Weight Plateaus – Why and What Now?
by Natalie Butler, RD, LD
You have been doing everything right…exercising daily, getting quality sleep, eating breakfast, and minimizing excess calories in your diet. And all of a sudden, your weight loss slows down and then stops. You have hit the dreaded plateau. This can be incredibly frustrating and demotivating. Know this… plateaus happen to everyone and it is a normal part of weight loss. One of the most common questions I get from my weight loss clients is why do they happen. Keep reading if you are stuck and want to keep shedding the fat.
Plateaus happen because your body needs less calories at a smaller weight (so your same diet is no longer low enough in calories to continue your weight loss)
Your body becomes more efficient at moving, exercising and activity – so you don’t burn as many calories as you did before doing the same activity
As you see lower weights on your scale, it is easy to relax a bit, to fall back into old habits, reward yourself with food or become more lenient in your exercise and/or diet.
Tips for Overcoming Your Plateau
Lower Your Calories – Decrease your calorie intake by about 200-300 calories per day. Some simple ways to do this are by substituting sparkling water for soda, eating freeze-dried fruit or veggies for a snack instead of chips, or eating a piece of fruit instead of nuts.
Keep Your Body Guessing – So that your body doesn’t have a chance to become extra efficient, vary the type of exercises you do, your duration and most importantly, your intensity. Interval training has been shown to burn the most calories during a workout. To do this while walking, walk at a moderate pace for 4 minutes, speed walk for 1 minute, moderate for 4 minutes, speed walk for 1 minute and continue until you are done. If on a treadmill, also increase the incline so that every minute you are walking, you are getting the most “bang for your buck.” If you haven’t been doing resistance training or using weights in your workouts, add this in, since muscle tissue burns quadruple the amount of calories that fat does.
Tighten the Reigns – Whatever you have stopped doing or starting doing recently (skipping breakfast, eating dessert in the evening, eating less vegetables, etc.), get back on track. Even minor changes can affect your weight loss, so don’t underestimate the value of those small healthy choices in your day… they all add up. Consider journaling your eating and exercise in an app to help you pinpoint where you need to make adjustments.
Move More, Sit Less – Studies show that the longer you watch TV everyday, the more you will weigh. The same goes for sitting at a desk all day. To minimize the negative consequences of a sedentary life, use a treadmill desk, stand when you can rather than sit, take walks on your work breaks, park far away from store entrances, and take the stairs rather than the elevator. Being active throughout your day, in addition to your planned exercise, can significantly increase your calorie burning.
Plateaus will happen but with these tips, you WILL overcome them and reach your health goals!