A weight loss journey can be frustrating. But once you are committed, eat healthily, and exercise regularly, you begin to lose weight and see the results. However, a lot of the time, you reach a weight plateau, and despite following your weight loss regimen, you just can’t seem to lose weight.
A weight loss plateau refers to this stalemate where your weight won’t budge. It can be very frustrating and demotivating. But the good news is that there are ways to remedy this. Here’s how to break a weight loss plateau.
How To Break A Plateau In Weight Loss: 15 Best Tips
When you reach a plateau, and you stop shedding pounds, you become discouraged. Research suggests that weight loss plateaus happen between 6 to 9 months after beginning your weight loss journey.
Researchers are not quite sure about what causes weight loss plateaus, but there are a few theories that try to explain the phenomenon.
- The body adapts to weight loss and tries to defend itself against losing any more weight.
- Individuals stray from their diets after a couple of months.
- Body metabolism slows down if a person sheds off pounds too quickly.
So when you cannot seem to lose weight, what next? We share 15 ways on how to break a weight loss plateau fast.
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Increase The Intensity And Frequency Of Your Workouts
Exercising is one of the best ways to burn more calories and lose more weight. Once your body adapts to it, you may stop shedding pounds. As you lose weight, your metabolism slows down. Reviewing your workout plan may help you get back on track and break that weight loss plateau.
The progressive reduction in metabolic rate as your body weight reduces can make shedding pounds extremely challenging. Good news, though, adjusting your workout can help counteract this phenomenon.
Resistance training is a great place to start. It is one of the best ways on how to break a weight loss plateau of bodybuilding. It helps build muscle mass.
It also increases after-burn exercise. This means that even at rest, you burn more calories. Resistance training is an excellent form of workout for weight loss because you burn more calories each day.
Interval Training is also another great option. It involves increasing your workout intensity for a while then switching back to the normal pace. You can combine 5 minutes of high-intensity exercises and five minutes of low-intensity workout, then rest and repeat the series. Interval training helps increase your muscle mass and with fat loss.
You can also increase the number of times you work out per week. For example: if you usually exercise three times a week, you can start exercising 6 times a week.
Keep A Food Journal
A food journal is a log of all the food, beverages, and other meal intakes. Start keeping a record of what you eat and be honest about it. You may have begun consuming more calories than you actually need and may not have realized it.
If you start monitoring your food intake, you may be able to tell how many calories you are consuming. A food journal is also a good reminder of your meal plans. It may also help you stay focused and motivated.
With a journal, you can study trends and identify areas that require improvement. You also hold yourself accountable. The best part about a journal is that you can notice and appreciate your small wins while monitoring your progress.
Increase Your Protein Intake
If you are having trouble losing weight, upping your protein may help. Protein is an essential macronutrient when it comes to weight loss. Protein increases your metabolic rate compared to carbs and fats as it increases the thermic effect of food. Digestion of protein takes more energy than digestion of carbohydrates or fat, so eating more protein (while not increasing overall calorie intake) should increase the total calories you burn (3).
Protein also helps suppress the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin that stimulates appetite. The nutrient also may cause an increase in the production of a hormone called peptide YY responsible for the feeling of satiety (1). Meaning, when you eat protein-rich foods, you stay full for longer. Besides, protein also helps protect against lean muscle mass loss that usually occurs during weight loss (6).
Spreading out your protein intake throughout all your meals is crucial. Health experts recommend that you consume about 20 to 30 grams of protein at each of your typical 3 meals per day (2).
As trivial as it sounds, stress can interfere with weight loss. Whether it is stress due to your weight loss or any other thing, it has a negative impact on you. First, when you are stressed, you tend to overeat as you find comfort in doing so. We often refer to this as stress eating.
Additionally, stress increases the body’s production of cortisol. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. Much as it helps your body respond and deal with stress, it may also increase belly fat storage. This seems to be more pronounced in women (11). Overproduction of cortisol thus negatively affects weight loss.
Learning to manage stress can aid in weight loss. You can try stress management practices such as meditation, reading, journaling, painting, dancing, or listening to music.
