Even though you have been losing weight over the past few months, it may seem like it’s getting harder and harder. At this point, you may feel like you are stuck at a certain number on the scale. A weight loss plateau, however, is defined as no change in body weight for more than three weeks, potentially lasting from months to years.
Does this mean you have stopped burning fat?
Tracking your weight weekly on a scale is only an estimation of fat loss. This is because total body weight includes fat mass, fat free mass such as muscle and bone tissue, and total body water.
The only way to accurately calculate your fat mass is to use equipment that will measure your body composition, and this is something we use daily in our office as part of the Weight Loss Program at The Aesthetic & Wellness Center.
Here are some things to think about to break the weight plateau you are on.
Weight loss plateaus are very common.
The chances are you have plateaued around this weight at least once in the past already. That is because each person has a homeostatic body weight, and one’s DNA and previous lifestyle behaviors can affect this number. It is important to remember that changing our body composition can be very difficult—if it was easy, everyone would have six pack.
Keep a mental image of you in the future.
Imagine a more healthy, vibrant you. If your initial motivation to lose weight was for health and appearance reasons, then imagining the future is the key to staying motivated months after starting a weight loss program.
Make sure this is a lifetime commitment for optimal health instead of a temporary plan to drop 10 pounds before summer—which you may regain once you stop your program. To stay compliant to your weight loss program, keep only healthy foods in the refrigerator or pantry so you’re less likely to stop and grab something fatty and high in refined carbohydrates on the way home from work.
As you lose more weight, additional loss slows.
It is important to remember that someone who has 100 pounds to lose will lose weight much faster than someone who only has 25 pounds to lose. In a healthy weight loss program that involves diet and behavior modification, emphasizing the importance of long term lifestyle changes, patients will lose an average of 10 percent body weight in three months and 14 percent in six months. And so someone who weighs 350 lbs can lose about 50 pounds in just six months, while someone who weighs 250 lbs can lose about 35 pounds in just six months.
Keep in mind as you lose weight, not only does it become harder to lose, but your metabolism decreases. This is the body’s natural response, so don’t waste your time searching for a “miracle supplement” that is going to boost your metabolism.
Now, I know you’ll love this next tip…
Keep a food journal
I have said it before and I will say it again. Keep a food journal so you can accurately track how many calories you are consuming throughout the day. Remember—to lose weight, you need to be eating fewer calories than your basal metabolic rate (BMR). You can calculate your own BMR using My Fitness Pal.
Are you eating enough?
If not, your body can go into starvation mode and will actually store as much excess fat as possible instead of burning it off—even if you are eating fewer calories than your BMR! Some studies have shown metabolism can drop by as much as 40-50% when a person is in starvation mode for too long. There are many issues associated with extreme starvation diets, not to mention lack of proper nutrients.
Next is physical activity…
Change your exercise routine.
This is one of the best ways to get off a weight loss plateau. An exercise routine starts to become ineffective once the body gets used to it. So, mix things up!
Do weight training!
Activities that put stress on the muscles and bones make them work harder and become stronger. Ladies–have you noticed that men lose weight faster than women? That is because men normally have more muscle than women! Muscle mass is the body’s main calorie burner. Lifting weights is not only for men. And don’t worry, ladies, you won’t become “bulky” from lifting weights. It’s time to tone up!
Hopefully these tips help get you off the common plateau so you can continue your weight loss journey! Don’t forget, we are always here to help you reach your wellness goal.
When your weight loss stalls, you need to jumpstart it!