The Dreaded Weight Loss Plateau, What to Do?


Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight, knows what happens the first few weeks.  You get excited because the weight drops off quickly the first several weeks and then gradually, it slows to a crawl. No worries, because you are putting in the work and staying consistent, until a few weeks go by and the number on the scale refuses to change.


A significant amount of that initial lost weight is due to water weight because your body uses its glycogen stores for energy and glycogen is partly water. 

Also, your metabolic rate is higher the more muscular you are (the reason men are able to lose weight much faster than women). When you lose weight you not only lose fat, you also lose some muscle mass (that is why I like to remind clients to do at least one 30-minute session of strength training during the week). The result of that loss in muscle mass is a decrease in your metabolic rate, which causes the rate at which you lose weight to decrease.


A plateau, which is beneficial when you are maintaining, simply indicates that the number of calories you burn = the number of calories you are eating

STOP IT!!!! No need to get too upset, a weight loss plateau is normal; however, we must investigate if it is truly a plateau or the result of some extra calories creeping back into your daily caloric allowance.

The rate at which you get to a plateau varies for everyone, and do not be alarmed if you have several plateaus along the journey to achieving your total weight loss goal.

6 steps to take when you hit a plateau

  1. A plateau is probably one of the best reasons to keep a food journal; however, even without one, most people have a general idea when they have been eating a little extra.  First thing I recommend is to examine the last two-four weeks and be honest.
    • Perhaps you have been moving less or exercising less frequently than before
    • Notice where a few extra calories may have slipped in (creamers, salad dressing, etc.)
    • Avoid eating your last meal too close to bedtime
    • Try changing the time that you eat your heaviest meal to either breakfast or lunch (if possible).
  2. Consider revving up your exercise routine. 
    • Do something different, like adding a 10-minute HIIT (if no medical contraindications) to your routine or try swimming.
    • If you can get to the gym try a class, if not take one on You-Tube.
  3. Move more during the day. Try walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.  I set my cell phone to alarm every two hours (I get up and do something for 5 minutes: walk in place, do squats, biceps curls or triceps-dips; anything to get the blood pumping).
  4. Decrease your caloric intake.  Try cutting back 115 calories per day, which will give you approximately a 1lb loss for the month (remember to keep your daily caloric allowance above 1200cals to avoid feeling excessively hungry).
  5. Keep an eye on your salt intake as salt leads to water retention.
  6. Also, watch those daily grams of added sugars and highly processed carbohydrates.

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Susan Regisford, MD is a faith-based holistic wellness coach who works with you to create a custom wellness plan. Through one-on-one sessions, she helps you define goals to achieve total health. Connect with Susan to schedule your first free 15-minute consultation today.
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