You’ve worked hard to get healthy, but you can’t lose those last 10 pounds. Hitting a weight-loss plateau is discouraging. But don’t give up! First of all, remember that hitting a plateau — or even regaining a few pounds — is perfectly normal. Your weight can fluctuate a few pounds even within a single day, depending on what you eat or even the time of day.
It’s also possible that your body composition is changing, even if your weight isn’t. Try taking measurements and photos to track your progress rather than relying on the number on the scale.
That said, sometimes there is a reason that your weight loss suddenly stalls. Changing up your routine a bit can re-boot the process and re-start your weight-loss. Every person’s body is different, but the following are a few reasons those last 10 pounds won’t go away.
1. Your caloric needs change
As you lose weight, the body’s need for calories changes. The diet you were eating before may now contain too many calories. It’s also common to stop paying as close attention to caloric intake as you feel more comfortable in your body. Stealing a little snack here and there ads up quickly. Go back to tracking your food for a week, and you may spot an unintentional trend of eating too much.
2. Muscle loss slows metabolism
You may be focusing too much on cardiovascular exercise and not enough on strength training. Cardio is great for your body and heart health, but if you’re not balancing it with resistance training, your body may be releasing muscle along with fat. Muscle is directly tied to metabolic rate, because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, even when at rest. So don’t neglect this beneficial form of exercise! Even if you don’t have a gym membership, there are plenty of ways to get the benefits of strength training at home.
3. You’re not working out hard enough
If you’re still getting your workouts in but they aren’t as hard as they used to be, it may be time to switch things up. As you get stronger and your body adapts, the same exercise routine won’t push your body forward anymore. Try adding in high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is a process of doing a high-intensity exercise in short bursts followed by a short rest period. For example, sprint hard for a full minute and then rest for 30 seconds before completing another one-minute burst.
4. You aren’t eating enough fat
You may need to eat more fat. Yes, really! Fat has gotten a bad rap because our diets are so full of the wrong kinds of fats. All fats are not created equal. Unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, and fish are all healthy fats that your body needs in order to function properly. Your brain also needs these good fats to function. Fat also helps you feel satiated, so you eat less overall. Make sure every meal contains a source of protein, healthy fat, and plant compounds.
5. You aren’t drinking enough water
Water is also important for keeping processes throughout the body functioning optimally. When you started your program, you were probably measuring your water intake or at least being mindful of it. Over time, it’s easy to feel like you’re drinking enough, but you may not be. Record the amount of water and non-caffeinated, unsweetened drinks in your diet to ensure you are getting your proper fluid intake.
6. You aren’t getting enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep can slow your metabolism and cause hormonal imbalances. If you’re not getting 7-8 hours each night, look into ways you can change your routine. That might mean watching less TV, putting electronic devices away at a specified time, or adopting a bedtime ritual that will help you relax, such as meditation.
7. You’re eating dairy
Dairy causes inflammation, and inflammation can interfere with multiple processes throughout the body. If dairy is a big part of your diet, try cutting back or eliminating it for a couple of weeks and see if you can push past the plateau. Also make sure you’re eating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, leafy greens, olive oil, and green tea.
Need help achieving your weight-loss and wellness goals? Garcia Weight Loss offers personalized weight loss programs designed to help you look and feel your best. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on March 8, 2018