Weight Loss Plateau-What Does It Mean When You Stop Losing Weight?
You’re doing everything right: you’ve cut back on sweets, you fill up on veggies, and you’re hitting the treadmill hard five days a week.
In fact, the losing-weight part was so easy at first that it felt incredible watching those 10 or 15 extra pounds melt away. But now?
After a few months, the scale doesn’t budge, and you feel stuck with 10 or 15 extra pounds.
Plateaus are a natural occurrence in weight loss.
Weight loss plateau is when you stop losing weight.
When you reach the point in your weight loss where you have lost the same amount of weight for several weeks in a row, it can be frustrating.
Some factors may cause this weight loss plateau are obvious, like stress and hormonal changes, but other factors are less clear. When you stop losing weight, it is important to reassess your goals and make sure they are still realistic for you.
What causes a weight-loss plateau?
When you begin to cut calories, the body gets needed energy initially by releasing its stores of glycogen (a type of carbohydrate found in muscles and the liver).
Glycogen is partly made of water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it releases water. Initially, weight loss will be rapid as a result of the loss of water, but this is only temporary.
As you lose weight, you also lose some muscle mass, reducing your body’s ability to burn calories.
Because of this, as you lose weight and your fat mass decreases, your resting metabolic rate (RMR) declines.
To keep the rate at which you burn calories up and continue losing weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you did when you were heavier.
To speed up the process of weight loss and avoid the dreaded plateau, focus more on increasing your RMR by exercising more often and/or increasing the intensity of your workouts.
Why Plateaus Are Important to Successful Weight-Loss?
When we reach a weight-loss plateau, this means our healthy lifestyle changes have been successful. It’s important not to quit, as our body needs time to readjust after losing weight.
Research shows that most people regain all the weight they lost and then some after going on a strict diet.
So let’s not be discouraged if the number on the scale doesn’t change for a little while. We still have to celebrate that we are in maintenance mode, which is a huge accomplishment.
When we reach a weight-loss plateau, it is important to remember that our body is resetting itself and that this is a good thing. Our body’s metabolic rate and ghrelin (it’s an hormone learn about it here. https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/ghrelin/)signalling are returning to normal.
This helps us get back on track towards losing weight and feeling great.
How long does a weight loss plateau usually last?
Why do you think it is that some people manage to lose a lot of weight and keep it off? Because it isn’t easy to overcome your set point. After all, the body wants to maintain its equilibrium.
When we lose weight gradually and slowly, our set point will eventually shift to accommodate the change. This means that our bodies will not fight against us and reject the change. More research shows that we must work together with our bodies if we are to bring about such a change successfully.
It takes anywhere from eight to twelve weeks for a plateau to last, but it can be shorter or longer depending on the individual. After this plateau, it’s much easier for us to get back on track with losing weight.
Sustainable weight loss isn’t a quick fix. It typically takes 1-2 years to lose the weight, not 10 weeks on TV. It can take many years to gain weight, so it will take time to lose it again.
Tips For Breaking Through A Weight-Loss Plateau
The plateau is the worst nightmare for any fitness enthusiast. It is the point where you stop losing weight, even though you are still working out.
If you encounter a weight-loss stall, don’t give up on your healthy eating efforts.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to get past this plateau.
1. Boost your workout.
To keep fit, most people will have to exercise regularly.
However, those who want to lose weight should exercise more often than others, or increase the intensity of exercise in order to burn more calories.
Muscle tissue burns many more calories than fat tissue when it is active, so by adding weight training to their daily routine, people who are trying to lose weight can speed up the process.
If you do the same workout for too long, your body will begin to get used to it and become more efficient at completing the activity. If your body doesn’t have to work as hard to move a certain way, you won’t burn as many calories.
To break through a plateau, challenge your body in new, vigorous ways.
This can be as simple as increasing the speed of your elliptical workout or trying a completely different routine.
Setting realistic expectations and giving yourself time to rest is important for any new workout routine.
