You’ve diligently followed a weight loss program than has seen you shed pounds week after week. And then, quite suddenly, the scales won’t budge another ounce. You’ve hit a weight loss plateau. So now what? Today, Nikki looks at how to reinvigorate your regime and get the results you deserve.
Firstly, if you have reached a weight plateau, give yourself a pat yourself on the back. This is a massive achievement.
It means you have stuck to a programme long enough for your body to make adjustments to your weight.
I appreciate however, that it is also enormously frustrating.
Many people only manage to continue with a weight loss programme because they are cheered by that weekly change on the bathroom scales – and when that stops, it’s natural to feel disheartened.
So what can you do to kick-start you enthusiasm once again?
An opportunity for change
Don’t look at your plateau as a negative thing. It is actually a wonderful opportunity to re-evaluate and make your program more stable.
In order to work out what, if anything, has gone wrong, ask yourself these questions:
- Have your portion sizes increased?
- Are you counting calories correctly?
- Are you active enough?
- Has your fitness level improved?
- Are you building muscle?
- Are you eating enough protein?
- Should you re-examine your goal?
- Are they any medical factors in play?
- Are you feeling motivated?
Is it possible that you are being less careful about eating the correct portion size than you were when you embarked on your bid to shift the pounds?
If so you may need to look again at how much – or what – you are eating. I truly believe that if you eat enough of the right stuff, you never need to go hungry when dieting. But if you are trying to lose weight, improve your eating habits, or change the way your body looks, it is vital to understand exactly how much of what you need to consume at mealtimes.
The NHS provides a comprehensive guide to the amount of carbohydrates, protein, fats, sugars, dairy, vegetables and fruit we should consume on its Live Well site. Take a look at then keep track of your own menu.
These days a lot of dieters are resorting to free calorie-tracking apps or online services to monitor what they eat on a daily basis. In theory this is a good idea – especially if you are trying to get back on track with a weight loss programme. However, try not to get too food-obsessed.
Calorie counting works best as a way to monitor what it is you are eating and work out what you could cut out. So if you are suffering a mid-afternoon slump and are needing a sweet treat, it’s worth working out the difference between a very filling banana (95 calories) and a not-so filling mini Mars Bar (175 calories). This will help you make better choices.
Your activity level
When you want to lose weight, it’s not enough to just eat less chocolate and drink more water though is it? Many of us are still failing to significantly up the amount of time we work out.
Exercise is a key ingredient in the battle of the bulge.
So if you have reached that plateau, consider adding in an extra half hour of exercise a week and see if that makes a difference.
Your fitness level
Perhaps you have found that, even though you have upped your exercise levels, you are still failing to shift any more weight. This might be because your fitness level has improved. This is great news – but it also means that your body doesn’t have to work as hard – or burn as many calories – to complete the same amount of work.
You don’t necessarily need to increase the amount of activity that you do every day, but you do need to make some changes. Now is a good time to add high intensity interval training to your weekly schedule for example. You could also consider beginning something like a circuit-training program which builds muscle.
It is typical for dieters to lose muscle when they lose weight. But your metabolism slows when you lose muscle, so you want to keep as much muscle as possible. One way to do this is by weight training.
Make sure that at least two of your weekly workouts include strength training. You can supplement your work outs with recovery drinks which help repair muscle damage.
This is the area where I have the most expertise. My company Deluxe Nutrition works with some of the best performing athletes in the country, providing dietary supplements to improve performance. And we know better than most that protein does wonders not just for athletes – but for dieters too.
This is because protein has been shown to mitigate some of the metabolic adjustments that happen when you lose weight. It helps us to maintain the muscle we have and build new muscle.
My advice is to up the amount of lean protein you consume while reducing other carbs and bad fats.
Could it be that you have reached a plateau simply because your current weight is healthy? Use an online calculator to check your BMI. If you have a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 you are the perfect size.
If you decide that you still want to lose a little more weight, set new short-term goals to keep yourself invested in the program. But do not overdo it.
Believe it or not, I have just been treated for an under active thyroid problem which has been plaguing my own weight management efforts for the last year.
If you have gone through this list and none of it applies to you, it may be time to check in with your doctor. There are medical reasons why some people can’t shift weight. A simple blood test can rule them out.
It is very easy to lose sight of your goals when you are trying to shift excess pounds.
Take the time to acknowledge and be proud of your progress so far. Reaching a diet plateau is something to celebrate, so give yourself some credit.