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Stop a Weight Loss Plateau from Occurring

April 21, 2011

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                 For anyone who has tried to lose weight they know what it’s like to hit a plateau. A plateau is when you continue to exercise and diet at the same rate but the weight stops declining. It’s a horrible feeling to know that you worked so hard, watched your food intake, and not to see the results on the scale. In most cases a plateau can be waited out and results will resume post haste. However, for many dieters a plateau can be discouraging.


It’s normal for weight loss to slow or even stall. This occurs because as you exercise your metabolism slows. When you lose weight you lose both fat and lean tissue. Lean tissue or muscle stores glycogen, a carbohydrate used for energy. So as you lose lean tissue you also lose energy, which causes the body’s metabolism to slow down and hold onto as much energy as possible.



Although, most people know about it they are surprised when the plateau occurs. When you hit a plateau during your weight loss program it is important to reassess your habits to overcome this obstacle. First thing once a plateau takes place, don’t get discouraged. Evaluate your eating habits and workout schedule. Are you making sure that you are eating breakfast? Fruits and vegetables? Lean protein? Do you avoid processed carbohydrates and simple sugars such as soda, chips and white flour products? Are you exercising everyday and do you alternate cardio and weight training? Lastly are you consuming enough water? Dehydration can slow your metabolism and cause a plateau effect.  A few slips here and there with diet or exercise won’t harm your overall goals. However if you continually are slacking on the number of days you workout, the amount of time you workout or you are not following your diet guidelines as strictly as before, then there is no doubt why your weight loss has plateau. If after you evaluate your habits, diet and exercise programs and this doesn’t seem to be the cause then there are additional ways you can fire up your metabolism to boost your weight loss into high gear.



Increase your activity, not only in the gym but in your daily life as well. By adding 15-30 minutes onto your daily workout you can burn additional calories, which ultimately leads to decreased weight. Also, increase the intensity of your workouts if possible. By adding more weight or making the exercises more difficult by using an unstable surface you can increase your workout intensity. If you can’t make your workouts longer or more intense, you can decrease your daily calorie intake.

A good number to decrease your calories by is 200 a day. You can decrease the total by more as long as you don’t go below 1200 because this is the lowest number of calories that the body can maintain essential body functions. Another option for your caloric intake rather than decreasing the total number of calories is to keep the same total number of calories per week but vary your daily intake. This causes your metabolism to jump-start but also doesn’t allow it to slow down because it has to change based on the daily amount consumed.



If playing around with your calories doesn’t help to increase your weight loss then your can also decrease your salt intake while increasing your water intake. High sodium diets increase blood pressure, and constrict the blood vessels. It also makes the body hold on to extra water, which adds extra weight. By decreasing your salt and increasing your water intake you can keep your body hydrated while losing weight.  

With these simple changes you can maintain and increase your weight loss to meet your goals. At any time during your weight management program if you reach a plateau reassess these simple steps to continue with your weight loss. If you have reached all of your weight loss goals then it will be about maintaining your weight loss and not going back to your old bad habits.

woman on a scale, weight loss plateau