Weight Loss Plateaus


Lets talk for a minute……

How many of you have ever just stopped losing weight, and wondered what was going on?  Most likely, if this has happened, you hit what’s known as a weight loss plateau.  So, what exactly does this mean, what causes it, and how can one push past it?

The answer to these questions need to be discussed because it’s important to know that you’re not doing anything wrong, and that this temporary halt in your weight loss is something that most of us experience at some point or another.  It’s also reassuring to know that this plateau is something you can overcome, so don’t lose hope and revert back to old habits.

Now, let’s dig deeper……What exactly causes a weight loss plateau?

When you first begin to lose weight, most likely by changing your diet and adding exercise, you’ll notice that the pounds tend to fall off easier then they do later on.  Why is this?  Well, during those early weeks of your lifestyle change and cutting calories, your body is still going to need energy to burn, therefore it gets it from stored up glycogen, which can be found in your muscles and in your liver.  Glycogen is partly made up of water, which is why you hear so many people talk about losing “water weight” at the beginning of their weight loss program.  However, this form of weight loss is only temporary and is also why those fad, 3-day diets don’t last.  You honestly have to be dedicated to making a lifestyle change in order to keep up with your long term goals and expectations.

Over time, as your body continues to lose weight you’ll also lose some muscle along with the fat.  Therefore, it’s important to know that muscles are what keeps your metabolism up, and can help you burn calories, even when you aren’t doing anything.  This muscle loss, however, is what causes your metabolism to slow down, which eventually leads to your weight loss standstill; even though you might be eating the same calories as when you first started to lose weight.  When this happens, you’ve reached what we call a plateau.

At this point, some people are satisfied with the amount of weight they’ve lost, and if you are that’s awesome!  However, if you’re someone who’s determined to lose even more weight, there are a couple of things that can be done to get your metabolism going again.  In order for your weight loss to pick back up, you’ll need to do some reassessing.  First, make sure that you haven’t loosened your rules any, thinking that you can get by with slightly larger portion sizes, or skipping an exercise session here or there.  If this sounds like it could be you, it’s ok, just get back on track immediately.  Also, work on cutting your calories slightly, or increasing your physical activity.  And don’t forget to think outside the gym.  Fitness does not always have to take place in a room full of machines, like some people think it does.  Instead, do things like going for a morning or afternoon walk/jog, park your car further away at the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.  Keep in mind too, that one of the best things you can do is to add weightlifting to your routine.  Adding this type of physical fitness will help to increase your muscle mass, which will also help your body burn more calories.  I know that lots of people worry that they’ll bulk up, but it can take years of heavy lifting to grow your muscles.  Lifting light weights here and there is just going to help keep you toned.

Whatever your ultimate goal is, just remember to not give up.  However, if making these changes still don’t help, and you want to lose more weight, then I recommend that you speak with your doctor or a dietitian.  They’ll be full of helpful ideas.  Always remember though, that you are more then just a number on a scale.  If you feel good about where you are and how you look, that’s all that really matters.