Reaching a weight loss plateau when you’re on a diet is not uncommon.
There are a number of reasons it can happen and each one with a solution revealed here.
Below you’ll find 4 REASONS why your body can reach a weight loss plateau and 5 SOLUTIONS to kick starting it again – yes, the sums are right!
First, you may actually be eating more calories than you realize.
If you are in a calorie deficit you WILL lose weight so a weight loss plateau may just be for a couple of weeks or so as fat loss does not always follow a regular linear pattern.
There may be medical challenges such as a low thyroid activity, but it’s still calories in versus calories out, you may just need less calories that you did.
Quite often when I review with my clients, I get the impression that little ‘extras’ are the problem behind a weight loss plateau. You get what I call ‘calorie creep’ and you lose your deficit so weight loss slows or stops.
It’s not that they’re cheating or anything necessarily, it’s just that when you feel back in control of your weight and your eating, you feel more relaxed about having so-called ‘naughty’ things.
But there may be other reasons for a weight loss plateau that are beyond your control.
Poor dieting can screw up your appetite and give you hunger pangs and cravings. This is why I always work with high quality supplement products, like the Herbalife nutrition smoothies, as they help control overeating by providing sound, balanced food throughout the day (so you’re not starving hungry by evening).
Other reasons why you reach a weight loss plateau are possibly eating more at the weekends or simply being inconsistent, so some days you have 1400 calories a day (deficit) and others you shoot over at 2200, even 3000 (curry night!) Maybe you don’t even realize it or remember.
The overindulgent days wipe out the deficit days.
The way around this is to reassess what you are eating by going back to keeping a food diary and planning your meals.
This can in itself make you more automatically more conscious of everything you eat and drink again – but it might show you where those extra calories are coming from, so you can get back to calorie deficit again and come out of your weight loss plateau.
Second, when you lose weight, you may not need so many calories as you once did.
Metabolism decreases as you reduce your body mass, especially if you lose muscle by not having the correct personalized protein level to protect your muscle tissue. So you need to reduce your calories a tad more to keep to a calorie deficit. Or increase your daily activity of course.
Once you’ve lost say about 30% of your total goal fat loss, just reducing by 100-200 calories a day may not seem much, but could make the difference and get you out beyond the weight loss plateau. Take a little bit off your portions, cut out that second glass of wine, eat half a choc bar not all of it, that kind of thing.
Whatever you do, don’t skimp on your nutrition, make healthier choices rather than cutting stuff out. For example, eat leaner meat, low fat cheese and yogurt, cut down further on excess ‘white’ refined or processed foods. That way, you’ll lose fat not muscle and avoid a further weight loss plateau in the future.
Third, not eating enough to sustain the body’s basic needs.
Over many days and weeks, very low calorie dieting can cause metabolic slowdown resulting in the dreaded weight loss plateau – or more accurately fat loss slows or stops.
Commonly, people talk about you going into “starvation mode” and your body closes down. More accurately, it’s simply that your calorie needs decrease – such that the level of calories you once needed to lose weight now becomes the level for weight maintenance.
The solution is actually to eat more calories for a few days at least and try to achieve only a 20% – 30% maximum calorie deficit below your resting metabolic + daily activity needs.
Fourth, sometimes the body just needs a change.
You can shake it up and overcome a weight loss plateau through exercise and by radically shifting your calories from day to day.
If you don’t vary things from time to time, the body gets used to operating at a set level and reaches a steady state.
A great diet plan for calorie shifting is Fat Loss 4 Idiots.
The diet is fairly standard, but crucial to its success is the way it calculates the nutrition balanced meals when varying the calorie levels.
Don’t worry, it’s not hard, as the diet comes with its own diet generator that uses all your preferred food choices and delivers two 11 day rotations of meal plans – all done for you.
Finally (5th) … It is possible to avoid these weight loss plateaus partly by keeping your calorie awareness in check and partly by avoiding metabolic slowdown when you’re cutting back on calories.
The key to avoiding a weight loss plateau is change plus keeping that calorie deficit at the right level.
Let me give you some pointers …
1. Lose weight slowly … 1-2 lbs a week is manageable and more likely to be fat you lose and keep off long term.
2. Eat more, burn more … if you are able to exercise, combine weight training AND interval-based cardio training to increase your calorie expenditure.
3. Don’t cut calories too drastically … you need a calorie deficit balanced around the 20-30% of your total daily needs (that’s your Resting Metabolic Rate, RMR, plus your daily activity or exercise calories burned).
4. Vary your daily calories … if one day you cut down low or exercise a lot, the next day, you should try increasing your calories (called re-feeding). Do this once a week if you have a lot of weight to lose, twice a week if you are already fairly lean). This really works well to re-stimulate your metabolism.
On the re-feeding day, consume a maintenance level of calories or even 10, 15, 20% above maintenance. Those extra calories can come in the form of carbs (carb cycling), which is a real treat!!!
If you’re not exercising, stick to 20% or you’ll not get the nutrition you need – you can do this using meal replacement nutrition smoothies – click to buy here and I’ll help you integrate this into your daily routine.
And finally, remember sometimes to just take a break – stop the diet every 3 months or so – see how your body ‘asks’ for food to get a sense of what your natural cravings are saying to you. Try to keep to healthy foods still, or focus on building muscle rather than losing fat. This will stop you obsessing over every half a lb on the scales and worrying less about a weight loss plateau.