8 Nutrition Tweaks to Try if You’ve Hit a Weight-Loss Plateau

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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8 Nutrition Tweaks to Try if You’ve Hit a Weight-Loss Plateau

Are you working out hard at the gym but feel like you aren’t seeing the results you’re looking for? Before you get too frustrated about your current progress, try some of these tweaks to up your nutrition game. Before long, you will bust out of that weight-loss plateau for good!


Fill up your plate with foods that are high in fiber. Fiber helps to prevent surges in blood glucose because it slows the absorption of sugar. Fiber-rich foods contain bulk and often require you to chew a bit more to break them down, giving your body more time to process those feelings of satisfaction, and keeping you fuller for longer. Foods high in fiber are nutrient-dense and often lower in calories and higher in volume than other foods. Examples include apples, raspberries, blackberries, pears, beans, lentils, split peas, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, avocados, nuts, seeds and 100% whole grains.


Focus on eating foods in their whole form. It’s easy to fall into a routine with food, and succumb to the convenience factor of eating out or grabbing food in a package. While pre-packaged foods may fit into your calorie goals, they are often highly processed—and your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break them down. Compared to refined foods, real foods are more satisfying. Set boundaries on eating foods out of ease (read: granola bars, cereals, chips)—this can also help eliminate boredom and stress eating.


Space your protein intake out during the day to ensure you are maximizing your body’s utilization of amino acids. Protein is particularly high in the amino acid leucine, which research has shown may be one trick to shedding body fat. It takes eating about 25-35 grams of protein every 4-5 hours to get enough leucine to see a positive effect. So don’t skip that mid-afternoon protein snack! Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, tuna and chicken salad are great go-to high-quality protein sources of fuel.


Aim to drink at least half of your body weight in fluid ounces plus 30 additional ounces for every hour you exercise. Fluids help to fill you up, too, so try drinking a full glass or two of water while you are cooking dinner and before you sit down to eat your meals. Carry a water bottle around with you to keep fluids on the top of mind. It’s easy to forget to drink water if you don’t have that visual reminder. Stick to water, unsweetened iced tea, green tea or lemon- and herb-infused water to meet your goals.


As you lose weight, it is important to reevaluate your nutrition goals. While you’re still the same height, you’re carrying less weight around, so you have less body to feed. A dip in metabolic burn is normal with weight loss, so to continue to to see the numbers trend down, you will need to adjust how many calories you’re eating. This is an art. Re-evaluate your current workout schedule, basal metabolic rate and daily activities to form your new calorie goals—you can always update your new weight in MyFitnessPal for the guided calorie recommendation.


Sure everything in moderation, including moderation, right? While we all should enjoy the finer things in life (like wine and chocolate), it’s easy to get super relaxed and not realize how many days of the week we are indulging. This approach to eating can work for weight maintenance, but if you’re stuck in a plateau, it’s time to take an assessment of your treats. Count up all those cocktails, late-night desserts, chocolate from the office candy jar and specialty coffee drinks. For the time being, reduce the number of sweets you have each week to give your body that kick start again.


If you are currently entering your food into MyFitnessPal, make sure that you are doing so accurately. Use the recipe feature to add recipes, and tailor them to your goals. Break out the measuring cups and spoons to make sure you are entering proper portions. If you have a digital food scale, use it—especially for measuring proteins and starchy vegetables like potatoes and fruit. Don’t know what a medium apple looks like? Most people don’t, so weigh it to get a better idea of the size of the apples you buy. When comparing apples to apples, calories can vary greatly.


It’s not uncommon to be carrying around extra fluid weight if your body is chronically inflamed from the foods you are eating. Common symptoms of food issues are gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, joint pain and brain fog. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it might be worthwhile to talk with your doctor or registered dietitian about a diet analysis. There are special blood tests that can determine food sensitivities, and can be helpful in alleviating discomfort while reducing inflammation and excess weight.

If you’re stuck in a weight-loss plateau, give a few of these tried and true nutrition tweaks a try!

