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Breaking Through a Weight Loss Plateau: 10 Awesome Tips

Healthy, effective weight loss can be a real challenge, and it takes hard work and discipline. You might find yourself thinking, “why am I not losing weight when I exercise and diet?” It could be what’s known as plateau weight loss. 

But you shouldn’t feel discouraged by what your bathroom scale’s telling you. Simply keep reading for 10 creative ways to jump-start weight loss and meet your desired goals.

What causes a weight loss plateau?

Weight loss occurs when you take in fewer calories than you burn. Once you start cutting calories, you may quickly drop several pounds as your liver and muscles use up your body’s glycogen reserves. 

Glycogen is made partly of water, and when it’s burned to produce energy, water is released. This results in a loss of water weight, which is unfortunately only temporary. That’s exactly why the first few weeks of dieting are so exciting. Once your excess glycogen is gone, however, progress becomes slow but steady ‒ averaging roughly a pound or two lost per week.

Plateau weight loss occurs if the amount of calories you’re eating and the amount you’re burning even out. This is when your body weight stalls.

As you slim down, your caloric needs will drop accordingly and your metabolism decreases. But as long as you’re still consuming fewer calories than your body uses, you’ll continue to lose weight. Plateau weight loss occurs if the amount of calories you’re eating and the amount you’re burning even out. This is when your body weight stalls.

How to break through a weight loss plateau

Ready to conquer this weight loss plateau and get yourself back on track again? First, remember that everyone goes through this, especially if there’s a substantial amount of weight to lose over the course of several months. 

If you’re struggling to move the needle, it’s time to reassess your current eating and exercise habits. Overcoming plateau weight loss requires determining your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), or the number of calories you burn throughout the day. The key is to always eat less than that.

1. Exercise more frequently

Increase the amount of energy your body burns by upping your activity level. Often times, you’ll lose muscle mass along with fat, and muscle is known to burn more calories at rest than fat does. This means that as you become more muscular, you’ll naturally burn more calories than before, even if your overall body weight stays the same.

Incorporating weight training into your workout routine will preserve muscle mass and boost your resting metabolic rate. While cardio burns more fat per workout than weightlifting, it won’t do much for muscle development. However, a 45-minute cardio session could burn anywhere from 300 to 500 extra calories each day, serving to jump-start weight loss.

2. Reduce carb intake

For some, a low-carb meal plan, such as Paleo or Keto, offers the key to losing weight fast. Eating fewer carbs helps control your cravings for processed foods with little nutritional value like sweets. Plus, if your diet is heavy in carbohydrates, you may experience spikes and dips in blood sugar levels. 

3. Eat more fiber

It’s easier to stick to a well-balanced diet if you don’t constantly feel hungry. Increasing fiber intake makes you feel fuller longer. Furthermore, it regulates bowel movements and keeps your digestive process running smoothly. 

Ironically, it simultaneously slows down your digestion and reduces the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all healthy sources of dietary fiber. Remember, when you’re cutting calories and battling a weight loss plateau, every little bit counts. 

Some studies show that more than half of Americans don’t get enough fiber, especially those who follow a low-carb, high-protein diet. If your weight loss plan is based on remaining in ketosis, consider adding daily fiber supplements.

4. Track calories

Did you begin your weight loss journey by eliminating fast food, desserts, and sugary drinks?  Swapping high-calorie beverages for water can speed up weight loss while boosting overall health.

Dietitians recommend consuming at least 1200 calories per day to maintain your health.

However, if you haven’t been tracking your caloric intake, it’s easy to underestimate how much you’re really eating. For women (especially petite, sedentary individuals), the difference between how much you’re eating and how much you should eat to sustain weight loss is small. Dietitians recommend consuming at least 1200 calories per day to maintain your health. 

Create a more accurate picture of your dieting habits and make smarter choices by tracking consumption. There are several apps available to log meals, snacks, and drinks. Also, be sure to measure your portions with a small food scale.

5. Drink more water

Ditching sodas, fruit juices, and high-calorie coffee drinks in favor of water usually has a dramatic impact on overall caloric intake and restarts weight loss. Plus, drinking water throughout the day helps you feel fuller longer. 

6. Cut down on alcohol

Drinking alcohol on a routine basis easily leads to weight again. A mug of your favorite brew or a glass of wine could contain anywhere from 100 to 200 calories per serving. Keep in mind that when drinking, you’re also likelier to binge or overeat. 

What’s more, alcohol causes bloating and inflammation of your tissues, creating water retention and belly fat. It tends to discourage you from exercising or prevent you from achieving the desired results. Some studies claim alcohol consumption hinders your fat-burning abilities, even if you’re eating below your TDEE and exercising regularly. 

7. Consume enough protein

Protein-rich foods increase your metabolic rate more than foods made up of mostly fat or carbs. You actually burn more calories processing protein than other macronutrients. Protein also has a satiating effect, meaning it keeps you feeling fuller than processed carbohydrates would. If you’re incorporating weight training into your exercise regimen, eat plenty of protein to repair muscles and preserve existing muscle mass.

8. Manage stress

High stress levels can affect your weight loss progress and result in plateau weight loss, particularly if you’re prone to stress eating. When you’re in a state of constant stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol, which prompts it to store fat in your abdomen. Excess abdominal fat surrounds your internal organs, potentially causing heart or digestive problems, while impacting their overall health and efficiency.

Stress management has the power to break through your weight loss plateau. Consider trying guided meditation, deep breathing techniques, running, or yoga.

9. Get enough sleep

Poor sleep habits lower your body’s metabolism and affect its ability to burn calories efficiently. Exhaustion also lead to cravings for high-calorie carbohydrates which could clearly derail your weight loss plans. Lack of sleep or restless sleep interferes with the functioning of ghrelin and leptin in your body, hormones which trigger your appetite and signal fullness.

Improving the quality of your sleep and increasing the duration (to between 7 and 8 hours a night) could make a big difference in trimming your waistline.

10. Weigh yourself weekly

Although stepping on the scale is intimidating, knowing how much you’re losing is vital to meeting your goals. Pick a day for a weekly weigh-in, ideally right after you wake up and have already used the bathroom. Use an app to track progress and spot trends. Determining how many calories you should eat in order to keep losing weight is impossible if you don’t know how much you weigh. 

Lastly, if you opt to check daily, remember that this number’s bound to fluctuate, depending on what you’ve eaten or the time of the month.


Hitting a weight loss plateau is discouraging, although it’s a fairly normal part of the dieting process. Changing your eating habits, increasing workouts, and learning to cope with stress can all jump-start weight loss. If you’re still concerned about the lack of progress, then consult your doctor, a certified dietitian, or a personal trainer.



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