Get Enough Quality Sleep
Sleep is vital for your general well-being. Just like the body needs food, the brain needs rest. Sleep duration is an important determinant of body weight and metabolism. Not getting enough seems to lower your metabolic rate and alters hormones that control appetite and fat storage.
Individuals who sleep less are reported to have increased levels of ghrelin and reduced levels of leptin. The dysregulation of these two hormones causes an increase in appetite, resulting in weight gain over time (10). Short sleep also decreases the resting metabolic rate, and it only returns to normal after adequate sleep (8).
So avoid the late-night Netflixing and switch off that TV and go to bed. Try to get at least 7 to 8 of sleep for your overall good health and help you lose weight.
Eat More Fiber
One of the best ways to cut weight is by filling up on fiber. This is because fiber is more filling. Besides, fiber has other great benefits like lowering blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and coronary disease (5). While all types of fibers enhance weight loss, viscous fiber has a more significant impact. Research suggests that viscous fibers reduce appetite more compared to the less viscous fibers (4).
Viscous fiber is the type that dissolves in water or liquid. It forms a gel-like substance slowing the digestion of food, leaving you full for longer. Eating more bulk also helps reduce the number of calories you consume from other types of foods.
Excellent dietary fiber sources include apricots, oats, brown rice, berries, nuts, and seeds like almonds, peanuts, and chia seeds. So switch that white rice for brown rice or cookies for almonds to help you break through your weight loss plateau.
Experiment With Intermittent Fasting
If you have not explored intermittent fasting and the scale won’t budge, you may want to consider it. Intermittent fasting (IF) involves going without food for a certain period, usually between 16 to 48 hours. This practice has been shown to promote weight loss as well as a person’s overall health.
A meta-analysis of various intermittent fasting studies reveals that it resulted in a 3 to 8 % weight loss with 3 to 24 weeks (7). IF does not specify which foods you should eat but focuses on when you should eat. Common methods of IF include fasting for 16 hours daily or 24 hours twice a week.
You should consult a health care professional before experimenting with IF. And given that it might come with other health benefits alongside weight loss, it may be worth it.
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Eat More Vegetables
Vegetables are nutrient-dense low-calorie foods making them perfect for your weight loss diet. They are loaded with vitamins, are high in fiber, and are low on carbs. If you can’t seem to shed any more pounds, eating more veggies might help.
Studies reveal that diets that incorporate more vegetables result in the greatest weight loss (13). Sadly, many people do not eat enough of these foods. Eating more vegetables is an excellent way of reducing fat intake while controlling hunger levels.
Given the great benefits of vegetables, including a side dish of kales, spinach, or broccoli, every meal shouldn’t be as hard. In fact, following a diet with plenty of vegetables should be easier to follow as it allows you to eat more.
Hydration is one of the most overlooked aspects of weight loss. Drinking water helps flush out excess salts from your system. It is also an appetite suppressant. It thus increases the feeling of satiety and reduces hunger.
Sometimes, you may grab something to eat when you are, in fact, thirsty. Drinking water thus helps reduce unnecessary snacking. Before any meal or snack, drink one or two glasses of water.
Water also temporarily increases your resting metabolic rate, helping you burn calories. The body also needs water to burn and store fat properly. Hydrating is a great tip on how to break through a weight loss plateau after 40.
So check your overall water intake. Carry a bottle of water with you to work or on walks. Drinking water may help you break that weight loss plateau and put you back on track to achieving your goal weight.
Ditch The Alcohol
Don’t we all love drinking that bottle of beer after a long exhausting day? But do you know that consuming booze might be interfering with your ability to lose weight? Alcoholic drinks are very calorific, and because of alcohol metabolism, your drinking habits often result in weight gain.
What’s more, people make terrible diet choices after and while drinking. Consuming refined carbs high in calories while drinking results in weight gain and an increase in your waistline. Overeating after a night of drinking may also result in putting on extra pounds.
Research shows that alcohol suppresses the burning of fat. Also, alcohol metabolism takes priority putting the metabolism of other nutrients on hold (9). This is because the body prioritizes getting rid of a toxic by-product of alcohol called acetate. Heavy drinking thus slows your body’s metabolism, eventually resulting in weight gain.
