Reaching your weight loss goals is a journey. While the pounds come off a little faster in the beginning, there may come a point when your progress stalls. This is the dreaded weight loss plateau —a time when the pounds no longer melt away even though you’re following your diet and exercising. It’s actually a normal part of the process because, as you lose weight, you’re also shedding lean muscle. When lean muscle mass deceases, your metabolism slows down.
While plateaus are frustrating and seem difficult to break through, don’t get discouraged. There are several strategies to help you break through and start seeing results again.
Cut Back on Carbs
Decreasing carb consumption can help you overcome a plateau. Low-carb diets like the keto diet help control hunger, promote satiety and boost the production of ketones, which have been shown to decrease appetite. As a result, you’ll eat less without feeling hungry or deprived, making it easier to lose weight again.
Portion Control & Tracking
Portion control can help you get through weight loss stalls. Start by keeping a food diary if you aren’t already—taking a fresh look at how much you’re eating can be the key to losing weight again. Research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dieters who recorded their daily intake lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. Studies also show that we tend to underestimate the amount of food we eat each day. Examine and record your portion sizes by weighing and measuring them to see if you’re eating too much. Take photos of proper portion sizes on your smartphone for easy reference so you can compare them to your meals throughout the day. You’ll likely discover that your portions are bigger than they should be.
Increase Strength Training
Cardio is great for burning calories and overall health, but most of the calories burned in high-intensity cardio workouts are from carbohydrates. This can leave you feeling hungry and lacking energy after working out. Try incorporating strength training into your routine. Studies show that it burns more fat than cardio while building lean muscle, which stokes your metabolism. Strive for a minimum of two strength/resistance workouts per week.
Increase Lean Protein Consumption
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 found that eating protein with every meal and snack throughout your day can help with appetite control and weight loss. Protein fuels your muscles and boosts your metabolic rate more than carbs or fats because it helps build lean muscle mass. The greater our lean muscle mass, the more calories we burn. You’ll burn even more calories through the digestive process since your system has to work harder to process protein. Protein also boosts the production of hormones like PYY that help reduce hunger and cravings.
Important Note: A low carb diet often gets confused as a high protein diet. A low carb diet is actually an OPTIMAL protein diet. You should be sure not to consume excessive amounts of protein as this can stall weight loss (not because of the fat contained in meat, but because of the production of insulin). The optimal amount of protein is about 1 gm per kg of body weight. This translates to about 4-6 oz. Per meal. As a point of reference, a standard chicken breast is about 5 oz. Of meat.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an excellent way to kick start weight loss again. It helps you eat less calories and promotes fat and weight loss while maintaining your metabolic rate. There are several intermittent fasting methods that you can learn more about by clicking here.