6 Ways to Bust Through a Weight Loss Plateau

Article posted in: Nutrition
weight loss plateau

It’s frustrating when your weight loss efforts hit a wall. You’re doing all the right things—watching your diet, exercising and drinking plenty of water. But for some reason, that scale just won’t budge. We call that “reason” a weight loss plateau and it happens when your resting metabolism (how many calories you burn at rest) goes down. When you weigh less, you need fewer calories. More exercise and a change in your diet will jumpstart efforts, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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Here are six tips for busting through a weight loss plateau:

1. Keep a Food Journal.

person on phone while eating

Have you fallen out of the habit of logging your daily food, exercise and water intake, and have found yourself in a weight loss plateau? Maybe you’re guesstimating things more than you realize? When you start getting the hang of the South Beach Diet, it’s natural to switch to autopilot. But diligent logging makes a difference as an April 2016 PLoS study suggests. Users who regularly logged food and physical activity on digital trackers lost more weight than infrequent loggers. Plus, for the same individual, weight loss was significantly higher during periods of high adherence to tracking versus periods of low adherence.

Keep a food journal in a notebook or create a note in your phone. There are also many different food tracking apps that provide an organized place to log your meals.

2. End Your Routine.


If you can’t remember how long you’ve been doing a particular exercise routine, it’s time to change things up. A fitness class is a great way to challenge your body, promote change, and it gives you a chance to develop some camaraderie with fellow exercisers (and motivators). If you’re not a class person, try biking instead of walking or rowing instead of running. You can also add some weight training into your cardio routine. “The human body is a master at adaption and adapting to a fitness routine is no different,” says NSCA Certified Personal Trainer Robert Dugan. “Most programs, either cardio or strength, should be changed every six weeks to keep plateauing at bay.”

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3. Walk at Work.


Your body has gotten used to your everyday diet and exercise routine so it’s time to throw your metabolism a curveball to bust out of that weight loss plateau. Adding 15-20 minutes of extra activity into your day can be all the change you need to shed a few more pounds. Whether it’s a brisk walk outside or a few trips up and down the office-building stairs, you’ll burn calories and have energy to power through the afternoon. Midday exercise can also increase your focus and overall mood, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. There’s evidence that the effects of a walk may last into the evening, giving you focus to make dinner, help children with homework and perform other tasks that require energy and concentration.

4. Increase Your Protein.


By increasing your protein intake, you can increase your lean muscle mass—which can help speed up your metabolism even when your body is at rest, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some variety in the types of proteins—and your overall diet—can also help jumpstart success. If you tend to eat more dairy-based proteins, try lean meats, eggs or protein shakes which offer more protein per serving. If you tend to eat more meats, try legumes or nuts. Maybe your body will process the foods differently. While there are no “magic” weight-loss foods, some studies have shown that green tea and hot chiles temporarily boost metabolic rates. They’re worth a try, right? Of course, it’s all for naught if you aren’t watching your calories.

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5. Don’t Skip Meals.

skip meals

It’s tempting to skip a meal to drop weight. You think: “The less I eat, the more weight I’ll lose.” But in reality, skipping meals often predicts future weight gain and obesity. It can also make you feel sick, crave junk food and less likely to exercise—which all can lead to a weight loss plateau. Research shows that people get full by the amount of food they eat, not the number of calories they take in, says the CDC. Rather than skipping meals to cut calories, simply lower the amount of fat or increase the amount of fiber-rich ingredients you eat and you’ll lose weight.

6. Keep Your Eye on the Prize.

weight loss plateau

When you feel stuck and discouraged, reminding your self why you started can make a huge difference in how you’re feeling. Revisit that motivating factor that drove you to begin a weight loss journey in the first place. Write down your goals and share them with your loved ones. These reasons, combined with a support system, can really help you get motivated and back on track.