If your weight has stalled, cutting the booze may be for the best. If you do not want to drop it altogether, drink it less often and in smaller amounts. Also, remember to eat a high-protein meal before drinking to avoid craving junk afterward.
Mix Up Your Workouts
Rather than doing your routine cardio workouts or the usual HIITs, try mixing things up a little. You can add a few cardio sessions if you do strength training. Over time your muscles adapt to your regular workouts and learn how to use fewer calories for those exercises.
Do not shy away from experimenting. You may also try out a new physical activity like running, hiking, playing tennis, or rock climbing. During your workouts, do not forget to drink plenty of water.
Do Not Skip Your Meals
While trying to lose weight, you might be tempted to skip meals and eat less. Much as this strategy may seem helpful, in truth, it sabotages your weight loss effort. The body needs energy and nutrients to function properly. You get these vitamins, minerals, and energy from the food you eat.
Skipping meals slows your body’s metabolism. By skipping meals, you only lose out on nutrients and end up feeling tired. In fact, you are more likely to overeat and snack on high-fat high-carb foods that could result in weight gain.
To cut weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. And with a slow metabolism, the body does not efficiently burn calories. The best way to achieve this is to balance how many calories you consume and how many you burn.
Men need about 2700 kcal daily, while women require 2200 kcal. Instead of skipping meals, eat nutrient-dense foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds, leafy greens such as kales, spinach, broccoli, and whole grains such as barley, wheat, and quinoa. This way, you get the calories and nutrients you need.
Reduce Your Carbs Intake
You might be wondering how to break a weight loss plateau on a low-carb diet. Low-carb diets are known to be beneficial to weight loss. Some research indicates that individuals who consumed very low-carb diets register a more significant weight loss over time compared to those who consumed low-fat diets (12).
When your weight loss is slow, lowering your carbs intake might help. Very low carbohydrate diets have been shown to promote satiety and reduce hunger compared to other types of diets. Staying full for longer means that you will not crave any high sugar, unhealthy junk foods.
Eat Only When You Are Hungry
Listen to your body and eat only when you are hungry. This does not mean that you wait until you are totally famished. Ignoring your hunger signals may lead to overeating.
Often we eat according to a certain schedule. Turning to listen to what your body is telling you will help you fuel your body. Eating when you are hungry means getting more satiety from the meals than when you weren’t hungry.
However, you should eat several hours before going to bed as your body’s resting metabolic rate slows down at night. Time your evening meal early so that it is not too close to your bedtime. This will help prevent weight gain as well as acid reflux and indigestion.
Do Not Rely On The Scale Alone
While trying to shed some pounds, you might be tempted to hop onto the scale every day and check how many pounds you have shed. This is not a healthy practice as weight loss should focus on your wholeness as an individual. The scale may, therefore, not reflect your actual progress.
If you work out regularly, you might be building muscle that is denser than fat. If the scale is not moving, it might be because you are not losing fat and building muscle.
Try to look beyond the numbers. How do you feel? How you feel, achieving greater perseverance, and looking great in your jeans should be reasons for you to celebrate. Focusing only on shedding pounds will affect you negatively. It is better to take a positive holistic approach to your weight loss journey.
At some point in your weight loss journey, you may reach a plateau where you do not lose any more weight. Such slow weight loss can be discouraging. However, it does not mean that you should give up on achieving your ideal weight.
Try out some of the above tips on how to break weight loss plateau. Remember to stay positive and keep trying. With patience and motivation, you can break through a weight loss plateau.
Do not hesitate to seek help from a doctor or health expert. With the support and continued effort, you can break through your weight loss plateau and achieve your weight loss goals.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Critical role for peptide YY in protein-mediated satiation and body-weight regulation (2006, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Defining meal requirements for protein to optimize metabolic roles of amino acids (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Diet induced thermogenesis (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of dietary fibre on subjective appetite, energy intake and body weight: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Health benefits of dietary fiber (2009, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes (2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih)
- Resting metabolic rate varies by race and by sleep duration (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Role of substrate utilization and thermogenesis on body-weight control with particular reference to alcohol (2000, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women (1994, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Weight loss effects from vegetable intake: a 12-month randomised controlled trial (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)