Weight Loss Plateau: Why It Happens and How to Break It?
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You have been following a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly to lose weight. So far, you’re doing very well, and your weight is going down at a rate that motivates you.
Then suddenly, for no specific reason that you can identify, you stop losing weight. This is called a weight loss plateau.
So, how many weeks is considered a weight loss plateau? Well, it may last for a couple of weeks or even months. There’s no exact answer to how long a weight loss plateau lasts because it varies on an individual level.
Don’t worry, and don’t get demotivated. You’re not alone. Pretty much everyone who is on a weight loss diet hits a plateau at some point. It’s part of the process!
In this article, you will find what causes a plateau and our top strategies on how to break a weight loss plateau to continue losing weight.
Why Does Weight Loss Plateau Happen?
There is no single reason to hit a plateau in weight loss, it can happen for many reasons. Here are some possible theories as to why weight loss plateaus occurs:
- You may have lost a lot of weight, your body adapts to it and defends itself against further weight loss.
- You stop following your diet after a few months of being on a strict diet plan, and you are consuming extra calories unconsciously.
- As you lose weight, you burn fewer calories than your heavier self. And when the calories you burn equal the calories you consume, you hit a plateau.
There may be other reasons why a weight loss plateau happens. What you need to do first is to identify the reason behind the plateau and act accordingly to overcome it.
How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau
Increase your activity level
If you have been going to the gym and focusing only on cardio sessions to burn calories, it might be time to change the intensity or the type of your workout.
Changing your exercise may help reverse a plateau because as you lose weight, your metabolic rate slows down.
You can increase your metabolic rate by increasing your muscle mass. To do so, you may add some strengthening exercises like weightlifting, pilates, calisthenics like push-ups and crunches to your exercise regimen.
Not going to the gym? No problem, there are many ways to increase your general physical activity throughout the day.
For example, you can use your car less and walk more or take long walks with your dog. You can also start using the stairs instead of the elevator.
Any addition of some form of physical activity counts as extra calories burned.
Try reverse dieting
Reverse dieting is an eating plan where you gradually increase your calorie intake over some time. This is usually a preferred method when being on a calorie-restricted diet for a long time.
It gives a boost to your metabolism and helps your body burn more calories.
However, you should be careful to not go over with the calories you add because you may end up gaining weight if you add too much unconsciously. We recommend you make healthy increases in your meals.
For example, if you have been following a low or no-carb diet, you may add some carbs to your meal plan for some time.
We highly recommend you to choose whole grain and high fiber carbohydrate sources to keep your digestive system working well.
Make Small Switches
Making small switches to your diet can make a big impact on your weight loss journey. Here are a few tips:
- Add more fiber to your diet with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes. For example, replace a daily glass of juice with whole fruit, have oatmeal instead of packaged cereal or add some beans to your salads. One study shows that even only by adding fiber to your diet, you can lose some weight.
- Switch from coffee to green tea. The catechins found in green tea may help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism.
- Check your salt intake. If you’re following a high-salt diet without even noticing, you may be having some water retention in your body. Consider swapping to ‘low salt’ options for some of your regular foods.
- Also, remember that most salty snacks, even the “reduced fat” ones, are sources of added sugar and fat. And they cause long-term fat gain when consumed excessively. So be careful when snacking on those crackers.
- Drink more water. Hydration is key to weight loss. It helps to flush out excess salt and toxins from your body and keep hunger at bay. One easy way to check if you’re hydrated or not is your urine color. If it’s dark yellow, you’re dehydrated!
Check your sleep
Have you ever considered checking your sleeping pattern when you hit a plateau? Sleeping an adequate number of hours improves weight loss outcomes and impacts your waistline.
One study concluded that people who slept less than 6 hours at night had smaller changes in waist circumference compared with people who slept 7-9 hours.
Irregular sleep increases cortisol levels, a hormone tied to increased weight and a larger waistline. In addition, higher cortisol levels stimulate hunger, particularly for high-carb, junk foods.
So maybe a regular good night’s sleep can be your weight loss plateau breaker! Why not give it a try?
In conclusion, weight loss plateaus may be frustrating and even demotivating. But remember that you are not the only one going through this phase. It is part of the weight loss process.
The good news is there are many weight loss plateau solutions to try. To pick one, you should first assess the reasons behind your plateau. Then you can work on how to break the plateau the best way possible.
Also, one more thing; before focusing on hitting a plateau, appreciate all that weight you lost so far. You have already improved your diet and your health in the first place.
So, give yourself a pat on the back first. Then, focus on how to move forward.