When I started looking for weight loss plateau solutions in the web for myself, surprisingly I found only several more or less adequate resources. But even those few were full of scattered and all-over-the-place random advice that looks nothing like a well-thought-of strategy.
All resources on weight loss stall I personally found treated weight loss plateau as something really simple and small, not worthy of much attention because it rarely happens, and is easy to solve.
Yet, the reality is that ALL people trying to lose weight hit a plateau at some time
Many of them get really stuck in that condition when nothing works, and many of these people actively look for practical solutions.
And not having a comprehensive resource to manage this issue is disturbing.
Me personally – I was totally pissed off when hitting plateaus, and before I figured out how to manage them, I made all kinds of mistakes a girl can make losing weight. If you faced a weightloss plateau as well, take advantage and learn from my mistakes.
Is It Easy To Break The Plateau?
Getting past a weight loss plateau might be a tough task.
Firstly, you have to clearly understand what is happening to you, and stop panicking. Secondly, you should know the exact reason why you hit the stall, to prevent hasty decisions.
Thirdly, you should be aware of additional factors (period, stress, constipation, etc) to prevent yourself from hitting the stall every next week.
To get out of weight loss stall, you have to reconsider both diet and exercise
It is easier to overcome plateau if you have previously focused only on one thing – diet, or exercise. If your main focus for weightloss was diet, you should add exercise. If you depended mostly on exercise, you should think of a mild diet.
However, in the majority of cases, if you hit a weight loss stall, everything is a bit more complicated.
Weight loss plateau can be caused by a combination of factors, and pulling by only one thread you won’t be able to untangle the whole thing. Most people wondering how to beat a weight loss stall try one approach after another, after another, and claim that nothing works.
Weight loss plateau solutions are usually all over the place, but according to my personal experience (and moaning of hundreds of people in the Internet), they are mostly so wrong.
The truth is, to overcome weight loss stall, you have to apply all strategies at once, addressing both diet and exercise in the right manner
Have I scared the crap out of you by now? Does it seem THAT complicated?
Don’t freak out, it’s not THAT complicated.
It’s just a bit more complicated than eating less and exercising more.
(This primitive shit almost never works. If it did, no one in the universe would hit those weight loss plateaus)
Where To Start?
As I said, it is easier to fix weightloss plateau if you have previously followed only one methods of the two – diet OR exercise.
In this case, you can consider adding another element to your weight loss strategy, and most likely you will be able to solve the problem – for a while.
If you only followed a diet before hitting the stall, focus more on the exercise advice.
If you only exercised, you should consider slight changes to your usual diet.
However, please be aware that if you have more than 3-5 lbs of excess weight to lose further, chances are you will face a stall again in two-three-four weeks.
Therefore, I suggest you make slight changes now, see how it goes, but educate yourself about the whole thing, and the whole strategy of breaking the weight-loss plateau I offer here.
I’m afraid you will really need this comprehensive strategy later.
Plateau On Weight Loss: Diet Plan
It is pretty hard to recommend a weight loss plateau meal plan here, because it will be generic and therefore ineffective for every particular person. So you should better comprehend the dieting mechanisms that lead into the weightloss plateau, and lead out of it. As soon as you understand the crucial mechanisms, you will be able to tweak the dieting strategy on your own.
If You Hit Stall On Diet…
…it means you consumed too few calories.
Yeah, not TOO MUCH, but TOO FEW.
Your consumption was obviously not enough for your body to cover the energy needs comfortably and without stress.
Hitting a plateau on diet means you probably eat too little, not too much
Therefore, to break the plateau caused by eating too little, you should add exercise to your routine first. This must not be a full-fledged sweaty workout with heavy weight in gym with a personal coach – in contrast, such approach will only add you more stress, and you will have a harder time breaking the weight-loss stall. (Instead, consider mild exercise techniques we will discuss in the next section)
As for eating, you should slowly add more calories to your meals.
