Losing weight can be a serious struggle and if you feel like you’ve made progress and have now hit a plateau, it could be even more disheartening. When a person reaches a weight loss plateau, they’ll no longer lose any weight regardless of following a diet and fitness routine. Experts aren’t positive why plateaus happen, although they do have some ideas. There are a number of signs you may have hit a plateau other than noticing you’ve stopped losing weight including tiredness, increased irritability, stress and changes in your appetite. Take a look at our best tips for how to get over a weight loss plateau in a healthy and sustainable way.
3 Signs You’ve Hit a Weight Loss Plateau
1. You’re Over Tired
Even if you’ve slept a full 8 hours, you feel like you could sleep more. If you’re trying to lose weight and experiencing exhaustion, it could be a sign you’ve hit a weight loss plateau and are getting less and less out of your workouts.
2. You’re Irritable
If you’re cutting down on calories and exercising more intensely, there may come a point where your irritability hits a new high. Following a low calorie diet (around 1200 calories per day) has been shown to produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, causing higher levels of stress. Prolonged exposure to cortisol can lead to weight gain.
3. You’re Extra Hungry or Lost Your Appetite
When you lose weight, your brain and body try to compensate by making you feel hungry, which causes you to eat or store more. On the flip side, you may experience loss of appetite if you’re feeling stressed or your body is overworked. The muscle receptor sites lose their sensitivity to accepting and shuttling glycogen into the muscles. When this happens, we feel sluggish and our metabolic systems (digestion, etc.) slow down.
What Causes a Weight Loss Plateau
1. The body adapts to the weight loss and defends itself against further weight loss, ie. ramps up your hunger.
2. People stop following their diets and exercise regimes after a few months and fall back into unhealthy habits.
3. The metabolism slows down if a person loses weight too quickly.
4. You keep doing the same type of exercise and your body gets used to it, slowing down your weight loss.
How to Get Over a Weight Loss Plateau
1. Don’t Over Do It
When people are trying to lose weight, they often ramp up their physical activity to levels that aren’t easy to maintain. You may experience short term weight loss benefits by doing this, but if you can’t keep it up long term, it can lead to weight regain. Moderate exercise can use the same amount of energy as super intense exercise and is easier to upkeep. Try to stick to 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, plus strength training at least two days per week.
2. Stress Management Techniques
If you’re experiencing high levels of stress, you’re likely producing high levels of cortisol. As mentioned above, prolonged exposure to cortisol can lead to weight gain. Utilizing stress management tools can be helpful to lessen irritability and stress, as well as overcome a weight loss plateau or even weight gain. Consider techniques like yoga, guided meditation, deep breathing and proper nutrition. If you’re following a low calorie diet, you may want to consider upping your calorie intake while balancing that out with more exercise.
3. Mix Cardio with Strength Training
Many times, when people are trying to lose weight, they focus too much on cardio. Although cardio will result in weight loss, you’ll lose lean body mass in addition to fat. Losing lean body mass will reduce your metabolic rate and can lead to a plateau. In addition to cardio, make sure you’re strength training at least two days a week. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning you’ll burn more calories even at rest.
4. Be as Active as Possible
It’s great if you’re getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week. However, if the rest of your time is spent sitting, your body can stop producing lipase, a fat-inhibiting enzyme. Make it a goal to keep moving throughout the day. Take walks when you can, take the stairs instead of elevators, try a standing desk, park further away and plan active get-togethers with friends.
5. Keep a Food Journal
You may notice you lose weight rapidly in the beginning of your weight loss journey since you’re decreasing calories and increasing exercise. After time, it can be easy to fall back into unhealthy eating and sedentary routines. Keep your healthy eating plan on track with a food journal. People who keep daily food journals are more likely to lose weight than those who don’t as they see what works for them and what doesn’t. They can also better track if they are falling back into unhealthy eating habits so they can make changes if need be.
6. Eat More Protein and Fibre
Protein and fibre both help fill you up faster and keep you full for longer. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight as they keep you from overeating and snacking. Add more protein to your daily diet by adding an extra serving of beans or lean meats to each meal. Lentils, avocados and dark leafy greens are great sources of high fibre foods. Fibre also helps with regular bowel movements, which is important when trying to lose weight.
7. Eat Tons of Veggies
Vegetables are super healthy, plus they’re low in calories, so are ideal if you’re trying to lose weight. They’re also high in water and fibre content, which can help you feel full and reduce the urge to eat foods with fewer nutrients. Add a good dose of vegetables to every meal!
If you feel like you’ve hit a weight loss plateau and want to overcome it, follow these tips to reach your goals!
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