Weight tends to melt off pretty quickly at first, but sometimes there comes the point where it seems like your weight no longer budges at all. This inability to lose those remaining pounds is called a weight loss plateau, and while it’s not unusual, it can be quite discouraging. However, we have a few tips to help you start losing weight again – read on!
Why Weight Plateaus Happen
- One theory states that your body naturally tries to stay at a certain weight where it’s most comfortable. If you find that you’re stuck at the same weight each time you step on the scale, you may have reached that comfort zone. Reducing your weight much further typically results in regaining it.
- As you begin burning fat, you’re also losing a small amount of muscle. It’s estimated that up to ¼ of your body tissue lost during your weight loss journey is muscle tissue. Since muscle is essential to keeping your metabolism up, losing it can reduce your metabolic rate, therefore hindering your ability to lose weight.
- You may need to start taking in fewer calories and adding more physical activity to your daily routine in order to continue lowering your weight. This is the most likely reason you’ve hit a weight loss plateau. At this point, it’s almost impossible to lose much more weight without exercising.
- Other factors that can influence your weight loss include medications, menopause, pregnancy, breastfeeding, quitting smoking, and thyroid problems.
How to Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau
Now that you know some of the reasons you might have hit a weight loss plateau, here are some tips to help you break through it.
Keep Your Metabolism Up
For every 10% of body weight you lose, you should be consuming about 20% fewer calories in order to keep losing weight. It’s also essential to keep metabolic declines minimal, so while you do want to burn fat, you’ll also want to work on building muscle.
One pound of muscle is more metabolically active (it burns more calories) than a pound of fat. Increasing your muscle mass can help keep your metabolism up, so you don’t have to cut so many calories to get past your plateau.
If you’re looking for a physical activity that can help you burn fat while maintaining muscle, check out our karate classes!
When you exercise for the first time, you might feel a little shaky and uncoordinated. But then things start clicking together each time you exercise, and you get better and better at it. This is your body learning how to perform that exercise. The same things happen over the course of weeks and months. Your body becomes more efficient and so ends up burning fewer calories during your workouts, leading you to plateau.
In order to overcome this, focus on slowly increasing the intensity of your workouts, so you’re still continually challenging your body. No matter how fit you get, if you want to continue challenging your body, you’ll want to change up your exercise intensity, frequency, type, or time of exercise every 3-4 weeks.
One theory, the set point theory, suggests that there’s a weight range our body is most comfortable at, and any time we move away from that weight, our body works to get us back to it.
If you hit a plateau for a month or two, stay patient before you try cutting calories, adding more exercise to your routine, or both. While it can be hard to remain patient, you need to remember that even your weight loss leading up to the plateau can have great health benefits. Just try your best to be patient and as long as you don’t give up, you can reach your weight loss goal.
Keep a Food Diary
Sometimes it may seem like you’re not eating that much, yet you’re still having a tough time losing weight. Researchers have found that people often underestimate the amount of food they’re actually eating.
By tracking your calories and macronutrients (such as protein, fat, and carbohydrates), you can provide precise information about how much you’re actually taking in, allowing you to modify your diet as needed.
Manage Your Stress
Stress can often bring weight loss to a screeching halt. Stress tends to promote comfort eating, triggers food cravings, and increases your body’s production of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps your body respond to stress, but it also increases your belly fat storage. Producing too much of this hormone can make it hard to continue losing weight. Try using some stress-reduction strategies to help promote weight loss.
Add More Fiber to Your Diet
Adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet can help you break through your weight loss plateau. Soluble fiber slows down the movement of foods through your digestive tract, leading you to feel full.
Research suggests that all types of fiber can be beneficial for weight loss, but many studies show that soluble fiber is the most effective at keeping your appetite in check and your food intake under control.
Fiber can also help you lose weight by decreasing the number of calories absorbed from other foods.
Get Proper Sleep
Sleep is essential for good physical, emotional, and mental health, and not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain by slowing down your metabolic rate and altering hormone levels.
Aim for about 7-8 hours of sleep per night to support your weight loss and keep your overall health in check.
Other Helpful Tips
We’ve gone through some of the main strategies to help you break through your weight loss plateau, but there are many other things you can do that may help as well, including:
- Eating vegetables at every meal.
- Spreading your protein intake throughout the day.
- Staying hydrated with water, tea, or coffee.
- Avoiding alcohol.
- Intermittent fasting.
- Increasing your protein intake.
- Cutting back on carbohydrates.
- Increasing your daily non-exercise physical activity.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful! Remember, hitting a weight plateau isn’t uncommon, but don’t give up! Give some of these strategies a shot and find out what works best for you.