When you first started your weight loss plan, you were meeting all your goals and feeling great. Now it seems like your weight loss has stalled, even though you’ve been exercising and sticking to your diet religiously. What gives?
It may not be much consolation, but the struggle to overcome weight loss plateaus is a common dieting challenge. You’ll likely experience the most significant drop in weight in the first few weeks of a diet because you have a higher metabolism at this point. When you drop pounds quickly, you may lose lean muscle along with fat, which causes your metabolism to slow down. When your metabolism slows down, so will your weight loss, even if you’re sticking to the same diet and exercise plan.
The good news is that knowing what to do when weight loss plateaus can help keep you moving forward and reaching your goal weight. Try these six strategies:
Cut Your Calories (A Little Bit)
When your weight loss plateaus, try decreasing your daily calorie intake by 100-200 calories, unless you’re already down to 1200 calories (for women) or 1800 calories (for men). You may be able to get rid of these extra calories just by making a few simple changes to your meals. For example, try eating a high-fiber breakfast in the morning so that you stay full longer and only need a small lunch. When striving to overcome a plateau in weight loss, look for ways to make new healthy substitutions, such as cooking with oil instead of butter or choosing a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar.
Jot It Down
A food journal will help you identify your eating habits and hold yourself accountable. Record not just the type of foods you eat, but also the times of day you eat and your emotional state when eating. This may help you identify eating triggers (for example, you might notice that you reach for a snack whenever you’re feeling stressed). Once you know your triggers, you can work to avoid them.
Mix It Up When You Work Out
As your metabolism slows down, you’ll probably find that your go-to 30-minute treadmill walk isn’t helping you lose as much weight as you were before. Try out some new workouts—or work challenges into your current workouts—to burn more calories and overcome weight loss plateaus. For example, you could add a minute of jogging for every five minutes of walking on the treadmill, or you could start walking around the hilliest part of your neighborhood. Remember to include some strength exercises in your workout, too: building muscle will help you burn calories more quickly.
Make Fitness a Regular Part of Your Day
It can be hard to get to the gym every day, but even if you can’t hit that fitness room, try to integrate exercise into your day. Maybe you could ride a bike to work or park a little farther from the office so that you can walk in. If you need to get to the tenth floor, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Clean your house or do yard work on the weekend to get your heart rate up. You’ll get a workout without it feeling like a big deal.
Get a Personalized Weight Loss Plan
There’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy for breaking a weight loss plateau, and if you find that your weight loss has stalled despite your best efforts, it may be time to have a doctor create a plan just for you. With Diet Doc, you can set up a teleconference with a physician who specializes in medical weight loss. Your doctor will ask you a series of questions and review your medical history, which will allow them to make recommendations for diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Your doctor may also prescribe weight loss medication when appropriate.
Don’t get held back by the dreaded weight loss plateau—try the solutions above to reach your healthy weight.