You started your weight loss diet with full success. Losing weight came naturally, and you saw it drop off each week. Sure you had the initial big drop, but then you saw a steady 1-2lb weight loss weekly that everyone says is healthy.
And then one week it didn’t happen. You didn’t change anything, but you didn’t lose any weight. As a one of you weren’t too worried, but then it happened the next week and then the week after. This week you’ve still not lost any weight.
While you want to focus on the benefit of not gaining, you still want to know why you’ve not lost weight. Does this mean that you will stay at this weight forever?
This is known as a weight loss plateau. The great news is that you can make a few changes and see your weight loss happen again. It takes some work and commitment, but it can definitely be done.
What exactly is a weight loss plateau? What exactly does it mean for you and what do you need to do next? We’ll look at that in detail with this ultimate guide.
Weight Loss Plateaus: You’re Not Alone!
Let me start by saying that you’re not alone. Almost every dieter will suffer a weight loss plateau at some point. They have weeks and weeks of losing absolutely nothing at all. Usually, they will literally just stay the same weight from week to week. Others can gain a pound and then lose it the next week, but the week after that they gain that same pound again. They’re not changing anything, but their body is fluctuating between this same pound.
An actual weight loss plateau is described as someone who stays the same weight for three weeks or more in a row. Nothing changes. It’s like the scales just don’t know how to move either up or down.
The annoying thing for everyone who suffers a weight loss plateau is that they say they haven’t changed anything. They are still following the same diet, and they’re creating a calorie deficit. Their bodies should be burning the excess weight, but the scales don’t tell you that.
A weight loss plateau can turn a lot of people off a diet. They view the stalling as a sign that the diet doesn’t work. Rather than looking at what they can do differently or why there could be the stall, they decide to come off the diet and return to their normal eating pattern. Or they will look at a crazy, crash diet that puts their health at risk!
Please don’t change your diet plan right now. Stick to the healthy plan but make a few changes within it. We’ll show you have you can break the plateau and start losing weight again.
But Why Is Your Plateau Happening Now?
Before you move on, you may want to know why the weight loss plateau is happening. I wish I could give you an exact reason, but the truth is that we’re all different. I’ve suffered plenty of weight loss plateaus throughout my weight loss journey. They have all be linked to different reasons, and different steps that I’ve taken have helped.
One of the most common reasons for a weight loss plateau to happen is that the metabolism slows down. When you first lose weight, you will lose a larger amount than is considered healthy. You’re not just losing fat when you lose more than 2lbs a week. You start to lose muscle and water.
Losing the muscle is the bad thing. Your muscle forces your metabolism to work at a faster rate. The muscle needs your metabolism to be quicker to help it repair and get the nutrients that it needs. As you lose the muscle, your metabolism doesn’t need to work as quickly.
While you haven’t started to eat more calories, your body has stopped needing as many. That means you’re not creating a calorie deficit, so your body doesn’t need to take any of the stored calories.
Of course, you won’t know this until you start seeing the side effects! It’s not like your metabolism sends you an initial warning sign that it’s slowing down. I wish it did!
Another reason is that you’ve become complacent with your diet. You stop weighing out your food, and your portion sizes creep up without your realizing. You end up eating more calories without necessarily meaning to. Of course, as your metabolism slows down and your portions creep up, you end up now not creating the calorie deficit that you need to lose weight.
Increasing the exercise you do can also temporarily create a weight loss plateau. Your muscles retain some water in the initial healing processes, which can make the scales give you a slightly distorted result. This usually creates a slight gain for one or two weeks, and it will repair itself once your body gets used to the exercise, but there are times that it can temporarily create a plateau.
It’s Time to Break that Weight Loss Plateau with These Top Tips
Don’t make drastic changes to your diet. This plateau doesn’t mean you have to put up with being this weight for the rest of your life or that your weight loss plan isn’t working. You need to make some small, safe changes to beat the plateau that’s occurred. It’s all about rectifying the problem of the slower metabolism and the lack of change in your calorie intake.
We’ll share some of the top tips that other dieters have shared to beat their weight loss plateaus, and I have some of my own personal experiences.
Go Back to the Start
Pull out the books that you got with your dieting program and take another look at them. This is the chance to reassess everything about your current journey, including the food you eat and the exercise that you do.
There’s nothing wrong with scaling it back and working your way through the books again. You’ll be able to improve your calorie deficit to improve your chances of weight loss.
What you really want to focus on is your portion sizes. Go back to weighing all your food out and make sure that you only eat the amount of food that you need throughout the day. Be mindful of the food that you eat (and the amount of it that you eat) and make sure you really are creating a calorie deficit every single day.
This can usually instantly change your weight loss efforts for the better. From the very next day or week, you will start to see a shift in the numbers on the scale.
Consider Cutting More Calories If You Can
If you’re already down to 1,200 calories a day, you won’t want to cut down too much less than this. This is the bare minimum that the bodies need when you follow a healthy and balanced diet.
