Plateaus are a major factor in diet failures. A successful and motivated dieter can go for months watching the scale drop and then hit the diet plateau brick wall.
There is nothing more discouraging than faithfully sticking to a diet plan, then have the scale get stuck for several weeks or even a month.
What Is A Weight Loss Plateau?
A weight-loss plateau eventually happens to everyone who is trying to lose weight. Plateaus occur because metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as the dieter loses muscle.
A weight loss effort can result in a new equilibrium with slower metabolism. At this new equilibrium, calories eaten equals calories expended.
Long-time dieters can hit several plateaus before achieving their desired weight goal. Sadly, a plateau can be so discouraging; many once committed dieter will give up.
Not giving up when on a plateau is one of the greatest challenges of dieting.
If you hit a plateau,
Know it happens
Don’t give up
Stay the course (with a few of the above modifications)
A plateau sends a message to the dieter. Time to shake it up! To break the plateau, you need to increase activity or decrease calories intake. Sticking with your current weight loss approach will maintain your weight loss, but it won’t lead to more weight loss.
Note: Many dieters will announce, “I’ve hit a weight loss plateau,” while they attack the breadbasket. Their “plateau” is false and they are not being honest with themselves. Be sure you’re truly on a plateau – and not kidding yourself!
Here are some steps to break that plateau:
- Take a hard look at your diet and whether you are still honoring it. The longer we diet, the easier it is to add in non-diet treats and to pass on exercise. Before blaming a plateau or other reasons for the scale not budging, give careful consideration to your own culpability.
- Cut calories; even 200 fewer calories a day can make a difference (but don’t go below your diet plans recommended calorie count).
- If you haven’t been measuring your food, get back to it. Use portion control
- Shake up your exercise and cardio routine. Try weight training. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn. Exercise burns calories; Ramp it up.
- Eat six small meals a day. Have protein with each meal (even the snacks).
- Give up the bad carbs (bread and pasta) and switch to non-starchy veggies.
- Drink lots of water (avoid caffeine and alcohol), drink green tea (some experts say it raises metabolism), switch to decaffeinated beverages
- Increase your overall activity: From taking the stairs to parking at the far end of a parking lot.
- Settled in for the evening in front of the television? Get up and do something: clean a closet, take a walk, and wash a floor. Move it.
Please remember. If you hit a weight loss plateau there is a good chance that you don’t have to cut calories and increase exercise, often you are doing a lot of things right but your body has just gotten very used to the schedule you have set.
Shake it up! Eat different, exercise different, schedule your day different. The difference is what will send your body back into the caloric deficit and restart the weight loss.
You can beat the weight loss plateau – and it is so worth it. Remember that in all areas of fitness, health improvement and weight loss there will be several plateaus that we hit, all of these are an opportunity to see how we are doing something not quite right, and a chance to change things up.