What is a Weight Loss Plateau?
When a person reaches a plateau, they will no longer lose any fat, despite following a fitness regimen. Weight loss plateaus happen after about a few weeks of following a diet.
This roadblock often occurs just after your initial fat loss, and again you can’t seem to lose those last few pounds. It’s very discouraging to keep working hard when you can’t see the fruits of your labor. To make things worse, these can last from several days to weeks.
However, it is important to note that body fat is almost never lost in a straight and steady path.
Many factors can influence the day-to-day number on a scale: water retention, a full or an empty bladder, food contents in your stomach or intestine, and other factors such as whether you’ve been building muscle through exercise.
When you think you’ve hit a stall in fat loss, examine the general trends in your weight over time, not your individual weight variations from day to day.
Why Weight Loss Plateaus Happen?
A weight loss plateau also occurs when your body adjusts to the demands of your workouts. During this, you may start to feel unmotivated, bored with your workouts, or find that you don’t feel like going to the gym. This is a sign that you may be ready to try a new training or eating style.
- Problems with hunger: you may not have yet experienced reading your hunger cues. This makes it difficult to eat when hungry and stop when full.
- Problems with emotional or habitual eating: Some people eat for reasons other than hunger, such as emotional or habitual eating. You could be misreading your body’s signals as hunger when they indicate a need for something else.
- Problems with insulin: Some people, for reasons that are not yet clear, don’t see their insulin fall as much as others on the diet. This could be because of excessive insulin secretion, continued insulin resistance, or another health issue.
- Problems with hormones and imbalance: Hormonal issues can impact your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn energy. For example, the hormonal changes during menopause, especially declining estrogen, can slow metabolism, reduce muscle mass, increase body fat, and store it in the abdomen.
Real Health Indicators
Measurable health markers
When you are doing a low-carb or ketogenic diet, it’s very important to track changes in measurable health markers. Each of the markers listed below (linked to a more in-depth discussion) can dramatically improve on low carb:
- fasting glucose
- HbA1c (a measure of glucose over three months)
- blood pressure
- inflammation (as measured by C-reactive protein)
- body fat percentage
- cholesterol levels
- waist-to-height ratio
Symptomatic health improvements
Some health improvements are not measurable by a specific test. However, they may significantly affect the way individuals on a keto or low-carb diet look and feel. These can include:
- better skin, less acne
- more energy and endurance
- reduced hunger and cravings
- improved mental health
- improved irritable bowel syndrome
- less joint pain or chronic pain
If any of these health markers are improving, the nutrition plan is likely working for you — no matter what your scale says.
How to Break Plateaus?
1. Cut Back on Carbs
Reducing your carb intake may help get your weight moving in the right direction again when you feel hopelessly stalled.
Very low-carb diets have consistently been shown to reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness more than other diets. In addition, they cause your body to produce ketones, which have been shown to normalize hunger hormones.
2. Increase Exercise Frequency or Intensity
Revving up your exercise regimen may help reverse a weight loss plateau.
Resistance training promotes the retention of muscle mass, which is a major factor influencing how many calories you burn during activity and at rest. In fact, resistance training seems to be the most effective type of exercise for fat loss.
If you’re already exercising, working out an extra 1–2 days per week or increasing the intensity of your workouts will help boost your progress rate.
3. Track Everything You Eat
Sometimes, it may seem as though you’re not eating that much, yet you still have difficulty losing weight.
Tracking your grams and macronutrients — protein, fat, and carbs — can provide concrete information about how much you’re taking in. This will allow you to modify your diet if needed.
5. Manage Stress
Stress can often put the brakes on weight loss.
In addition to promoting comfort eating and triggering food cravings, it also increases your body’s production of cortisol.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.” While it helps your body respond to stress, it can also increase belly fat storage.
Therefore, producing too much cortisol can make fat loss very difficult.
9. Drink Water, Coffee or Tea
While sugary beverages lead to weight gain, some beverages may help reverse a weight-loss stall.
Bulletproof coffee and tea will also benefit your fat loss efforts.
- Watch for out for hidden carbs
Eliminate hidden carbs in foods such as sausages, deli meats, dressings, sauces, packaged goods, and “keto” products.
- Be careful with dairy and nuts
Full-fat dairy and most nuts are allowed on the keto diet, but too much of either can stall your progress.
- Fix your snack habit
The urge to snack may indicate that your regular meals are not providing enough protein or energy from fat. Your low-carb meals should allow you to go four or five hours without hunger. If they don’t, add protein or fat or both to your meals and see what happens.
- Avoid sweeteners “treats” Anything that tastes sweet, even if made with a no-carb sweetener, can keep cravings in place.
- Try intermittent fasting Nutrient-dense meals, ketosis, and being fat-adapted can all help you go for a number of hours without eating. When you’re ready, feel free to skip a meal and embrace intermittent fasting. Breakfast is often the easiest to skip.
- Add supplements Neutraceutical products like L-Carnitine, Caffeine, Yohimbine can accelerate your fat loss speed. Consider investing in nutritional supplements for added benefits.
- Be careful with alcohol Alcohol makes it easy to drink a lot of extra, non-nutritious calories. Plus, it gets metabolized first. This slows down the process of using your fat stores for energy.
- Be patient It is important to be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to get back on track. Blaming yourself or being overly critical will further tarnish your goals.
A weight loss plateau stage is temporary and can easily be overcome. A change in your approach would then be the need of the hour. Consistency and patience would be crucial keys.