Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau
If you’re feeling stuck in a weight-loss rut, get the scale moving again with these expert and science based weight loss tips…
Trying to lose weight but feel like you’ve stopped shedding pounds? While it’s not something anyone in a weight loss program wants to admit, we all get stuck in a rut. Hey, sometimes people get stuck. We’re only human, right? As creatures of habit, sometimes it’s hard to get out of our ruts or old routines. Despite our best efforts, sometimes this happens with our diets and our weight-loss efforts. This is called a weight loss plateau.
Our bodies are adaptable; it’s one of the most amazing things about being human. For instance, every time you workout, you’re not only increasing your bodily strength but your body’s ability to burn more calories more efficiently. As you continue on your weight-loss journey, your body also begins to need less calories than it did before you lost weight. Finding the right balance of fat and calorie burning with the right diet is a tenuous thing, though. It’s hard to find the perfect balance of diet and exercise to keep the number on the scale moving the way you want it to.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to keep your metabolism moving, and your weight-loss efforts continuing. Break through your weight loss plateau with these helpful tricks.
We’ll start with diet, first.
Assess Your Diet to Get Your Weight Loss Efforts Moving Again
You’ve heard this before, probably time and time again. Weight loss and the creation of abs happens in the kitchen! Losing weight won’t happen without a great diet, a great workout plan, and some good changes to your lifestyle. Let’s call these the three pillars of weight loss, however research shows diet is the most important pillar of the three. Ready to revamp your weight loss efforts?
Assess and Adjust Your Carb Intake and Calorie Needs
Registered dietitians agree that, “to overcome a weight loss plateau, you’ll need to adjust your calorie intake.” Why? “As you lose weight, your body needs less calories for maintenance. Though you may have been losing weight previous on your current intake, you may need to eat less to achieve a larger caloric deficit,” explains dietitian Leah Kaufman.
Finding how many calories you need isn’t too hard. One method of figuring this number out is to head to a dietitian’s office, where they can determine how many calories you need to eat to shed those pounds. Don’t worry, Kaufman also suggested a way to predict just how many calories you need on your own. Taking a metabolic test reveals your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body will burn while you’re just hanging out, or resting.
If you’re not feeling a trip to a dietitian, you can try getting rid of 100-200 extra calories a day. However, be careful of losing too many calories per day, even if it feels counter-intuitive. You can actually slow down your metabolism by eating too few calories which will, actually, prevent further weight loss.
OK, now about carbs… One of the best ways to cut out excess calories from your diet, is by starting with the carbs. You can stock pile loads of carbs in your body. When you eat too many carbs, your body begins to store them away and the leftover carbs become glycogen. For every gram of glycogen you store, you also store about four grams of water. This water-weight can make you feel bloated, and surprise! It will effect the number on the scale. Here are some foods you can consider “cutting out” of your diet to remove excess refined and dense carbs:
- white bread
- baked goods and desserts
Trade these kinds of carbs in for unprocessed ones like fresh fruits and veggies, popcorn, whole grains like quinoa and couscous.
Number on the Scale Still Stuck? Reduce Bloating to See Weight Loss Movement
It can be so frustrating to try weighing yourself, and seeing the number stuck. The average American diet comes from too much salt within processed foods. You basically don’t even notice you’re eating it until it’s been consumed and you’re holding onto water weight. According to the American Heart Association, more than 75% of sodium in our diets comes from processed foods, not even the salt shaker. Ridiculous, right?
Water and sodium are best friends, clinging to each other. When you eat sodium rich foods more often than normal, you’ll find your body clinging to water a little more than normal, too. Unfortunately, this can tip the scale in a direction you don’t like. Picture this: four cups of water equals two pounds. If 75% of your sodium intake comes when you don’t even notice it in processed foods, imagine how much water weight your body hangs onto.
Here are some high-sodium processed foods you can consider cutting out of your diet:
- Frozen dinners (Think mac and cheese, lasagna)
- canned soups
- french fries and fast food
But Don’t Reduce Your Water Intake
“One of the most overlooked aspects of weight loss is proper hydration,” says Kelvin Gary, Owner and Coach at Body Space Fitness in NYC. We’ve totally brought this one up before, but water can actually help you lose weight. Drinking more water can also help you reduce the amount of sodium in your body by flushing it out.
