Doing all the right things, but not losing weight? Explore the possible reasons why, and discover what you can do about it.
So, you’ve been eating healthier and exercising more regularly. At first, the pounds melted away and your weight loss goals looked like they were becoming more achievable by the day. But then the scale stopped moving, and it seems like no matter what you do, you can’t shift those final ounces. Don’t panic—you may have reached a weight loss plateau.
Why am I not losing weight?
Hitting a weight loss plateau is completely normal. There are a few reasons why you might be having trouble losing the weight:
- According to set point theory, your body will actively try to control your weight at a certain point. If you find yourself unable to move beyond a certain weight, you may simply have reached your body’s natural comfort zone.
- Reducing your calories causes your body to lower its metabolic rate, making it more difficult to lose weight. Plus, your body may go into starvation mode, or adaptive thermogenesis, if you don’t have any extra calories. This means that your body will try to reduce its calorie expenditure, slowing down weight loss in the process.
- After you start a new exercise program, your body will need to adapt to the heightened workload. As your muscles start to rebuild themselves, they will consume more calories. Once your body gets used to the new workload and the adaptation period ends, you’ll start seeing diminishing returns, which could cause you to hit a weight loss plateau.
- Following the initial period of weight loss, it’s relatively common for people to let their guard down and increase their portion sizes. Popularly known as “calorie creep,” this change results in weight maintenance (or in some cases even weight gain) and can cause your weight loss journey to plateau.
Weight loss plateau tips
Here are our top 8 tips for overcoming a weight loss plateau:
- If you’ve been losing weight through diet alone, beginning an exercise regime can be an effective way of shifting the final pounds. Although diet and nutrition is extremely important for weight loss, regular exercise is also a key factor. Remember, you should always consult with a healthcare professional before you begin or substantially alter your exercise regime.
- Making a change to your exercise routine is a good way of forcing your body to work harder than it usually does. You can do this by altering the duration, frequency and intensity of your exercise. Get out of your comfort zone by trying new forms of exercise and incorporating high-intensity activities into your workout.
- Overtraining can cause your body to decrease the number of calories that you burn, which makes it much more difficult to overcome your weight loss plateau. Exercising around 3 times a week is a good way to ensure that you don’t push your muscles too hard. If you’re working out 6 days a week, be sure to alternate muscle groups on different days. You also need to make sure that you take your recovery period seriously. If you reach a point of exercise burnout, take a break from the gym for a couple of days. Relax and allow your muscles to rest, or try an exercise which involves a little less intensity, like yoga.
- Because muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat, strength training is a great way to burn excess calories. By starting regular muscle-strengthening training like weightlifting or gardening, you can boost your chances of overcoming a weight loss plateau.
- You probably know the importance of tracking your weight, perhaps with the help of a smart scale. But you should also keep a food diary where you log everything you eat and drink. This is a great way to ensure that you aren’t underestimating how much you’re eating and accidentally breaking your food plan. Cutting your calorie intake by around 100 to 200 calories could help you to move past the weight loss plateau. There are lots of low-fat, low-calorie alternatives that you can enjoy in place of certain high-calorie foods to push you over the final few steps.
- Introducing more lean proteins like eggs, nuts, and meat into your diet is a great way of fueling your muscles and controlling body weight. They take longer to digest and fill you up, causing your body to burn more calories and making it easier for you to manage your body weight.
- Fruits and vegetables are low-calorie and nutrient-dense, which means that the more of them that you eat, the less likely you’ll be to binge on processed food and unhealthy snacks. Boosting your intake of antioxidants, healthy minerals, phytochemicals and fiber, fruit, and vegetables are a good choice for anyone looking to overcome a weight loss plateau. If you’re not sure how to create a healthy diet, consult a registered dietician, who can help you make a food plan that’s perfectly suited to your needs.
- Finally, sometimes (maybe most times) overcoming a weight loss plateau is more mental than physical. We talked to real-life weight-loss success story, podcaster, and motivational speaker Michael Daggett of FatDag.com for his wisdom on the topic. Here’s what he had to say:
“When you find yourself at a weight loss plateau, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture. It’s time to pull back from the singular focus of a scale number. Use this time to evaluate the rest of the story, and you often will find that you’ve increased your activity, you’ve changed your eating habits, and you’ve developed a healthier lifestyle that is sustainable. You’ll often notice that your clothing starts to fit better, and the self-confidence begins to increase. When you recognize the positive impact your efforts have on your entire journey, it gives you a better appreciation for what you’re truly after. Isn’t the goal to get and be healthy? You’re doing that. Keep up the great work, ditch the stress from the ‘scale focus’ and then watch the change continue to happen!”
Are you inspired yet? It’s pretty clear that by adapting your workout and diet plans, and focusing your mind on the big picture rather than the number, you can get over that dreaded weight loss plateau and keep your weight loss journey rolling on!