Hitting a weight-loss plateau can be frustrating and demotivating, especially if you feel like you’re doing everything right. And while certain nutrition and fitness mistakes can cause a plateau, sometimes there’s no real reason for your weight loss to stall. We tend to think of weight loss as a steady decline, when in reality weight is always fluctuating. It’s natural for weight loss to sometimes stagnate or for your weight to even go back up from time to time.
That said, if you feel like your weight loss has been stalled for an extended period of time, it may be worth looking into different factors that might be holding you back from achieving your goals.
Get more sleep
Lack of sleep increases production of the stress hormone cortisol and upsets the balance of all other hormones — including hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. An imbalance in hunger hormones can cause you to overeat, make unhealthy food choices, and stop losing weight as a result. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night to keep your metabolism and your weight loss on track.
Adjust your caloric intake
As you start losing weight, your body requires fewer calories to function optimally. If you’re still consuming the same amount of calories as you were before you lost weight, make changes to your diet as needed to reduce caloric intake. Talk to your weight-loss doctor about metabolic and DNA testing that can determine the exact nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and drive weight loss.
Check your ingredients
Consuming “diet” or “sugar free” foods can impede weight loss if they contain artificial sweeteners or other artificial ingredients. Many artificial sweeteners can impact your blood sugar — and your weight — just as much as sugar. If you’re still clinging to a diet soda habit, try to drink more water instead; flavor it with lemon, cucumber, or berries to make it more palatable.
Cut back on dairy
Dairy is a common cause of inflammation, which can interfere with weight loss. Inflammation impairs the brain’s ability to receive signals from leptin, the hormone responsible for telling your brain when your stomach is full. Inflammation can also cause thyroid issues, which can lead to weight gain. People often find that cutting back on dairy intake helps them push past a weight-loss plateau.
Drink more water
Staying hydrated helps boost your metabolism and energy levels, and prevents you from feeling fatigued during workouts. Dehydration can make you feel hungry even when you’re not, which can lead to overeating. Women should consume 2.7 liters of water daily, and men should consume 3.7 liters daily as recommended by the American Council on Exercise. Those who are physically active should consume more than recommended to stay hydrated and prevent injury.
Establish an “off” day
Exercising every day can lead to overtraining, which is training too hard to the point your body is unable to fully recover from day to day. Overtraining often prevents your body from building muscle and burning fat, and can even impair your immune system. If you’re exercising every day, start taking one or two days off every week to allow your mind and body to fully recover and refresh before your next workout.
Change your workout routine
When you’ve been practicing the same workout routine for an extended period of time, your muscles become familiar with the routine and require fewer calories to do those movements. Surprise your muscles with new activities, movements, or routines to reignite your weight-loss progress. For instance, if your usual workout is a two-mile run, limit yourself to one mile and run faster, or do sprint intervals to expose your muscles to a higher intensity level.
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