Pay attention to healthy meals, like fresh fruit, steamed or grilled vegetables, low-fat meat and fish, and grains. While increasing calories seems counterintuitive for the purpose of losing weight, in reality, you play a long-term strategy here.
While increasing calories seems counterintuitive for the purpose of losing weight, in reality, you play a long-term strategy here
By adding more calories to your meals, you show your body that there is no hunger in your situation, that the food is abundant, and that you are able to cover all its energy spending. The body will see that the food is not limited, and will become much more comfortable with burning its fat reserves than when you are in starvation mode (it is caused by metabolic adaptation. You can read more on it, and see the graph in this post: What Causes Weight Loss Plateau?).
When energy consumption is abundant, the body burns energy more readily. So, eating more calories you are able to burn more calories
Therefore, when you add some exercise to your routine, it will help you burn fats effectively, without surviving on a low calorie diet, and without stress.
If You Hit Stall Without Diet…
…then you need to consider one.
I really do not suggest you should limit your calories very much.
Perhaps the first step would be to decrease your portions for 10% or so. You do not need to weigh your meals every time – just find a smaller or more shallow plate for eating your usual meal. You will not even notice how fast you will get used to smaller portion.
Portions matter because it is easier to decrease the portion visually than to measure it and count calories (I always look for the easiest solutions because I am lazy and want to do things quickly)
Portions also matter because huge meals stretch your stomach and the belly looks bigger.
However, I strongly advise to avoid “all-or-nothing” approach and jump into eating 25% of your usual meals to achieve results faster. This way, you only turn on the survival mechanisms (explained here) and hit a dead weight-loss stall lasting for weeks.
If you are wondering about weight loss plateau calories, as I said, you should not decrease the calories. You may consider eating less fats if you prefer high-carb diet, or less carbs if you prefer keto diet, but make sure you get enough energy for living your life in comfort (without starving and feeling drained).
(I have to confess I never count calories, and my weight loss stall diet plans never includes strict calorie limit, because I am a high-carb vegan high calorie girl most of the time)
My own experience shows that the most effective weight-loss plateau diet is the one that provides all necessary energy and elements in the first place, even if the calorie intake is higher than “recommended”
When your food brings enough energy, the body burns all those calories more readily (including own fat reserves!) than if you are starving.
If You Plateau On Keto…
…you should avoid decreasing calories, and also avoid decreasing carbs even more.
You already know about calories.
Now, if you already follow ketogenic diet and your carbs are limited, you should not cut on carbs even more. This is a bad idea because, firstly, carbs are necessary for your brain, and secondly, carbs are crucial for effective ketogenesis – that is, for burning fats.
You can learn more about importance of carbs in ketogenic diet in this post: Keto Flu Is Not A Flu: The Dangers Of Keto Flu
One of particularly stupid decisions when losing weight on keto diet and hitting a plateau is to cut carbs by avoiding fruit and vegetables in meals. With this approach, you are more likely to get a constipation fast, instead of breaking the weight-loss stall.
Additional Dieting Recommendations
- try to avoid bites here and there. Stick to proper meals during the day. If you have food cravings or feel hungry after the meal, it means you do not eat enough, or well enough, to feel full and satisfied
- if you eat lots of meat, try to decrease the portions. Sometimes meat stays in the intestine longer, causes small constipations, and you feel heavy as a result
- limit fats when you can. It is okay to eat healthy fats like avocado or salmon, but if you can steam your food instead of frying it – do that
- try intermittent fasting – it may be very helpful in the situation when you need to eat a bit less, but should not decrease calories
- drink more juices, tea, or even coffee – tasty and warm drinks fill the stomach, and help you feel satisfied without snacking. Warm drinks also reduce hungry stomach cramps. A good cup of tasty tea will help you survive till dinner without stuffing yourself with sweets or junk food
- make one meal per day fat-free. Just make sure you do not eat ANY fats with this meal, while other meals are as usual
You want to have enough calories every day, to be able to do your daily stuff without feeling drained – even if this calorie amount is a bit higher than “recommended” for weight loss. Remember that in the long term, you want to prevent your body from switching on the survival mechanisms, and the only way to prevent this is to consume enough calories.
