A weight loss plateau happens when you begin losing weight, and then the weight loss inexplicably stops for no apparent reason. If you had begun eating more or exercising less, you could understand why your weight loss had stopped. Without understanding, experiencing a weight loss plateau is frustrating, and can undermine your motivation for losing weight. So let’s look at why we stop losing weight.
Here are four typical reasons why you may experience a weight loss plateau.
1 – Physical Adaptation
Your body adjusts to your current activities, including your exercise routine. When we repeat the same motions on an ongoing basis, our body becomes more efficient at performing them, and we burn fewer calories. In any exercise activity, you’ll notice that it becomes easier with repetition over days or weeks.
For example, if you try to do 10 push-ups today, you may struggle to complete even 10. But if you continue to attempt 10 push-ups daily, every day, within a short time you will be completing those with ease and doing 10 push-ups will require trivial effort. What used to cause you to struggle and break a sweat is now easy. Physical adaptation has taken place, muscles have built, and even psychologically, your expectation of success has changed.
This is why it’s important to change up the physical activities you are involved in. Doing the same routine every day, or even three times a week, is not as effective as changing it frequently. This is one of the reasons behind the popularity of CrossFit gyms: their exercise routine changes daily.
2 – Changing Caloric Requirements
When you initially begin weight loss program, you choose to eat healthier foods and usually to eat less. Typically, to lose weight quickly, a person may reduce their caloric intake by 500 to 1000 cal per day. Once you have lost some significant weight, your body needs fewer calories to function. In other words, what was initially a calorie reduction might now be fairly close to your new body’s actual needs. If you want to lose additional weight, you may need to again reduce the calories you eat, since your body now needs less.
3 – Stress Response
Physical and emotional stress can cause hormonal changes that trigger fluid retention and make it more difficult to lose weight. Physical stress can cause an increase in estrogen and a decrease in progesterone and testosterone. Over-stimulation of the adrenal glands can be caused by physical or emotional stress.
Some common causes to watch out for include:
- Too much exercise
- Inadequate recovery from exercise
- Lack of sleep
- Emotional tension
4 – Diet Quality (Or Quantity)
Sometimes, your diet may have imperceptibly slipped into being less healthy than you had initially planned. Or maybe, as you experience some success in losing weight, a few “treats” have snuck in. As I mentioned in the previous article, you cannot overcome a bad diet, even with exercise and an otherwise healthy lifestyle.
Perhaps your diet’s not bad, but has just slipped a little. The only way to tell for sure is to keep a food diary. If you keep one accurately for at least a couple of weeks, you’ll be clear on whether food is part of the issue that is keeping you from losing weight.
Four Ways to Beat Weight Loss Plateaus
- Mix up your exercise workouts. Try something new, frequently!
- Keep your calorie reduction in line with your weight loss.
- Reduce your stress. Maybe try meditation – it’s proven to reduce belly fat.
- Keep a food diary (and note your exercise/activity too).
Working With A Weight Loss Doctor
One of the advantages of working with a doctor who specializes in medical weight loss is that these types of issues are discussed during your regular check-in’s. This means that your weight loss is accelerated as much is possible, and you will hit no unnecessary weight loss plateaus.