Not being able to shed any more pounds after you thought you figured out the key to weight loss is quite possibly the most frustrating thing when you’re trying to get healthier.
You’re still watching your calorie intake, eating healthy foods and exercising, but the number on the scale has remained at a steady standstill for the past few weeks.
You’ve hit a plateau. Does it suck? Sure. But don’t let it be the end of your journey.
According to some experts, hitting a weight loss plateau means you’re doing something right. Graeme Tomlinson, a personal trainer and nutrition coach, says that the leaner a person gets, the harder it becomes to lose weight because your body requires less energy at its new lower weight than it did when you were heavier.
“You are required to consume less energy than you expend for fat loss to occur over time,” Tomlinson says. “This is what’s known as a calorie deficit. If the calorie deficit is big then more weight is lost. If the calorie deficit is small then less weight is lost. The more weight we lose, the more we undergo metabolic adaption to our new weight.”
So how do you get over that weight loss hump?
Switch up your lifestyle
Amanda Musin, a registered and licensed dietitian at the Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Fla., says to continue losing weight, we have to constantly change up our lifestyle.
“A lighter you requires fewer calories than you did at a higher weight,” Musin says. “This change in metabolism forces us to adjust our health and fitness routine to continue losing weight.”
The dietitian also suggests reevaluating your lifestyle and taking a closer look at what you’re eating.
“When feeding your children an afternoon snack, do you join in and eat a small handful? Or when eating out with friends, do you eat larger portions than when at home?” Musin asks. “These habits can appear to be harmless, but can quickly add up over the course of a week, especially if your metabolism has recently dropped.”
Pick up weights
While cardio seems to be most people’s go to for shedding pounds, don’t forget to pick up a dumbbell here and there. Musin recommends supplementing your cardio exercises with strength training.
“Loss of lean muscle mass can lower your metabolic rate and make it that much harder to lose weight,” she says. “Aim to incorporate at least two days a week of effective weight bearing exercise to increase metabolic rate and boost weight loss efforts.”
Stacie Clark, an iFit personal trainer, says its best to change up your workouts with a mix of cardio and weights so your body doesn’t get used to the same routine. When you challenge yourself, it forces your body to push through that plateau.
“Make sure to have a plan by having a balanced nutrition and training periodization strategy in place from the beginning and be willing to tweak it accordingly, if necessary,” Clark adds.
Forget crash diets
Experts suggest taking a realistic approach to weight loss and being consistent are keys to avoiding hitting a plateau. Dana Angelo White, a registered dietitian for FoodNetwork.com, says one way to do that is to stay away from crash diets.
“Slow and steady weight loss is much more successful long term,” White says. “It can also be helpful to maintain a challenging exercise routine – keep pushing yourself to help promote muscle building, which can help keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders.”
Tomlinson agrees, saying it’s important to make sure you’re not aggressively cutting calories when trying to lose weight. Understanding that losing weight takes time and approaching it in a more practical manner will make it easier to adhere to a calorie deficit and it will be more sustainable.
“Understanding more about the food you consume is literally empowering yourself with factual information that allows you to control your weight,” Tomlinson says. “This education is infinitely superior to any ‘miracle’ weight loss diet because you already have a diet, you just need to understand it better.”
Indulge in your favorite snacks
Don’t be afraid to eat a slice of pizza or snack on some extra buttery popcorn at the theater.
White suggests indulging here and there saying that when people embark on a weight loss journey, they get caught up in depriving themselves of “indulgent” foods.
“By incorporating small treats like honey in your tea, the occasional slice of pizza or a handful of your favorite snack, you’re more likely to stay on track, avoid overeating and steer clear of a weight loss plateau,” White says.
Rasha Ali, USA TODAY
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