10 Ways to Overcome a Weight-Loss Plateau

Measuring tape on top of glass scale.

It’s no secret that losing weight is challenging for most. Forming healthy habits like eating right and exercising can take time, but seeing the results of your hard work is tremendously rewarding. Weight-loss can seem fairly simple to start, especially if you have more than a few pounds to shed. Adopting a healthy diet and fitness routine can help kick start your weight-loss journey, but most people inevitably reach a plateau that can seem impossible to overcome. Don’t let this common phenomenon spoil the progress you’ve already made, or deter you from continuing to push towards your goals. Weight-loss plateaus are typical for people of every age and fitness level, but luckily, there are methods for overcoming this obstacle to finally reach your finish line.

Why Do We Reach a Weight-Loss Plateau?

Woman stretching pants out to show weight loss.

There are several reasons why our bodies seem to stall when it comes to losing weight. For starters, it’s easy for the body to quickly adapt to a fitness routine. When you forget to mix up your workout, they become less challenging and therefore, less effective. Additionally, when we restrict our calories and introduce exercise, our bodies tend to fight back. Initially, the body assumes it’s starving, which in turn can cause the body to become stressed, releasing hormones that stimulate fat storage. These are just a few causes of the pesky plateau, but there are plenty of others. Losing weight requires the ideal balance of diet and exercise, which is difficult to achieve without the proper know-how. Have you found yourself at a stand-still trying to lose weight? Check out this list of 10 straightforward ways to overcome a weight-loss plateau and get back on track towards your target!

1. Reevaluate Your Calorie Intake

Nuts, fruits, and veggies.

To keep your weight loss consistent, you’ll need to adjust your calories as you go. When you lose weight, suddenly your body requires fewer calories to function. If you’re several weeks into training and are consuming the same number of calories as you were on day one, you might want to make some changes. Even eliminating 100 extra calories a day can help tip the scale in your favor. Just be sure not to overdo it with dieting, as it can have the opposite effect on your body. Consuming fewer than 1,200 calories a day can make your metabolism sluggish, making it even harder to reach your ideal weight.

2. Track Your Meals

Oftentimes, we underestimate how much we’re really eating until we see it written down on paper. We wonder why we’re not losing weight when it feels like we’re consuming so little. This is where a food journal can come in handy. Some studies have shown that individuals who keep a food journal have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off. Record every thing you consume, no matter how small, and BE HONEST! This information is for your eyes only, and can help reveal trends or patterns that are otherwise unobvious. For example, some people subconsciously snack in the evening time before bed, an unhealthy routine that can hinder weight loss. Being aware of these harmful habits is the first step to addressing them.

3. Incorporate More Fiber

Eating a diet that’s high in fiber is yet another way to combat an unpleasant weight-loss plateau. Fiber works to slow the movement of food through the digestive tract, so your stomach stays full and content for longer. Amazingly, fiber can also decrease the number of calories your body absorbs from other foods. The best part? There are plenty of delicious, high-fiber foods that are easy to incorporate into your everyday meals, such as avocados, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

4. Eat Plenty of Protein

Bowl of almonds next to two glasses of almond milk.

Most people are privy to the importance of protein when it comes to losing weight. Protein is arguably the most powerful nutrient, capable of regulating weight-loss hormones, boosting the metabolism, curbing cravings, and preventing muscle breakdown. These are just a few of the ways that protein can help give your stagnant weight-loss the jump start it needs. Some experts recommend eating protein with every meal. If you’re looking to add more protein to your diet, try munching on foods like almonds, eggs, chickpeas, or Greek yogurt.

5. Hydrate

Drinking more water is beneficial for a number of reasons, but did you know that it can actually help you lose weight? Water helps rid your system of excess salt that can cause your body to look and feel bloated. Plus, water keeps you fuller for longer, so you can power through the day without dealing with nagging hunger. Our expert tip? Gulp down a full glass of water before sitting down to any meal. You’ll fill up faster, and likely consume fewer calories. In fact, some studies have shown that individuals who consume water before their meals eat up to 90 fewer calories than those who skip this step. If you only eat 3 meals a day, that’s an extra 270 calories you could be burning!

6. Avoid Alcohol

Glass of whiskey.

Do you enjoy drinking a glass of wine each night with dinner? We hate to break it to you, but this could be killing your weight-loss efforts. Some alcoholic beverages are low in calories, but they’re just empty calories that offer no nutritional value. Not to mention, few people stop after just one drink. Another reason you should limit your alcohol intake? Having a few drinks loosens your inhibitions, which may cause you to overeat or choose foods that you’d otherwise avoid. If you’ve noticed your weight-loss progress stalling, try ditching the alcohol altogether or drastically limiting your consumption.

7. Get Some Sleep

It’s no secret that sleep is key to maintaining optimal health. Losing out on sleep will not only leave you feeling drained, it can also seriously hinder your weight-loss goals. A lack of sleep can slow your metabolism and cause you to feel hungrier. It can also cause an insulin resistance, which prevents your body from properly storing glucose. Excess glucose is stored in the body as fat, making it that much harder for you to reach your fitness objective. If you’ve recently hit a snag trying to shed some weight, you may want to try catching some more zzzz’s.

8. Eliminate Stress

Woman doing rooftop yoga.

If your efforts to lose weight have come to a screeching halt, you may want to examine your stress levels. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed at work, or facing personal pressures at home. These are normal stressors that everyone faces at some point or another, but don’t be fooled—they can seriously sabotage your momentum. When we’re stressed, we tend to crave bad foods and eat more than we ought to. If stress and anxiety is keeping you from crushing your goals, consider making some changes.

9. Intensify Your Workout

When we continue to lose weight, our metabolic rate gets progressively slower. Luckily, exercise can help counteract this process. If you’re already following a fitness routine and have noticed your progress starting to stall, try increasing the frequency or intensity of your workouts. Even adding one extra work out a week to your schedule can make a serious difference. Or, if you’re too busy to fit in another work out, consider kicking it up a notch and challenging yourself with a new, more intense routine.

10. Don’t Fixate on the Scale

As with most things, losing weight takes time and discipline. It’s important not to get hung up over the number you see on the scale. When you fixate on this figure only, you fail to recognize the other ways your body is likely changing and improving. Working out and eating healthy will not only lead to weight loss, but fat loss and muscle gain as well. Remember to celebrate the small accomplishments, like your pants fitting better or your energy levels being higher. These are indications that your body is becoming healthier and stronger!

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