Weight Loss Plateaus: What Causes Them & How to Overcome

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Weight Loss Plateaus: What Causes Them & How to Overcome

April 20, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Weight Loss Plateaus: What Causes Them & How to Overcome

You’ve been doing everything right – eating healthy meals, avoiding ultra-processed foods and sugary beverages, and exercising regularly and vigorously. But after several weeks or months of successful and encouraging results, your weight loss has leveled off and you can’t seem to shed any more pounds.

Sound familiar? You’ve hit what’s known as a weight loss plateau, and you’re far from alone.

What Causes You to Plateau During Weight Loss?

Weight loss plateaus can be caused by an almost infinite number of different factors, but generally speaking it comes down to simply physics.

When you’re heavier your body has a higher base metabolic rate than when it’s lighter. This means that as you lose weight you burn fewer and fewer calories in everything you do, from sleeping to working out. That makes your initial diet less effective as your weight loss continues.

You will also likely begin expending less energy during workouts as your regimen continues, due to less resistance on the part of gravity and greater efficiency as you become more used to the exercises.

As these effects compound, the result in many people is a leveling off of weight, often before their goal weight has been attained. In addition, here are some other common causes of weight loss plateaus:

  • Standing On a Bathroom Scale for Weight LossOverestimating Calorie Intake: It’s not uncommon for people to become a little less of their calorie intake as they progress through a weight loss plan. This can lead to eating more than one thinks, and a subsequent slowing down of weight loss.
  • The Return of Water Weight: Early on in many weight loss regimens is a period of rapid water weight loss that shows as pretty drastic on the scale. As you continue, this water weight loss comes to a stop, and fluctuating hydration levels could lead to variations in your bodyweight from day to day.
  • Too Much Stress: Stress releases the hormone cortisol in our bodies, which studies have shown can make weight loss more difficult. If something at work or home is making you more stressed than usual, you may be more likely to reach for fattening foods, or your weight loss efforts may net you fewer results. Try to destress healthily with exercise, meditation, or other methods.

Are You Really Plateauing?

One important thing to remember is that the earliest stages of a new weight loss regimen usually show the most rapid results due to high starting metabolic rates and speedy loss of water weight. If you’re only a few weeks or months into your weight loss efforts and the weight isn’t coming off as quickly as it did at first, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve hit a plateau. Modest weight loss, as long as it’s steady, is a healthy and effective way to reach your goal weight. Don’t be discouraged!

Tips to Overcome Your Weight Loss Plateau

As frustrating as a weight loss plateau can be, it’s not impossible to conquer.  Follow these tips to start making the final steps toward your goal weight.

  • Adjust Your Diet: Your new, slimmer body burns a lot fewer calories than it used to, and your diet needs to be adjusted to compensate. Recalculate your caloric needs and re-plan your meals accordingly. Emphasize fresh, whole foods like vegetables and lean meats that will keep you satisfied without a huge calorie burden. Be careful to keep close track of the calories you consume as well; a few bites of this or that between meals can add up fast. Be careful at restaurants – especially those without posted calorie counts.
  • Aerobic Exercise for Physical Fitness and Weight LossAdjust Your Exercise Routine: If your entire workout regimen consists of only a few exercises, odds are that by the time you hit a serious weight loss plateau you’ll be pretty used to them. Guess what? As these exercises seem less challenging for you, they become less strenuous for your body and burn fewer calories. Add a little variety to your workouts – target different muscle groups and vary between high weight/low reps and low weight/high reps.  Anything you can do to keep yourself challenged will help keep your weight loss progressing.
  • Don’t Give Up: Too many people become discouraged during a weight loss plateau and throw in the towel completely, reverting back to old habits and packing pounds back on. It can be a human reaction to a frustrating situation, but don’t give in! Stay motivated and remember that a plateau just means that what you’ve done so far has worked. Push through it and even if it takes longer than you thought you’ll get to your goal weight eventually.

Finally, many people find that a little extra help from a nutrition coach or personal trainer can give them the extra boost they need to conquer their weight loss plateau. The team at Medical Weight Loss Solutions can provide expert weight loss counseling, body composition analyses to help determine basal metabolic rate, and more. Get in touch by calling (203) 269-8000 or sending an email to info@medweightlosssolutions.com

Tags: Weight Loss Tips
Category: Weight Loss Tips

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