Weight Loss Plateau: Real, Fake, and How To Overcome

Weight loss plateau is a nasty condition most people face sooner or later when they are trying to lose weight. Weight loss plateau means that, despite the fact you continue to do all your routines, follow the diet, and do workouts, the weight does not decrease. This happens because the amount of calories you burn daily equals the amount of calories you consume. There is no deficit of calories and as a result, you stop burning the fats under the skin.

Weight loss plateau happens when the amount of calories you burn daily equals the amount of calories you consume. As a result, weight loss stops despite the fact you continue all your routine.

If you hit the weight loss plateau, don’t blame yourself – you are not alone. Almost everybody goes through this; for some, the condition lasts for days, others struggle for weeks. The question is, how to cope with it. 

 

Weight Loss Plateau: Wrong Reactions And Steps

People tend to get really puzzled when they hit the plateau, this balance between the energy burned and the energy consumed. They follow their diet, workout, sweat, maybe do beauty procedures and massages, but the body stops to respond. It is easy to fall desperate, right?

Most often, this is the first reaction to the weight loss plateau:

  • I am a loser, I never manage to do everything right
  • WHY this happens, I am doing everything right, and it all worked before, why it does not work anymore?
  • probably there’s something wrong with my body, because I follow a smart system of weight loss, but the body just doesn’t respond. There’s something wrong with me.

It is understandable that people easily get upset, because most of them really struggle with excess weight and fight for each pound off. Seeing the same number on the scale is outraging and this can spoil the whole day (I know this from personal experience).

Because of this perception of doing something wrong, people make wrong conclusions and decide to take the wrong steps. In fact, they take wrong steps to fix the correct situation.

The most popular decisions to manage the weight loss plateau include:

  • I eat too much, I have to eat less to create the calorie deficit again (wrong!)
  • I do not burn enough energy, I have to workout harder (wrong!)
  • my weight loss system just does not work, I need to change it (wrong!)
  • it does not make sense, I will just quit (wrong!)

These steps are wrong in two ways.

Firstly, if you have followed a system of weight loss and eventually stumbled into the weight loss plateau, it means the system actually has worked for you, and you actually have managed to decrease the amount of calories you consume. So, you have achieved some success already. Weight loss plateau is the right situation, it is absolutely regular and obligate, and if you stumbled into it, you are most probably on the right way.

Weight loss plateau is the right situation, it is absolutely regular and obligate, and if you stumbled into it, you are most probably on the right way.

So, there is nothing to “fix”, and you are not a loser. Maybe, your weight loss system does not give advice on how to manage the weight loss plateau when you face it, but this is a different kind of problem. There is nothing wrong with the weight loss plateau itself.

Secondly, you may have faced the fake weight loss plateau.

Fake Weight Loss Plateau

Fake weight loss plateau seems to be the same situation – despite all your efforts, you stop losing weight. You start panicking, blaming yourself, starving and do all the stupid things most people do. And nothing works.

Fake weight loss plateau is a state of the body, when the body tends to accumulate other matter – not fat – and does not show result in weight decrease, despite all your efforts. Fake plateaus include:

  • accumulation of water – maybe you have eaten something salty in the afternoon, and by next morning, the body accumulated a good volume of water. You check your weight, and it haven’t changed.
  • premenstrual syndrome – before their period begins, most women tend to notice swelling in their lower belly, accumulation of water, high appetite, and of course the weight does not decrease.
  • you started to workout, and stopped to lose weight. This happens, firstly, because your muscles swell a bit after the physical training. The muscles can remain a bit swollen for several days, and despite all your efforts and fitness, you will not see changes in weight. Secondly, in the long perspective, workout develops some muscle mass, and you can gain muscle while losing fat. However, unless you have smart scale that shows the percent of matter  in the body, you won’t see the difference in your weight – it will stay roughly the same.
  • your intestine may accumulate some poop. Weirdly, this often happens to people who eats small portions for the sake of weight loss. The portions are so small they just don’t make it to the end of the intestine. The person sees that, despite their limited eating, they do not lose weight. The person becomes angry and starts eating a lot more. This new food pushes all the old food out from the intestine, and the weight decreases, leaving the personal totally unable to understand why they gained weight when eating less, and then lost weight while eating more.

The issue with fake weight loss plateaus is that as soon as the condition that caused it disappears, you suddenly find out you lost a healthy amount of weight. You get totally disoriented and puzzled, and just refuse to understand what is happening at all.

  • as soon as the water goes out, you lose weight without doing anything special
  • as soon as the period is over, you lose weight and can’t understand why
  • as soon as you stop working out, the swelling of the muscles disappears and you lose weight, also without understanding how this happened
  • as soon as you eat a larger portion of food, especially with fibre, it pushes out all the wastes, and you notice a considerable weight loss effect, totally unexplainable after a huge meal.

