Have you lost 10, 20, or even more pounds, and then the weight loss suddenly stopped before you reached your goal? The, it doesn’t seem to matter how hard you try, you can’t get rid of the last few pounds. Or maybe you’re feeling a lag in motivation and feel your fitness is a stalling point.
If it sounds familiar, then you may be experiencing a fitness or weight loss plateau.
I know that this situation can be very frustrating, but don’t worry, you can fix it! First, you should know what some of the reasons are behind a weight loss plateau- and what you can do against it. With these tips, it’s simpler than you may realize!
(A note on weight loss and plateaus- sometimes we set goals or weight numbers with unrealistic expectations. What’s more important is being comfortable in your own skin and experiencing a boost in your energy and vitality. Before thinking that you need to break through a “plateau”- take stock of what of your current health level and figure out what you TRULY need! )
What is a fitness or weight loss plateau?
Starting to follow a new diet and/or a well-designed exercise plan can result in steady weight loss. However, after a time many people can experience that, despite these lifestyle changes, the number on the scale doesn’t want to go down anymore.
This is what we call a weight loss plateau.
A fitness plateau is a little more vague. This tends to be more of a motivations that leaves you feeling burned out. It makes it feel impossible keep up with your normal routine.
The reasons behind a weight loss plateau and how to break through it
The reasons behind a weight loss plateau can vary. There are many possibilities to consider- depending on your lifestyle, your habits, your health condition, etc. There is no single reason that is true for everyone. Read through these reasons and see what resonates with you so that you can figure out what you need to do 🙂
1. Too many extra calories
There is a mistake that almost everyone commits when starting a new diet. At first, everyone sticks to the rules with great enthusiasm. Then as time goes by, people start to get tired and they may find it difficult to follow the diet, so they start to cheat. A little ice cream here, a little glass of wine there, or consuming bigger portions… the calories add up so easily! Maybe you won’t gain weight from these extra calories, but they can make you hit a weight loss plateau.
If this is what happened to you as well, then don’t panic. There is a solution.
It can be a good idea to start a food journal. By recording your meals, snacks, and drinks, you can have a proper insight into your calorie intake. People tend to underestimate their intake, so it can be an eye-opening experience also for you. When you understand where the extra calories are coming from, you can easily change your bad habits.
Keep in mind that all calories are not created equally- so if you are feeling hungry all the time and don’t know how you’ll “cut” calories- consider swapping instead. For example- 100 empty calories from a bag of potato chips is a lot different for satiating your hunger (note: it doesn’t!) than 100 calories of nutrient dense avocado or nuts.
Related read: Tips for Eating a Plant Based Diet
2. Not sufficient calorie intake, lack of variety
The exact opposite of the above-mentioned reason can also happen- and is also very common if you’ve been in restrictive diet mindset for the majority of your life! Your calorie intake may be so low that your body started to conserve energy, and it doesn’t burn calories anymore. You should know that this is the way your body works, and it is completely normal. Your body is just trying to protect you.
What you can do about it? Pay attention to how much and what you are eating. Try to eat variously and increase your fiber intake: eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are always good choices. Plus, pay attention to your hydration too! They can help you to overcome the weight loss plateau.
Related read: Healthy Weekly Meal Plan with Grocery List
3. No weight training
Did you skip weight training recently? Or maybe you never added it to begin with? Then maybe you stopped losing weight because of it. There is one important thing that you should know about weight loss. As you lose weight, you don’t only lose fat, but also muscles. And muscles are very useful when it comes to burning calories.
So if you want to lose more pounds, try to lift some weights at least 3 times a week. It will do wonders for your metabolism! You will see that as you gain more muscles, you will burn more calories.
Remember too that fat weight significantly less (but takes up way more space) than muscle. So gaining weight isn’t always a bad thing either.
4. Excessive exercise
You may think that the more you work out, the more weight you will lose. Sure, you might lose a few pounds, but you will also gain a lot of muscles ( a good thing- but it will tip the scale), and if you endlessly push yourself to do more and more exercises, it can put you under chronic stress.
As you know, stress can stop the burning of fat, and it is also increasing the fat storage of your belly. So maybe it seems like a great idea but excessive exercise can be harmful as well.
Aim for doing short but intense, or long but slow workouts.
This should be a great relief for many of us that have the belief that more exercise is better- it’s not necessarily true! As an ex-collegiate athlete, it took me a long time to realize that I didn’t need to exercise 2+ hours per day to stay healthy and fit 🙂 Now as a mom, I feel good getting in 10-30 minutes per day. Choose what feels best to you!
Related read: How to Design Your Own Home HIIT Workout
5. Bad sleeping habits
If you don’t get enough and good quality sleep, you will constantly feel tired and hungry. And those cravings for sweets? Incredible- right?! If you want to avoid them, you have to make changes to your bad sleeping habits.
Studies show that people who usually sleep for the same number of hours (7-9 hours) every night can have better results in weight loss. Improve your sleep quality and duration, and you may get through your weight loss plateau as well.
Related read: How To Reduce Sugar Cravings For Good
Stress is part of everyone’s life. But if you are experiencing extreme or chronic stress, it can be very bad for your health. Too much stress means high cortisol (stress hormone) levels that can stop your body from burning fat and other important healing functions.
Following a healthy lifestyle and reducing stress levels can help you to continue losing weight. Find some activities that can be useful in managing stress: walk, read a book, keep a journal, or talk with your friends.
Hitting a weight loss plateau sucks.
But the moment you find out why you have it, your problem is almost solved. You need to make only some small changes following the above-mentioned tips, and you can say goodbye to this frustrating situation very soon.
As always, remember that weight loss is one small part of the equation in living a life of health.
If you have already overcome a weight loss plateau, please share your experiences in the comments below. What tips will help you with your weight loss or health goals?