What Can You Do to End a Weight Loss Plateau?
When on a diet to lose weight most people will eventually face the dreaded weight loss plateau. Here are some tips to help push past it.
- Keep a Food Journal. Keeping track of everything you consume can help you identify areas where you may be tripping yourself up. Be honest and include every nibble and sip. The bite of a cookie, the oil you used to saute your chicken or the tablespoon of salad dressing you had at lunch can start to add up. Remember, even 100 extra calories a day can lead to a weight loss plateau or even weight gain.
- Eat More Often. If your weight loss plateau is caused by your metabolism slowing down, you may consider eating more, smaller meals throughout the day. This can help control hunger and keep your metabolism up.
- Eat More Protein. Foods high in protein help suppress ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. Protein also promotes lean muscle tissue which is beneficial to fat burning. You actually need 1 gram of protein for each pound of desired body weight daily.
- Eat More Fruits and Vegetables. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables fills you up and helps keep you from eating other foods that are higher in fat and calories. They also provide your body with healthy vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber.
- Watch Your Carbs. Be sure to eat plenty of healthy carbs such as fruits, veggies, beans and whole grains. But be wary of the extra refined carbs that you might be eating. These include not only white flour and sugars, but also carbs hidden in foods like ketchup, salad dressings, yogurts and other processed and even “diet” foods.
- Make Sure You Eat Enough. Don’t make the mistake of cutting calories too much. This can slow your metabolism and cause a weight loss plateau. You need to consume adequate fuel in order lose body fat, especially if you are active. Eating a well balanced diet that includes plenty of lean protein, lots of fruit, vegetables and small amounts of healthy fats will keep your metabolism humming and could be the boost you need to end your weight loss plateau.
- Watch Your Alcohol Intake. Alcohol contains empty calories that contribute nothing to your body. Alcohol also slows down fat burning, because the body focuses on using the alcohol as fuel, rather than burning fat for energy. Alcohol also dehydrates, and dehydration can make you hungry.
- Drink Plenty of Water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. So when you feel the urge to snack, drink a glass of water first and see if the urge goes away. Drinking 16 ounces of COLD water can also increase your BMR so you burn a few more calories.
- Vary Your Calorie Intake. If you’ve been eating a certain amount of calories every day but you’ve hit a weight lossplateau and it’s not working anymore, try alternating high and low calorie days. If you’re consuming 1,700 calories a day, try eating 1,400 on some days and 2,000 on others. Just be sure not to increase your overall calorie intake for the week.
- Vary Your Exercise Routine. Your muscles get used to the same old routine and become more efficient. Varying your activities will force you to use different muscles which can jump start your metabolism and push you past your weight loss plateau. If walking briskly or jogging is your only form of exercise, try adding swimming, cycling or yoga or pilates to your regimen.
- Intensify Your Work Outs. The work out that was challenging for you when you first started may not be so tough anymore. Boost calorie burning by adding short bursts of higher-intensity movement to your usual routine. For example, during your 2 mile morning walk, include a few intervals at higher speed or at a higher incline (climb hills if you’re walking outside). Most experts recommend 30- to 60-second bursts every three to four minutes. Research has shown you will significantly raise your heart rate during and for up to 6-9 hours after a workout, burning more calories during and after exercise.
- Increase the amount of time you exercise by an additional 15 to 30 minutes. You can also add another shorter work out early in the day or in the afternoon to increase your metabolism and end your weight loss plateau.
- Include Strength Training. Building and preserving muscle mass is a key factor in reaching a healthy weight because muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat. In fact a pound of muscle burns 50 calories a day compared to a pound of fat which burns a measly 4 calories!
- Join The Daily Fitness Center and get free tools to help you monitor your calorie intake, give you motivation, nutrition facts and exercise programs.
Don’t Give Up! Remember why you wanted to lose weight to begin with. Picture the end result and refocus your diet and exercise efforts. Don’t let a weight loss plateau, which is no doubt temporary, destroy your motivation and send you right back to where you started.
The above is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your physician when starting a diet and exercise program.
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