Things you need to know on weight loss plateau
Achieving your goal weight can be tough. It’s not easy to shed pounds quickly and more so it is all the more difficult to break plateau.
While weight tends to come off fairly rapidly at first, at some point it seems as though your weight won’t budge.
This inability to lose weight is known as a weight loss plateau or stall, and it can be frustrating and discouraging.
Plateau happens because our bodies are smart and extremely adaptable. After every workout, the body not only becomes stronger but also a more efficient calorie-burner. And after you start to lose weight, your body adjusts yet again, requiring fewer calories than it did before. It’s a constant game of Jenga to find the right balance. If you take a wrong step, everything can collapse, halting your flat belly progress. Thankfully, there are a number of simple ways to boost your metabolism and nudge the scale in the right direction.
If you feel like you’ve been on the right track and you’re no longer seeing results test out these tweaks:
- Cut Back on Carbohydrates
Reducing your carb intake may help get your weight moving in the right direction again when you feel hopelessly stalled. Whether carb restriction leads to a “metabolic advantage” that causes your body to burn more calories is a question that continues to be debated among nutrition and obesity experts.
Some controlled studies have found that very low-carb diets increase fat burning and promote other metabolic changes that favor weight loss, while other studies haven’t shown this effect.
However, very low-carb diets have consistently been shown to reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness more than other diets. In addition, they cause your body to produce ketones, which have been shown to reduce appetite.
- Reassess Your Caloric Needs
In order to overcome a weight loss plateau, you’ll likely need to adjust your calorie intake. As you lose weight, your body requires fewer calories for maintenance. If you’re taking in as many calories on day 60 of your diet as you did on day 1, you won’t be able to lose weight. Although you may have been losing weight previously on your current intake, you may need to eat less to achieve a larger caloric deficit.
- Up your fiber intake
Research has shown that for every gram of fiber we eat, we eliminate about seven calories. That means if you eat 30 grams a day you’ll essentially cancel out 210 calories, a savings that could result in a 20 pound weight loss in one year’s time. Look for higher fiber foods within the same food groups. For example, cup for cup black beans pack 2.5 grams of fiber more than chickpeas, and barley provides 6 grams per cup compared to just 3.5 in brown rice.
- Build more movement into your day
If you already work out, build a little extra activity into your day. Stand up and fold laundry, or iron as you watch TV, or do the dishes by hand. Just getting on your feet burns an extra 30 to 40 calories per hour. At one extra hour a day that means you’ll burn almost 15,000 additional calories over a year’s time.
- Don’t Skimp on Protein
If your weight loss has stalled, increasing your protein intake may help.
First, protein boosts metabolic rate more than either fat or carbs. This has to do with the thermic effect of food (TEF), or increase in metabolism that occurs due to the digestion of food. Protein digestion boosts calorie burning by 20–30%, which is more than twice as much as fat or carbs.
Moreover, maintaining a high protein intake can help protect against the loss of muscle mass and a drop in metabolic rate, both of which typically occur during weight loss.
- Cut back on salt and sodium
Water is attracted to sodium like a magnet, so when you down a little more salt or sodium than usual, you may hang on to extra fluid. Two cups of water (16 ounces) weighs one pound, so a shift in fluid will have an immediate impact on the scale. The best way to slash sodium is to skip the saltshaker or sodium-laden seasonings and eat fresher, unprocessed foods.
- Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has become very popular recently.
It involves going for long periods of time without eating, typically between 16–48 hours.
The practice has been credited with promoting the loss of body fat and weight, in addition to other health benefits.
A review of several intermittent fasting studies found that it led to a 3–8% weight loss and 3–7% decrease in waist circumference within 3–24 weeks.
- Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is extremely important for good mental, emotional and physical health. It’s also becoming clear that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain by lowering your metabolic rate and altering hormone levels to drive appetite and fat storage.
In fact, not getting enough sleep may be a contributing factor in cases of stalled weight loss.
- Don’t Rely on the Scale Alone
When trying to lose weight, hopping on the scale is likely part of your daily routine.
However, it’s important to realize that the scale reading may not accurately reflect your progress, such as changes in your body composition.
Rather than weight loss, your goal is actually fat loss. If you’re working out regularly, you may be building muscle, which is denser than fat and takes up less room in your body.
So if the scale weight isn’t moving, you could be building muscle and losing fat, yet maintaining a stable weight.
Weight loss plateaus can be frustrating and demoralizing. However, they are a normal part of the weight loss process. In fact, nearly everyone experiences a stall at some point on their weight loss journey.
Rather than getting caught up in the numbers try to focus on how you feel. If you’re consistent you’ll continue moving in the right direction.