When you first set out to lose weight, you’ll probably notice that the pounds initially come off quite easily. By cleaning up your diet, cutting back on the amount of calories you’re consuming, and engaging in more physical activity, your body starts burning fuel more efficiently. Each time you step on the scale feels like a reward for all of your hard work, until one day, your weight loss stalls. Even though you’re making healthy eating choices and exercising on the regular, your weight will not budge and you start to feel frustrated. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. If you want to know how to get over a weight loss plateau, we’re sharing 9 tips to help!
What Causes a Weight Loss Plateau?
Weight loss plateaus can occur for many different reasons, and can vary from person to person. If you want to know how to get over a weight loss plateau, it’s important to take the time to figure out where you may be falling short so you can come up with a plan of action. Here are a few reasons weight loss can stall:
- Your metabolism has slowed down, causing you to burn fewer calories than you did when you were at a higher body weight
- Your body has become stronger and more fit, and is burning less energy during your workouts
- As your weight drops, you’re not being as diligent with your diet and fitness goals (i.e. not paying attention to portion sizes, skipping workouts, etc.)
- You’re rewarding yourself with food after your workouts
- You’re overtraining
- You’re not sleeping enough
- You’re stressed
How to Get Over a Weight Loss Plateau: 9 Tips
If you’re making good food choices, exercising regularly, drinking all the water, sleeping 7+ hours per night, keeping your stress at bay and STILL not seeing any progress in your weight loss goals, don’t fret! There are tons of things you can do to get back on track. If you want to know how to get over a weight loss plateau, these tips and ideas are a great place to start.
1. LOOK BEYOND THE SCALE
When it comes to weight loss, we tend to be pretty black and white. Many of us only pay attention to one thing – the numbers on our bathroom scale – even though it only tells a small part of our weight loss story. The time of day, how many carbohydrates you’ve consumed, the amount of water you’ve had to drink, your salt intake, your hormone levels, etc. all contribute to how much you weigh at any given moment in time. It’s also important to keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, and that an increase in your weight can actually mean that you’re losing fat and building muscle. If you want to know how to get over a weight loss plateau, make sure you’re looking beyond the scale and evaluating other measures of success. Take regular body measurements, invest in a body fat clipper, take progress photos, and pay attention to how your clothes feel.
2. KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL
While you may think you’re good at keeping a mental note of what you eat and ensuring you’re staying within your target calorie intake for the day, keeping a food journal can be extremely eye opening. Whether you write everything down in a notebook, or use an app like My Fitness Pal, be sure to record every single morsel of food you put into your body for a week, including the little snacks and bites of food you consume throughout the day. And don’t forget to record your beverages! This will help you gain a better understanding of how many calories you’re consuming as well as the nutritional makeup of your meals and snacks. From there, you can tweak your diet to ensure you’re getting enough lean protein, health fats, and good-for-you carbohydrates to sustain you throughout the day, and that you aren’t consuming more calories than you’re burning.
3. MONITOR YOUR PORTION SIZES
Meal portions in North America are getting bigger and bigger, and if we’re not careful, our households are going to massively overeat. This is especially dangerous for women over 40 since your metabolism is slowing down and your body uses fewer calories to get through daily activities. Get into the habit of meal prepping using portion control containers, drink a glass of water before each meal, eat slowly and without distraction to help you recognize feelings of fullness, request a half portion size when dining in restaurants, and never eat foods straight from their packaging.
4. INCREASE YOUR FIBER INTAKE
If you want to know how to get over a weight loss plateau, consuming adequate fiber is another simple yet often overlooked weight loss tip that works. You should be eating at least 25 grams of fiber a day to reap the benefits. Fiber helps with your digestive health, disease prevention, weight control, and foods high in fiber help you feel full for longer. To increase your fiber, eat foods such as lentils, black beans, peas, broccoli, raspberries, pears, and oatmeal.
5. MAKE YOUR CARDIO WORKOUTS MORE EFFICIENT
If you’re trying to figure out how to get over a weight loss plateau, you may have contemplated adding MORE cardio to your daily workout regime. This may work well initially, but keep in mind that long, slow exercise (think: jogging for 60 minutes) burns muscle instead of fat. And since muscle burns more calories than fat, muscle mass is important for building and maintaining an efficient metabolism. Overtraining also causes cortisol levels to increase, which can have a devastating effect on weight loss.
Instead of doubling up on your cardio workouts, experiment with high intensity interval training instead. HIIT is when you exercise at a high intensity for 30 seconds to several minutes, followed by 1 to 5 minutes of rest or slow intensity exercise. It’s one of the most efficient and effective ways to burn calories, increase muscle mass, and sky rocket your metabolism.
6. COMMIT TO STRENGTH TRAINING
As mentioned above, muscle is important for building and maintaining an efficient metabolism. Strength training, such as bodyweight exercises, is one of the best things you can do to lose weight as it can increase your metabolism for up to 38 hours post-workout. Incorporating regular strength training into your weekly exercise regime will help increase your muscle mass, increase your metabolism, give you more energy, and improve your quality of sleep – all of which are important for weight loss.
7. PRIORITIZE REST AND RECOVERY
Overtraining, or not allowing your body ample time to rest and recover after exercise, can hurt you in so many ways. The more you wear your body down, the more you put yourself at risk for injury, and by keeping your body in a constant state of fatigue, you will inevitably make it harder to train at an optimal level. Also? You’ll probably see a stall in your progress! If you want to know how to get over a weight loss plateau, make sure your workout regime allows ample recovery time in between training sessions to allow your muscles to repair, and to ensure you can give 110% on workout days for optimal results.
8. SLEEP MORE
Quality sleep is an essential part of your overall health, both physically and mentally. Ongoing sleep deprivation can lead to issues such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood sugar, anxiety, diabetes, stroke, and weight gain. Not everyone realizes the importance of quality sleep, but it’s just as crucial as exercise and healthy eating. Of course, stress, anxiety, and hormones can all interfere with our sleep, so even if you’re committed to improving the length and quality of your sleep, your body may not cooperate. If this sounds like you, we’ve written an entire post about insomnia with tips for a better night’s rest.
9. MANAGE STRESS
If you want to know how to get over a weight loss plateau, stress management is key. Chronic stress can cause high levels of cortisol – the hormone responsible for controlling our blood sugar levels, regulating our metabolism, and reducing inflammation in the body. Also know as the ‘stress hormone’, high levels of cortisol due to chronic feelings of stress can lead to a whole host of issues, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and weight gain. Yoga, meditation, mindful breathing, regular exercise, and therapy are all great ways to keep your stress, cortisol levels, and weight under control.
When it comes to weight loss, remember that the number on your bathroom scale only goes so far. If you want to know how to get over a weight loss plateau, pay attention to your body measurements and how you look and feel first. Still convinced that your weight loss has stalled? Keep a food journal, practice proper portion sizes, load up on lean protein and fibre, maximize your workouts, manage stress, and SLEEP!