About the Author

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN

Kristina is a board certified sports dietitian located in Orlando, Florida where she specializes in intuitive and mindful eating. She is the author of the food and nutrition blog, Love & Zest where she shares {mostly} healthy recipes with simple ingredients that are meant for real life. As a new mom, she knows that eating well and living an active lifestyle isn’t always easy… but it’s always worth it!! Kristina loves spending time outdoors with her family, sweaty workouts, and a good cup of coffee. Get in touch with her for one-on-one nutrition coaching (virtually or in person), or connect with her on PinterestInstagramFacebook  and YouTube.


36 responses to “8 Nutrition Tweaks to Try if You’ve Hit a Weight-Loss Plateau”

  1. Avatar www.thathealthylook.com says:

    I think it’s very important to remember, that you still can eat tasty meals, even if you are on a diet. People always seem to cry, because they cannot eat this or that and crave for stuff. But when you realise there are still TONS of recipes worth to try, things will get so much easier, and you DO lose weight. For some recipes check my url

    • Avatar tomatokilla says:

      When most Americans have been raised eating sugar and grease and crap, it’s hard to break the habit, so you have to re-program yourself and realize we are all sheep being fed crap and that everything is marketed to make $$$, so everyone needs to put the Lucky Charms down, get rid of the M&Ms and start eating like a freaking caveman!

    • Avatar Tioga Joe says:

      I went to your website (thathealtylook) hoping to at least one new tasty recipe but all I found was ads. I wish you had said “to buy a book, go to my website and then use my affiliate link to buy it from Amazon” rather than telling us “for some recipes….”. So, can you post some a good recipe here maybe?

  2. Avatar Becca says:

    I have been tracking my calories and doing cross fit now for 4 weeks. I have lost no weight and I’m sticking to a strict calorie goal of 1200 calories. My doctor cannot tell me why I’m not loosing- I have even been told to start taking 5000ius of vitamin D- I’m at a loss- for what to do-

    • Avatar Ryan Mitchell says:

      Crossfit tends to add a lot of muscle mass particularly in the gluts and thighs which are some of the largest muscles of the body. Have you slimmed down but you still weigh the same? If so, great you’ve gained muscle mass! Have your sizes gone down? You may want to consider some cardio burn outside of crossfit sometimes ie 2~3 mile run, swimming, or some biking to get some extra cardio burn.

      • Avatar Monika says:

        Yessss! I agree… Cardio is key!!! I was about to give up when I decided to swim laps in a pool as often as possible, and I saw my body sculpting itself. Doing the breast stroke burns a lot of calories. You can choose any cardio you prefer. I encourage you to look up just how much each type of cardio burns up, so you are not wasting your time. I wish you well. Stay positive and motivated.

    • Avatar Vanessa Dieckman Keating says:

      If you’re doing cross fit, 1200 calories is not enough. It’s having an adverse reaction.

    • Avatar Kayla says:

      There is a such thing as eating too little. your body will put it all on as storage. I started eating 1400 cals a day, up from 1200 and started shedding weight. Seems counter, but try it for 2 weeks and see what you get.

      • Avatar Honky Tonks says:

        Your body does not store more fat eating fewer calories.

        • Avatar Lori says:

