Hit a weight-loss plateau? 5 Ways to hit back
If you have hit a weight-loss plateau, here are five tips to help you hit back and achieve your weight-loss goal…
By Susan Bowerman
One of the more frustrating parts of losing weight is reaching the inevitable weight-loss plateau.
Everything seems to be going along fine, and then all of a sudden – no matter what you do – you find that the scale just doesn’t budge. When you find that your weekly weight loss has stalled, you’ve hit a ‘weight-loss plateau,’ and many dieters find the sudden lack of progress deeply frustrating.
What causes a weight-loss plateau?
When you cut back on your kilojoules, your body reacts as if there’s no more food coming its way. So, it does what it’s programmed to do: it hangs onto stored up kilojoules by slowing down the rate at which you burn them.
Your resting metabolic rate – the kilojoules you burn every day just to keep your body functioning – goes down a little bit. The drop isn’t huge (10% at most), but it’s often enough to put your weight loss on hold. And suddenly you’re feeling stranded on the dreaded weight-loss plateau.
Resting metabolic rate is determined by your body size and accounts for most of the kilojoules you burn each day. So, it makes sense that as your weight drops your metabolic rate goes down, too.
How to beat a weight-loss plateau?
In order to keep losing weight at the same rate, you need to either cut your kilojoule intake further, or exercise more. Alternatively, you could accept that your rate of weight loss will be slower as you approach your goal.
Here are more tips to help you get over that plateau:
1. Use a food diary to keep track of your kilojoule intake
You may have been more careful when you started your diet, by weighing and measuring everything that passed your lips, but you might not be as accurate as you once were. Being more consistent with your journal can help get you off the weight-loss plateau and back on track.
2. Drink a protein shake
Replace two meals a day with a protein shake to help you stay within your kilojoule limit. When you make your shake, you know exactly what goes into it and how many kilojoules are in the protein powder, the milk and the fruit. That takes the guesswork out of kilojoule counting. Use the shake for two meals a day, have a healthy third meal, and fill in with snacks of low-fat protein foods, veggies and fruits.
3. Eat out less often
This one may be hard to do, but it can make a big difference.
No matter how careful you think you are when you go to a restaurant, it’s usually difficult to accurately estimate how many kilojoules you’re eating. It’s often hard to tell exactly how foods are prepared – extra fats and kilojoules are often lurking.
If you’ve been eating out more often than usual, cut back for a couple weeks to see if it helps get your weight moving again.
4. Increase your cardio and strength training
As you build muscle, your resting metabolic rate goes up.
If you’ve been working out for a while, you might also be in better shape. And that means that if you haven’t increased the intensity of your activity, you might not be burning as many kilojoules as you used to.
Add some new moves to your exercise routine, increase the intensity and pump some iron.
5. Get your body composition checked
Consider that you might actually have reached an appropriate weight.
If you can, get your body composition checked. Muscle is denser and takes up less space than body fat. So, if you’re carrying more muscle than the average person, your body fat percentage might be well within the normal range, even though you might weigh more than you think you should. If that’s the case, then you may not have much, if any, additional weight to lose.
About the author: Susan Bowerman is a registered dietician, board-certified specialist in sports dietetics and director of nutrition training at Herbalife.