So you’ve made the decision to adopt healthier habits and set a goal for yourself to lose weight. The chances are the first few pounds fall off, and then progress begins to slow down and you find yourself at a plateau. It’s understandable to feel frustrated and confused, especially given that what was once working no longer is. Sometimes it’s because you’ve gone back to a few old habits and it’s knocking you a few steps back, and other times you might still be on track but the weight loss just slows down and then appears to stop!
Since this is all too common, there are plenty of strategies to help those committed to healthier habits stay devoted even when weight loss levels off. The most important thing to remember when you plateau is that there WILL be a solution to further your weight loss. If you find yourself in this situation, these tips should help you break through your plateau!
A lighter body needs fewer calories to induce weight loss
One of the conundrums of weight loss: As you trim down, you actually need to further restrict your calorie intake or increase your energy expenditure. If you were on 2,000kcal at 180lbs and lose 10lbs over 2 months, the chances are that weight loss will slow down or plateau. This is because your body now requires fewer calories to continue to shed fat.
More often than not, people want to eat as much as they can whilst still losing fat, so keep your calories as high as you can until you reach a plateau. This keeps you happy and gives your body all the energy you need to continue making progress in the gym!
Reassess what you’re eating
Reducing portion sizes or tracking your calories is enough for most people to begin losing weight, however your food choices can make a huge impact on satiety and energy levels.
If you’re eating high-carb, high-fat meals on the regular then these can rob you of your daily calories in no time, and leave you feeling hungry later on in the day. On a restricted calorie diet you want to make low-calorie meals that keep you full - imagine you’re on a budget and want to stretch your cash to make the most of it. Choose lean protein sources, with whole grain/whole wheat carbohydrates, and last but not least, bulk up your meals with loads of veggies.
That means if you are still eating a lot of macaroni and cheese or fatty meats, you’re going to have trouble feeling full on a reduced-calorie diet. When you choose foods rich in fibre and lean protein, you’ll feel fuller for longer, even when you’re cutting calories.
Setting a course for your week can go a long way in keeping you on track with healthy habits and weight loss. If you know that you want to go to the gym three times next week, then check your calendar and write in when you can go.
Just saying “I’ll go to the gym three times next week” is all well and good, but it may get to Friday night and you realise you’ve only been once! Fit it into your schedule ahead of time and you’ll find it a lot easier!
A similar approach works with your diet as well. Planning meals throughout the week can save you time and can help keep you on track as well. When you go to the shops, write out a list of healthy options and stick to the list! It’s better than wandering around picking up things that you probably don’t need...
Get a move on
While changes in diet may be enough in the beginning, if you hope to continue losing weight, you might have to increase the amount of exercise you get each day.
Gaining muscle will help burn more calories as your metabolism increases, so make sure that you’re lifting weights to help increase and maintain your hard earned muscle. If you’re already lifting, up your activity outside of the gym! Go for walks or set yourself a daily step goal. These small changes can be enough to burn a few extra calories and help boost your fat loss.
None of the methods listed above should seem like a huge shock - they’re all simple changes that anyone can easily implement into their exercise regime or diet plan. The most important thing to do when you reach a plateau is not to panic. All that’s required is a slight readjustment of calories, or upping your activity levels!