If you’re not losing weight after a few weeks of steady weight loss, some minor tweaks to your diet and exercise plan can get the scale moving again.
Reaching a point when you’re not losing weight can actually be a sign that your diet and exercise plan is working. Weight loss plateaus make sense because a smaller person needs fewer calories than a bigger person, and as you get smaller, a plateau is your body’s way of saying that it’s ready to function on less fuel.
For every 10 to 20 pounds you lose, you may need another reduction of food intake or more calorie expenditure through exercise and other activities to continue losing weight. The following diet tips can help you push through to the next phase in your weight loss journey.
1. Reduce your calories by 150 to 250 each day for a total of at least 1,200 calories over the course of a week. That is a little more than one-third of the 3,500 calories that make a pound but is painlessly incorporated by simply modifying one meal or one snack each day. Remember to keep calories at no less than 1,200 daily to avoid a shift to a slower metabolism.
2. Drink a glass of water before and after every meal. Drinking a full glass of water before a meal can help you cut down on calorie intake during the meal, and if you can’t drink a full glass of water after a meal, then you’ve eaten too much.
3. Vary calorie intake by about 200 calories on different days of the week. Research shows that keeping an average daily caloric intake such as 1,400 for women and 1,600 for men is beneficial for weight loss, but varying actual calories each day up or down while maintaining the correct average keeps the body guessing and your metabolism burning.
4. About once a month, include a cheat meal. One high-calorie meal every few weeks can keep your body from going into starvation mode. In addition, one cheat meal can be mentally encouraging in order to sustain healthy eating the remainder of the time.
5. Every meal and snack, including cheat meals, should include protein. Protein curbs hunger and helps build calorie-burning muscle, and eating it with other micronutrients such as carbohydrates helps slow down possible fat storage. Dietitians also suggest always eating protein before carbs and never eating a meal or snack consisting of only carbs (e.g., leave the bread basket alone until your entree arrives).
6. Fill your plate with greens to add volume to meals. When at least half of every meal consists of non-starchy vegetables, your body gets more nutrients and more filling fiber. Because you can add a mountain of veggies for very few calories, greens can make any plate more visually appealing.
Bonus tip: Vary your exercise routine. Throw in some weights, try a spin class, run a couple days a week. Keep the body guessing and moving! Changing up your workout can help keep your body burning calories instead of your body acclimating to the same workout every day. Even some jumping rope or yoga can be great to change it up.
Although plateaus are natural during any weight loss program, knowing what to do the next time a weight loss plateau hits can help shorten any periods of not losing weight.
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