It’s more common than you think. So you decided to stop rolling through the drive through of your favorite fast food joint, and you began to steadily lose weight. You became super motivated and joined a gym or started busting out exercises at home and kept seeing the number on that scale drop lower and lower. It felt like you were on a weight loss high and you were hoping it’d never end. And then suddenly one morning you realized you haven’t lost a pound for a week, then two weeks, then three.
It’s hard not getting discouraged, but the truth is a weight loss plateau is a fairly normal speed bump in weight loss journeys, and more common than you might think. Not all is lost, however and with a little patience and perseverance you can pass through this weight loss plateau. It’s possible that your body thinks it’s reached its “set point weight”. A set point weight is one that your body appoints itself when it feels comfortable and almost programmed to store a certain amount of weight. Now, the set point weight is a theory, but there’s evidence to show that the body will fight back against any weight loss attempts beyond this point.
This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to lose that last 15-20 pounds, it just means it won’t be easy. But if you arm yourself with a few tools and tricks, you can win this fight. Here are 5 ways to overcome your weight loss plateau.
1. Adjust Your Calorie Intake.
As we lose weight and our bodies become smaller, our metabolic rates decrease. When weight comes off, your body doesn’t need the same amount of energy. Meaning, you need to adjust your calorie intake now that you have lost weight. It doesn’t make sense to continue eating the same way you did when you were 20 pounds heavier.
Be cautious not to adjust your calorie intake dramatically. Everyday decrease your calorie intake bit by bit. Generally, it is recommended that you do not go below 1,200 calories per day. So what if you’re only consuming 1,200 calories per day and you’re still stuck in a weight loss plateau?
If you’re consuming the right amount of calories for your body, then try changing what it is that you’re eating. For instance, instead of getting calories from foods that are high in carbohydrates, try eating foods high in protein instead. Eat more fiber; vegetables, fruits, legumes, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of fiber.
2. Switch Up Your Exercise Routine.
Brisk walking on your treadmill for the past month? It’s time to change up your exercise routine. Keeping a variety in your exercise routine can help you avoid the weight loss plateau. What you’re doing contributed to your existing weight loss, but now it’s time to spice up the workouts. Your workouts have become less effective because your muscles have gotten used to them.
Now’s the time to try high intensity interval training, or HIIT. Incorporate some forearm planks, butt kicks, burpees, and jumping lunges into your exercise routine. All these exercises are ones you can do in the comfort of your own home. With HIIT you are burning calories faster. However you need to remember to progress slowly, because failure to do so can injure you.
3. Get Enough Sleep.
Maybe you’re doing everything right; you’re exercising and eating healthy, and you don’t understand why you’re stuck in this weight loss plateau. After all, weight loss depends solely on food and exercise, right? Actually, surprising research suggests otherwise.
Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. The average person requires 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Without proper sleep, a cortisol spike is triggered. This hormone essentially tells your body to store and conserve energy for the day ahead. When you’re sleep deprived you are hungrier, and more susceptible to eating unhealthy, because a sleep deprived brain is groggy and begging for energy from anywhere. After just four days of insufficient sleep, your body’s ability to process insulin gets skewed. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to change sugars and starches into energy. The bottom line? Catch up on your zzz’s if you want to stabilize your hormones and continue losing weight.
4. Avoid Nibbling Throughout The Day.
Sometimes we don’t even realize it, but we’re contributing to our weight loss plateaus by adding calories from small bites here and there. These mindless bites add up to extra calories that we don’t account for.
Examples of these nibbles throughout the day can be finishing up your toddler’s lunch leftovers, or trying food while you’re cooking. Maybe a coworker brought in some sweets, and you grabbed a handful without even realizing it. These mindless bites add up to a lot of extra calories. Being aware of these small bites can help you keep track of your calorie intake.
5. Drink More Water.
We know staying hydrated is important for us all, but drinking more water can help us in our weight loss journey. In a recent study, participants who drank cold and room temperature water had an increase in calorie loss. They burned about 3% more calories than they normally would, just by drinking more water.
Water is a natural appetite suppressant. Drinking a cold glass of water when you wake up in the morning has been shown to decrease appetite, and increase metabolism. When your body is dehydrated, it isn’t able to efficiently remove toxins from your body through urine and feces. Staying hydrated helps with bowel movements, and helps to avoid retaining waste which can be additional pounds.
Without water, the body is not able to properly metabolize stored fat, or carbohydrates. Water is necessary to metabolize fats and aid in weight loss. If you’re having trouble remembering to drink water throughout the day, here are a few tips: drink at least an 8 ounce glass of water with each meal to start. Have a glass of water early in the morning before your cup of coffee. Carry water in a reusable water bottle, and bring it everywhere with you. And finally, eat more liquid based foods such as soups, fruits, vegetables, like cucumbers, tomatoes, and melons.
It’s not easy getting out of a weight loss plateau. Remember to reduce your calorie intake, and intensify your exercise routine. Get a good night’s rest, stay hydrated, and be mindful of the foods you’re consuming throughout your day. With these tips and tricks, you can overcome your weight loss plateau!