In the beginning, try to exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week.
As you get better at a new workout routine, gradually increase duration and intensity or try something completely new—whatever it takes to keep your body guessing.
2. Keep a food diary.
When you eat more food than your body needs and don’t burn off calories through exercise, your weight can start to creep up.
If your weight loss stalls, consider reassessing your eating habits.
Researchers have found that people tend to underestimate the number of calories they consume.
To ensure that you don’t consume more calories than you expect, keep an eye out for sneaky calories from beverages and other foods not on your radar.
Counting the calories and macronutrients — protein, fat and carbs — in your food can help you determine whether your diet is providing the right nutritional balance for your body.
You may need to make changes to your diet to achieve this balance.
To keep track of your caloric intake and portion sizes, you might find it helpful to use a food journal or calorie-tracking application.
In the journal, you can record what you eat and drink throughout the day as well as anything else that might be relevant—such as when you ate or if you feel stressed.
Use your journal or tracking app to identify unhealthy eating habits and emotional triggers, then brainstorm alternatives for fulfilling or soothing them.
3. Make sure to get enough protein!
If your weight-loss efforts have stalled, you may want to consider adding more protein to your diet.
Protein can help you lose weight in several ways.
First, the body uses more calories breaking down protein for digestion than it does to digest carbohydrates or fat.
Secondly, Protein-rich foods stimulate the secretion of appetite-curbing hormones, which help you feel fuller longer.
Lastly, Protein helps preserve muscles, which can keep your metabolism working.
Although protein can help you lose weight, it doesn’t mean you need to eat excessive amounts of meat or other high-protein foods.
Calculate your daily protein intake and increase your consumption if you are getting less than the recommended amount.
To maintain muscle and bone health, adults who get little daily physical activity should eat at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day. A 150-pound adult needs 68 grams of protein a day; a 68-kilogram adult needs 54 grams.
However, if you get more than your usual amount of physical activity, you’ll have to increase your protein intake.
Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, but the timing of your protein intake is also important.
By eating protein throughout the day, you’re helping your body burn more energy through the process called thermic effect of food (TEF).
4. Stress Management
Stress can often have a negative effect on your ability to lose weight.
Stress not only increases your appetite, but it also increases cortisol, which can lead to weight gain.
The hormone cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.” While it helps your body respond to stress, it can also make you store belly fat.
Fats and sugar in food may help relieve the effects of stress, which might be why people often crave comfort foods when they feel tense.
As a result, if you produce too much cortisol, you may find it difficult to lose weight.
You may think that weight loss is up to your body and not your mind, but it turns out that learning to manage stress can help promote weight loss.
To lower your stress levels, try jotting down a few fun activities you can take part in instead of eating junk food, such as meditating or practicing deep breathing techniques.
5. Give intermittent fasting a shot.
Many people have started practicing intermittent fasting over the last few years.
It involves going at least 16 hours without eating, typically followed by a time period of eating and food consumption.
The practice has been credited with promoting weight loss and the loss of body fat., in addition to other health benefits.
People who practice intermittent fasting may consume fewer calories, maintain more muscle mass, and preserve their metabolic rates while they lose weight.
6. Stay away from alcohol.
Drinking alcoholic beverages may be hindering your efforts to lose weight.
The calories in a single alcoholic drink add up quickly, but those extra calories don’t provide any nutrition.
In addition, the calories can add up if you have more than one drink during a sitting.
Another concern is that alcohol may lower your inhibitions, so you may feel less self-conscious about overeating or indulging in high-calorie foods.
This might be especially problematic for people working to break bad habits or establish new ones, such as eating less junk food.
If you’re having a hard time losing weight, you may want to cut down on your drinking or stay away from alcohol altogether.
7. Drink some water, coffee, or tea.
Drinking sugary beverages may lead to weight gain, but some beverages may help you break a plateau and start losing pounds again.
