Understanding Your Weight Loss Plateau and Beating It

Mountain Plateau

If you are someone that has tried losing weight in the past, I am sure you hit a point where that weight loss just stopped. It’s called hitting a plateau.

This can be one of the most difficult parts about weight loss.

You think you are doing great, you are seeing results, and all of a sudden, it stops.

Goodbye weight loss. Hello plateau.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Knowledge is power and understanding your plateau can help get you back on track towards your weight loss goals.

What is a Weight Loss Plateau

Tape Measure on Scale - Stuck on Weight Loss Plateau

The first part of empowering yourself is to know exactly what a plateau is, so you can recognize it if you hit one.

As you lose weight your metabolism decreases, which makes it harder for you to burn calories than when you were at a higher weight.

So, when the calories you burn equal the calories you eat, you hit what is called a plateau.

More simply put, and the way you will probably identify it, is when you are stuck at a weight and can’t seem to lose any more.

How a Weight Loss Plateau Effects Your Goals

Effects Weight Loss Plateau Has on You

It is vital to know that plateaus exist and if you are losing weight, you are likely to hit one.

I want to stress this part because it can be very discouraging when you get stuck and can’t seem to figure out why.

This happens to everyone at some point. So, don’t think it is just you. It isn’t.

It is yet another struggle to overcome on your way to your weight loss goal. And overcoming that is an amazing feeling.

At this point, many people tend to give up. And I do not want that to be you. I want you to know that this is common and there are ways to beat a weight loss plateau.

Weight Loss Plateau Causes

But before we get into what the solutions are, you should learn what the causes are. There are several different causes that can lead to you plateauing.

Knowing each of them will help you to analyze your plateau to see what has caused it, which will give you a much better chance of beating it.

Relaxing

Person Drinking Coffee and Reading a Book

The biggest cause of a plateau I mentioned earlier. It is when the calories you eat equal the calories you burn. As you lose weight you tend to let your guard down.

Your portion sizes and calories end up increase some while also decreasing your amount of exercise.

This happens for people because they have been seeing results and feel they do not need to work as hard.

So, what they were doing gets a little more relaxed without them really realizing it.

But that ends up putting them on a plateau where they don’t understand how they got there.

Lose Muscle and Weight Loss Plateau

Woman Flexing Arm

It is also important to know that when you lose weight, you tend to lose muscle mass as well.

And it is estimated that the amount of body tissue lost during weight loss is about 25% muscle.

Your muscles help keep your metabolism up, which helps you burn fat, so losing muscle mass can decrease your metabolic rate.

Set Point

Woman on Scale

Studies have shown that our bodies have a weight range that is programmed in each of us, where our bodies perform at their best.

Our bodies try to maintain that weight.

So, if you have tried to lose weight several times and end up at the same weight, you might have reached your bodies comfort zone.

Health and Weight Loss Plateau

Taking Blood Pressure

There are numerous other factors that could be impacting your weight loss and putting you at that plateau.

These include thyroid or adrenal gland problems, medications you’re taking, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and if you have been quitting smoking.

Weight Loss Plateau Solutions

Light Bulb On for Solutions of a Weight Loss Plateau

Hitting a plateau might seem like the end for your weight loss, but there are a ton of different things you can try to get you back on track.

You are going to want to start with first analyzing what you think the cause is. I want to note that it is important to be honest with yourself when doing this.

If you aren’t honest with yourself, it will take you longer to figure out what solution will work for you.

Once you analyze what could be the cause of your plateau, you can start looking at what solutions might get you over that hump.

Be prepared that it might take some trial and error before you find what works best for you.

Calories

Measuring a Sandwich to Count Calories

Remember earlier when we talked about how the calories you eat and burn are the same, which can cause a plateau? Here is where we fix that.

You want to start by looking at your calorie intake. For this, you might need to start counting calories.

In fact, I recommend you do, so you can see exactly what you are taking in.

You want to aim for the calories you are taking in to be slightly lower than the calories you need to maintain your body weight.

This will help keep your metabolism up.

If you are unsure how many calories you need to maintain your weight, check out my post on Body Mass Index and use one of the calculators to help you determine it.

Your issue could also be that you are not getting enough calories or that you are being inconsistent.

Your body needs calories to burn calories. If you are not giving it enough, it will not be able to burn as many calories.

And if you are inconsistent, your body’s metabolism can act erratically in response.

If it doesn’t know how many calories it will be getting, it doesn’t know how many calories it can be burning.

Carbohydrates

Burger and Fries - Watch Carbs when Stuck on a Weight Loss Plateau

Many diets tell you to cut back on cars, and for good reason. It works for weight loss. Decreasing your carbs can help get you over the plateau.

This is important to note if you had been counting carbs for your weight loss. It could be that you got lacks and have been eating more carbs than what you were.

Even a slight change can have a plateau effect.

Portion Size

Food in Good Portions to Get Over a Plateau

Watch your portion sizes. Whether they are bigger or smaller than usually can have a big impact.

When you decrease your food intake, your body lowers its metabolic rate in response.

Your body needs to know it is going to get the nutrition it needs before it will boost your metabolism.

And again, you could be going the other way where you aren’t being as conscious of your portions. This can cause them to be a little larger than usual.

So, take the time and pay attention to your portion sizes to make sure you are getting the right amount of food.

Protein

Avocado and Egg on Toast for Protein

Protein is a nutrient that is often overlook or simply underutilized. Protein is a great for weight loss.

It makes you feel fuller longer and boosts your metabolism to help you burn more carbs.

It also plays a vital role in building muscle.

