You’re working hard, you’ve dedicated yourself to an exercise regimen and you’re seeing great results that are motivating you even farther. Suddenly, your results are at a standstill and you can’t seem to progress. You’ve officially hit the dreaded plateau.
What do you do now? Defeating the weight loss plateau is possible with a little know-how.
What is a Weight Loss Plateau?
A weight loss plateau is defined as a certain period of time where progress from exercise comes to a halt. As you lose weight, you lose fat along with some muscle. Muscle mass helps keep your metabolism up, so as you begin to lose weight, your metabolism declines. This eventually causes you to burn fewer calories than you did originally.
The decrease in metabolism will slow your weight loss even if you eat the same number of calories that you did before. When the calories you eat are equal to the calories you burn (or more), you reach a plateau.
Weight Loss Plateau Facts
1. Weight loss plateaus are common (and normal!).
When you first begin working out, weight loss is usually rapid and produces noticeable results. Our bodies are resistant to change, and when you begin losing weight, your body will work hard to hold on to a potential energy source—fat.
2. The more weight you lose, the harder it becomes.
This comes down to simple math. If Jane weighs 200 pounds and loses 1% of her body weight per week, that leaves her with a total fat loss of 2 pounds per week. When Jane begins losing weight and gets down to 150 pounds, 1% of weight loss is now only a total fat loss of 1.5 pounds. As weight decreases further, less weight will be lost simply because there isn’t as much weight to lose.
Not only does the pace of weight loss slow down, but the more weight you lose, the more your body wants to protect itself against starvation by keeping fat.
How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau
As weight is lost, metabolism slows down. Why? Simply because the amount of energy needed for a 150 pound person is less than needed for a 200 pound person.
The less body mass you have, the less you need to eat. If you’ve lost a large amount of weight and you’re still eating the same amount as before, your calorie intake will need to be re-evaluated.
Apps on cell phones make it extremely easy to track your calories. Doing so will allow you to visualize how much you’re really eating everyday. Eating more than a single serving, going out to restaurants and drinking beverages with hidden calories can all contribute to going over your daily caloric requirements.
Step Up Your Workouts
Not only should you increase the intensity of your workouts, but you should switch things up also due to the body’s ability to adapt to exercise. As you get used to a workout, it becomes less challenging and, as a result, less effective. Change the type of exercise you do for each muscle. For example, one week do squats, then rear leg lifts, then barbell hip thrusts. They all work the same areas of your body, but in very different ways.
Building muscle also plays an important role in fat loss because it burns additional calories. Increase weights by small increments.
Get Plenty of Rest
A full night’s sleep resets your hormones which is vital to weight loss. A lack of sleep can lead to increased cortisol, a stress hormone, and a weakened immune system. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to body fat accumulation around the stomach, buttocks, and thighs.
Drink More Water
Drinking 80-100 fluid ounces of water per day can help curb your cravings and keep you hydrated. Symptoms of dehydration are similar to symptoms of hunger, so it’s easy to confuse the two and overeat—pushing weight loss back further.
Now, it’s your turn! Have you ever experienced a weight loss plateau? What was your solution? Share your recommendations in the comments.