          You’re right, Honky Tonks, the body does not store more fat by eating fewer calories. But the body does store the calories if too few calories are taken in, as it goes into starvation mode. The body then stores the calories and looks to get the nutrients from other places, such as muscle. So not only can you not lose weight, you can even gain it if you remain calorie deficient. And when you lose muscle, you are not going to burn fat since muscle is needed. Increasing your calorie intake can indeed cause your metabolism to speed up, thus burning more calories. There are several factors to figure in such as age, weight, activity level, and calories. And you do have to take in fewer calories than you burn if you want to lose weight but it’s not just reducing calories. Just as a general rule, a healthy woman who is moderately active can maintain a healthy weight by eating 2000-2400 calories daily. To lose weight, calories should be cut no more than by 500. The more active you are, the more calories you need. Calories are converted to energy – is it any wonder that we try to diet by cutting calories, don’t see any weight loss but we are tired and have no energy? The goal should be getting healthy, and one of the ways is by losing weight; just losing weight does not make us healthy. Cutting calories may result in weight loss but not in fat loss. Complex carbs take more energy to burn than simple sugars, and that is where you are burning more than you take in (along with exercise of course). Most of the time when people diet and watch calories, they are hungry all the time. Examples: a cheese quesadilla is 460 calories; a 7-layer burrito is 429 calories; nachos bellgrande are 759 calories; a burrito supreme is 410 calories; a big mac is 549 calories; a large fry is 500 calories. If you have a cheeseburger, small fry, and small soft drink for lunch, that’s 670 calories, without any condiments! You diet and cut out the fries – so now it’s 440 calories but you are hungry. Or at least, I was. I can have a 1 1/2 cup salad with veggies (33 calories and that is a big salad), with a 1/2 cup grilled chicken breast (100 cal), a cup of watermelon (47 cal), a small baked sweet potato (128 cal), a cup of blueberries (85 cal), a 1/2 cup of asparagus (13 cal), and a cup of green beans (31 cal) and be around 437 cal. It’s healthier food, I am not hungry, takes more energy to digest, I have more energy as the food I am burning is cleaner, and I will lose weight. These calories digest more efficiently than the junk food calories do. Lean protein takes more energy to digest, therefore burning more calories. Protein is also more filling as it digests slower than some of the other foods. Some vegetables are so low in calories that they
          basically contain less calories than it takes for the body to digest

    • Avatar Jill Lueb says:

      That is WAY to low for calorie intake. I’d up it to 1800 calories and make sure you get enough fat and protein. Whole foods, no low fat junk.

      • Avatar kg says:

        I agree. 1200 calories is too low. I would up it (I am not sure how much) and would make sure the additional calories are nutrient packed like a big salad with light dressing. Caveat: I have no qualifications other than having successfully lost weight and kept it off for almost 20 years. 🙂 Good luck and don’t give up!

    • Avatar tomatokilla says:

      I don’t think we can throw calorie counts out left and right without knowing a person’s total body comp, ie, height. If Becca is 5’4 and 120lbs, (now I’m throwing numbers out there), maybe 1200 calories is good, or not. I’m just saying…plus if I sit around on the couch all day and go do Crossfit for an hour or whatever and then go back and sit on my couch…that’s probably not conducive to weight loss. How much water do you drink? Where are the 1200 calories coming from? A protein shake and a sandwich? Plus, who told you to take Vitamin D? Just go stand out in the sun for 15 x minutes.

    • Avatar Honky Tonks says:

      You’re probably not logging accurately, you think you’re eating 1200 but you’re probably eating more. Sorry to break this news to you, it’s nice to think that eating 1800 calories instead of 1200 will result in more weight loss but it’s simply not how these things work. To lose weight, the caloric deficit is all that matters.

  3. Avatar Jamal says:

    Please help if you can. I have recently hit a plateau of 184.4 pounds and I have not been able to break it. MyFitnessPal has recommended that I eat 1880 calories a day, and I usually eat less than that, about 1600-1700. I’m also hitting my macro numbers of 118 protein, 235 carb, and 52 fat. Do I need to adjust my macros or something? I am truly at a loss as I have been able to break every other plateau I have hit on this diet, dropping from 245 to 184. Any help, ideas, or recommendations would be very helpful.

    • Avatar Jessie Bragg says:

      I would up the protein and lower the carbs .. 1gr of protein per lb of your weight is ideal

    • Avatar tomatokilla says:

      1g of protein per pound of bodyweight if you want to maintain. 235 grams of carbs in my opinion is insane, not knowing your height. I mean, I’m 5’6″ and am extremely active, run, lift, swim, and I have been hitting about 150g of carbs pretty consistently. I was 190lbs in November, I’m down to 150 now and I attribute it to NOT a paleo diet and NOT an Atkins diet but just avoiding processed foods and most grains, for example, rice, potatoes, pasta, bread. I mean avoiding, not cutting it out and just eating meat all the time. Avoid sugar like the plague, as we all know it is poison. Drink 100oz of water everyday. That’s my two cents, and finally, try intermittent fasting, that may do it for you, but it’s a lifestyle, not a diet, so there’s obviously no get rich quick scheme you can buy into. But again, not knowing your height, that’s all I have to say! Good luck!

