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April 11, 2018

How to Conquer a Weight Loss Plateau

Hawaiian steak stirfry with rice

Weight loss plateaus are an inevitable part of every weight loss journey: When you first start exercising and eating right, the pounds come off easily, but as time goes by the number on the scale stops shrinking. You’ve maintained your healthy habits, but it’s no longer enough to help you continue losing weight. What gives?

It’s easy to get discouraged when you hit a weight loss plateau, but once you understand why this happens, it’s easier to make small adjustments to your eating and exercising habits. Try these tips to get off the plateau and regain the momentum you need to reach your goal.

1) Understand why you’ve hit a plateau.

The Mayo Clinic identifies two main reasons why weight loss plateaus happen. The first deals with the loss of “water weight.” This is a popular term, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Here’s how it works:

Our bodies store spare energy in our muscles and liver in the form of glycogen, a carbohydrate made primarily of water. When we cut calories and exercise more, our body uses up its stores of glycogen, resulting in swift weight loss that is mostly water-based.

The second main reason your weight loss might be slowing down is due to muscle loss. Lean muscle speeds up our metabolism, which increases the rate at which we burn calories. When we first start losing weight, we lose muscles and fat alike. This causes our metabolism to slow, and with it our weight loss. To counter this, we need to build up lean muscle (we’ll talk about that more in a minute).

It’s also possible that you’ve hit a weight loss plateau because you’ve set a very ambitious goal. While it’s easy to become obsessed with an ideal number, how you feel is more important than how much you weigh. If you’re hitting a plateau but you’re at a healthy weight, then it’s time to celebrate while maintaining your current routine. However, if you and your doctor agree you have further to go, the following tips will help you power through.

2) Reassess what you eat.

3) Reconsider how you exercise.

- Emily Polson

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