What is a weight loss plateau?
Losing weight can be a long journey and should lead to long-term lifestyle changes. We often start a weight loss journey and have high expectations of it being straight forward with constant weight loss and results. The reality is, that’s not the case and it’s almost certain you will experience a weight loss plateau, but what does this mean? A weight loss plateau or stall is when your weight loss comes to a pause following weight loss.
Why does our weight plateau?
One reason you experience a weight loss plateau is due to your body’s ‘set point’. Your set point is your body’s required stored fat levels. When you lose weight, your body responds by lowering your metabolism, to try and obtain what it believes is normal fat storage causing you to burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight. This is your body trying to compensate for the change in calorie intake, it will eventually adapt to its new lower set-point. You may also reach a plateau because it’s difficult to stay motivated, or challenging situations make it difficult to stick to your plan.
Why weight loss plateaus are normal
Although it may be a frustrating time, remember that almost everyone on a weight loss journey will experience one or more plateaus. Although it can be demotivating, it’s important to think of the long term changes you are making and even maintaining weight is a significant achievement.
How long does a weight loss plateau last?
If you’re currently in a weight loss plateau you may be keen to understand when it will come to an end. Unfortunately, there is no exact time frame and can vary for each individual. See our tips below to help, and if you’re concerned about your weight loss it may be beneficial to contact your local GP.
How to break through a weight loss stall
A simple way to try and break through your weight loss plateau is by altering your diet, this can include reducing your carbohydrate intake or swapping for higher fibre, slower acting carbohydrates.
You can start with simple swaps, for example try eating whole grain bread instead of white bread, sweet potato instead of white potato, whole wheat pasta and rice is also a good substitute.
These swaps can keep you feeling fuller for longer and help to regulate your blood glucose levels.
Include a source of protein in your meals
Another great addition you can easily include into your diet to support you is protein. If you increase your protein intake it can help get you back on the weight loss cycle by reducing hunger and preventing muscle mass loss.
High protein foods can be found in simple, everyday items such as: yoghurt, beans, lean meat and fish, nuts, seeds and cheese.
Be as active as possible
Moving your body often is key to improving your health and wellbeing for physical and mental benefits. Often increasing your exercise can help to restart your weight loss.
However, if hitting the gym or 10km runs aren’t your thing, making small changes to your day to day can have a huge impact. Standing up instead of sitting at your desk can be a great start, going for a walk and even opting for the stairs rather than an escalator can be small and simple ways to keep moving and increase your overall activity in a day.
It’s important to be aware of your alcohol intake, but even more so when trying to lose weight. Alcohol can interfere with weight loss due to the consumption of “empty calories”, making it easier to over eat and ultimately prevent weight loss. Avoiding alcohol on a regular basis will support you on your weight loss journey.
Cutting out alcohol from your diet will not only support you and your weight plateau but also has other key benefits to your health and wellbeing such as: improved blood glucose and blood pressure, reduction of fatty build up around the liver, better sleep and reduction of headaches, nausea and tummy upset.
Eat more fibre
Foods high in fibre promote weight loss and can help you feel fuller for longer. When creating your next meal plan or when doing your weekly shop, consider what types of food you are regularly consuming and make a conscious effort to include foods containing high levels of fibre, such as beans, lentils, wholegrains and berries. Filling half of your plate with low calorie, high fibre vegetables helps you to fill up at your meal and cut calories at the same time. The vegetables will also provide many essential vitamins and minerals to help your overall health.
Hydration is key to feeling energised, but can also improve your digestion, memory and mood. If you often drink fizzy drinks with high levels of sugar, try opting for a diet option or diluted sugar-free cordial.
Try to de-stress
Although changing your lifestyle and losing weight can feel like the most important thing going on right now, make sure you check-in with yourself and make time to do the things you enjoy. Seeing family and friends, taking your dog for a walk or even a day on the sofa watching your favourite TV show is completely allowed. If you don’t enjoy yourself alongside your weight loss journey you will quickly lose motivation and can fall into old habits.
Keep track of what you eat
Keeping a food log or diary can be a great tool for you when trying to lose weight. It can allow you to reflect on your progress, eating habits and even better understand your connections between food and weight loss. A food diary can also help you stay on track and be accountable for your choices, this is especially important during the weight plateau phase when you may be feeling less motivated and can slip into old habits.
Are you looking to transform your health?
Discover our programmes to see how we can help you.