17 Tips to Get Over a Weight-Loss Plateau
Dont let a weight-loss plateau discourage you
One challenging part of weight loss is finding the right diet and exercise program that fits with your lifestyle and shows results. But once you find that, sometimes the results slow or stopand you hit a plateau. Dont let this discourage you. Instead, check out these tips to get over a weight-loss plateau.
Keep a food diary
Start writing down everything you eat (yes, even the last two bites of your kids last chicken nugget or the 12 jelly beans from your coworkers desk). Look at what foods youve been choosing that are holding you up and what are the quantities, says Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN, dietitian, and founder of Eat Chic Chicago. This may help you pinpoint the problem behind your weight-loss plateau, whether its the food you eat or their portion sizes.
Make a planthen mix it up
Planning can mean the difference between packing a healthy lunch and grabbing the first thing you see when your stomach starts rumbling. But if you always go for the same standbys, you could get sick of your healthy choices, says Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS, senior bariatric psychologist at the Bellevue Center for Obesity & Weight Management and clinical assistant professor, department of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Make it interesting so youre not getting bored, she says. For instance, salads are easy and convenient, but rotating your protein between chicken, hardboiled eggs, and tuna could keep your taste buds happy, she says.
Cut downeven on the healthy stuff
Just because you buy your snacks at a health food store doesnt mean you can eat them with abandon. Theyre associated as being healthy because of where theyre purchased and they have healthy ingredients, says Danielle Pashko, author of Breaking Your Fat Girl Habits: Weight Loss Mistakes Even Healthy Chicks Make! But health foods like veggie chips, granola, and dried fruitwhile fine in moderationwont keep you full for long, she says. If you eat the whole bag before feeling satisfied, you could be chowing down on hundreds of calories. Pick up an individual, portion-controlled fruit like an apple or nectarine instead, she says. (These inspirational weight-loss stories will motivate you to reach your goals.)
Dont wait until youre starving to eat
If your diet is too restrictive and youre trying to limit yourself to two meals a day, your efforts could be working against you, says Goldman. When we starve ourselves and go long hours or are too restrictive, that can backfire, she says. Its hard to control cravings when youre hungry, and youll end up overeating. She recommends eating a light, healthy breakfast within an hour and a half of waking up, then refuelling about every four hours for the rest of the day to keep you from overindulging and preventing a weight-loss plateau in the future.
Measure out portions
Even in healthy foods, calories add up. Your definition of a handful of nuts might be four times bigger than an actual serving size, says Thomsen. One of the foods people love are healthy fats, which are great, she says. Just make sure youre keeping track of how much of those foods youre eating, and youre eating proper portion sizes. (Try our recipes for our best bites, balls, and bars.)
Dont let your exercise routine get routine
What started as a challenging workout might not leave you breathless and sore like it did before. Thats because your body gets used to things quickly, says Goldman. A weight-loss plateau is a sign that we have to change something, she says. Your body is used to where it is nowits comfortable. You have to shake up the body a bit and challenge it. Instead of walking at the same pace for your daily walk, change the speed every few minutes or bump up the incline if youre on a treadmill, Goldman recommends, or try dance workouts.
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize youre fulland by that time youve probably already gone back for seconds, says Goldman. Eating slowly can help your brain play catch-up with your stomach so that you dont continue eating. One easy way to slow your pace is by putting down your fork between bites. If youre holding your utensil the whole time, its easy to shovel food in your mouth, Goldman says. But if you consciously put it down while you chew and dont pick it up until youve swallowed, it automatically slows down your eating. (Heres more on how mindful eating can help you lose weight.)
Dont fast before a big meal
You might be tempted to save your calories for a big meal, but that strategy can backfire, says Pashko. If youre full when you sit down to eat, youll probably end up eating those calories you skipped earlierand then some. If youre not that hungry, it will save you if youre inclined to normally eat an appetizer or breadbasket, she says. What you invest in a snack is way less than an appetizer would be. Pick high-protein foods to ward off hunger two hours before dinner.
(Psst: This is what happens to your body when you dont eat enough protein.)
Team up with your family
You might be able to satisfy your crunchy cravings with baby carrotsuntil you see that bag of your partners favourite BBQ chips in the pantry. A lot of people find they have [trigger foods] not because its their intention to eat it, but because they bought it for someone else, says Thomsen. Its beneficial to get the whole family on board with your goals and getting you to succeed. Find healthy snacks that your spouse and kids will enjoy, and keep those unhealthy temptations out of the house.
Cut out the diet food
Replacing your favourite chocolate ice cream with frozen yogurt or a sugar-free icy treat could easily get out of hand if you keep going back for seconds (or thirds). Its better to have a few bites of the real thing and be satisfied than overeating a huge serving of diet dessert, Pashko says. Its really not diet food, because you eat a lot more, thinking its OK.
Save big meals for after the gym
If you eat breakfast before going for a run, youll likely end up hungry enough for a second meal before you even leave for the office, says Pashko. Have a small snack before you start your workout, but save the big meal for later for your post-workout refuel.
Dont drink your calories
Alcohol and soda are more deceiving because theyre in liquid form, and people have them in addition to what theyre eating on a regular basis, says Thomsen. Make a habit of swapping out sugary drinks for water. At social events, try replacing every other drink with sparkling water so you can enjoy a real drink without going overboard to stay on track and avoid a potential weight-loss plateau.
Find a healthy stress buster
If its been a stressful day, you might be looking forward to a big bowl of ice cream. But emotional eating can quickly derail a day of good intentions. You need to think about the cause and why youre craving that food, then participate in a nonfood alternative behaviour at that time, says Goldman. Sign up for a kickboxing course to beat out that bad energy, or cozy up with a good book to get your mind off it. (Find out what a daily dose of reading can do for your memory, health, and relationships.)
People tend to give up easily, says Goldman. They think if they lost five pounds in the first week, thats realistic for every week. Tempting as it might be to fall back into your old routine if youre not seeing results, be patient. If youre persistent, youll probably start seeing changes in your body in another week or two, Goldman says.
Dont aim for fat-free
You might think a nonfat cup of Greek yogurt is your best bet for steering clear of any weight-loss plateau, but choosing one with a little fat will actually help you eat fewer calories in the long run. That 4 grams of fat is negligible and keeps you fuller longer, Pashko says. Once you sit down for your next meal, you wont be ravenously loading your plate with extra food. (Also, see why low-fat diets may not help you lose weight.)
Shop in the supermarkets perimetres
When stocking up on groceries, plan to snack on and cook with simple ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meats, and nuts that youll find in the outside aisles. It makes it easier to wade through the junk food, says Thomsen. Theres no need to go down the aisles where those foods that might derail your weight-loss efforts are located. That way you wont be tempted to pick up a bag of potato chips when youre on the hunt for air-popped popcorn (which happens to have many health benefits.)
Downsize your dishes
Were used to filling up our plates and eating whats on our plate, says Goldman. Swap out your large dinner plate for a salad plate or bowl, she recommends. Youll probably end up dishing lessand eating lesswithout even realizing it.