break through

Strategies for Breaking Through the Weight Loss Plateau: Part 1

Plateaus… Ugh. They are, unfortunately, a part of the weight loss journey. It’s not understood what causes a plateau, but the theories include:

  • the body adapting to weight loss and defending itself against further weight loss
  • people stop being compliant to their nutrition strategy after a few months
  • the metabolism slows down if a person loses weight quickly

If you’ve been following along on this journey with me, then you’ll know that my plateau issue lies in that second bullet point. In the last couple weeks, I have been just a bit too cavalier in my food choices, and due to injury my exercise decreased this last week. But, I’ve picked myself up, dusted off my knees, and have continued to push forward.

When you find yourself in the weight loss plateau, it bites! It can take an emotional toll, for sure! But there are strategies that you can implement to keep your body fat melting away. In this post, I am going to cover eight different strategies you can leverage to help break through your weight loss plateau. Later in the week, I will bring your eight additional strategies to take when the scale isn’t budging:

1. Don’t Rely on the Scale Alone

You might be consistently doing everything right, following all of the weight loss rules, but the scale still isn’t budging. Remember that the scale only tells you what your total body weight is. The scale doesn’t tell you what the individual components of your body composition weigh.

It won’t tell you if you are retaining water. Perhaps you’ve eaten some extra carbohydrates in the last day or two? That can cause some water weight gain. So can hormone fluctuations in women.

If you are exercising consistently, you might be increasing muscle mass and decreasing fat mass. Ever hear the phrase “muscle weighs more than fat?” Well, that’s a false statement. One pound of fat and one pound of muscle both weigh one pound. The point that phrase is intending to make is that one pound of fat takes up significantly more space than one pound of muscle.

That being the case, a more accurate measurement of progress is to use a tape measure and a camera. Take weekly measurements and progress pictures. If you can see visible change with these measurement tools, then you are not in a plateau. You are still losing fat.

plateau, scale, weight

You can also pick up a scale on Amazon which has the technology to read the different components of your body composition.

2. Reevaluate your calorie needs

If you’ve been eating in the same calorie range for some time, your body may have adapted to the deficit you were previously in. As you lose weight, your body will not require the same amount of calories it previously needed to maintain your weight. You may be needing to decrease your calorie intake in order to continue to see fat loss.

You may find it beneficial to get a metabolic test done to determine your resting metabolic rate. This is the amount of calories that your body burns just by being alive, through your organs functioning, and even while you sleep. Check out this article to learn more about metabolic testing. You can also find a dietitians office, high end gym, sports medicine clinic, or weight loss center near you that offers metabolic testing. Another option is InBody scans. These will tell you or resting metabolic rate (or basal metabolic rate), but it will also break down the different components of your body composition.

Once you know your resting metabolic rate, you can determine your most accurate Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) or maintenance calories. You can, then, find a “comfortable” calorie target range above your resting metabolic range and below your total daily energy expenditure.

If all that seems like too much of a hassle, you can simply decrease your current total calorie intake by 100-200 calories. It may be tempting to rush the weight loss process by decreasing even more than that. But that can become problematic if you are consuming less than your resting metabolic rate calories. Your body will then go into starvation mode. It might either cease shedding weight, or it will begin catabolizing your lean muscle mass, which we don’t want!

3. Eat more fiber

Eating more fiber may help to push your past your weight loss plateau.

Although research suggests that all types of fiber may be beneficial for weight loss, a large review of several studies found that a soluble fiber known as viscous fiber was most effective at helping us control our appetite, and avoid over consuming.

If you want a little bit more evidence to back this claim, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that by making one change to your diet—which is aiming to eat 30 grams of fiber a day—can help you lose weight, reduce blood pressure, and increase sensitivity to insulin. 

In short, fiber promotes weight loss by slowing the movement of food through your digestive tract, decreasing appetite and reducing the number of calories your body absorbs from food.

4. Eat Plenty of Protein Throughout the Day

protein, meat, fish, cheese, nuts

You should be eating protein at every meal. Protein helps to preserve muscle mass while melting fat away. It helps us stay satiated longer by suppressing ghrelin, which is a hormone secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite.

