How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau
Ever feel like those last few pounds are the most difficult to lose? You may have hit a weight loss plateau. It’s when you’re making great progress along your journey and then get stuck at the same number on the scale for one month or longer, just short of your goal. The reason lies in energy balance. Weight loss is a matter of calories consumed (what you eat) compared to the amount of calories expended (how much you exercise). When weight loss stops, there is no longer a deficit. It can be extremely frustrating but don’t give up hope. There are a few things you can do to get back on track.
DECREASE YOUR CALORIE INTAKE:
Portion Control – Start by taking a look at your portion sizes. You could be serving yourself too much food at each meal and for each snack.
Frequency of Intake – How many times a day do you eat? If you are consuming 3 meals a day and 2 snacks, try cutting it back to 3 meals a day and 1 snack.
Energy Dense Food – Reduce the amount of energy-dense food you are eating and replace it with food that is high in protein and fiber to keep you fuller, longer. Try adding in beans, peas, lentils, fish, chicken without the skin, egg whites, and even fat-free dairy. You’ll be eating the same volume of food, but fewer calories.
Meal Replacement Shakes – A great way to keep your calorie count under control is by using a meal replacement protein shake. I like to use shakes to replace either breakfast or lunch. They are portion-controlled and easy to track, with the exact amount of calories right on the label. And making them is a snap!
Food Variety – Make life easier on yourself and decrease your amount of food variety. Ever heard of the buffet effect? It’s when you have so many options to chose from that you wind up piling a little bit of everything on your plate, and before you know it, you’re stuck in a food coma. Keep it simple. Meal prep can help. For example, make one big batch of mama’s chicken tortilla soup and have that as your lunch for a few days. You can even freeze it and save it for another week.
Track Your Food – Did you even notice you grabbed that late-night cookie or ate your kid’s leftover chicken nugget? Track everything! Try keeping a food journal. You’d be surprised at how many things you don’t even realize you’re eating. If pen and paper aren’t your thing, there are plenty of helpful apps on the market. I like MyFitnessPal but there are a ton to chose from. Test them out to see which one works best for you.
INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF TIME YOU EXERCISE:
Exercise Volume – If your daily calorie intake is already low (between 1,000 – 1,200 calories) or if you’ve been feeling hungry, you definitely don’t want to cut back on your diet. Instead, focus on your energy expenditure. Start by increasing your exercise volume. If you normally work out for 30 minutes a day, try bumping it up to 45 minutes.
Increase Your Calorie Burn – If you don’t have the time to increase your workout volume then make the most of the time you have by adding in resistance. When you work your muscles with strength training, you continue to burn calories throughout the day, even after you’ve stopped exercising. I like adding in free weights, resistance bands and loops, medicine balls, and even weighted vests into my routine.
Non-Exercise Activity – Think about how you can add more movement into your day. Can you take the stairs instead of the elevator? How about parking your car a bit further from your destination or getting off a stop earlier on the bus or subway? Every little bit helps.
Recreational Activity – What do you do on your free time? Can you head out for a walk after you drop your kids off at sports practice instead of sitting on your phone and scrolling? Create new habits. Maybe head out for a family bike ride or hike on the weekends. Have fun exploring new sites and trails.
Smaller Pockets of Exercise – No one said it all has to be done at once. If you can only work out for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes later at night, go for it! Even add in another 10-minute walk during your lunch break. It all adds up!