How to Break Out of a Weight Loss Plateau
by Renee Kennedy
What is a weight loss plateau?
You are on a diet, but you reach a period of time (two or
more weeks) where you can't seem to lose any weight.
Your weight may actually fluctuate 3lbs up or down, but
you can't seem to break below this range.
You can experience a weight loss plateau for different reasons:
- You are consuming too many calories for the amount of
calories that you are burning off.
- You are not consuming enough calories; your body
defends itself by slowing down your metabolism.
First, you need to determine if you are experiencing a
plateau or if your weight is in a state of normal fluctuation.
Weigh yourself once per week. If you have not lost any
weight after 3 weeks, you've hit a plateau. Remember,
people lose weight at different rates. If you've lost even
one pound after three weeks, you are still losing weight and
probably don't need to change anything. The closer you get
to your goal weight, the harder it will be to lose weight.
Second, if you are experiencing a plateau, look at your
current diet and exercise patterns. Your NutriCounter will
function as a measurement tool to see how many calories
you are consuming each day. It will also help you determine
if you are eating the appropriate amount of carbohydrates
and protein each day. You should also keep an exercise
journal that will help you determine how much exercise
you are getting each day. (Phil Campbell's book can help
you develop an exercise journal - see the review in the next
Here are some patterns that you may need to break.
(Note: before trying any of the methods below, get your
doctor's advice. This is especially important if you have
special dieting needs.)
- You should be eating at least 1200 calories a day if you
are a woman and 1500 calories per day if you are a man. If
you restrict your calories too much your body will start
stockpiling fat because it thinks you are starving.
- You may try to break a plateau by decreasing the percentage
of carbohydrates and increasing the percentage of protein
that you intake each day.
- Another common recommendation is not to mix your
protein and carbohydrates. If you have a protein breakfast,
wait 2-3 hours before resuming your balanced meals.
- Generally speaking, you should be exercising no more
than 1 hour per day. However, ask yourself if your fitness
routine is intense enough? Simply walking around the block
for 15 minutes a day may not be enough for you. Each person
is different. Also, walking around the block may have been
an excellent exercise when you first started to lose weight,
but it may not be enough now that you've hit a plateau.
- If you have recently added a fitness regimen to help you
lose weight, you may experience a slight weight gain for the
first few weeks, especially if part of that routine involves
weight lifting. This can be a very frustrating experience.
If you are engaged in an intense workout regimen, it may help
to measure yourself with a measuring tape, rather than the scale.
You will be putting on muscle and muscle will burn more
calories than fat, but it's also heavier.
- If you are already on a low calorie diet and you are
sticking to it, then it is not recommended that you cut out any
more calories. Increasing your activity is really the key to
breaking out of a plateau. However, if you are "supposed" to
be on a low calorie diet but you are not sticking to it, well,
the answer is obvious: you need to stick to it.
This section of the NutriCounter site is designed for educational purposes only.
The information provided
through this site should not be used for diagnosing or
treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a
substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect
you may have a health problem, you should consult
your health care provider.