How to Bust Out of a Weight Loss Plateau
There is no definitive answer on how to bust through a weight loss plateau.
However, it’s definitely guaranteed that once you get to this point, you’re frustrated.
I want to help ease your frustration.
Below are tips that I’ve used to get clients results. Hopefully, they work for you too.
The biggest point here = don’t give up!
1.) Reassess your calories: This is a tricky one! And super personalized. All I’m going to say is that as you lose weight, you need less calories. Ultimately, because you’re smaller. Hence, it becomes harder to create a larger deficit of calories. For example, let’s say at 200 pounds, you needed 1,600 calories to lose 1 pound per week.
But after a 50-pound weight loss, you now only need 1,400 calories to lose 1 pound per week. Think of your body like a car. A big ol’ suburban is going to need a lot more gas than a two-door small commuter car.To make it more complicated, eating too few calories could be putting your metabolism in super slug mode. Generally, women shouldn’t go less than 1,200 calories per day, and men shouldn’t stray under 1,500 calories.
Lastly, there’s also the rare phenomena of exercising too much and not eating enough. I’ve seen folks exercising, hard, two-plus hours a day and restricting calories to the lowest possible safe zone. Their weight doesn’t budge. Their bodies seem to think they’re starving and their metabolism holds on for dear life (literally).
My suggestion is to use a calorie counter to see how many calories you should now be eating at your new weight and to track your food. If after 2-3 weeks, that doesn’t work (with the below points in mind), consult with a nutrition professional aka a Registered Dietitian.
2.) Get on a schedule: I stress calories above, but it’s NOT just about calories! Eating on schedule is just as key. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking, every 4 hours after that (don’t go longer than 5 hours without food), and leave 2 hours before dinner and bed. A general rule of thumb I have with clients is: if you’re not hungry after 4 hours, your meal/snack was too big before, your metabolism is off, or a little bit of both. Bottom line: even if you’re not hungry, get on a schedule.
After two weeks, you should start to feel hunger cues-which is great! I’m not telling you to stuff your face if you’re not hungry, but I am telling you that mastering a schedule like this will benefit you. My body is like clock work, every 4 hours I need food! Remember, it’s about what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat! They all matter, equally.
3.) Check your protein and fiber: Protein and fiber are going to be your best friends here. They take the most energy for your body to break down. So, simply by eating them, you burn a few (note the word few) extra calories. More importantly, they keep you feeling full longer and support lean muscle mass. A rule of thumb: at every meal or snack, get in a lean protein and fiber (fruit, veggies, whole grains). Ladies, keep the lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, pork tenderloin, round cuts of meat, nonfat plain Greek yogurt) to about 3-4 ounces (3 ounces = the size of a deck of cards).
Men, keep protein portions to about 5 ounces. Then, load up on veggies! They’re your savior. Veggies, fruit, and whole grains are all carbs, but they have different calorie levels. Generally, 1 cup veggies = about 20 calories; 1 cup fruit = about 60-70 calories; and 1 cup whole grains or any grains, really = about 200 calories. My motto: protein and produce are a must at meals and snacks.
4.) Watch the extras: The extra olive oil squirt, the added tablespoon of peanut butter, the unmeasured 1/2 cup of almonds, you unknowingly scarfed (we’ve all been there!), add up. And I really hate to sound like a calorie-counting freak, but if you want results, you need to be aware of this stuff!
5.) Measure and track: To help you be aware and to bust through your weight loss plateau, measuring and logging meals and snacks in a food journal or calorie-counting app, such as LoseIt.com, My Fitness Pal, or My Net Diary, can be a huge help. It’s amazing how off we can be! I still measure stuff, like brown rice, quinoa, beans, and cereal because I can’t eyeball portions.
6.) Workout & move it: If you’re not working out, you should. It’ll help you reach your goal and break through your standstill. If you’re already working out, workout smart. Do intervals, add in plyometrics or add weights, if you’re just doing cardio. And if you’re not really sweating when you workout, something needs to change. Consult with a trainer or look into workout videos to help you change your routine. Here are some of my favorites. Regarding post workout nutrition, have an already planned meal or snack within an hour after your workout. Don’t add in extras. Lastly, move! Take the stairs, park far away, walk around at least once every hour at your desk, etc. You can even buy a pedometer to help motivate you.
7.) Watch the liquid calories: Sometimes we forget just how much booze, fancy coffee drinks, and juices add up. Ladies, keep alcohol to no more than 3 drinks per week (1 drink = 5 ounces wine, 12 ounces light beer, 1.5 ounces liquor) and men, no more than 4-5 drinks a week. The less, the better! As for fancy coffee drinks and juices, opt for regular coffee and unless it’s pure veggie juice, start drinking water instead.
8.) Drink lots of water: My best friend! I drink about 3-4 liters of water each day. On average, you should be drinking about 1.5-2 liters of water a day. This will help you stay full and accurately assess your hunger cues. Plus, it helps foster a healthy metabolism.
9.) Readjust your expectations: You may have been losing 1/2 pound or 1 pound per week when you started your weight loss journey. But, as we talked about in point #1, since there is less of you, your weight loss rate will undoubtedly be slower. Maybe 1/4 pound per week. And that’s OK. Just stay focused and keep on going! My tip: only weigh yourself once a week, so you don’t go crazy. And do it in the morning, naked, after you go to the bathroom, but before you eat or drink anything. Keep it consistent by using the same scale.
10.)Take measurements: The scale isn’t the only measurement of your success! As you near your goal, the scale may not change. But, your body can shrink. This is a result of converting body fat to lean muscle mass. A pound is a pound, but a pound of muscle takes up much less space than a pound of fat! So, about every 4 weeks, take measurements! I suggest clients measure: their abdomen (around the belly button), waist (smallest part of your midsection), and hips (where the biggest part of your bottom protrudes). Additionally, you can measure your neck, thighs, and chest, if you like.
This is hard work. No doubt about that.
But, if you really want this, don’t give up. Stay motivated, stay focused, and praise yourself for all the awesome things you’ve accomplished along your weight loss way;)
Lots of love,