10 Tips to Overcome a Weight-Loss Plateau

Share it:
10 Tips to Overcome a Weight-Loss Plateau

So you stopped drinking soda and bringing ice cream into the house, and the weight started to peel off. This boosted your confidence, so you joined a gym to burn some extra calories on the stationary bike. All of your efforts paid off and you lost weight, possibly even a lot of weight … well, for a while. But now you feel stuck; you feel as if you’ve reached a weight-loss plateau.

Possibly you’re at a healthy weight, albeit above your dream weight, but those pesky 5-10-15 pounds are still lingering. Why? Are you just dreaming too big and searching for something that is out of reach? If you’re at a healthy weight, this might be because the body likes to maintain a stable weight, also known as set-point weight. While your body’s set point can be adjusted, it can take some time to get there.

As you are losing weight, it can be tempting to cut calories too low to shed pounds faster. The down side to this technique: your muscle can be used as energy and this gradually slows your metabolism to spare energy. Whether you find yourself above your body’s natural set-point weight or if you’re hard pressed to lose those vanity pounds, here are 10 ways to overcome a weight-loss plateau.

1. Adjust your calorie intake. As you lose weight, your metabolism can drop because your body requires less calories or “energy” to fuel a smaller you. The calorie intake that you initially had when you began your weight-loss journey will need to be adjusted to match your body’s current needs for weight loss. Make sure to revise your calorie goal in MyFitnessPal every 10 pounds or so.

2. Focus on quality. Busting through a weight-loss plateau is more than calories in and calories out. Processed foods won’t cut it anymore, thus quality whole foods like vegetables, beans, high-fiber fruits and lean proteins are needed for your engine to burn body fat.

3. Rotate your routine. Slugging away on the treadmill for the past four months? It’s time to change up your workouts. The muscles become familiar with the same old workout, making your regular routine less effective. To see a change in body fat, you have to get outside of your fitness comfort zone. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to burn body fat effectively. Try doing speed work at the track, a boot camp class at the gym, or alternate walking and running intervals. Note: Just progress slowly and deliberately when incorporating high-intensity exercise into your routine. Doing too much too fast can leave you too sore, tired or even injured.

4. Beware of clean-up duty. An extra bite here, a little nibble there. Those calories DO count, even if they aren’t on your plate. Mindlessly munching on the kids’ (or spouse’s) leftovers during clean up seems harmless, but resist the snack urge because it might be what’s keeping you from seeing results.

5. Know your numbers. If you’ve been watching what you eat and exercising more and your weight is not budging, consult with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could make it difficult for you to lose weight.

6. Sleep. A full night’s sleep is vital to losing body fat because it resets your hormones. Even a little sleep deprivation can lead to increased cortisol, a stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to body fat accumulation around the midsection.

7. Keep a closer eye on your caloric needs. Research has shown that people often overestimate how many calories they burn during exercise, and underestimate how many calories they eat. To better approximate your caloric needs, use the MyFitnessPal basal metabolic rate calculator to learn how many calories you burn a day if you did nothing but rest for 24 hours. Use your basal metabolic rate as a benchmark to subtract the approximate number of calories burned during activity. Keep in mind that the number of calories burned during activity can vary.

8. Flush with fluids. Keep your hydration in check since the body will often crave food when you are even mildly dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration are similar to symptoms of hunger, so it’s easy to confuse the two. Aim to drink 80-100 fluid ounces (2.35 liters) of water per day plus additional fluids lost during activity.

9. Increase muscle mass. Want to burn more calories at rest? Lift (heavier) weights and follow a strength-training program to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, and the more body fat you’ll shed.

10. Eat more protein. Protein has the highest thermic effect of food, meaning eating protein burns more calories during digestion. Protein also contains an amino acid, leucine, that numerous research studies have identified as a potent catalyst for burning body fat.

Put these tried and true tips into action, and soon you’ll be saying, “What weight-loss plateau?”

Related Articles

  • Marianne Britt Duvendack

    I’m 60, and have lost 15 pounds in the past 18 months, and now I’m stuck. The calculator above says my rate is 1,174. And yet I read that below 1200 cal. is unsafe or at least not recommended. I can’t run for various reasons, but I do try to swim once or twice a week. What else should I do?

    • Arcay Esse

      What are you currently doing workout wise?