    • Avatar becompassionate says:

      235 carbs sounds like A LOT to me!

    • Avatar Zoomette says:

      I think your carb intake MUST be a typo.

  4. Avatar Anne-Marie Poltorak says:

    I consume 1400 a day and have shed 40 pounds. I have maintained my weight for several months but would like to shed 5 to 10 more. I have a pretty vigorous workout schedule of boxing, Pilates, rowing (on a crew in the water not just on a erg), walking, calisthenics, etc. I have gotten my metabolism up by eating often, my ratio of protein to carbs is good, and I drink all my water and add amino acids to my water during a workout for recovery purposes
    . I track everything in MyFitnessPal and I find I am hungrier lately. I am wondering if I should up my calories to get the weight off. Any ideas.

    • Avatar Jill Lueb says:

      Try eating more food, especially protein.

    • Avatar tomatokilla says:

      You may look into intermittent fasting as I have been pretty successful at dropping weight especially once I hit a plateau.

    • Avatar Wheezy Rider says:

      Congrats on your weight loss! I would add some strength training in to increase your muscle mass, not to bulk up but to rev up your metabolism. Good luck!

  5. Avatar Joan Burgess says:

    Can someone please tell me how to input my meal into my fitness pal.I would like to be able to just type in what my meals but it won’t let me . It’s like I have to choose from their food or something . A bit confusing.

    • Avatar Doc Holiday says:

      I had the same problem/issue with my fitness pal – I was recently given a Fitbit Surge as a gift and it is amazing. I highly recommend it. Very easy to enter in foods as well. It has a bar code scanning feature or you can just manually enter any type of food & the calorie content. (It allows you to enter the full nutritional info for everything as well, but that gets a bit tedious) Good luck & don’t give up!!

    • Avatar tomatokilla says:

      Hey Joan, I’ve been using myfitness pal for about a week now so I’m still getting used to it, but I found last night you can create your own recipe/meal and save it so you don’t have to re-enter everything everytime; plus, I’ve been using the heck out of the barcode scanner on my phone a lot with a lot of thinngs I am eating, and compared to another app I was using previously, myfitness pal has pretty much everything in there, actually I can’t think of something I scanned and it came up with nothing. Not sure about searching for a meal itself, haven’t tried that, I just enter ingredients and such.

    • Avatar Rebecca Nixon says:

      It depends what you’re trying to type in. There’s no point typing in “fish and chips” because depending on the ingredients, that could be 500 calories or 3000 calories. Unless you have a brand name that the nutrition information can be taken from, you need to work out the calories some way.

    • Avatar Snowman8wa says:

      Hi Joan, If you put the food in with specificity for awhile it will help you understand how many calories you are consuming and will give you an idea of what you are REALLY eating. I have some staple items in “My Food or Meals.” so when we have oatmeal for breakfast i just enter “Oatmeal bowl” and all the calories are counted for that because i make it the same way each time. Hope this helps

  6. Avatar brittsir says:

    Hello. What type of blood tests should my sister ask for, in regards to food sensitivities?

  7. #6 FTW 🙂 I cut out my 4-6 beers per week that I would often just drink in the evening and have dropped 1% of my body fat with that alone! I commented to my wife I feel like I’ve been snacking more lately but cutting out liquid calories definitely cut out some weight.

  8. Avatar Madeleine Prendergast says:

    Lovely – looking woman, the author. What happened to her neck? Was the image

  9. Avatar Amanda Hilsman says:

    Just a warning to others, this water tip caused me to get hyponatremia, or a shortage of sodium and electrolytes in the body. This is a pretty dangerous condition. Common symptoms include nausea, tiredness, confusion, loss of energy, seizures, and even coma. It can mess with your nervous system.

    The fallout after this trip to the hospital caused me to gain back any progress I’d made and then some! Keep this in mind.

    Seeing this advice everywhere makes me want to give up. It’s not a healthy tip, and can be dangerous for people who are overweight or obese.

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