8 Tips to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau

by Melody Foster

The journey to a healthier you isn’t without its ups and downs, but not seeing consistent progress can be understandably frustrating. Have you hit a plateau in your weight loss? Are you no longer seeing a change to the numbers on the scale? If so, you’re not alone. Most people trying to lose weight will experience periods of time where it seems no amount of dieting or exercise will melt those pounds away. For some, it lasts a few days. For others, a weight loss plateau can last weeks.

Hitting a plateau in your weight loss can be discouraging and frustrating, but it is not abnormal, and with a little extra effort, you can break through the plateau and begin losing weight again. Here are eight tips to help you overcome a weight loss plateau:

Evaluate your current nutrition and exercise habits. Has anything changed in your diet and fitness routine? What are your sources of calories on a daily basis? Don’t forget to account for liquid calories—calories you drink are still calories. Keep a daily food journal to record exactly what you are eating. Seeing it on paper will help you better evaluate what’s going into your body and see where you may need to make changes.

Increase your protein intake. How much protein are you eating each day? Protein helps the body burn fat, so the more protein you consume, the faster your metabolism will be and the more effective your body will be at burning fat. Pay close attention to the fat content of the proteins you are eating and make low-fat protein choices whenever possible. Talk to a nutritionist to determine just how many grams of protein you should eat a day.

Make a change in your fitness routine. If you are doing the same workouts every day, your body will adapt to those exercises and become more efficient. We normally think of efficiency as a good thing, but when you’re talking about burning fat, the more efficient your body is, the fewer calories it will require to expend the energy required to complete your workout, thus you won’t lose fat as quickly. Consistency (working out at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week) and variety are key. Change things up. If you go for a walk one day, try biking or swimming the next. Do not allow your body the opportunity to adapt to your fitness routine, or you’ll only be frustrated.

Include strength and cardio in your workout routine. A cardio workout may burn more calories, but the more muscle your body has, the quicker it will burn those calories, so strength and aerobic exercise are equally important for weight loss. Be sure you’re getting in at least two strength workouts every week.

Step up the intensity of your workouts. Increasing intensity as you become more fit is also important. As you lose weight and your body adjusts to regular exercise, you will need to increase the intensity of your workouts. Try to boost the intensity of your workout a little bit every week. For example, if you are going for a brisk 30 minute walk three days this week, next week, try walking for 5 minutes and jogging for 30 seconds to one minute, on and off for the duration of your workout.

Reduce your stress level. The body reacts to stress by storing fat. Incorporate a stress-reducing activity into your daily routine. A few ideas include yoga, meditation or prayer, gardening, taking your pets for a walk — find something that relaxes you and make time for a few minutes of that activity every day.

Find support. Don’t expect to take this journey alone. Finding support and encouragement from others who are on the same journey will be essential for your long-term success.

Have vision. Throughout your weight loss journey, it’s important for you to stay focused on your vision of a healthier, fitter, thinner you. Visualize your success and regularly remind yourself where you are headed and what your goals are.

Plateaus are frustrating, but hitting a plateau doesn’t mean you’re done losing weight for good. Put these small changes into place and you’ll begin seeing progress again in no time.

Before making any major changes to your nutrition or exercise routine, consult with your physician.

About the Author

Melody Foster is a Dallas-based freelance writer and contributing author to the Nicholson Clinic blog. Melody researches and creates content for clients in industries ranging from health care, fitness and nutrition to interior decorating, legal and social good.