A recent study by the American Chemical Society shows adults who drink at least two cups of water before meals have better weight loss success. They shed 40 percent more weight over a 12-week period using their reduced caloric diet. The same study also showed people who drank two cups before meals ate 75-90 fewer calories. Imagine that day after day!
Keep your hunger at bay by grabbing a cute reusable water bottle. That way, you have no excuse not to drink enough water, and you’ll be able to fill it up wherever you go. Win-win.
Do Upgrade Your Fiber and Protein Intake to Defeat Your Weight-Loss Plateau
Fiber does all kinds of cool things, from making you feel fuller to providing your body with loads of nutrients it needs. Studies show for every gram of fiber you eat, you’ll eat less calories later in the day (say 7-10). It doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re eating around 30 grams of fiber a day (which you should be), then you’ll be eliminating other calories from your diet. Besides, fiber doesn’t have to be boring. Berries are one of the best sources of fiber you’ll find!
What’s more? A separate study in Brazil showed dieters over a six month period, with each gram of fiber added the result was an extra fourth of a pound of weight loss. Pretty solid stuff, right? High fiber foods are a great way to feel full, sate your body, and boost your weight loss efforts.
Of course, upping your protein intake is another avenue to take to beat your weight loss plateau. Either way, you need to be eating protein to lose weight. It helps boost your metabolism up, and even retain muscle while you’re burning fat. Here’s a new trick though: try spacing your protein out throughout the day. Protein-rich foods secrete this hormone, ghrelin, which actually suppresses your appetite. The more protein-rich foods you eat throughout the day, the fuller you’ll feel. Dietitians suggest a lean source of protein with every meal, because by staggering your protein intake you’re more likely to lose more weight, and maintain or improve your diet and weight loss efforts.
Keep this in mind: for someone aiming for, say, 50 grams of protein a day, they should be consuming a third of that at every meal. You’d find 18-20 grams of protein in a 3-ounce chicken breast or even in a 7-ounce Greek yogurt. The options are endless, making this an easy addition to your meals and your diet.
Lifestyle Changes that Can Help You Break Your Plateau
There are a few pillars of weight loss. Exercise, diet, and lifestyle are the main three. So of course, while you change your diet and update your eating habits to suit your weight loss goals, there are other parts of your life you can turn your attention to in order to beat your weight loss plateau. Eating and working out only take up fractions of time within the day… so what else can you do to use the day to your advantage?
Food and Exercise Journals Can Help Break Through Your Rut
If you’re not keeping track of your exercise or caloric intake, you might be missing something! That something could be the key to breaking through your weight loss rut, so why not keep track? Research shows those who journal about their food and exercise are more successful in their weight loss.
Registered dietitian nutritionist Marisa Moore suggests, “Use the journal to record every morsel of food and review it to see if there are certain triggers that lead you to eat more or less during the day. A journal can be an effective way to discover trends and uncover areas to improve, both with diet and lifestyle habits.”
Another key activity to log is your sleep! Lack of sleep can totally kill weight loss progress. Getting less than six hours of sleep a night can actually reduce fat loss by almost 50% . No thanks, right? When you’re sleepy, you feel a bit hungrier thanks to the increase of stress hormones that completely affect your weight and fat gain.
Are you giving your body the rest it needs? Even if you’re getting ample amount of sleep at night, it’s important to give your body time to recuperate and rest. Gym owners and personal trainers even suggest having a rest day, because giving your body and mind time to recoup puts you back on track and gives you time to assess your diet and exercise routine.
Remember to Be Patient With Yourself and Your Weight Loss
The best things don’t come over night. So be patient with yourself, and be gracious to yourself. Even if you’re not progressing like you’d like to be, it’s OK to take things at your own pace. Listen to your body, and listen to what you need. Sometimes, hitting a weight loss plateau means you simply need to be patient. Push through. Be your own cheerleader and stay consistent in your diet and exercise regimen.
Reward yourself! Sticking to your plan is hard, but the results are so worth it. How did you beat your weight loss plateau?