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Dealing with Weight Loss Plateaus

The weight loss plateau is one of the toughest challenges facing those on a weight loss journey.  It is so disheartening to feel like you have been doing everything right – eating healthy, staying fit and avoiding temptation – and yet the scale has stopped moving. What is going on here??

As Allan Borushek explains, “A plateau is nature’s way of making sure that we don’t waste away too rapidly during times of famine. By slowing down the body’s metabolism we are given a chance to survive until food becomes available.

At one point in our history, being able to store fat during times of famine gave us a survival advantage when food was scarce.  The problem is, now that was have access to food all the time, it becomes a decided disadvantage when we try to diet.”

So what can we do to get over the hump and hit your goal?  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Are you still logging?Are you still logging at your plateau?

Stop and think for a second. Have you been logging your food or are you relying on your memory?  You may be suffering from “calorie amnesia” and not recording everything you take in.  Make sure you are still accountable.  If you are logging, have you changed anything recently? Make sure you read food labels and check serving sizes.

Break up your exercise routine:

Have you forgotten that you’ve become more fit? It could be your body is getting used to your exercise challenges. Evaluate your routine and consider changing your cardio plan or try shifting to a new fitness class. Or, consult a fitness trainer to see if there is a new routine that suits your new level of fitness and weight given you are more fit and lighter than you were at the start. You might just need to amp it up or add weight training.

Look at your calorie intake:

While still maintaining a healthy diet and caloric intake, try adding in a few calories one day and shaving off a few on other days. This might be the shake up your metabolism needs.  But make sure it’s healthy! Add extra fiber such as fruits and vegetables and not processed carbs, higher fat or calorie items. Make sure you are getting enough protein that will give you strength and make you feel fuller longer.

Check your salt/sodium intake:

Be aware that suddenly eating salty foods can lead to weight gains from fluid retention or even from imbibing soda or other calorie laden drinks to quench your thirst brought on by salty foods. Check Check for hidden labels for high sodium content. Also understand that low calorie foods and products can sometimes be high in salt/sodium to add in flavor.  And of course, be prudent with the salt shaker!

Drink adequate water:

If you are retaining fluid you should not cut back on water and run the risk of dehydration and it’s associated health risks. Proper hydration is necessary for your body to keep burning those calories off and shedding the toxins from your body. Don’t forget, water helps you feel full and can prevent you from snacking or focusing on food.

Make sure you get enough sleep:

Studies show those who get a good night sleep are more likely to maintain weight loss. Your body needs time to recover and reset it’s clock. There are a few factors in play here – some reports suggest lack of sleep affects your production of key hormones that affect the way your body stores weight. Plus, if you are staying up late you open yourself up to snacking and then throwing your routine off the next day.  So rest up!

Renew your motivation:

When your body feels like it’s in a rut your mind follows. You feel frustrated and could look for ways to give up.  In a word, don’t! Reach out to a weight loss buddy for support – whether it is simply emotional or to work out with you. Consider identifying a reward for yourself as you keep going; if you go another week how about a facial or going out to a movie. Anything that makes you feel like you are treating yourself.

Remember, weight loss is a journey and takes time.  Give yourself and your body a break by remembering the big changes you are making by getting healthier and shedding weight.  Your plateau won’t last forever as your body adjusts to each new step along the way.

Take some time and reassess where you are do I feel fitter? Do my clothes fit better? It may be that you are in a better place than you think and you will find your way to move forward.

7 Responses to Dealing with Weight Loss Plateaus

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i love the pocket size carb counting/calorie count book i take it with me everywhere to family, friends to restaraunts, when ording take out.
this little book has kept me on track. i know i can still go to places like pizza hut and burger king and mcdonalds and now blow all my hard hard work. thank you calorie king. im up to get my new book soon. i like that its updated every year because these restaraunt change their menus so often and the foods.

This is great advice!!! Thanks!!!!

Do you have an app on the iphone that allows one to track, log calories, etc. look up foods like you have for the pc or mac?

Glad you like the book! We appreciate your support! Cheers!

Hi Pam –

We are working on one as we speak! Be sure to check the homepage of the site as we’ll announce when it’s ready there.


I can totally related to this post because I am also constantly finding ways to break my weight loss plateaus. Anyways, I would like to add some of these fitness philosophies:
> I limit my fastfood eating.
> I lessen my softdrinks/soda intake.
> I moderate my alcohol drinking. (I say moderate, not totally stop. It’s not good to deprive one’s self, don’t you think?)
> I make sure I have a healthy dose of fiber in my diet to get rid of bodily toxins regularly.
> I consciously make an effort to exercise.
If it worked for me, I hope it will also help many people in their road to healthy living! Cheers! :)