Water is a key component to losing weight. There are proven benefits to drinking water–plain water, not sugar water; a study shows that after drinking a 17-ounce (500 ml) serving of plain water your metabolism will increase by 24–30 percent for 1.5 hours after drinking.
This will help weight loss over time, it might help prevent overeating.
Drinking coffee or tea can also help you lose weight. These beverages contain caffeine, which has been shown to boost metabolic rate and burn fat.
8. Sleep well
Sleep is very important in maintaining good physical, mental, and emotional health.
It’s also been shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain by lowering your metabolic rate and altering hormone levels to drive appetite and fat storage.
Sleeping improves your body’s ability to burn fat, so if you aren’t getting enough sleep it can make weight loss seem like a hard process.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be a good idea to take a break from your workouts and give your body time to recover.
There are many different techniques to try when you’re trying to sleep better and longer, and limiting screen time before bed is a great place to start.
Making sleep a priority and getting back on track with your workouts is possible; just take it one day at a time.
You can help yourself lose weight and live a healthier life by getting 7–8 hours of sleep every night.
9. Keep Moving
Although exercise is essential, research has shown that your metabolism can fluctuate depending on what you are doing.
For example, your metabolic rate increases after you move around when sitting or standing still.
The human body burns a lot more calories than it used to because we move around more, and this phenomenon is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT.
Research shows that NEAT has a significant impact on your basal metabolic rate (BMR), although the effect varies depending on the individual.
You can burn more fat by standing up more often.
Switching to a standing desk, or any desk where you can alternate between sitting and standing, is a great way to boost your NEAT and increase your metabolism.
10. Don’t let the scale be your only measure of success
When you are trying to lose weight, you may find it helpful to step on the scale daily.
Sometimes, however, the scale may not correctly record your progress.
For instance, if you have lost a lot of fat but gained some muscle through exercise, your weight may not change at all, even if you have lost inches around your waistline and hips.
When trying to lose weight, hopping on the scale is likely part of your daily routine.
Instead of seeing weight loss as your main goal, think about losing body fat.
If you’re working out regularly, you may be building muscle, which is denser than fat and takes up less room in your body.
That’s why you may maintain your weight even though your body composition is changing.
So if the scale weight isn’t moving, you could be building muscle and losing fat, yet maintaining a stable weight.
In addition, you may retain water for a number of reasons, including your dietary choices.
However, the most common reason involves changes in hormone levels that affect fluid balance, particularly in women
If the scale isn’t moving and you are making healthy choices to create a calorie deficit, you may be experiencing “scale frustration,” but it doesn’t mean that you should give up.
Hormones can influence fluid balances in your body, causing you to retain water.
Don’t assume that if the scale isn’t moving, you aren’t losing fat.
One way you can tell whether you are making progress getting over a weight loss plateau is to evaluate how you feel, how your clothes fit, and even to measure your body parts to see if they’re changing.
Just by improving your diet and exercising regularly, you’ve already begun to improve your health.
If you’re overweight or obese, losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can be enough to reduce the risk of many chronic health conditions related to being overweight.
Don’t give up and go back to your old habits of eating, exercising, and taking care of yourself.
That would make it harder for you to continue to lose weight.
Celebrate all the hard work you’ve done to lose weight, even if you have trouble keeping it off.
Have you had this experience?
We’d like to hear about it.
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Credit for the photos of this article:
Anush Gorak ,Prophsee Journals , ANTONI SHKRABA , Kelly Sikkema, Joice Kelly , Drew Taylor , Dominika Ro
This was so encouraging for me! I will definitely try to get up and move around more during the day and increase the intensity of my workouts. Hopefully spring will help with both of these goals! Winter can encourage me to bundle up and stay in.
I’ve just started my weight loss journey so I’ll be on the look out for this plateau and come back to this post for future reference. Very helpful info, thank you!
Excellent advice and Plateau is so common. I’m going to try some of those suggestions, and I’m confident they’ll work.
Thank you for explaining plateaus, it can be really discouraging when that happens but to know your body is just taking time to adjust is a relief 🙂