It’s exciting when your efforts to lose weight finally pay off and you lose your first few pounds. You look great and feel great — so great that you want to keep eating well and exercising for the foreseeable future. But then something terrible happens…
Your diet and exercise plan stops working. No matter how much kale you eat and how much time you spend on the elliptical machine, the scale keeps telling you the same thing — you’ve hit a weight loss plateau.
It’s a common problem. Most people who try to lose weight will eventually find themselves stuck in weight loss limbo, unable to drop pounds despite putting in the hard work and discipline. And here’s why…
When you first start losing weight, your body gets energy from a carbohydrate called glycogen in your muscles and liver. Glycogen is made partially of water, so when your body burns glycogen for energy you lose a lot of water weight.
That’s one reason why your initial weight loss efforts are so successful and stall later on. But there’s another reason. When you lose weight, you also lose some muscle. When you lose muscle, it causes your metabolism to slow down.
So those two factors combined explain why losing weight gets harder the further along in your weight loss journey you go. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to never losing another pound… especially if losing more weight is essential to preserving your health. There are a few tricks you can try to get past a dreaded weight loss plateau…
- Try weightlifting. It will help you build more muscle, which will kick start your metabolism. It will also help you burn more calories and make your workout more intense.
- Keep a weight loss journal. It’s easy to let your calorie intake get away from you….especially if you’re not tracking it. Keeping a weight loss journal that tracks your daily calories is good way to tell if you’re eating more than you realized. But whatever you do, don’t cut your calorie intake below 1,200 calories per day if you’re a woman and 1,500 calories per day if you’re a man.
- Get more sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it could be preventing you from losing weight. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who got less than six hours of sleep per night had a harder time losing weight than dieters who got eight hours.
- Get more exercise in your everyday life. You may not have time to spend more time at the gym than you already do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t burn more calories every day. Find ways to be more active while you go about your day-to-day life. Use stairs instead of elevators, walk or bike when you’re doing errands that are close by and do simple stretching exercises when you’re on the computer. These are great ways to burn more calories without putting in extra time.
- If all else fails, eat more. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but if you’ve tried everything and you still can’t lose weight, you may need to increase your calorie intake. That’s because when you deprive your body too much it goes into starvation mode and your metabolism slows down. If your calorie intake is below 1,200 calories per day, this is probably your problem. So add a few more calories to your diet pronto.
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“Getting past a weight-loss plateau.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
“The weight loss plateau: What it means and how you can get past it.” Medical Xpress. http://medicalxpress.com. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
“5 Surprising Reasons Your Weight Loss Has Come To A Screeching Halt.” Prevention. http://www.prevention.com. Retrieved October 26, 2016.