A Weight Loss Plateau is an unfortunate hardship of shedding unwanted pounds. Suddenly, the pounds just stop coming off! “Although hitting a plateau is common, most people are surprised when it happens to them, for they believe that if they just maintained a reduced-calorie diet, they would continue to lose weight. The challenge, according to Mayo Clinic Staff, is that even well-planned weight-loss efforts often become stalled”.
Professionals see it quite frequently: A dieter sets a new goal, changes their eating habits, starts working out and increasing their overall activity level, drinks more water and gets more sleep… Suddenly the pounds start coming off. It’s exciting, it’s relieving …but then it stops abruptly and the scale refuses to budge. Chances are, if you’ve tried to lose a reasonable amount of weight over several months, you’ve run into this dieting problem.
The Health Diet Approach
The best approach to overcoming the Plateau is accepting it will happen and understanding what it is. When someone begins a new healthy diet program, it is common for them to see rapid results within the first few weeks. This is due to changes in metabolism, the body’s process of converting food and drink into energy. When activity level goes up or calorie consumption goes down, metabolism increases and results in more energy being burned and pounds being lost. But eventually your highly adaptive body adjusts to these changes, and when metabolism equalizes the body stops losing weight. Once this Plateau is reached, the original diet/exercise program will no longer generate the desired metabolic changes in the body and the person will have to further increase activity or decrease calorie consumption.
Although the Plateau is the last thing most dieters hope to encounter, there is hope: Simple adjustments to exercise regimes and diet programs often suffice as the jolt the body needs to start seeing results again. Implementing new tools can also be beneficial. For instance, many people begin to underestimate how much food they’re actually eating with a food diary.
Boredom is also a large cause of derailment as people tire of following the same routine every day. As dieters quickly learn, losing weight is both physical AND mental! Again, variation to the normal work out routine as well as a changes to repetitive food consumption can make a big difference.
Ultimately, the most successful people overcome the Plateau by mixing up their approach, including:
- Eating 30 grams of protein within 25 minutes of waking up (three eggs will do!)
- Avoiding restaurants/rethinking choices while dining out
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Striving for low-fat lean protein sources
- Incorporating a food diary into their routine
- Introducing new foods or exercises to stave off boredom and to “surprise” their system
- Sharing goals with friends and family to encourage support and accountability