9 Ways to Break Through a Weight-Loss Plateau
Weight-loss plateaus can be frustrating. You’ve been putting in the work, watching the numbers drop on the scale, and then one day it just… stops. Despite your consistency and dedication, you reach a point when it seems like your progress has become stuck. So now you are left with the question: what can I do?
Every weight-loss journey is different: sometimes weight loss is rapid; other times, the weight may come off in slow and steady increments. But, no matter how your personal weight-loss journey goes, most of us will all reach a point when we hit the dreaded weight-loss plateau.
What Exactly is a Weight-Loss Plateau?
Plateaus occur when steady, extended weight loss stalls for a minimum of four weeks. Generally, four weeks is the minimum amount of time with no results; however, plateaus can last longer if the individual does not make necessary changes to their weight-loss plan to break through.
If you have ever been dedicated to a weight-loss plan, you probably know the inevitable frustration of hitting a plateau. Plateaus occur because the body’s metabolism makes a transition to accommodate your new, lower weight.
You see, the body is smart and extremely adaptable. It wants stability, so as it adjusts to the new, lower-calorie routine, it now requires less fuel than it did before, and your weight loss will stall.
With that in mind, it’s important to note that weight-loss plateaus are normal and are actually critical to weight-loss maintenance. You see, these quiet periods are often a priming period that’s getting your body ready for more progress in the near future. Your body is simply making adjustments to accommodate the changes it has recently experienced.
So, before getting discouraged about a weight-loss plateau, reflect on your weight-loss journey and appreciate how far you’ve come. Your consistency and dedication to a healthier lifestyle are likely paying off, and the success you have had so far is worth celebrating. It’s a huge accomplishment!
Despite this achievement, it doesn’t get rid of the fact that hitting a plateau can be discouraging, and you may still have some more work to do to reach your end goal. Thankfully, there are several simple ways to break through weight-loss plateaus and nudge the scale in the right direction.
1. Keep Track of Your Calories
As the weeks and months go by, it’s easy to become less strict about counting your calories or measuring your meal portions (such as with this handy method). During weight-loss plateaus, it is important to check your compliance with your healthy diet. For example, a food journal can be an effective tool to better understand your portion sizes and caloric intake as well as discover trends and uncover areas to improve, both with diet and lifestyle habits.
2. Reassess Your Caloric Needs
As you lose weight, your body will naturally require fewer calories to maintain. Even though the scale has been moving with the current intake, you may now need to adjust and eat less to continue achieving a caloric deficit. Try cutting around 100 – 200 calories from your daily diet to see if the scale responds. Just be careful not to cut your calories too much since not eating enough can have the opposite effect on your waistline—stalling your weight loss even further.
3. Increase Your Energy Expenditures
Accelerating your exercise volume or intensity may help you get past a weight-loss plateau. You can do this by mixing up your workout or trying a new physical activity. When you have followed the same workout plan for several weeks or months, your muscles become familiar with doing the same exercises regularly. Our bodies are smart. They adapt and change to use fewer calories even with the same activities, making your regular exercise routine less effective for weight loss.
4. Drink More Water
Staying properly hydrated is vitally important for weight loss. Studies have found that metabolism can boost by 24 – 30% for up to 1.5 hours after drinking plain water. This may translate into greater weight loss over time, especially in those who consume water before meals, which may help reduce food intake.
5. Try Intermittent Fasting
Studies conclusively show that the various forms of intermittent fasting are effective in reducing body weight, fat, and visceral fat. Despite the many claims, intermittent fasting is not a magic bullet for weight loss; it’s just another tool in the toolbox. Even though intermittent fasting may not actively restrict calories, most people reduce their caloric intake when they condense their feeding window.
6. Check Your Protein Intake
In addition to making sure your overall calories consumed are in line with your goals, it’s also a good idea to make sure you’re consuming enough protein (0.72 – 1 gram per pound of body weight per day), as well as adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fats relative to your activity levels.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is vital for your weight-loss efforts, whether you’ve hit a plateau or are just getting started. People who do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night may eat more calories during the day to cope with feeling tired. Lacking enough sleep can also lead to increased stress, both of which can make it harder to make healthy food choices. Try different techniques to help you sleep better and longer, such as limiting screen time before bed and making sure your bedroom is dark and cool.
8. Cut the Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages are high in calories, and due to the way alcohol is metabolized, drinking habits often contribute to weight gain. Additionally, most people make worse diet choices after they’ve been drinking. If you don’t want to cut out alcohol altogether, opt for drinking alcohol without added ingredients (like vodka or gin), and if you want a mixer, opt for a low-calorie beverage.
9. Manage Stress
Stress can often put the brakes on weight loss. In addition to potentially triggering food cravings or trying to comfort yourself with food, it also increases your body’s production of cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. It is a natural physiological response to stress, but it can also lead to an increase in the storage of belly fat. In other words, producing excess cortisol as a response to stress can make weight loss more difficult.
Learning how to manage your stress will not only help you feel better but can also promote weight loss.
While it’s not easy, when experiencing a weight-loss plateau, patience is crucial. Waiting for weight loss can be hard. Just remember that even your weight loss leading up to the plateau can have significant health benefits. So, as long as you don’t give up and you make some minor changes, you’ll soon be back on your weight-loss journey to reach your goals!
Important Note: Beyond these tips and tricks for breaking through your weight-loss plateau, it is critical to also measure success beyond the scale. The scale is not the only tool to measure your success as you overcome a weight-loss plateau. Other factors, including body measurements, energy levels, and improved fitness also show your success. So, if the number on the scale still hasn’t budged for a few weeks, but your jeans fit more comfortably, know that you’re on the right path!