    • KevinTimmons

      These are clear examples of why *individual results may vary are stated on most weight loss plans, diets and what not. I don’t believe that calories in/ calories ou. Genetics and age have a lot to do with it as well. Considering your age, I would dull down anything that produces heavy insulin response. You don’t have to cut them out completely, that’s absurd and a recipe for failure, but limiting carbohydrates to early morning and before and after planned activity might help you move past the palteau. Save the grains for when your brain or body needs them. I’m not talking about fruit and veggies though, eat those with every meal if possible, dark fruits and green veggies. Also, your body might tend to hold onto weight because your not meeting its requirements as well. I would starve to death on 1200 calories. I actually have had more success eating more than eating less. Experiment with both, weight loss is a long term goal, and getting past the plateau will be worth the minor set backs when you find what works for YOU.

    • disqus_Zc7SsPNVoh

      If you can, walk every day, or maybe at least 4 times a week. Getting some walking in will allow you some extra calories to eat.

    • Robena

      Marianne, you should check out the T-Tapp workout. There’s lots of try before you buy workouts on YouTube as well as testimonials about people’s success stories using this workout. Wishing you all the best on your journey to bettering your health!

  • christina

    I need a friend to workout with

  • christina

    So please add me to you friend people

  • christina

    Im needing to be fit by spring or June get sexy bikini

  • christina

    Im a jogge

  • christina

    Im stressing alot because im 160 i should weigh 130

  • shauna

    I have been working out for a month now and have lost 15lbs and now I’m stuck at a plateau and I have to loose at least 5 more pounds in a week any suggestions?

    • ebola guy 420

      Cut out sodium for the next week almost entirely.

      • chelsea

        Don’t do this. Your body requires sodium to work properly and this will only be a temporary fix. In order to lose more, you have to eat cleaner and work out harder.

        • shauna

          Thanks I am working out five days a week for over an hour doing treadmill, bicycle, and elliptical. Only eating 1000calories a day and that is mostly just meat a vegtables and no carbs except what is in fruit.

          • meg

            Your body is shutting down into starvation mode because you aren’t eating enough or building muscle. Try raising your calories to at least 1200 and add in some interval training and weights. It’ll help.

          • shauna

            Thanks

          • Tracey Taylor

            you cant build much muscle while in a deficit. you can get some newbie gains but it wont be enough for it to matter. you only build muscle in a caloric surplus. she can retain any muscle she has by weight lifting and get stronger but again she has to eat a little more than 1000 calories.

          • Tracey Taylor

            1000 calories is not enough to fuel your body. you need 1200 just sitting on your butt. the more you exercise the more your body needs food to fuel it.you have to have a healthy amount of protein,carbs and healthy fats.starvation mode is a myth since you arent fueling your body then your body doesnt have much of anything to burn so therefore you need to eat more for your body to have something to burn besides muscle which can happen when you dont get enough protein,carbs and fats. if you dont have anything to burn or use as fuel then you wont lose weight and your workouts will tend to suffer not to mention your health will suffer in the long run restricting calories that low.

  • Victoria M.

    Lost 80 lbs in 9 months now I can’t lose the 20 in 5months.I Eat healthy and exercise 3-4 days a week. Still no change. I’m starting to give up. Help.

    • Rochelle

      From my experience, eating only lean protein and veggies for breakfast, lunch and dinner works; eat until you’re just satisfied. Every couple days have some baked sweet potato or 1/3 cup brown rice. You’ve worked so hard to lose those 80 pounds, hopefully this will help get you to your goal 🙂

      • Rosie

        Your body needs carbohydrate to have enough energy to burn fat efficiently, eating only vegetables & protein is unhealthy as your body does not use protein for energy. If your body is so low on carbs that it is forced to use protein as energy it puts a lot of pressure on the kidneys. Just make sure your carbs are always wholegrain.

        • Becky Blackwell

          Veggies are carbs…….

    • Joey S.

      Since you’ve been losing weight for so long it is possible that your metabolism has slowed significantly, therefore you body burns calories slower. Assuming that you progressively lowered you calories successively throughout your transformation, I believe it would help to raise them for a week or so. Essentially you will be doing allowing your body to reset itself and increase you metabolism. This increase in calories shouldn’t be significant, so by no means should you go go nuts for two weeks, simply just raise them by 200-400 calories for those two weeks. After that time, you can return to your caloric deficit again and you should be able to lose weight more effectively.

    • LexiTV

      Hey Victoria, thank you for sharing your struggles. DO NOT GIVE UP!!!!

