should continue to adjust.
If you reach a plateau, it could be that you need to adjust your food intake and/or exercise.
If you are already at a low calorie intake, use caution with continuing to cut your food intake.
It is generally recommended to not go lower than 1,200 calories per day unless supervised by a medical team.
Adjusting may not always mean you need to cut down your calorie intake.
It could mean focusing on getting MORE fruits and vegetables, fiber, or lean proteins with your daily food intake.
If you’re in a weight loss plateau and not sure what you should adjust, speak with a registered dietitian for more guidance.
#3- Add variety to your workouts
If you’ve been exercising a certain amount and weight loss has stagnated, change up your exercise.
Keeping a variety in your exercise routine could help prevent a weight loss plateau.
Maybe you can increase your exercise length, change up the intensity or add in more aerobic or anaerobic exercise.
Exercise in any form has health benefits, so don’t get stuck in a rut with your routine.
Changing up the intensity, like adding high intensity interval training, can help give you a calorie burn boost hours after exercise.
Exercising at a moderate intensity teaches the body to utilize fat as a fuel source. Both intensities can be beneficial for weight loss.
If you don’t do any strength training as part of your weight loss plan, add it in 2-3 days a week.
You don’t need to be a member at a gym to do strength training; you can do simple strength exercises at home too.
#4 – Know your triggers and personality
According to Dr. Przybeck on WebMD (1), knowing your personality and attitude towards food could help prevent a weight loss plateau.
Tailor your weight loss plan that is best for your personality.
For example, if you tend to be impulsive, don’t leave tempting foods in your house. If you are a mindless eater, avoid multi-tasking when eating.
#5 – Fill up on fiber
The word diet is often associated with feeling hungry all the time. If you don’t feel satisfied after eating, you may be more likely to fill up on other high calorie foods.
This pattern could derail weight loss efforts and may lead to a weight loss plateau.
Weight loss doesn’t have to be linked with feeling hungry all the time.
Filling up on fibrous foods can help increase satiety long after eating.
Examples of high fiber foods include: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Better yet, pairing natural sources of fiber with lean proteins can further offer satisfaction after eating which can help resist tempting higher calorie foods.
#6- Stay consistent
It can be helpful for some people to have a cheat day built into a weight loss plan.
However, when the cheat day turns into days, weight loss plateau can happen.
Staying consistent with your healthy habits for food intake, stress and exercise can all point you to reaching your weight loss goal.
Even if you do reach a weight loss plateau, don’t give up your consistency.
Sometimes it just takes long term effort and consistent healthy habits to break through a weight loss plateau.
#7 – Get enough sleep
Maybe you’re eating what you should and exercising for weight loss, but the weight isn’t coming off.
What could help? Getting enough sleep at night.
According to the University of Chicago Medicine (2), cutting back on sleep could offset weight loss efforts.
Not getting enough sleep can actually increase feelings of hunger and lower amount of fat loss.
How much sleep you need can vary, but in general aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Not getting enough sleep may be the reason the weight isn’t coming off if food intake and exercise habits are supporting your weight loss goals.