These are all fake weight loss plateaus. They mean you continue to lose fat, but due to the fact that the body accumulates other types of matter, you just cannot see this on the scales.

How To Manage Fake Plateaus

To cope with fake plateaus, you have to understand what exactly is happening to you.

  • if you faced the weight loss plateau after you started working out, this is probably swollen muscles that do not allow you to see the result. Decrease the intensity of workout a bit, continue your routine, and just wait
  • if you are close to period or having period, the answer is obvious – just wait and don’t get angry with yourself.
  • if you suspect you have accumulated a lot of water, try to sweat a bit, and also wait.
  • if you notice you do not poop much lately (yeah, I talk about such things, lol), maybe the food is accumulated in your intestine. You should go and make yourself a big tasty vegetable meal with lots of fibre, and eat it. And also wait. The fibre will clean the intestine like a brush, and push out all the old wastes.

Overall, the best strategy for weight loss plateau is give yourself time and wait. Do your routines and just watch if anything happens.

If you have tried out all methods to cope with the fake plateau, then probably you are experiencing the real weight loss plateau.

How To Overcome The Real Weight Loss Plateau

To beat the real plateau, do not give up. Remember that if you have achieved this stage in your weight loss journey, you definitely move in the correct direction. The only thing to be done is slightly reconsider your practices. Let’s discuss those step by step:

  • If you did not follow any diet before (lost weight due to fitness)

Weight loss plateau is a reasonable point to start following a mild and healthy diet. You will decrease the amount of calories consumed, create the calorie deficiency, and the weight loss process will continue. Choose a diet that includes plenty of vegetables and fruit.

  • if you followed a diet before hitting the plateau

NEVER NEVER decrease the amount of calories even more. Strict diets that limit the amount of calories to the level near to starvation never work. If you have already limited your calorie intake before, and then hit the plateau, it means your body has adapted to the amount you consume, and decreasing the calories will lead to next plateau, decreasing even more will lead to another plateau… Eventually you reach the amount of calories that is just unable to provide enough energy for living, so you quit this diet and go into the yo-yo weight effect. Please read about the limitation of calories and the yo-yo effect more to avoid this nasty phenomenon.

Instead of limiting your calories even more, you have to increase the volume of food you eat, by eating tons of fruit and vegetables. At least one big meal daily should consist totally of vegetables, boiled, baked, grilled, steamed, or stewed (but not fried!), without oils and animal fats. This type of meal will make you feel full, will decrease the hunger, will provide enough fibre to clean the intestine, and will provide enough nutrients to support your health.

Yeah, if you are dieting and hit the weight loss plateau, limiting the calories even more means dead-end road, because the body will cut the energy expenses more and more, you will eat less and less, to the point when you are starving and just cannot continue.

Avoid this dangerous mistake. Educate yourself about yo-yo dieting. Increase the amount of lean vegetable and fruit meals. And give yourself time.

  • If you followed a diet, but did not workout

It is time to engage into low intensity physical activity. Never jump into running, weight lifting, or anything objectively hard for you, only for the sake of beating the weight loss plateau. These methods won’t work. Instead, make daily walks your useful habit. Start from walking for 10 minutes a day, then 15, then 25 minutes. Walk in a manner you find comfortable. If you are generally used to walking, choose a bit faster tempo.

You can try dancing, at home. Just turn on the music for 10 minutes and dance. Dance when cleaning the room. Dance when gathering the washed clothes. Move more, but do not jump head first into heavy fitness routine. Why? Read below.

  • If you worked out properly before you hit the plateau

As I said, there are two reasons why workout can lead to weight loss plateau. The first reason is swelling; as you get tired, the muscles draw more blood and lymph, to repair the microtrauma and restore the tissues. Because of sweating, you drink water and this liquid is partially accumulated in the muscle. Take effort to relax the muscles, detoxify, and get a good rest. Do not overwork and avoid exhaustion. (this is especially true for those who dieted but did not work out; jumping head first into heavy workout leads to massive swelling in the muscle)

The second reason is muscle mass growth. In the long run, regular physical activity makes the muscles stronger and, as a consequence, heavier, even if you do not see increase in volume. Therefore, you may continue to burn fat, but the weight of muscle mass does not allow you to see this in the scales.

Emotional Aspect

Weight loss plateau is regular in 99% of cases, but it always brings disappointment and even despair. If you hit the plateau, don’t be mad at yourself. Instead, give yourself time.

Weight loss plateau is a good point to stop, pat yourself on the head, love yourself for all effort you do, and treat yourself a little kinder. Not all people who wants to lose weight even make it to the point of hitting the plateau. Most end up on the stage of “I need to lose weight”. If you are here, you have managed half of the way. Catch your breath, adapt, tweak your tactics, and continue.

Hitting the weight loss plateau does not mean you do something wrong.

Hitting the weight loss plateau means you are on the right track.

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