To boost your metabolic rate and promote weight loss, include at least 20 grams of protein at each meal.

You can find protein in meat, fish, cheese, nuts, and legumes.

5. Eat your Veggies All Day Long

Eating tons of veggies is a sure fire way to help you beat your weight loss plateau. Vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories and carbohydrates, and packed with essential nutrients that help our bodies function at their best.

Studies have shown that those who consume a large amount of vegetables have had larger weight loss results!

Veggies should be consumed at every meal and snack. It might be a new concept to include vegetables with your breakfast. Go ahead and open your mind to new possibilities! You never know, extra veggies may just be the thing you need to push past your weight loss plateau.

6. Cut Back on Carbs

Low carbohydrate diets have been shown to be a highly efficient nutritional approach to weight loss. If you find your weight at a stand still, you can try cutting back your carbohydrate intake.

One large review of 13 studies with follow-up lasting at least a year found that people who consumed 50 or fewer grams of carbs per day lost more weight than those following traditional weight loss diets.

Very low carb diets have been said to reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness. This nutritional approach may also increase fat burn and promote long-term weight loss.

7. Cut Back on Salt

You should be eating protein at every meal. Protein helps to preserve muscle mass while melting fat away. It helps us stay satiated longer by suppressing ghrelin, which is a hormone secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite.

To boost your metabolic rate and promote weight loss, include at least 20 grams of protein at each meal.

You can find protein in meat, fish, cheese, nuts, and legumes.

salt

8. Drink Your Water!

Check this out! Studies have found that plain water can boost metabolism by 24–30% for 1.5 hours after drinking a 17-ounce (500-ml) serving (Study #1Study #2). How cool is that!?!?

Hydration is an essential aspect of weight loss. Drinking enough water helps flush out excess salt and toxins in our body.  Sometimes, if you’re dehydrated, your body sends signals causing you to think that you’re hungry. When in actuality it is water that you’re needing. So before reaching for a snack, chug down some water, and then reassess if a snack is needed.

Science is so dope! According to research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, study subjects who sipped two cups of water before sitting down to a meal consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories. Over a 12-week period, dieters who followed the strategy three times per day lost about 5 pounds more than dieters who didn’t increase their water intake.

So drink your water. Drink it all day long! Drink it before you eat! If your urine isn’t nearly clear, you’re not drinking enough!

Summary

If you’re facing a weight loss plateau, you’re not doomed to stay there forever. You can take action by tweaking a thing or two in your approach. Make sure you’re not relying on the scale, alone, to track your progress. Reevaluate your caloric needs to make sure you’re not eating too much. Eat more fiber, protein, and vegetables. Cut back on carbs. Cut back on added salt. And drink tons of water!

Come back later in the week for eight additional ideas to help you put an end to your weight loss plateau.

Talk to you soon!


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Published by

Amy Bellamy

What's up everyone?! My name is Amy Bellamy and I am a wife, a mom to three boys, and a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. I am an avid distance runner and love lifting weights. As someone who has struggled with being overweight in the past, I know how hard it can be to find the right process that works for you to lose weight. The frustration of starting and stopping and starting again, wears on you mentally and physically. That's why I want to share with you what I have found to be a game changer for me in my weight loss journey. Through experience and study, I’ve learned the tools required for losing weight permanently. I have the education and experience to help you overcome any insecurities you have, from that worry of everyone looking at you because you don't know how to use the exercise equipment in a gym environment, or simply not knowing how to use what you have at home. I also have the training to help you stay focused on your goals when that plate full of cookies is staring you down and you find yourself saying "Well, I will allow myself to eat just one" and end up eating the whole plate (oh, the number of times I have been there). I’m excited to help you find the right approach to your food consumption, give you the template on how to build a strategy that works specifically for you and then help you stick with it. On top of that, I will show you how to help you increase your flexibility, strength, muscle growth, cardiorespiratory abilities and achieve your fitness goals. Let me help you in your commitment to living your healthiest lifestyle and lose those last 15 pounds for good!

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