During the first few weeks or months of your weight-loss journey, you’ve observed tremendous results as you’ve now got better-fitting pants, you’ve got more energy and you feel better. Each time you climb on a scale, the number reads a little lighter than before. These are your rewards for all the hard work, the commitment and sacrifices you’ve put into this journey. But then, all of a sudden, the scale won’t budge; for no reason whatsoever, it keeps stalling and you literally feel stuck. You’ve at that point, hit what experts call a weight-loss plateau.

Don’t lose courage because a weight-loss plateau is what virtually everyone, at some point, encounters on their weight-loss journey. It could be quite frustrating because you’re still eating carefully and exercising regularly, but you have to understand that hitting a weight- loss plateau is simply part of the process.

What Causes a Weight-loss Plateau?

The first thing you should know is that your body is a master adapter as it always seeks to achieve homeostasis; it wants everything to remain the same.

Now during the first few weeks of your weight-loss journey, you experience a rapid drop, which is quite normal. This happens because as you cut back on your calories, your body begins to obtain its energy from your glycogen stores found in the muscles and liver.

Glycogen primarily consists of water and rapid depletion of glycogen at the onset of your weight-loss journey results in the loss of water weight. This is, however, temporary because with time, the glycogen stores are renewed and the water weight begins to return. This may eventually lead to a weight loss plateau.

One of the reasons a weight plateau occurs is that after an initial weight loss, your body’s metabolism drops significantly. This happens because your overall body mass primarily determines the rate of your body’s metabolism when it is at rest.

Your body’s metabolic rate at rest can be better understood as the number of calories you burn per day without factoring in those you burn when you exercise or when you engage in any form of activity. All this is to say that as your body mass drops, your metabolic rate also drops. So as you lose weight, your metabolic rate declines which cause you to burn fewer calories than you did initially.

However, there are ways to overcome this stubborn weight loss and nudge the scale in the right direction. Here are several strategies that can help you begin to lose weight again.

1. Adjust Your Calorie Intake

If you’re still eating the same number of calories that helped you lose weight at the start of your journey, say, you’re still eating the same number of calories you did on day 1 on day 50, you won’t be able to lose weight. Using that initial approach may simply maintain your weight loss, but it won’t result in more weight loss. So you need to decrease the number of calories you eat per day.

However, in a bid to cut more calories, ensure you do not go below 1,200 calories a day as this would slow down your metabolism, thereby preventing weight loss. In fact, going below 1,200 calories a day could result in constant hunger, putting you at the risk of overeating.

2. Eat More Fiber

It is said that one of the best ways to fight fat is to eat more fiber. Adding more fiber, particularly soluble fiber, to your diet may help you overcome a stubborn weight loss. Soluble fiber is one that dissolves in water or liquid generally.

Adding soluble fiber to your diet would help to slow down the movement of food through your digestive tract, causing a decrease in your appetite. Adding fiber to your diet also helps to decrease the number of calories your body absorbs from other foods. You should aim for at least 30 grams of fiber per day which you can get from vegetables, whole grains and fresh fruits.

Some of the best sources of fiber that will help you overcome a stubborn weight loss include:

  • Apples
  • Beans
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Oatmeal
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

3. Drink Coffee or Tea

Taking coffee or tea may also benefit your weight loss. Taking sugary beverages leads to weight gain while some other beverages may help reverse a weight-loss stall. Coffee and tea contain caffeine (a stimulant) which increases the rate at which your body burns fat. This effect is, however, more pronounced in lean individuals.

Similarly, green tea contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which also increases your body’s metabolic rate.

4. Cut Back on Salt

A high-salt diet can result in weight gain because salt causes the retention of water in the body. However, the weight gain in question here would be water weight and not fat weight. It’s therefore recommended that you reduce the amount of salt in your food. If you, however, find yourself craving for salty foods, taking potassium-rich foods like bananas, sweet potato and spinach should do the trick.

5. Avoid Skipping Meals

Skipping meals would do you more harm than good. When you skip meals, your body’s metabolic rate declines as well as your blood sugar level. This will eventually leave you feeling famished, thereby, putting you at the risk of overeating and inhibiting your weight-loss progress.

6. Take Plenty of Water

Proper hydration is often underestimated when it comes to weight loss. But the fact is that not only does proper hydration keeps hunger at bay, it also helps to flush out excess salt in your body system and keeps you energized throughout your workout thereby increasing its effect on your weight loss.

Similarly, ensure you drink water before meals; a glass or two would help you fill up and cut off your overall calorie intake.

7. Eat Protein Regularly

Protein is definitely required if you must achieve overcoming a stubborn weight loss because it helps your body boost its metabolic rate and retain its muscle while burning fat. Eating protein-rich foods also suppress ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach, commonly called a “hunger hormone” because it stimulates your appetite.

When it comes to your protein intake, it’s not just your total daily intake that matters. There’s the need for you to spread that protein intake throughout the day as this will provide you with several opportunities to boost your metabolism.

Experts have therefore advised that eating protein at every meal is essential for weight loss and muscle mass retention. It is also recommended that adults consume a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein per meal, for your three meals per day. So for each meal you take, include at least 20 grams of protein to promote weight loss.

8. Avoid Alcohol

Taking alcohol may frustrate your weight-loss efforts. Research has shown that alcohol impedes the body’s fat-burning process and results in belly fat accumulation because alcoholic beverages are high in calories.

There’s also the fact that you tend to be impulsive with your choice of food after you’ve been drinking. If you, however, need to have some drink, it’s best you go for those without any added ingredient like vodka. It’s also advised you eat high-protein food before drinking as this would reduce your craving for junks.

9. Increase Your Workout

To overcome a stubborn weight loss, you’ll need to rev up your exercise frequency and intensity. There’s the need for you to change your workout routine or mix it up a bit so that your muscles don’t get familiar with your regular exercise. So taking up a new type of activity or varying your routine is beneficial for weight- loss. Adding exercises such as weightlifting would increase your muscle mass and help you burn more calories.

10. Get More Quality Sleep

Not striving for quality sleep can hamper your weight-loss process. When you don’t get enough sleep, your metabolic rate declines and your hormone levels are altered to crave for more food. To promote weight loss, it’s advised that you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

11. Be More Active

Your body’s increase in metabolism doesn’t only react to workouts. Other factors can affect the number of calories you burn each day. Increasing your daily physical activity will, therefore, benefit your weight-loss process.

12. Manage Your Stress Level

Stress interferes with your body’s ability to lose weight. Not managing it will increase the production of a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol helps your body respond to stress but at the same time, it increases your belly fat storage.

An increase in stress would, therefore, increase the production of cortisol which will make weight-loss difficult. Employing stress-reduction strategies will, therefore, increase your chances of losing more weight.

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