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 (1). 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 (2, 3, 4, 5). 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 (6, 7, 8).
This may lead you to unconsciously eat less, making it easier to begin losing weight again without hunger or discomfort.
Summary: Research has found that low-carb diets help control hunger, provide feelings of fullness and promote long-term weight loss.
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 (9). 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 (10, 11).
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 (12). Other types of physical activity have also been shown to protect against a metabolic slowdown, including aerobic exercise and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). 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.
Summary: Performing exercise, especially strength training, can help offset the drop in metabolic rate that occurs during weight loss.
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 (17, 18). 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 (18). 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 (19, 20).
Summary: Tracking your calorie and macronutrient intakes can provide accountability and help you see whether you need to make some dietary adjustments in order to begin losing weight again.
4. Don’t Skimp on Protein
If your weight loss has stalled, increasing your protein intake may help.