When you’re watching what you eat, exercising regularly, and doing all of the things that are supposed to promote weight loss, but the scale won’t seem to move, you may have reached what fitness experts call a weight loss plateau.
This frustrating phenomenon can demotivate even the most disciplined person, because when we feel like nothing we try matters, it’s natural to stop caring about what we do. What’s the point of all the work if you have nothing to show for it, right?
But before you throw in the towel, head for the couch, and grab the Ben & Jerry’s, you might try some of the techniques recommended to move past a weight loss plateau. With a little patience and determination, there are ways to move past this annoying phase of weight loss limbo — and working out consistently is still good for your health, regardless of what the scale says.
Read about 5 ways to move past a weight loss plateau below:
1. Strength Training to Boost Metabolism—
Lifting weights, using weight machines, resistance bands and other forms of exercise that get you out of your comfort zone are great ways to build muscle mass, and muscle mass burns more calories.
This means that even in a state of rest, your body will be using more calories than before, and this might be just the push you need to get the scale moving again.
If you’re already incorporating strength training into your workout, consider increasing the weight and or/reps you’ve been doing. You may have fallen into a weightlifting routine rut that no longer stresses muscle fibers enough to build mass, holding you steady at your current weight.
2. Check Your Chewing—
If you don’t keep a food diary, this might be a good time to start. Information is the first step in solving most problems, and if you’re going to get your weight loss program back on track, you’ll need to know exactly what’s going on.
It’s very common for people to forget what they’ve eaten in a day, or to discount the little things, but the little things add up. Record every liquid, snack, dressing and bite that goes into your mouth for a week to see if you might be forgetting about some sneaky saboteur somewhere in your daily diet.
Also: If you’ve lost a decent amount of weight, your daily caloric requirements might have lessened with your body fat content, so you may need to adjust accordingly.
3. What You Eat Matters—
While you’re recording your diet, pay attention to the types of foods you prefer, because even though caloric intake versus what you burn in a day is the most important factor for weight loss, there are foods you can eat to speed up the process.
Refined sugars and simple carbs, for example, are highly conducive to weight gain and don’t offer the body much in the way of nutrition. But healthier choices like whole grains and vegetables will fill you up with less calories, thanks to their high fiber content.
Also consider increasing your daily protein intake, as this is needed to build the metabolism-boosting muscle mentioned above, and will keep you feeling satisfied for a longer time than carbohydrates.
4. Many Mini-Meals—
Because jobs and life can make it difficult to eat often, most people have the standard 3 squares a day with occasional snacks in-between. But if you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau, a great way to “shock” your system back into losing weight is to switch to 6 mini-meals a day.
It requires more forethought and planning, and you’ll need to make sure your required caloric intake stays the same, but this method of eating has helped many lose weight.
Another benefit of multiple small meals throughout the day is that it curbs appetite, as the body receives small amounts of food before hunger has time to set in.
5. Change or Challenge Your Routine—
Sometimes we get set in our comfortable exercise regimens, as we hop on our favorite cardio machine, or do the same type of exercise for every workout. While this can be comforting psychologically, the body can also lapse into a comfort zone that slows fitness progress.
The answer to this, of course, is to mix it up. If you consistently do a certain form of cardio, for example, try a different type. If you are a leisurely trail or treadmill jogger, consider adding sprints to push the metabolism into high-gear.
Or take a completely different approach, slow down and try a more relaxing, enjoyable form of exercise, like yoga, hiking or swimming. Sometimes change of any kind can shake the body out of a plateau and back into progress.
Be sure to get enough sleep, stay hydrated, keep stress levels low, and be patient with yourself. Everyone experiences occasional setbacks and slowdowns with their weight loss programs, so try some of the tips above and stick with it: you’ll be back on track in no time!