What is a weight loss plateau?

A disciplined routine of clean eating and regular exercise can be difficult to stick to, and it’s common to veer of track and stall your weight loss progress. There’s a reason it’s called a weight loss journey.

Even if you’ve managed to stick to your routine, it’s possible for your weight loss progress to come to a halt. Why? In the beginning you’re going to lose more weight more quickly than you will towards the end, this is because as you lose weight your BMR slows down. This means that you will need to eat even less to shed the last few kilos. The last couple of kilos are harder to get rid of than the first 20! So, even if you’ve stayed on course, you can hit a plateau.

What causes a weight loss plateau?

Unfortunately, you can’t really control how your body loses weight! More calories out than in is the science behind weight loss, but after losing a large chunk of weight you’re likely to find your progress at a standstill. When you lose weight, you’re losing both muscle and fat, and your muscles are responsible for the rate at which your body burns calories! This means as you lose weight, your metabolism slows down.

Having a slower metabolism than you did when you began your weight loss journey means that you’ll lose weight more slowly than you did in the beginning. If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, you’re likely matching the number of calories consumed with the number of calories burnt or you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning. Without a calorie deficit, there is no weight loss.  

 How do I stop a weight loss plateau?

Breaking through a weight loss plateau can be extremely difficult. You have put in the hard work; you’ve seen consistent progress and now the last few kilos won’t budge! First, it is important to note that weight loss plateaus are extremely common and almost everyone who has been on a diet can attest to that. In order to overcome the plateau and ensure you don’t regain the weight you’ve worked so hard to lose, you’ll need to reassess your habits.

If you’re on a diet, you’ve likely created a plan for yourself with goals to reach and a deadline to reach them by. It’s important to establish a timeframe and ensure you’re setting attainable goals. Keep in mind, the safe and sensible rate of weight loss is about 1-2kg a week, so set your goals accordingly.

Assess your current routine and be honest with yourself, maybe you’ve been eating a little more than your plan allows for, perhaps you’ve been a little lazy with your exercise regime and are burning less calories than you’re consuming. How would you know? You can’t really tell how many calories you’re burning each time you move. Online articles will estimate the number of calories you’d burn with each activity, but the rate at which you burn calories is dependent on your age, weight, and gender.

One sure fire way of knowing how much energy you’ve burnt is to get a smart watch that tracks your calorie outtake. Knowing how many calories you burn with each activity makes it easier for you to determine how many calories you need to burn to stay in deficit. 

Cut back on calories

This one is obvious. This is how any diet starts, you figure out how many calories you need in order to lose weight, but once the plateau begins, you’ll need to lower that number again. Your body will readjust to your new routine, and you’ll start seeing results again.

 Intensify workouts

How intense is your current workout regime? If you’re at a weight loss plateau, aim to incorporate more high impact exercises, workouts that really get your blood pumping. Examples of these kinds of exercises include:

  • Running
  • Burpees
  • Jumping jacks
  • Hiking

Cut out alcohol

Alcohol can be a serious weight loss killer. You’re providing your body with empty calories, and unless you track the calories in every drink you have – which is almost impossible if you’re out for drinks – you’re likely consuming a large number of calories that do not at all benefit your body or your weight loss journey.

Manage stress & sleep

Being stressed can lead to comfort eating, which is normal! Being overly stressed for prolonged periods can also affect your sleep schedule. If you aren’t getting a decent 7-9 hour sleep each night your progress can deteriorate. This is because consistent lack of sleep slows down your metabolism!

Weight loss control

Weight loss can be hard to control because life is hard to control! It doesn’t mean it’s impossible to reach your goal weight. Never be disheartened by a weight loss plateau, it’s usually an indicator of how far you’ve come. Remember there are strategies you can put in place to breakthrough it and start to see progress again.