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The Dirty Word of Dieting: Plateau

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Has your weight loss come to a screeching halt? If you’ve been gradually and consistently losing weight, and suddenly notice that the pounds just aren’t coming off, you’ve probably hit a plateau.

Although it can be frustrating, don’t let hitting a plateau discourage you. It is normal for metabolism and weight loss to slow down and sometimes stop altogether—and there are multiple reasons why this might happen to you.

The secret in overcoming a weight loss plateau is in understanding the cause of your plateau and how to get things moving again.

Understanding Weigh Loss Plateaus

During the first few weeks, and sometimes even months of lifestyle change—increase in exercise and changes in your diet—rapid weight loss is normal. Often times much of the initial weight lost is water weight.

Many people also burn some muscle along with fat, which slows metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more effective your body is at burning fat. Muscle loss results in a slower metabolism, causing you to burn fewer calories, thus slowing your weight loss.

At its very foundation, weight loss is equal to calories in < calories out. If the calories you burn equals the number of calories you eat, you will no longer lose weight. To get your body burning fat again, you’ve got to either increase physical activity or decrease the calories you eat.

Tips to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau

If you’ve hit a plateau in your weight loss, here are a few tips to get things moving again:

Cut more calories. Cut back your calories by another 200 per day, as long as your daily caloric intake is at least 1200.

Eat more lean protein. Look at the foods you’re eating and evaluate your overall protein intake. Can you get more lean protein, such as fish, into your diet?

Increase your workout. Add some extra time and increase the intensity of your workouts.

Lift weights. Remember, muscle increases metabolism, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn. Weightlifting and strength training exercises that build muscle will help you burn more fat.

Change up your workout. Variety in your workout also helps keep your metabolism going at a constant rate. If you do the same workout day in and day out, your muscles adapt to that activity and your body becomes more efficient—which means you’ll burn fewer calories doing the same workout.

Do more. Think of ways you can increase physical activity throughout your day. Can you leave your car at home and walk more places? Try taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Even getting a standing desk can help your body burn more calories than if you are sitting at your desk all day.

Don’t let a weight loss plateau derail and discourage you all together. Everyone will hit a plateau at some point. Use these tips to get back on track.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.