Weight Loss Plateau
Hitting a weight loss plateau in the world of dieting is a given, for mathematical reasons! It’s common and going to happen, yet we are surprised when it happens to us! Gaining an understanding of why this will happen to you, can help you to work through the lifestyle solutions you need to succeed, and continue your weight loss to your goal weight.
Causes of a Weight Loss Plateau:
It is a math game: Let’s work through a scenario, so you can see what happens!
- You weigh 180 pounds, and are sedentary.
- You would like to lose 30 pounds.
- Your weight maintenance calories are approx. 2340 calories per day for your current weight.
- You want to lose a pound per week and should reduce your calories by 500 calories per day to do that.
- That would put your daily calories at around 1800 calories, which is totally doable without dieting.
- When you finish your diet, you will weigh 150 pounds, if you lose the 30 pounds.
- Your weight maintenance calories will be around 1950 calories to maintain your weight at 150 pounds.
So looking at our example, you can see why a weight loss plateau will always occur. As you are dropping weight, unless you will constantly readjust your calorie level downward, as your weight reduces, you will not be reducing enough calories to lose a pound per week.
The first week you might be reducing your calories by 500 calories, but every week from there on, you will actually be reducing your calories by less and less, as your weight goes down. Weight will come off slower and slower and eventually stop. Discouragement will set in! You will probably eat more, and get even more discouraged.
You can also see, from the above example, why most people gain all of their weight back quickly. When you started your diet, you ate around 2340 calories per day. When you finished your diet and weighed 30 pounds less, you would only be able to eat around 1950 calories per day to maintain your weight. The ending maintenance calories of 1950 calories is only 150 calories more than the 1800 calories that you started on to lose weight.
A couple of points you should see:
- As you lose weight and weigh less, you must eat less to maintain your lower body weight.
- As you lose weight, you must reduce your calories by more and more, to keep losing weight and not hit a weight loss plateau.
- By the time most people are at their goal weight, they are probably not going to be able to add very many calories to their diet. The diet is not over.
- Our bodies do not work exactly the same: Some of you have bodies that become very efficient at using fewer calories. When you follow the same calorie level and exercise plan, your body makes adjustments and becomes more efficient. You want to keep your body guessing and inefficient!
- Calorie Creep: Most of you also tend to increase your calories little by little, as the so called diet progresses too. This is called "Calorie Creep". Little by little you also increase your portion sizes too.
- Your metabolism decreases: As you lose weight, you lose muscle and fat, so your metabolism actually decreases.
There are many different reasons for hitting a weight loss plateau. They do happen and you will need to work through them, rather than giving up! Expect them and plan great lifestyle solutions to work through them!
Lifestyle Solution Tips to Use for a Weight Loss Plateau:
- Journal again and fill out your journal evaluation sheet. Every bite counts. Are you guilty of practicing Calorie Creep?
- Are there any of your unhealthy diet habits that are getting out of control again?
- Are you watching out for Portion Distortion and practicing Portion Control Tips or are your portions slowly getting a bit bigger? Measure your foods if they are!
- Try to reduce your calories by 200 calories more, but do not ever go below 1200 calories per day, or you will send your body into starvation mode and this will reduce your metabolism. See the dangers of following a low calorie diet!
- Try mixing up your calorie levels to keep your body confused and inefficient. Maybe eat 1700 calories one day, then 1200, then 1400 calories. Change it up so your body will not become so efficient. This is called "Calorie Cycling", and it can be very effective!
- Up your exercise, and change that up too. Add more weight lifting exercises that will build more muscle. You do not want to lose muscle mass.
- Add more high fiber foods to your diet to keep you full and help with food cravings.
- Add in more fruits and vegetables. Try eating another serving of vegetables at dinner and a piece of fruit.
- Reduce eating out. Often restaurant calories are incorrect. It is easier to control portions and calories at home.
- Increase low fat protein in your diet. Protein helps to suppress your hunger hormones that stimulate your appetite.
- Realize that making lifestyle changes is for the long term. The weight went on slowly and will come off slow too. Those who take their weight off slowly can succeed!
A weight loss plateau should be expected and planned for. Do not become discouraged. Change up your routine, eating habits, calorie counts per day, add more activity, and practice healthy diet habits, as much as you can. Choose 3 new habits to work on each week and do not give up! Slow and Steady will win the race!