Alcohol

Alcohol - Cut it Out to Beat a Weight Loss Plateau

If you find yourself at a plateau, look at what you are drinking. If you tend to go out most weekends or even have a few at home.

You are going to want to cut back.

Way back.

Alcohol is full of empty calories and many drinks have, such as mixed drinks, have a lot of sugar. Both of which will stall your weight loss.

By cutting that out, or at least cutting back significantly, could be the push your body needs to get over the hill.

Food Journal

Journal - Keep Track of Food to Beat a Plateau

If you really want to get over this hurdle, track all of your food and drinks.

Food journals are awesome!

They can show you so much about how you eat. To learn more about how to keep a food journal check out this post.

I would highly suggest doing this. I know several people who have hit a plateau and ended up giving up because they were unable to figure out how to beat it.

This is what I would recommend to them.

Knowing what you are have, when, how much, and even how you are feeling when you ate it, is an amazing help.

It is very insightful and can show you patterns you had no idea where there. It really helps you adjust where they need to be made.

Exercise

Lift Weights

Throw in exercise. If you are only working on weight loss through the food you eat, try adding exercise to your routine.

If you currently exercise, you might have to look at what you are doing and mix it up.

Should you be doing something more active?

Are you getting to lax and not exercising as much anymore?

Even the smallest deviation can cause you to become stuck, so it is important to take a good look at whether this is occurring.

Stress Management

Hammock on a Beach for Stress Management During a Weight Loss Plateau

We all know that stress sucks. That is the best way I can put it. No on wants to deal with stress but it is a part of life.

But too much anxiety is bad for you in many ways, but what we are talking about here is your weight.

If you do not manage your stress or have chronic stress, you can gain weight.

When you are strained, your body increases its cortisol levels, which stimulates your appetite.

And becoming stressed about being stuck on a weight loss plateau will only make it worse.

So, if you think you are becoming anxious or already are, learn to manage it. If you aren’t sure how to do that, read my post How to Manage Stress.

Shake It Up

Bagels with Different Topping Options - Mix it Up to Get Over Plateau

Sometimes getting over this hill is as simple as mixing things up a bit. When something works for you and you lose weight, you tend to stick to it.

But when it stops working, you become lost and confused. Not understanding why it suddenly isn’t working anymore.

And this is where you want to shake it up.

For example, if you have been lifting weights, change up you exercise. Try a HIIT workout. If you aren’t sure what that is, check it out here.

Another way to change your routine is, if your eating habits haven’t changed, use Intermittent Fasting along with your healthy eating.

This is going to be a time when you might need to think outside the box and step outside your comfort zone.

Stay Motivated

Measure Waist Stay Motivated to Get Over Weight Loss Plateau

Always always always stay motivated.

Being on a weight loss plateau is very discouraging and can make you want to quit.

But find what motivates you and keep it in mind to push yourself to keep working at it.

Remind yourself daily about why you are doing this.

Whether it is to feel good about your body, to improve your health, boost your confidence, or to fit into that perfect outfit.

No matter what it is, it should always be in your mind so you can visualize that end result. This will help push you over this hurdle.

And I suggest writing it down somewhere, where you will see it each day, to ensure you are reminded.

Last Resort

Weight Loss Plateau Medical Cause

If you’re finding that nothing seems to be breaking the plateau it may be time to check in with your doctor.

In some cases, a medical cause may be impeding your weight loss.

I call this the last resort because, in most cases, the other solutions work. No one likes going to the doctor or having to pay for it.

And if there is nothing wrong with you, it turns out to be a big waste of time and money.

So, I suggest, before you jump to the extreme of medical problem, give the other solutions a chance.

As with everything, these solutions will take time to see results. That means, to give them a fair shot, you need to work on them for a bit.

One day and moving onto the next will not cut it.

But if you have given them all time to work and nothing has, then you may want to look at the possibility of a health-related issue.

Over the Plateau

Success Over the Weight Loss Plateau

Being on a weight loss plateau where you seem to be stuck and unable to lose any more weight can be discouraging.

It can stress you out and make you want to give up on reaching our ideal weight.

So, it is important to realize that there are causes and solutions to get you over this hurdle.

For many people, they become relaxed after a while when they have been seeing good weight loss results.

But when the number of calories you eat, equal the number of calories you burn, your weight loss stops.

It could also be that your metabolism has slowed down from a decrease in muscle mass.

Or your body has reached its set point, or the weight it finds to be most comfortable.

And in some cases, it could even be a health-related issue that causes a plateau.

In any case

There are several different tactics you can try to get you over the hump.

You should look at the number of calories, carbohydrates, and protein that you are eating. Making sure they are the right amount is key for weight loss.

Portion size is also important to note. A slight increase in portion size could be what has put you at a standstill.

If you are an alcohol drinker, you might consider cutting it out or cutting way back. Eliminating those unnecessary calories and sugars can put you back on track.

I suggest keeping a food journal to help you analyze each of these. It will help show you where your problem lies.

Check to be sure you are not becoming lax with your exercise or maybe you need to shake things up and try something new altogether.

Managing your stress and staying motivated are going to play an important role in making it over this weight loss plateau.

And if all of these fail, it might be a good idea to consult your doctor to see if there is an underlining condition causing this issue.

So, start by take a hard look at what you have been doing and pick a solution that you feel will get you over the plateau.

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Published by Amy

I have always had a strong passion for health and fitness, as well as helping others. So much so, that I went on to receive my Level 1 Precision Nutrition Certification. My goal is to help others feel at their best! I know it can be a struggle to reach your fitness goals, whether it is losing weight, getting in shape, or improving your overall health. I want to help you reach your goals and find what works best for you so you can stick to it! Let's work on making you Happy Healthy and Strong!

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