Weight Loss Plateaus:
7 ways to break through
When you first start to lose
weight you're on a roll-losing-roll; nothing can stop
you. Week after week, kilo after kilo drops off, and
the more you lose, the more motivated you get. You're
in weight-loss heaven! "Whoever
said this was hard?" you say to yourself, "It's
as easy as (eating) pie!"
But then one day when you step on the scale, eagerly
anticipating your next kilo-kicking record, something
is badly wrong. The numbers haven't budged! And it's
not because your scale is broken. No, the inevitable
has happened - you've hit a weight loss plateau.
The plateau stage in a weight loss journey can be hard
yakka - but you shouldn't give up. CalorieKing.com.au
dietitian Boris Kazakov has these seven simple tips to
get your weight moving downwards again.
1. Stop calorie amnesia!
Record everything you eat and drinkHitting a weight loss
plateau is a good time to take a close look at the way
you've been eating lately. Maybe you just need to get
back to basics:
Start using a food diary every day. Be honest in your
diary and record everything that you eat and drink. Don't
leave out that small handful of Maltesers or that piece
of cheese you picked at while making dinner - every morsel
Are you getting too many calories? Consuming too many
calories can make you gain weight or plateau. Your food
diary can help you spot overindulgences, such as those
two 'innocent' lattes each day that could be adding over
350 calories to your daily intake.
Are you getting enough calories? While overeating is
not good for weight loss, neither is eating too little.
Eating too few calories every day can trigger your body
to start storing everything you do eat. It's a natural
defence mechanism designed to stop you starving in times
of low food availability. Boris recommends that you make
sure you're eating at least 1200 calories per day if
you're female, or 1500 calories per day for males.
Are you consuming a lot of salt? High sodium levels
can cause you to retain fluids and feel bloated. As well
as feeling uncomfortable, fluid retention can also show
up on the scales. Use your food diary to identify food
that you eat regularly that are high in salt, and avoid
adding extra salt to your food.
Measure and weigh. If you've been sizing up portions
by eye, it's time to start measuring and weighing your
foods accurately. It's easy to underestimate how much
you're really consuming.
2. Boost your metabolism
A sluggish metabolism can mean slow weight loss. Speeding
your metabolism up is one way to burn those waist-expanding
calories faster. Although genetics plays a part in determining
your metabolism, you can give yours a kick-start by changing
the way you eat. If you're usually a 'three meals a day'
kind of person, try Boris' recommendation of eating four
to five small meals and snacks per day instead.
"Eating regularly keeps your metabolism fired up
and helps to stabilise your blood sugar throughout the
day," says Boris.
Keeping your blood sugar levels stable also means that
you're less likely to suffer those diet-wrecking sugar
cravings. And keeping on track with your healthy eating
is good news for beating your plateau!
Of course, four to five meals per day doesn't mean eating
four or five times the amount of food. You still need
to stick within the same calorie limits, but replace
those super-sized, snooze-inducing main meals with a
series of smaller dishes.
3. Protein packs a punch
If hunger pains are constantly gnawing at your insides,
it can be very hard to stick to your planned healthy
meals. And if you're not making good food choices, a
plateau can be hard to overcome.
Letting yourself get hungry is like dangling a piece
of raw meat in front of a crocodile - downright dangerous!
Well, maybe not quite that dangerous, but hunger can
make your willpower and resolve disappear faster than
you can stuff three chocolate-iced doughnuts into your
However, if you're determined to beat your plateau by
sticking to your calorie limits for the day, but you're
constantly hungry, you're in a spot of bother.
Boris suggests combating this hunger by including a
larger serve of protein in your meals, such as lean meat,
skinless chicken, fish, legumes or tofu. Protein works
wonders to fill you up - and keeps you feeling full for
longer. By making sure that each of your meals (and that
includes breakfast!) contains some protein, you just
might find that you really don't need that doughnut after
Including protein in your snacks is also wise. For a
filling snack, try low-fat yoghurt, low-fat cheese or
cottage cheese, a small can of tuna, or a fruit smoothie
made with low-fat milk and your choice of fresh fruit.
Don't forget to balance out your meals with whole-grain
carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and
4. Stop the mind games
attention to your emotional connections to food. Start
keeping a journal and write down how you feel and what
you ate. Do you notice any patterns? Maybe you always
eat chocolate cake after you've had an argument with
your boss, or maybe at the end of the day you only feel
relaxed if you've had a glass of wine (or three!) and
some cheese and crackers.
If you're regularly making bad food choices in an effort
to make yourself feel better, weight plateau, or even
weight gain, is bound to happen. Knowing when and why
you eat can help you eliminate emotional eating habits.
Make a list of alternative activities that you can do
instead of eating, such as taking a walk, having a bath,
calling a friend, reading a magazine. Find out what works
for you, and learn to relieve your feelings without eating.
5. How’s your exercise
Boring? If you do the same exercise day in, day out,
it's no wonder you're finding things a little tedious.
Disinterest in exercise can easily cause your weight
to plateau. On the other hand, mixing up your exercise
activities can really get your weight moving again.
Changing your exercise routine can be as simple as trying
something new. How about working out with the help of
a personal trainer for a month, or maybe you could swap
one of your usual walking sessions for a yoga class?
You can also boost your exercise by picking up the pace,
exercising for longer, or by doing more exercise sessions
The idea is to surprise your body by varying your routine
regularly. Trying new things will also give you something
to look forward to, which will make it easier for you
to stick with regular exercise and can help prevent weight
6. Hydrate your body
Water is very important for keeping your body healthy.
It also plays a role in weight loss.
If you often feel bloated and retain fluids, as well
as feeling uncomfortable you'll know that it can also
register on the scales. Luckily there's a simple solution
- drink more water! It may seem strange, but drinking
lots of water actually helps to flush water from your
body and stops you retaining fluids.
Water is also a great 'hunger buster'. Often feelings
of thirst can be mistaken for hunger pains. Next time
you're feeling hungry, try drinking a large glass of
water. If you're still hungry in ten minutes then go
ahead and eat. However, you might find that you were
really just thirsty after all. Now that's an easy way
to save yourself hundreds of unneeded calories!
Drinking a glass of water before eating has also been
found to reduce the amount of calories consumed during
a meal. So up your water intake to Boris' recommendation
of at least 6 or more glasses of water, or other fluids,
per day, and you'll be kicking that weight plateau in
7. Measure up
Even when the scales are stuck on the same reading for
weeks, it doesn't always mean that you're not getting
When you hit a scale weight plateau it's a good time
to take your body measurements and use them to track
your progress as well. Body measurements are good indicators
of how your body shape is changing which, after all,
is where most of us would like to see a difference.
So instead of obsessing over the scale, think about
how you feel. Do your clothes fit better? Are you feeling
healthier or more energetic? Are you finding everyday
tasks easier to manage?
Considering the big picture can help you stay positive
and remind you that a plateau on the scales doesn't necessarily
mean a plateau overall.
Losing weight is about being healthier and feeling good
about yourself, so don't give up on your goals if the
scales get stuck for a while. Stay focused, keep positive,
and try some of our tips to give yourself the kick-start
you need to get your weight loss moving again. Good luck!
Reproduced with permission from CalorieKing.com.au. All material copyright CalorieKing.com.au