Pushing Past The Weight Loss Plateau
Stop us if this sounds familiar—you’re optimistic as you start a new healthy weight loss program. The new beginning energy powers you through the first month or so with success. You’re eating well and working out! The weight is coming off! You’re doing amazing!
Cut to a few weeks or months later. You’re still eating healthy and exercising regularly, but the number on the scale seems stuck. What happened to all that progress? Why isn’t it working anymore? Welcome to the weight loss plateau.
What is a weight loss plateau?
A weight loss plateau occurs when you start losing weight and then suddenly seem to stop progressing. You may recognize the word “plateau” from geography class. In case you forgot what plateau means, it describes a huge rock formation rising from the earth, topped with large flat areas (think desert mesas). That flat expanse of land represents the stagnation of progress commonly seen early on in weight loss journeys.
It’s unfortunate that plateaus often occur at the start, just when you need the motivation of success the most. Even though they can be frustrating, it’s essential to understand that weight loss plateaus are common, and many people experience one at some point during their weight loss journey.
Why do weight loss plateaus occur?
There are a couple of things going on in your body during weight loss that contribute to plateaus in progress. At the beginning of your weight loss journey, you may observe the weight comes off quickly—most likely due to reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity.
However, your body will eventually start to adjust to your new routine and calorie burning. As you shed the extra pounds, your metabolic rate will start to slow and naturally burn fewer calories than it did at a higher weight.
There is also evidence that when you lose weight, the hormones that tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full also change. Because you’re not taking in as much energy in the form of calories, your body can adjust by increasing your hunger cues. This can lead to overeating, weight loss plateauing, and eventually weight gain.
Tips to overcome a weight loss plateau
Now that you understand why weight loss plateaus occur, you can take the right steps to switch things up and get back to progress. Here are some strategies for moving past a weight loss plateau:
- Change up workout type or frequency: Your body will eventually get used to doing a particular workout, especially if you are doing the same thing each time. Try something new to “trick” the body into working harder again. If you tend to walk on the treadmill, consider lifting some weights this week, and vice versa.
- Mix up your diet: Similarly, make some tweaks to your meal plan. You can cut more calories to try to lose more weight, but you may find yourself too hungry. Trying new combinations of fat, protein, and carbohydrates could help you lose weight while still staying satiated.
- Continue to manage stress: An evergreen tip, finding healthy ways to manage your stress can benefit your overall mental and physical health and support a healthy weight loss journey. Don’t underestimate how much impact your attitude around your plateau will define your progress!
- DON’T GIVE UP: This is the most important tip—by continuing your efforts, you can not only preserve your progress so far but also work hard to overcome this plateau to continue progress.
Understand that a weight loss plateau is not your failing, but your body’s natural reaction to all of your healthy living efforts. Even though reaching a plateau can be frustrating, a well-rounded plan could help you overcome it and resume your path toward a healthy weight.