7 Ways to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau

It happens -- you start to lose weight in the first few weeks of a diet, then you enter a weight loss plateau and can’t lose a pound. Learn how to get back on track.
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Planning of a diet

Photo by: Sergey Galushko

Sergey Galushko

Your weight loss journey began with the pounds melting away. Then one day BOOM, you’ve entered a weight loss plateau and can’t lose another pound. The worst thing to do is give up. Instead follow our tips to help you start losing again.

What’s a Weight Loss Plateau?

During the first week or so of a new weight loss plan, you’ll often find that you're losing weight at a quick rate. This happens due to a combo of cutting calories, increasing exercise and water weight loss. Once your body becomes accustomed to the changes and settles into a new equilibrium, it needs fewer calories to accomplish the same activities. In order to get your body to continue to lose weight, you don’t want to slash calories to the max. Instead, you need to examine the nitty gritty details of your daily life and activities to see where small changes can be made. Here are 7 places to start.

#1: Measure and Weigh

I often see food records that are inaccurate. You think you ate one serving or  four ounces of meat when in reality it’s much more. Studies also reveal that most folks underestimate how much they really eat. Use a simple food scale and keep your measuring spoons and cups handy.

#2: Nibbling Counts!

If you like to grab a few fries from your kid's plate or a handful of gummy candy from your co-workers stash—those all count. Slashing those extra calories can really make a difference in your weight loss efforts.

#3: Rev Up Your Workout

You want to increase your workout in small increments—so if you’ve been walking for 30 minutes several days a week, add 10 to 15 minutes to your exercise time. You can also increase the intensity by changing a walk into a brisk walk or light jog.

#4: Keep a Log

Although food diaries take a lot of effort, this is the time where they can really come in handy. It’s also important to make sure you keep very exact records so you can really pinpoint trigger foods, times of the day where you run to the vending machine or other types of habits that you can tackle.

#5: Keep It Reasonable

I’ve seen clients become so frustrated with weight loss plateaus that they severely restrict calories and go overboard with exercise. Once you restrict calories below 1,200 calories per day, it becomes unhealthy and the body starts to think that you are in “starvation mode.” You want to lose weight in a healthy way, by creating habits and eating patterns that you can uphold over time.

#6: Keep a Positive Attitude

Many folks become depressed and discouraged when the weight loss plateau lasts longer than expected. They end up regaining the weight that took a lot of hard work to lose. It’s very important to keep your spirits up and move forward with a positive attitude.

#7: See a Registered Dietitian

If you’re becoming frustrated and are unsure of your next steps, a registered dietitian can help. They’re trained to look at a wide variety of factors including your food and lifestyle habits, medical and family history. You can find a registered dietitian near you by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

TELL US: Have you ever experienced a weight loss plateau? How did you overcome it?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian , consultant and owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition, Inc., who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

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