When losing weight, one of the most frustrating and discouraging things is hitting the dreaded plateau. Initially, you will likely lose a lot of weight, the number on your scale will go down, and then it will just stop – despite your efforts of dieting and exercising. Almost everyone will hit a plateau at some point during weight loss, but here are some tips on how to push through that plateau and reach your goal weight.
Switch Up Your Workouts
Your body will get used to doing the same thing over and over. I initially hit a plateau when I was running. Initially, I was losing a lot of weight with it, but after a while my body just got used to it. If you typically run, try doing some biking. If you work out in the evening, try out some morning workouts. If you are used to doing lower intensity cardio for an hour, do a shorter and higher intensity workout. The key is to keep your body constantly guessing and to not let it get used to anything.
Play Around With Your Macros
“Macros”, or macro-nutrients, are nutrients that are required in large quantities by the human body. The three main macro groups are: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. After you determine how many calories you should be consuming in a day, watching your macro-nutrient ratio is also very important.
For example, if you are eating 1600 calories a day, 50% of those calories may be from carbohydrates, while 25% are from protein and 25% are from fat. If you are at a plateau, try shifting those numbers around; try eating only 40% of your calories from carbs, and 30% from protein and fat. There is no magical ratio or number; some people’s bodies respond better to lower-carb, while others respond better to lower-fat. You need to play around with the numbers and find what works best for you. To calculate your macro-nutrient ratio, you can use these formulas:
- (grams protein x 4) / total calories = percentage of calories from protein
- (grams fat x 9) / total calories = percentage of calories from fat
- (grams carbs x 4) / total calories = percentage of calories from carbs
Pay Closer Attention to What You Are Eating
Many times, people really aren’t tracking what they eat correctly, or they underestimate their daily calorie intake. One thing that I have learned through my weight loss journey is the importance of accurate measuring. For example, I have always used almond butter as part of my diet. I used to just “eyeball it” and thought that I was getting 2 tablespoons.
Once I started measuring however, I quickly learned that I was actually consuming 3.5 tablespoons which is 150 more calories than I thought - and that was just for breakfast! Measure things out, use a food scale, and avoid mindless snacking – those calories add up.
Add Variety and Calorie Zig-Zagging
Instead of having 1500 calories and eating the same meals every single day, try to mix it up. Try having low-calorie and higher-calorie days. For example, instead of eating 1500 every single day, try 1200 one day and 1800 the next. Additionally, try adding some variety to the things you are eating. If you have chicken and broccoli every night for dinner, try swapping that out with fish and vegetables. Just like with your workouts, your body will get used to the same thing over and over.
Get Some Sleep
As someone who loves their morning cardio and having workouts done by 6am, I know what it is like to occasionally be lacking some sleep. As great as you may feel after that workout, it is so important to be regularly getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can throw your metabolism out of whack as well as cause your body to produce more cortisol - a stress hormone which has been shown to increase appetite .
On top of that, your body recovers and repairs muscle primarily when you are sleeping. I was once advised, “If you have to choose between getting enough sleep and fitting in your morning workout, it’s much more beneficial to get enough sleep.”
It’s normal for weight loss to slow down, but these tips can help you to get rid of those last few, stubborn pounds. Finally, remember not to focus too much on the number on your scale. Take measurements, pay attention to how your clothes fit, and/or get your body fat tested. The number on the scale is just that - a number, and it doesn’t indicate progress or lack thereof.