How to bust through those
weight-loss plateaus

Seeing those numbers on the scales tick down is a fantastic feeling. That hard work you’re putting in to eat better, exercise more or stick to a strict diet plan is starting to pay off and you can finally see yourself getting towards your goal weight.

And then it stops. The numbers stop going down. What’s been working perfectly so far no longer seems to be shifting the pounds and you hit that annoying point virtually everyone comes up against when dieting - the weight loss plateau.

It can be incredibly frustrating and demoralising when you’re no longer losing weight, even if you’re doing exactly the same as you were before. But try not to worry - weight loss plateaus are perfectly natural and can even be a healthy feature of healthy weight loss.

What causes weight loss plateaus?

It’s important to understand a bit more about why weight loss plateaus happen in order to overcome them. There is no single definitive reason why weight loss plateaus occur, but there are a few widely-held beliefs.

One reason for your weight loss slowing down is that we lose muscle as well as fat when we diet. Muscle is needed to fuel your metabolism, which is the rate at which you burn calories. If you have less muscle, then your metabolism will slow down and you will burn calories at a slower rate.

Related to the amount of muscle we lose is that when we first start to eat less or exercise more, our bodies look for alternative sources of energy. They find this in a carbohydrate called glycogen which is partly water, so a portion of what you’re actually losing is water and not fat.

Another theory to explain weight loss plateaus is called ‘set point theory’. This suggests that your body has a ‘natural’ weight it tries to find and once you hit that weight, it struggles to go much further down because that’s where it’s most comfortable. However, there’s no hard proof that this is the case.

One of the most common reasons for weight loss plateaus is a simple one - sometimes we get a bit complacent and loosen the reins a little as we start to lose weight and we have a few extra treats, or we don’t do quite as much exercise.

How to overcome weight loss plateaus

Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way to break through those weight loss plateaus, but here are some tips…

Assess your habits

It’s worth just taking a step back and assessing your weight loss habits to make sure no bad habits have crept back in. Are you still eating healthily and doing exercise (if your diet plan recommends doing so)? Are you drinking enough and getting enough sleep?

It could well be that if your weight loss has been going well so far, that you’ve taken your foot off the gas a bit, or that other aspects of your life could do with working on.

Cut more calories

Perhaps the most obvious thing you need to do to break through a weight loss plateau is reduce the amount of calories you’re putting in your body each day. This will mean that your body isn’t having to work quite as hard to put your body in a calorie deficit by the end of the day.

Obviously you still need to consume a minimum amount of calories per day to stay healthy - women need at least 600 calories and men need at least 800 calories per day, so make sure you don’t drop below that amount even if you are struggling with weight loss plateaus.

On Shake That Weight diet plans, you’ll be given a set amount of calories to consume each day so that you know exactly how much you need to eat to lose weight healthily.

Exercise more

The other side of the weight loss coin is exercise. To get into that weight loss deficit, upping the amount of calories you’re burning through exercise can help.

Similarly to reducing your calories, it’s important that you only up your exercise if it’s safe to do so according to the diet plan you’re following. On Shake That Weight plans, light to moderate exercise is allowed, but nothing too heavy is recommended. Perhaps you could try walking a little more often or going a bit further to burn a few extra calories without exerting yourself too much.

Stay strong

Probably the most important thing you can do if you’re stuck on a weight loss plateau is to stay strong and keep going. It can be very easy to get despondent if you’re not seeing the scales tick downwards as fast as you’d like, but if you keep going, perhaps making a couple of tweaks here and there to your habits, then you should start to see the pounds dropping off again.

Be proud of how much weight you’ve lost up to this point and remember what your overall weight loss goals are.