      I am casting for a new TV show with a nutritionist, looking for people who are
      trying really hard to eat well and maintain a healthy diet, but are having trouble losing weight or seeing dramatic changes on the scale. If you have friends and/or family members that might be interested in learning more about the casting, please email me at untitlednutritionshow@trueentertainment.net

  • TJ And-Alexa Hunter

    I am surprised adding calories isn’t listed on here my doc said to add 200 calories a day for a week then take the 200 calories away and it should reset your body.

    • Helen

      Yep, I agree. You need to tell your body you’re not going into starvation mode after a long time on a low calorie intake, so it jump starts your metabolism again. So, yes, add some extra (healthy) calories for a week then drop them off again and see what happens! I’ve lost 30kgs in the past 12 months by having low carb/high protein diet for 4 weeks then increasing my intake for 2 weeks, then back to 4 weeks of diet. It really works.

      • Kristi Kobs

        Helen are you on MFP?

        • Helen

          No. I count carbs most of the time, not calories, so MFP doesn’t really work for me.

    • Andrej Kováč

      also In some cases eating too little and working out too much can be the issue too, in that case increase add the calories permamently

  • Èla

    Great article. I’m already 16.2 pounds after the birth weight from my delivery 6 weeks ago dropped off. Eating protein, swapped out my oils and flours for Mediterranean blends and coconut flour, pasta made from corn or buckwheat or even whole wheat, whole wheat bread with no high fructose corn syrup, basically drink water only and I have an occasional glass of wine. Most of the eating I do is at home and when I go out I order what I want but eat in moderation. Yesterday I went with my husband to chili’s And ordered a bacon burger, ate The whole thing but skipped out on the fries and had water. It was enough and I was satisfied without overdoing it.

  • beachgirl25

    as I read this one of those infommercials for a cortisol drug comes on. I thought that was all bunk. This really is such a thing that you talk about in #6?

  • Tam

    I have lost 60 pounds in the last year. I do work out 6 times a week doing a varitety of exercises, weight training,HIT, kickboxing , strength training. I also have a personal trainer I work with once a week. I do around 1300 calories a day,. I have seemed to hit a plateu the last couple of months, losing and gaining the same three pounds. Not sure what else I can do, not wanting to drop my calorie intake to much more because of the amount of exercises I do. I am 54 and female and going through menopause to. I. Should lose about 40 more pounds and want to lower my bmi to.

    • Helen

      Increase your calories for a week or so then go back to it. You’ve bern losing weight for so long. you have to trick it into thinking it’s not starving. See my comment above for how it’s wirked for me – I’ve also lost over 60 pounds.

  • miles

    Keep at it. I lost 17 pounds then stayed the same weight +- a pound for 6 (SIX!) weeks. Very frustrated, but advice was to keep at it and the weight would eventually come off. The two weeks following I lost 5 pounds. My diet/exercise program was the same throughout. If you think weight loss is difficult try being 77 years old. But the -22 pounds feels great.

    • Anonymous

      Great motivation for the rest of us. Thanks!

  • Trish

    Truly one of the most ignorant posts on this subjects I have ever seen. These are great ways to mess up your metabolism for a good long time and make sure you keep obsessed over your weight & dieting for the rest of your life. I wish the training was better for nutritionists out there who really need to understand how hormones work in all of this. You want to get over a slump? Be a human and have a little ice cream or chocolate for dessert several times a week. Be a kid and play. Stop making diet and exercise such hard work. The only good suggestion in this post is to sleep – you definitely need a good night’s sleep every night. Adjust your caloric needs – yeah – stop counting them, and enjoy your food sometimes. You cut your carbs too low, you start producing rT3 which keeps you from losing weight – same thing happens when you eat too much protein. So take a break from your control freak and just enjoy life and food and play. That will get you over the hump without breaking your metabolism. Stop stressing over it.

    • mamaSaid

      I couldn’t agree more.
      When people tell me, ‘if you find yourself reaching for a candy bar, stop yourself and reach for a carrot instead!’, I just want to smack them. In what universe does a carrot taste like chocolate?
      There are tiny bites of chocolate available. Eat one, or three – which it says is the serving size – and get over your craving, and go on with your life.
      And, for your own sake, DON’T hit the scale every day. If your clothes are looser – YIPPEE! If the scale says you didn’t lose weight, so what. Do you feel good? FABULOUS!
      Learn to like yourself and be comfortable in your own skin.
      And – definitely – remember what your mama always told you – GO OUTSIDE and PLAY!

