Weight loss plateaus can be frustrating! Some people get to a plateau and think that weight loss just doesn’t work for them, so they give up on their efforts and goals. It doesn’t have to be this way! Earlier this week, we had a chat about some strategies for breaking through a weight loss plateau. Today I’m coming at you with another eight tools that you can implement if you find that the scale hasn’t budged for two or more weeks.
1. Keep a record of everything that goes into your mouth
Calories can be sneaky. Sometimes the smallest foods can contain surprisingly large quantities of calories. We think we’re eating something healthy only to realize later that it caused us to over-consume foods, and take us out of the weight loss range. (This happens all the time in salads. We think we’re doing something so awesome by putting a bunch of veggies into our body, but we don’t pay attention to how quickly the large quantity of dressing puts us over our numbers. Salad dressings aren’t the only place we can get hung up. Are you drinking your calories? Take a look at any beverage you consume. If they’re not a zero calorie beverage, you’ll easily run yourself past your daily targets for both calories and carbohydrates (Although, we do need to have a conversation at a different time about those sodas that are zero calories, and how you’re not really doing yourself any favors by drinking those either). You also might be shocked at how many calories and carbohydrates your favorite sugary foods contain.
But Amy, food journaling can be tedious…
I know this, and feel this, just as well as anyone. But studies have actually shown that keeping a food journal can help enhance your weight loss in multiple ways. The act of logging your food intake helps you feel in control of your weight loss process. Tracking your food, and seeing your eating patterns can help you understand habits that you are better off changing. Accountability is a necessary part of working towards your weight loss goals. Food journaling can be that source of accountability that you need to find success in your weight loss.
Tracking your calories and macronutrients — protein, fat and carbs — can produce the cold hard facts about how much you’re consuming. This will allow you to modify your nutrition plan as needed.
Do yourself a favor and keep a food journal, even if it’s for a long enough time to understand the nutrition content of the foods you’re eating and how much you’re taking in throughout the day. I like using the myfitnesspal app for my own food journal. I use the free version, and it provides everything I feel like I need in order to be successful.
2. Boost your exercise intensity and frequency
As you adapt to your weight loss regimen of nutrition and exercise, your metabolic rate may begin to slow down.
One study including more than 2,900 people found that for every pound (0.45 kg) of weight they lost, they burned 6.8 fewer calories, on average. As weight decreases, the gradual decline in metabolic rate can make continued weight loss challenging.
All is not lost! Exercise can boost the metabolism and keep it revved up. You might need to change up what you’re doing. If walking is your thing, you might want to consider including 30 seconds of jogging every couple minutes. If you’re a runner, add in some sprint intervals. Same thing on an elliptical or a bike. If weight lifting is your jam, lift heavier weights.
Resistance training is actually a more efficient form of exercise for weight loss. As you build muscle, you burn more calories throughout the day both during activity and rest. Cardio exercise has its place too. While you might burn more calories during a cardio session than a weight lifting session, unlike weight lifting your calorie burning ends when the cardio session ends. While with weightlifting, increasing your muscle mass is what keeps the calorie burn high all throughout the day.
If you’re already exercising regularly, you might want to consider adding in another day or two of exercise to help push yourself past your weight loss plateau.
3. Increase your movement throughout the day
Did you know that fidgeting, changing position, parking at the back of the parking lot, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking your kids to school instead of driving them, playing with your kids at the park or in the swimming pool, and walking during your work break are all sure fire ways to boost your metabolic rate?
This is known as Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).
If you find yourself in a weight loss plateau, find ways to move more throughout the day. Check out this post for some ideas to increase your NEAT, and rev up your metabolism.
4. Manage Stress
Stress has the ability to halt our weight loss progress.
We have within us a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is important because it helps our body respond to stress. But it alway can causes us to store belly fat. This can happen in women, especially.
We produce more cortisol in times of stress, which can cause our weight loss to freeze.
Life can provide us with some really stressful circumstances. But implementing stress reducing techniques can help accelerate you past your weight loss plateau.
5. Give intermittent fasting a try
Intermittent fasting is a nutrition strategy in which you go an extended period of time without eating. There are different approaches to fasting which typically range from 16-48 hours.
The practice has been shown to decrease insulin levels, increase blood levels of the human growth hormone, repair cells and removing waste material from cells, create longevity and protection against disease, reduce inflammation, heart health, but most relevant to our community- weight loss.
According to a very thorough article on the benefits of weight loss on healthline.com, “Intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss. Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy. For this reason, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories.”
If your weight loss is lagging, you might opt to implement an intermittent fast to boost the process.
6. Avoid alcohol
You’ll find 100 calories in 4 oz. wine, 12 oz of beer, and 1.5 oz of hard liquor. These beverages contain no nutritional value. Additionally, people tend to consume more than one drink at a time.
Alcohol impairs judgement and loosens inhibitions. In this state, people more easily make non-strategic food choices or overeat. This will provide an extra challenge for those working to overcome a tendency toward impulsive food-related patterns.
Research has shown that alcohol suppresses fat burning and may lead to belly fat accumulation.
If alcohol is a part of your life, it could be what is holding you back from seeing the results you want to see. Eliminating it from your diet may be the strategy you need to push past your weight loss plateau.
7. Have an indulgence meal
Sometimes when we have been in a weight loss state for some time, and have decreased our body fat, we’ve also decreased the amount of leptin (the ‘satiety hormone’) that we produce. In this state, the brain is receiving signals that it needs to conserve calories to prevent starving. A sure way to amp up leptin production is to eat more carbohydrates. Unlike fat and protein, the carbs tell your brain that you are not going to starve and to burn calories at a normal rate.
The indulgence meal does more than give you a psychological break from the rigid nutrition strategy. It also acts as a reset to your hormone function. So allow yourself that sugary treat that you’ve been craving. But remember to respect the rules. Keep your indulging to one meal, and not a full day or weekend.
8. Get enough sleep
Sleep is extremely important for good mental, emotional and physical health.
When the circadian rhythm is interrupted, the body goes into a state of self-preservation. Lack of sleep leads to metabolic changes aimed at conserving energy.
Our bodies need a full 7-8 hours of sleep in order to support weight loss and overall health. Sleep loss can prevent weight loss by shifting our hormone levels to stimulate both hunger and fat storage, also slowing down the metabolism.
So turn off Netflix, close up that book you’re sucked into, or put your phone down, and fight for your bedtime like your weight loss depends on it!
Weight loss plateaus can be frustrating! But you’re not doomed to be stuck in a plateau forever! You have the ability to control the situation. So if the scale hasn’t budged for you, go ahead and create habits of food journaling, increase your exercise frequency and/or intensity, increase your NEAT, reduce stress, try intermittent fasting, avoid alcohol, have a reset meal, and make sure you’re consistently getting a full night’s sleep.
That’s all for today! Talk to you soon!