At first, you were doing great, losing weight every time you step on the scale. Then as time went on, the numbers began to slow and now they’re completely stagnant.
Welcome to the weight loss plateau.
Hitting this plateau is discouraging, but it’s also completely normal. That’s why you often hear people talk about how hard it is to lose the last 10 pounds.
There are many reasons why your weight loss plateaus, most of which are in your control. Here are some ways to get back on track (if you’ve slipped) and some areas to address that you may not have considered.
Not eating enough protein
When you lose weight, your body doesn’t require the same amount of energy, so your metabolism slows down. It’s also natural for you to lose some muscle mass along with fat while you’re shedding pounds. Muscle burns more calories than fat, particularly if you work out, so you’ll want to preserve as much muscle as possible. To do this, you need to keep your protein intake up. Aim for between 0.8 grams to 1 gram of protein per kilograms of lean body weight.
Your portion sizes are too big
Part of weight loss is retraining your mind and habits from the past. Learning proper portion sizes is a big part of this. In the beginning, you might still lose weight by making healthier choices than you were previously. But over the long haul your portion sizes will need to be addressed.
You might find it helpful to use a food scale or have a visual reference guide to compare your portions to. You might be surprised to find out that healthy serving sizes are much less than the amount you would eyeball when you’re putting together your plate.
If you’ve stopped seeing results, portion control is a good place to look for a reason why.
Treats and extras are adding up
Mindset plays a big role in weight loss success. For some people, eating treat foods while on a diet allows them to feel satisfied and balanced. If you’re that type of person, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you’re taking in and whether it’s moving you closer or farther away from your goal.
A little fast food pit-stop after a workout won’t hurt, right? If you frame your weightloss goal as a health goal instead, you might think of things differently.
It’s possible to live a healthy lifestyle while eating treat foods occasionally, but if you’ve stopped seeing weight loss results tightening up on the extras in your diet could help out.
You aren’t getting enough quality sleep
It’s no secret that stress impacts your waistline. Whether you’re not sleeping because you’re stressed, or your body is stressed because you’re not sleeping, it’s a major roadblock to your weight loss success.
Proper sleep ensures your body has the down-time it needs to recover. This is especially important if you’re working out regularly. In order to keep your body functioning at a high level, you need to refuel and recover properly. When you’re sleeping less than 7 hours per night, your body isn’t able to recover well.
In addition, when you’re sleep deprived, you’ll naturally crave sugar and fat. It’s the body’s way of responding to stress by making sure you have the nutrients you need to stay alive.
If the scale has stopped moving, look to your sleep habits. Aim to sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night, and to be in bed no later than 10:30 pm for best results on regulating the hormones that contribute to fat loss.
Not eating enough
It’s tempting to think that the less you eat, the more weight you’ll lose. Wrong.
Your body will adjust to the amount of calories you consume on a regular basis. So if you’ve drastically cut back on your calorie intake, your body will learn to function on that decreased amount of food.
Instead, reduce your calorie intake slowly. It’s best to do this by paying attention to the quality of your food and making sure you’re eating the healthiest choices and cutting back on the empty calories you might have been consuming.
Ultimately, the goal is to be able to be able to eat as much healthy food as possible and still lose weight because your body is burning quality fuel.
You’re not as active as you think you are
Ok great, you’re making it to the gym and keeping up with your workout routine. But what about your activity the rest of the day?
It’s common for people who are new to working out to compensate for their workout by resting the rest of the day. Could this be happening to you?
Whether it’s driven by muscle soreness, or feeling like you’ve “put in your work” for the day, inactivity won’t move you closer to your weight loss goal.
Aim for an active lifestyle where you incorporate activities like going for a walk, riding your bike, taking the stairs or walking to do errands in addition to going to your daily workouts. These healthy lifestyle habits will keep you in shape long-term.
Daily alcohol intake
Calories add up quickly, even if what you take in doesn’t fill you up. Your favorite cocktail for example, might be upwards of 300 calories. That’s the same amount as a snack!
Drinking alcohol will also increase your blood sugar causing spikes and dips that will make you feel hungry more often.
If you’ve stopped losing weight, it’s a good idea to check in on the amount of alcohol you’re drinking and think about cutting back.