Plateau With Weight Loss: Exercise Plan
In case you are wondering how to break weight loss plateau with exercise plan, you are generally heading in a correct direction. Exercise is always useful for weightloss.
While diet is effective, it is very tricky when hitting the stalls. With weight loss plateau exercise, it is a bit easier – overall, more exercise means more energy is spent, and the more energy you spend, the more fat you burn.
However, there are nuances, as well.
If You Plateau Without Exercise…
If you rammed into the weightloss stall without exercising (that is, relying only on diet), you need to definitely add more physical activity to your life.
However, what you MUST NOT do is enrolling into gym workout program with heavy weight under personal coach control every second day. While this approach seems the most logical, in reality it does not work. Actually this is a typical mistake many people make.
What you SHOULD do, though, is increase your physical activity softly, but on a regular basis
I suggest you start walking 2-3 miles a day, or every second day, in your usual tempo, without running.
Better walk with your dog, or with a willing friend. You can talk on the phone to somebody or listen to music while walking in case you find this activity boring.
However, walking is an extremely efficient way to become more physically active, in a soft and unstressed manner, without additional spendings, and without additional (unwanted!) attention from people around you.
It is much easier to go for a walk than to go to gym (I know from my personal experience), in all terms.
Think about any kind of physical activity you can pursue on a regular basis with pleasure. If you like dancing, dance at home when cleaning the apartment. Go to dance parties, or take remote online workshops.
If you feel ready and willing to start running, or working out in gym, please do so. My main idea is that you should not jump head first into hard and intensive exercise.
Hard and intensive exercise will, first of all, stress you out immediately; secondly, you will get sore and swollen muscles; thirdly, not every type of workout actually leads to burning fats effectively.
Start slowly and pursue simple available physical activities. Walking with your dog, or cycling around the neighborhood with your child will do your more good in pushing your limits softly, than heavy workouts, and you will break the dieting plateau in shorter time.
If You Hit Exercise Plateau…
…there are two scenarios for you.
The first thing to do in case of weightloss stall is maybe to take a break.
Working out plateaus may be caused by swollen muscles, or by muscle mass growing faster than the fat tissues are decreased (you can see the graph here).
When you take a break and have proper rest, your body’s metabolic processes will even out, and you will see the real state of things.
If you hit working out plateau exercising on a regular basis, but not very hard, the reason is probably you are not active enough.
While you exercise and burn some energy, you may lack focus, intensity, or time to really boost the fat burning
Consider the following recommendations to boost fat burning and break through the exercise weight-loss stall:
- switch and vary your workouts. You may want to switch cardio and heavy weight exercise, or cardio and stretching. Choose activities you enjoy, and switch them
- if you exercise twice a week, do this more often. Maybe it is better to decrease the intensity, but exercise every second day
- if you exercise very often, make the intervals longer, and get better rest. You may be sore and stressed out with such intensity, and the body shuts down the fat burning to preserve the energy for restoration
- try increasing the intensity of your workout softly. Perhaps you pursued the same workout scheme for too long; the body got used to the physical punishment, and the weight loss process stalled
- try increasing the time for working out, especially if you are more into cardio
- add activities besides your “official” workouts. Go for a walk more often, play with your kids or your pets, consider standing instead of sitting when you can, etc.
- eat more low-fat proteins. Perhaps your muscles lack nutrition to work harder (and consequently to burn more fat)
You always want to increase the intensity of workout, because it means more energy spent, more fat burned, and stronger body overall. But remember that in the long term, the only correct way is to do this softly. You want to avoid traumas and swollen muscles, and increase the intensity slowly to allow the body to adapt in its own tempo.
Plateau On Weight Loss: Stress Management
Stress is one of the main reasons of weight loss plateau. This is either stress caused by starvation mode diet, or stress caused by too hard workout, but the main cause behind the scenes is always stress.
Stress makes the body panic over losing its precious fat reserves, turn on the survival mechanisms (more on those here: What Causes Weight Loss Plateau?), and shut down the fat burning processes.
