You've put a lot of effort into developing a better workout routine and a healthy low-calorie diet. You’ve been watching your weight drop, which has been motivating you. Now for no apparent reason the scale has stopped moving.
You’ve reached a weight loss plateau, but don’t give up just yet.
Why is a Weight-Loss Plateau Happening to You?
Not being able to see the weight go down on the scale is demotivational, but it’s a common fate. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re going to overcome this deterrent.
Your body doesn’t really want you to lose weight—when you cut back on calories, you're reducing energy levels. Your body will then make you feel hungry because it thinks something is wrong and wants increase your energy levels and regain that weight back. Also, when you start losing weight, your metabolic rate slows down, which means your body starts burning calories at a slower rate.
Knowing what triggers a weight-loss plateau will help you decide how to respond, as well as prevent you from reverting back to your old behaviors.
What Can You Do to Get Back on Track?
Don’t lose hope just yet, let’s dive into these next steps:
Your body is going to do whatever it can to hold on to body fat and make you more hungry. Make sure you haven’t subconsciously started snacking more or increased your portion sizes. A key reason for a weight loss plateau is eating more than you think. It's easy for portion sizes to creep up, and before you know it, you end up eating more than your plan prescribes. That's why it's important to weigh and measure your food to understand proper portions. Try cutting your daily calorie intake by 100 or 200 to move beyond the weight loss plateau.
Don’t Become a Couch Potato
Do what you can to continue moving, as well as outside of your workout. Do you compensate for your workouts by spending the rest of the day sitting at your desk or laying on the couch? If you are sedentary for most of the day, you'll miss out on the many benefits of exercise.
Boost your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) by adding movement to daily tasks. Stand up and work at your computer; take the stairs instead of the elevator; or do easy household chores while you watch television. Activities like walking the dog and gardening are also great ways to boost NEAT.
Protein is Your Best Bud
Don’t skimp on your protein, it will help you stay full longer. If your weight loss has stalled,
double check your protein intake. Your body burns more calories metabolizing protein over carbs and fat. Maintaining a high protein intake can help protect against the loss of muscle mass and a drop in your metabolic rate.
Protein foods work by suppressing ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite. In a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found that foods high in fat actually raised levels of ghrelin and increased hunger. Carbohydrates soon made people even hungrier than they were before they had eaten. But it was the protein foods that lowered levels of ghrelin substantially, helping to keep hunger pangs in check.
Caffeine Keeps the Hunger at Bay
Coffee and tea may also benefit your weight loss efforts. These beverages typically contain caffeine, which has been shown to increase fat burning and boost metabolic rate by up to 13%.
In addition, green tea contains an antioxidant known as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which was found to boost fat burning by 17% in one study. Moreover, research suggests that consuming caffeinated beverages can significantly enhance the metabolism-boosting, fat-burning effects of exercise.