Achieving your goal weight can be tough.
While weight tends to come off fairly rapidly at first, at some point it seems as though your weight won’t budge.
This inability to lose weight is known as a weight loss plateau or stall, and it can be frustrating and discouraging.
However, several strategies may help you begin to lose weight again. Here are 14 tips to break a weight loss plateau.
1. Cut Back on Carbs
Research has confirmed that low-carb diets are extremely effective for weight loss.
In fact, one large review of 13 studies with follow-up lasting at least a year found that people who consumed 50 or fewer grams of carbs per day lost more weight than those following traditional weight loss diets (1Trusted Source).
Reducing your carb intake may help get your weight moving in the right direction again when you feel hopelessly stalled.
Whether carb restriction leads to a “metabolic advantage” that causes your body to burn more calories is a question that continues to be debated among nutrition and obesity experts.
Some controlled studies have found that very low-carb diets increase fat burning and promote other metabolic changes that favor weight loss, while other studies haven’t shown this effect (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
However, very low-carb diets have consistently been shown to reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness more than other diets. In addition, they cause your body to produce ketones, which have been shown to reduce appetite (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
This may lead you to unconsciously eat less, making it easier to begin losing weight again without hunger or discomfort.
2. Increase Exercise Frequency or Intensity
Revving up your exercise regimen may help reverse a weight loss plateau.
This is because, unfortunately, your metabolic rate slows down as you lose weight.
One study including more than 2,900 people found that for every pound (0.45 kg) of weight they lost, they burned 6.8 fewer calories, on average (9Trusted Source).
As weight declines, the progressive reduction in metabolic rate can make continued weight loss extremely difficult.
The good news is that exercise has been shown to help counteract this effect.
Resistance training promotes the retention of muscle mass, which is a major factor influencing how many calories you burn during activity and at rest. In fact, resistance training seems to be the most effective type of exercise for weight loss (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
In a 12-week study, young, obese women who followed a low-calorie diet and lifted weights for 20 minutes daily experienced an average loss of 13 pounds (5.9 kg) and 2 inches (5 cm) from their waistlines (12Trusted Source).
Other types of physical activity have also been shown to protect against a metabolic slowdown, including aerobic exercise and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
If you’re already exercising, working out an extra 1–2 days per week or increasing the intensity of your workouts may help boost your metabolic rate.
3. Track Everything You Eat
Sometimes, it may seem as though you’re not eating that much, yet you still have difficulty losing weight.
Overall, researchers have reported that people have a tendency to underestimate the amount of food they eat (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
In one study, obese people reported consuming about 1,200 calories per day. However, a detailed analysis of their intake over a 14-day period showed that they were actually consuming nearly twice that amount, on average (18Trusted Source).
Tracking your calories and macronutrients — protein, fat and carbs — can provide concrete information about how much you’re taking in. This will allow you to modify your diet if needed.
In addition, research suggests that the act of recording your food intake alone may enhance your weight loss efforts (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Here’s a review of several user-friendly apps and websites to track your nutrient intake.
4. Don’t Skimp on Protein
If your weight loss has stalled, increasing your protein intake may help.
First, protein boosts metabolic rate more than either fat or carbs.
This has to do with the thermic effect of food (TEF), or increase in metabolism that occurs due to the digestion of food. Protein digestion boosts calorie burning by 20–30%, which is more than twice as much as fat or carbs (21Trusted Source).
In one study, healthy, young women followed diets that provided 30% or 15% of calories from protein on two separate days. Their metabolic rate increased twice as much after meals on the higher-protein day (22Trusted Source).
Second, protein stimulates the production of hormones, such as PYY, that help reduce appetite and make you feel full and satisfied (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Moreover, maintaining a high protein intake can help protect against the loss of muscle mass and a drop in metabolic rate, both of which typically occur during weight loss
5. Manage Stress
Stress can often put the brakes on weight loss.
In addition to promoting comfort eating and triggering food cravings, it also increases your body’s production of cortisol.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.” While it helps your body respond to stress, it can also increase belly fat storage. What’s more, this effect seems to be stronger in women (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
Therefore, producing too much cortisol can make weight loss very difficult.
It may seem as though you have little control over the stress in your life, but research has shown that learning to manage stress can help promote weight loss (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
In one eight-week study of 34 overweight and obese women, a stress-management program that included muscle relaxation and deep breathing led to an average weight loss of 9.7 pounds (4.4 kg) (31Trusted Source).
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