Encountering a plateau in weight loss is disheartening to anyone on a fitness journey.
In the beginning, people see fast changes and are excited about the momentum.
However, quickly progress slows, stops, and leaves people feeling disappointed and unmotivated.
Thankfully, there are tools and steps you can take to break through a plateau and continue your journey to a healthier life.
1. Consider the plateau a new beginning
Remember the beginning of your weight loss journey?
It started by assessing your current physique and diet, which helped you set your primary goals based on your weight loss desires.
You saw a lot of success in the beginning and your body quickly lost the weight.
Now that time has passed, your body has changed.
The dietary needs of your new, smaller body are different from the ones you started with.
Your body needs less energy to function.
Think of it like this – one simple way to measure weight loss is by looking at clothing sizes.
Your jeans from last year are too loose and don’t fit anymore.
Therefore, you wear smaller jeans that fit your smaller body.
The same idea applies to the calories you consume.
Not sure where to start?
Find out the total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) of your current weight.
This will give an accurate picture of the energy needs you need to begin losing weight steadily again.
2. Be honest with food tracking
There’s no specific diet that is best for everyone.
All reduction diets are based on one principle – burning more calories than you consume.
Your diet should be chosen based on your needs and preferences.
They all work if you maintain a calorie deficit and are honest about tracking.
It’s easy to disregard the small things – the few nuts taken from your co worker’s desk, the teriyaki chicken sample at the mall, the sweet hazelnut creamer in your coffee, and even that 15-calorie breath mint.
Independently, these aren’t a lot of calories.
However, over the course of the day or week, tiny calories add up to a significant amount.
Try to measure everything that goes into your mouth.
Also, make sure your portion sizes are accurate, especially with calorie-dense foods.
One tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories.
Olive oil is a great source of healthy fats, but the calories can add up quickly if you disregard accurate measurements.
Consider buying a food scale for the best accuracy.
Leveling off your measuring utensils works great too.
3. Learn about stress and how to manage it
Stress affects body weight more than most consider.
It triggers the release of large amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to increase the appetite for highly-palatable junk foods.
Knowing this information before entering stressful times can prevent weight gain later on.
Some symptoms of stress include sleeping problems, low energy, irritability, aches, and pains.
Stress can be brought on by a variety of factors – problems at work, problems in your relationship, and major life changes.
It’s normal for people to encounter stress every once in a while, but the reaction to stress is the most important part of managing it.
Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise in a way that makes you feel good.
If stress problems persist, consider talking to a professional about receiving medication or counseling.
4. Use more than a scale to track your progress
Fat loss isn’t the only element that affects the number on the scale.
People who weigh frequently complain of daily shifts in weight – most of which can be attributed to water retention, food mass within the body, and clothing worn during the weigh-in.
Many people use to measure themselves using a tape measure to combat this problem.
Fluctuations in inches are less frequent than fluctuations in pounds.
However, it’s still important to measure yourself in the same conditions every time.
Most consider it best to measure themselves without clothing when they wake up in the morning.
Others take progress pictures.
Taking daily or weekly photos gives a visual on your progress without stressing numbers.
Also, it’s a great way to monitor weight changes in places we don’t think about – like the face or back.
If you can’t ditch the scale, try weighing less frequently and watching for trends.
Consider weighing yourself weekly or even monthly.
If you stick to your weight-loss plan, the reward during a weekly or monthly weigh-in is much greater than stressing about minuscule movements.
5. Try strength training
Muscle is much denser than fat.
It takes up less space but weighs more.
If you’ve been consistently strength training, the built muscle may be causing the scale to stay still.
This isn’t a bad thing though – through strength training, people can lose fat while gaining muscle in a process called body re-composition.
In order to ensure muscle growth and fat loss, we recommend eating a moderate number of calories while prioritizing protein.
The U.S. government recommends an intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to maintain muscle per day.
If you are cutting calories for fat loss, increase your protein intake.
Finally, devise your workouts with an emphasis on strength training for muscle growth and moderate amounts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for fat loss.
Beyond fat loss, strength training offers a plethora of other benefits.
Strength training increases metabolism – the body is constantly trying to repair muscle fibers, a process that creates muscle growth.
Also, strength training helps maintain bone health and minimizes stress fractures.
Weight-bearing exercises also counteract aging factors by increasing mobility and helping manage chronic pain.
No matter the place in your weight loss journey, a plateau can be discouraging.
Ultimately, the success you earn is determined by the work and willingness you have to try something new.
Getting out of your comfort zone isn’t easy, but the rewards that come with time are well worth the sacrifice.
You were able to start the process and get this far – we know you can achieve your fitness goals with the right information.