If you’re on a journey to lose weight, you may be facing, soon will face, or have faced the following scenario: You lose weight and inches steadily for several weeks, and then the numbers start decreasing more slowly–or not at all. Your diet and exercise habits haven’t changed–you’re doing exactly what you did when you started you losing so much weight in the first place–but, for some reason, it doesn’t seem to be working anymore. You’ve hit the infamous “weight loss plateau.” This is a frustrating and discouraging phenomenon, but you shouldn’t let it bump you off-course. Experts have discerned the reasons we hit plateaus and the methods to push past them.
Understanding Causes of a Plateau
Understanding why we plateau out like this is essential in strategizing how to overcome said plateau. The basic rule of weight loss is that calories in needs to be less than calories burned. We stall when that number balances out. The major reason we stop burning so many calories is that lighter bodies have slower metabolisms and require fewer calories in order to function. So congrats! This means you’ve already lost a lot of weight. Additionally, if you’ve been exercising regularly, then your body has adapted to the workout. The more you do a particular routine, and the stronger you become, the more the body does it efficiently, which means it expends fewer calories.
Changing Your Diet
It may be time to readjust your diet. Assess the past month or so, and be honest with yourself. Have you gotten a little lax with your portions? Have you been portioning at all, or have you just been eyeballing your food? Maybe you switched from cheeseburgers to smoothies and salads, and that led to a dramatic shift in the beginning. However, it may be the time to go a step further and analyze what exactly is in those salads and smoothies and see where you can cut even more calories. Cutting as few as 100 or 200 calories a day will make a big difference. (That’s 700 to 1400 calories over the whole week.) Mayo Clinic recommends never going below 1200 calories a day, though. If you eat too little, you get hungry, which can contribute to overeating and binging.
Certain foods are especially useful in weight loss. First of all, make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need so that you don’t get exhausted. Exhaustion can lead to slacking on your workout or overeating. Incorporate foods shown to help with weight loss. Some foods, like celery, actually have a negative-calorie intake! Fiber-rich foods will make you feel fuller. Almonds are one of the best foods for weight loss, since they’re high in important amino acids. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that eating almonds before a workout helps you burn more fats and carbohydrates.
If you’re still needing an extra boost, consider adding supplements to your diet. Take that multivitamin! If you use an effective supplement like Ephedra Diet Pills, which incorporate natural ingredients that give you energy and reduce sugar cravings, along with your diet and exercise routine, then you may get just the jump to help you back on your way.
Outside of the gym, how active are you during a day? Americans spend, on average, 12 hours a day sitting! See what you can do to spend more time moving around. Studies show that standing doubles your calorie burn per minute. Why not switch to a standing desk? Park your car as far away from the office as you can. On your lunch break, take a walk around the block or climb a few flights of stairs.
Your workout may need finessing, as well. First of all, how consistently are you getting to the gym? While three days a week may have led to big results early on, it may be time to switch to five or six workouts a week. The recommendation is 30 minutes every day. And make sure your workout is balanced. Cardio burns a lot of calories while you’re doing it, but muscle mass increases your resting calorie burn. Also, bump it up a little–add more reps or weight, or do your aerobics for longer. Switch it up every now and then. As our bodies get used to a workout, they get more efficient with it. Consequently, putting your body through a new routine every once in a while will boost your calorie burn. Consistency is the most important thing, however, so ultimately you should stick to your plan.
Keeping a Good Mindset
The good news is, keeping up your current habits will probably maintain your current weight, so keep going like you’re going, and you don’t have to worry too much about putting pounds back on.
And it may not be as dire as you think. For instance, remember that muscle weighs more than fat does. If you’ve been working out and getting stronger, you probably have more muscle mass than you originally did. If the number on the scale isn’t going down, try measuring your waist, buns, and thighs. Are they getting smaller?
Whatever you do, don’t let a stall make you fall. Think about all the work you’ve done already. You’re a healthier you as it is. You’re stronger, more nourished, and probably have more energy. If you’re really feeling discouraged, talk to your doctor or to a dietitian, who will be able to give you personalized guidance. Whatever you do, don’t give up!