Whatever approach you want to use – diet, exercise, or both – you should always consider de-stressing yourself, to overcome plateau in weight loss. Plateau on weight loss can also be almost completely avoided, or you can dart past it, with a proper de-stress strategy.
If you hit plateau weight loss, consider the following recommendations:
- get quality sleep, and get enough of it
- take rest days without exercise. Take two or three days if you feel tired
- do not measure only weight, but also inches, and assess yourself visually. If you look better than before, it will make you feel better about yourself, even if the weight loss stalled
- socialize and spend time with people. This is helpful to avoid boredom, to be active, and to entertain self somehow besides eating
- spend time in nature on a regular basis. Even a short walk in the park, somewhere near the water, will calm you down and take the weight off your chest
- pay attention to your breathing. Some people have a really shallow breath – this can be caused by stress, or it can actually cause big portion of stress. Try breathing deeper at least sometimes, especially in nature. Breathing slower and deeper will automatically calm you down
- have a cheat meal once a day, or every third day, or have a cheat meal day once a week. This will slow down the weight loss a bit, but will work well for you in the long term to decrease the stress, and increase the wellbeing
- if you are hungry all the time, even shortly after the meal, maybe you are simply bored. Find something interesting to keep yourself busy
- take a look at your weight loss over time, rather than weight changes within small periods. Measure the weight once a week and not more often
- if you have hard times with your job, or family issues, or whatever else causing additional stress, don’t get bothered with the fact your weight loss is stalled. Put efforts into solving your problems first, and gain stable emotional condition. Your task now is to keep the weight stable; you will return to losing it later, when you feel better
- think when during the day you need a good proper meal to get energy, or to comfort yourself. Make this meal good and proper, while cutting on other meals. (For example, I can live without big breakfast, and even lunch, but I need to eat my dinner especially if I am stressed at work. On vacation, when I am not stressed, I can get without big breakfast and dinner, but need proper lunch.)
- if you hit a weight loss plateau and nothing works yet, give yourself TIME. Sometimes, you follow the right strategy, but just do not give your body enough time to manage the whole thing.
Typical Mistakes To Avoid
Those who hit a weight loss plateau usually want a quick advice.
Looking how to get over weight loss plateau with diet tips, or simple exercise tips, they fail to learn the nature of the beast. Eventually, in their efforts to beat weight loss plateau they end up making typical mistakes that can be avoided when you actually understand what exactly is happening and why.
All those quick recommendations on how to get out of weight loss plateau only sound logical at first sight, but when you already know the mechanisms of weight loss stall, the inadequacy of such recommendations becomes obvious.
Moreover, most of those recommendations are given in isolation, without showing connections to other recommendation, and how to manage them in combination
Let’s look at the most popular ones.
Weight Loss Plateau Tips That Are Bullshit
- cut on carbs even more – makes no sense, because will decrease the calorie intake even more, boosting the survival mechanisms
- eliminate fruit from diet – lack of fibre causes constipations and problems with digesting food, while lack of volume in food prevents you from feeling full and satisfied after the meal
- eating too much proteins – your muscles cannot absorb excess protein; they only build themselves in a certain tempo. Your increased protein consumption does nothing useful at all
- eating too much fats – fats are high in calories, but low in volume, which means your calorie intake may be huge, but you still feel hungry
- jump into intensive working out – swollen and sore muscles plus stress never help beating the plateau
- make the exercise intensity even higher – without proper assistance and supervision, this may end with traumatic experience
- counting calories and eating less – boosts the survival mechanisms and slows metabolism down even more
Avoid these mistakes at all times. In case you hit a weightloss stall, make sure you understand what caused it in your particular situation, and what steps you can take to address exact causes.
Be patient with yourself and pursue strategy that will keep you comfortable and full of energy. Remember that you can break plateau with quick fixes, but you will either hit another one soon, or start gaining your weight back afterwards.
Look for long term strategies that take into account numerous factors, and tap into real reason of things.