  • Chris Reitan

    What if you have this list covered and are totally on point with EVERYTHING, and working out at level 10, six times a week – but still cannot lose any weight?

    The app tells me everyday “if every day were like today you’d weigh ____ lbs in 5 weeks.” Estimating a 25lb loss in 5 weeks. Total BS. I’ve been logging it for over 8 weeks and if anything, I’m 1lb higher than I was when I started!

  • Sherrie Barnett

    I am doing Atkins and for the last 3 weeks I am gaining 1/2 pound lose 1/2 pound. doing everything right, but I am stuck! Any advice to give me????

    • Brigette Edinborough

      Up your fat intake temporarily. Lower carbohydrates and protein. Lots of fat for a week. It always works for me.

    • LexiTV

      Hi Sherrie, thank you so much for sharing your struggles-

      I am casting for a new TV show with a professional nutritionist, looking for people who are trying really hard to eat well and maintain a healthy diet, but are having trouble losing weight or seeing dramatic changes on the scale. If you have friends and/or family members that might be interested in learning more about the casting, please email me at untitlednutritionshow@trueentertainment.net

  • Excellent tips! Everyone hits a plateau at some point. Best be prepared.

  • Francene Voogd

    I’ve been overweight all my life and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 25 pounds in one month without much exercise and it’s been a life changer. I’m a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I’ve been doing then I’d be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at oceanflowers82@gmail.com and I’ll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I’ve tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day

  • Dee

    I’ve been working out since last June and I’ve only lost 19 pounds, for the past 8 months I have struggled with losing more weight even though I exercise at least 5 days a week doing insanity, XHITT workouts, running, and strength training I can’t seem to lose the extra weight.

  • kerryo

    Years ago I followed a similar weight loss program, did fantastic, then like everyone, plateaued. On their boards someone mentioned the Wendie plan. Look it up – was a huge help! All it says to do is to look at your weekly totals, instead of daily, and divide up the total # so that you eat more than your daily allowance on your first day of the week, mid- week and again late in the week, and eat under your allowance the other days. I also remember that there were recommendations on exercise too. The idea is that over the course of the week your body doesn’t think it is being starved. So it resets your “thermostat/metabolism”. That being said, this is week 2 of MFP and I had no loss. The first week I lost 3 lbs. None this time. Sticking with it, but disappointed nonetheless.

  • LexiTV

    Thank you so much for the useful information! Each time I read a
    blog like this I already feel healthier! For those of you who are interested in
    beating the scale and really targeting weight loss please read below!

    I am casting for a new TV show with a nutritionist, looking for people who are
    trying really hard to eat well and maintain a healthy diet, but are having trouble
    losing weight or seeing dramatic changes on the scale. If you have friends
    and/or family members that might be interested in learning more about the
    casting, please email me at untitlednutritionshow@trueentertainment.net

  • Iowa Weight Loss

    Great post. Sleep is so important to health, and the most overlooked part to weight loss. Thanks for the tips and great reminders.

  • Medical Weight Loss

    All great tips, but more than just changing your diet you have to change how you lead your life. Exercise, and don’t treat dieting as a fad, it’s how you should eat always!

  • Medical Weight Loss

    Losing weight can be difficult, I like this blog, it gives useful tips on losing weight.

  • Mike Parham

    thanks for nice fast weight loss tips.

  • Nice weight loss tips. Specially I like suggestion very much.

  • Ryan

    My little brain has a hard time believing these “tips to overcome a weight loss plateau” articles. Here’s where I get lost. I was losing 2-3 pounds a week for 5-6 months. Then, one week I stopped losing. Same caloric intake (I can’t go any lower and still be healthy). Same number of minutes exercising. And not a slowing down but a complete stoppage one day out of nowhere.

    So if 2-3 pounds is 7000-10500 lbs a week, are you really telling me that my metabolism slowed down to the tune of 1,000 to 1,500 a day? I’m not buying it. Calorie consumption does not seem to be the problem with weight loss plateaus for most people. The research and science on this topic seems terribly inadequate.

  • Tir

    Thanks for the article. I guess I need to drink more water.

  • Inalen Anna

    Thank you very much for sharing this nice information.

  • Great info! Luckily I found your blog by chance. I’ve saved as a favorite for later!