However, if you’re not quite there yet, you may find that cutting the calories a little more could help you with your weight loss plateau. Remember that one of the common reasons is due to your metabolism slowing down. That means your body needs fewer calories to use up the stored ones.
Doing this could make you hungrier throughout the day. After all, if you cut down on the calories, you will cut down on the amount of food that you eat. If it’s only a small amount, the hunger should just be temporary. As long as you’re not cutting down by a dangerous amount, it shouldn’t cause a long term feeling of being constantly starving.
Increase the Amount of Exercise That You Do
Instead of cutting the calories in your food, how about you encourage your body to burn more calories? While the experts say that you should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for a healthy lifestyle, they also suggest doubling that if you want to lose weight.
When you do exercise, you increase the heart rate and body temperature. Your body needs to burn more fuel, which means your metabolism needs to speed up and burn the calories that you store it with. Of course, if you stick to the same diet that currently creates a calorie balance in and out you can start to create a calorie deficit with your exercise. Your body needs to burn the stored calories.
You will want to make sure you follow healthy guidelines on the amount of exercise that you do. Think about increasing your exercise slowly. Just do an extra 15 minutes a day for the next week and see how your weight loss fairs.
Remember that your muscles can retain some water. You may want to see how the increase fairs for the next couple of weeks to get a better idea of whether this is working. If it does, stick with it. If not, then look at increasing it by another 15 minutes.
You can work the exercise and the lower amount of calories together to help boost your efforts. Bear in mind that doing more exercise can make you feel hungrier.
Look After the Muscle in Your Body
Exercise isn’t just about burning calories. You will also want to build muscle. Remember that muscle helps to speed up the metabolism, so you burn more calories throughout the day without doing too much extra work.
Look at more conditioning and muscle building classes and exercises. Do a couple of cardio workouts to boost the energy burning, but consider more weight training throughout the week. You could look at yoga, Tabata, and even bodyweight training to help build the muscle.
And when you do build muscle, make sure you look after it. Your diet needs to include good sources of protein, such as through nuts, lean meats, and legumes. These will help to encourage your metabolism to take more calories from the fat sources and leave the muscle mass alone, so you don’t see a drop. It will mean you won’t see a large drop in weight each week, but you will also avoid more plateaus later, as your metabolism won’t slow down.
On top of this, protein is good to avoid hunger pains. Protein breaks down in the body slowly, so you feel fuller for longer and not like you’re on a diet.
Change Your Routine Frequently
One thing that I found that worked the most was by changing my routine. I complained that I hadn’t changed anything but wasn’t losing any weight, but why would you see a change if you didn’t implement change?
It can be as simple as changing your breakfast every morning or by changing your weekly workout to do something slightly different.
Following the same pattern, every single week becomes monotonous. It’s not just bad for the mind, but bad for the body. The muscles get used to the workout, so the workouts become less effective and burn fewer calories over time. If you keep changing them, your body doesn’t know what to expect from one week to the next.
This is why I find exercises classes useful. They are never the same (or when they are only for a few short weeks). The muscles have to adapt to each class that you do, never knowing what is coming next. You can’t prepare for it, so your metabolism constantly kicks in.
Do look at changing some of the food, as well as your exercise routine. Try to cut back on sugars (including natural ones) to help avoid unnecessary storage of calories. When your body tackles sugar, it tells the metabolism to store the calories for now and come back to them later. Of course, this doesn’t quite happen, as the metabolism as other calories to deal with afterward.
Sleep Better to Break That Plateau
Another great way is to get a better night’s sleep. Your body will continue to burn calories while you sleep. It also releases the right hormones to help keep the metabolism working effectively. If you don’t sleep well, the body can’t work as effectively as it should.
When you up your levels of exercise, you should find that you sleep better on a night. However, you may need to find other ways to get your brain to totally shut down, so you’re no longer thinking about events throughout the day. Hot baths, herbal teas, a good book, and nature sounds playing around the room are all top tips for helping yourself sleep better.
If you don’t sleep well for just one night, you’ll see an increase in your cortisol levels. This can lead to your metabolism taking a dip for the day, which can make all the difference to your weight loss.
Are Your Ready to Kick Your Weight Loss Plateau’s Butt?
Your weight loss plateau is completely normal. It’s not a sign that the diet isn’t working, but a sign that you need to make a few changes. After a few months on a diet, we do get complacent. Our portion sizes creep up, and we forget about the little nibbles of food we take from the kids’ plates (just to avoid food wastage, of course).
It’s time to make a few changes to your diet. The above tips are completely safe and work with all types of weight loss plans. They focus on tackling the reasons for your weight loss plateaus rather than creating a dangerous calorie deficit that your body just can’t sustain.
Are you ready to kick your weight loss plateau for good? You can see the effects within the first week of trying, so stop making excuses and start making these positive changes for your weight loss journey today!