Weight loss is never a linear process. When you first change your habits, you’ll likely lose weight quickly. As time progresses, weight loss is likely to slow, if not stop altogether.
As a smart dieter, you know to anticipate these weight loss plateaus. Though many people accept a plateau as part of the weight loss process, you can do better. By learning what leads to plateaus and strategies to overcome them, you can get your weight loss back on track.
But first, here are the basics.
What is a weight loss plateau?
Weight loss plateaus occur when your diet and exercise routine fail to produce additional weight loss. Often, plateaus stem from routines that at one time led to weight loss.
What’s most frustrating for many is that they diet and exercise just as carefully as they were before with no results. So, what causes this shift?
What causes a weight loss plateau?
There is one major practical reason for a plateau, and other things that can also cause problems.
Put simply, it’s expected that your weight loss will slow or stop over time. When you first begin your diet and exercise routine, you’ll enjoy rapid weight loss. This is because you’re consuming fewer calories and your body is forced to use stored glycogen for energy. Glycogen is partly made of water, meaning that most initial weight loss is actually water weight loss.
Once you’ve lost this water weight, you’ll begin to lose fat and some muscle. Because you lose muscle, and muscle increases metabolism, it makes sense that you burn fewer calories – and lose less weight – than you were before you began losing weight.
Over time, this muscle loss causes the metabolism to slow further, steadily slowing weight loss as well. Most dieters, even smart dieters, will continue to eat the same diet and exercise with the same frequency as before they lost their initial weight. But, because your metabolism has slowed down, you plateau. Hence you need to adjust your diet and exercise regime.
Some people attribute weight loss plateaus to other causes as well. For example, many blame sleep for their plateaus. While sleep has been shown to affect weight loss, it’s still more likely that the main process of muscle loss is to blame.
Some people blame plateaus on stress. However, this is usually a fallacy – stress may cause you to turn to food for comfort or skip some workouts, but it shouldn’t affect your metabolism.
Other likely explanations for weight loss plateaus include a variety of personal factors, such as:
- thyroid or adrenal gland problems
- side-effects of certain medications
- quitting smoking
Now only one question remains: “How do I overcome my plateau?”
How to overcome your weight loss plateau
Many people spend weeks or even months in a plateau, eating the same foods and exercising with the same routine. They grow discouraged and sometimes quit. You won’t do the same because, as a smart dieter, you know you have options.
Here are eight strategies you can use when you hit a plateau:
- Find new workouts. If your current workouts aren’t working, try something new. This doesn’t mean that you have to abandon the treadmill entirely. Instead, raise the intensity throughout the workout to elevate your heart rate and challenge your body. You should also incorporate strength training into your routine if you haven’t already. Doing so will help prevent further muscle loss, protecting your metabolic rate.
- Focus on muscle. If you’ve lost a lot of weight using cardio training, focus on strength training for a while. Remember: muscle burns more calories than fat!
- Monitor portion sizes. Many dieters give up on measuring cups because they believe they can eyeball portions. If you hit a plateau, break out the measuring cups and scales once again to keep portion sizes in check. You might be eating more than you think!
- Journal your food. Just as portion sizes can creep up, you may snack and not realize it. By keeping a food journal of everything you put in your mouth, you can make sure you aren’t forcing yourself into a weight loss plateau with additional (untracked) calories.
- Don’t weigh yourself too often. It’s tempting to weigh yourself every other day or even daily once you hit a plateau, but you shouldn’t. This will only discourage you. Limit your time on the scales to one day per week to track progress without being counterproductive.
- Try new recipes. Anyone can fall into a recipe rut. Buy a new cookbook or find new recipes online from your favourite websites. New meals will likely reinvigorate your passion for weight loss and help you get back on track with some variety!
- Stay positive. Weight loss plateaus often come with some serious loss of motivation. Look at old photos and remind yourself of how far you’ve come. If you allow yourself to think negatively, you’re unlikely to overcome the plateau.
- Think beyond the gym. Weight loss is a lifestyle change, and you can’t focus on the gym as your only resource for physical activity. Try to walk more, use the car less, or even clean your house. Any physical activity will help give your weight loss efforts a boost.
Don’t fall victim to a weight loss plateau
Weight loss plateaus are discouraging to every dieter. However, you don’t have to feel as if a plateau marks the end of your weight loss efforts. Your energy is better spent understanding the cause of your plateau and what you can do to overcome it.
With the tips above in mind – along with a comprehensive weight loss supplement like PhenQ – you can reinvigorate your efforts and overcome any plateau you encounter during your fitness journey. More importantly, you can teach yourself patience and the power of a positive mindset.
The only question is: how badly do you want to?