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How to break a weight loss plateau

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10 Tips on how to break a weight loss plateau

You’ve been working hard, eating well, and you’ve started exercising regularly. At first, these healthy habits resulted in steady weight loss. Then, suddenly, the weight loss stopped. Now the number on the scale has stayed the same for several weeks and you don’t know what to do.

Don’t worry—hitting a weight loss program plateau is normal. 

Most people who are learning how to start a weight loss journey are experiencing the same thing you’re going through right now. The good news is that it’s possible to break through this tough spot and start losing weight again. Keep reading to learn more about:

  • Weight loss plateaus

  • Why they happen

  • How to break through the plateau and continue on your journey

What is a weight loss plateau?

Before we discuss how to break a weight loss plateau, you need to understand what it is and why it happens. The more you know about your body and how it functions, the better equipped you’ll be to overcome weight loss challenges and maintain a healthy weight in the future.

A weight loss plateau occurs when your weight loss suddenly loses momentum and stops. 

Part of the reason for this is that for the first few weeks of weight loss, your body is losing a lot of fluids, along with fat. The extra water weight you lose during this time will make it seem like you are losing weight more rapidly initially. 

As you continue to work toward your weight loss goal, you’ll likely try to keep doing what has been working for you so far. But, instead of continuing its downward trend, your weight stays the same and you aren’t seeing fat burning results. 

This can last for days, weeks, or even longer. As frustrating as it is, it’s also normal. 

Nearly all dieters experience a plateau during their weight loss journey. 

Why do weight loss plateaus happen?

So why does this happen if you’re doing the same things that have been producing results? One reason is just that—you’re doing the same thing without accounting for changes in your body. 

As you lose weight, your body needs fewer calories to maintain a certain weight. If you don’t increase the amount of activity you’re doing, there’s nowhere else for those unused calories to go.

To further complicate matters, traditionally weight loss was thought to be a simple formula of calories in vs. calories expended as energy. However, we now know that many other factors contribute to how our bodies process the food we eat into energy and store the excess as fat. Beyond exercise and diet, there’s sleep, social, and stress factors to account for.

A basic calorie intake restriction diet can work for a little while but you’ll eventually stop seeing results. Other reasons why weight loss progress stalls may include:

  • Loss of muscle 

  • Stress

  • Thyroid or adrenal gland problems

  • Medications

  • Sneaky calories

  • Exercise rut

Ways to break a weight loss plateau

Now that you know the complexities that go into weight loss, let’s explore some ways to jumpstart your progress and break through that plateau.

Tip #1: Eat more water-rich foods

Dehydration is a much more common condition than most people expect. In fact, some studies estimate that 17% to 28% of older adults are dehydrated consistently.

Dehydration can lead to many health problems, including a lack of energy, focus, and feeling of fullness when we eat. What are the best foods for weight loss? Filling up on water-rich food can help boost your energy and make you feel more full. This can help prevent overconsumption and may restart your weight loss. Some water-rich choices include:

  • Vegetable soup

  • Salads with crunchy veggies and a light dressing

  • Fresh fruits

  • Crudites

Tip #2: Eat more protein

Increasing your lean protein intake can help keep you feeling full longer by suppressing the body’s production of ghrelin, the hormone that triggers your appetite. Protein-rich foods can help keep your appetite in check and prevent you from consuming excess calories by snacking between meals.

Tip #3: Fill up on fiber

Like protein, diets rich in fiber promote weight loss by helping you feel full longer. Fiber also helps keep your digestive system running smoothly.

Tip #4: Don’t drink your calories

Sneaky calories can creep into even the best weight loss plan in drinks that we think are healthy, such as fruit juices, vegetable juices, specialty coffee drinks, and smoothies. Instead of choosing drinks laden with calories, stick to calorie-free options such as herbal tea and water. This will keep you hydrated without sabotaging your weight loss.

Tip #5: Choose healthy snacks and desserts

Denying yourself snacks or occasional treats may have the reverse effect—causing you to over consume them when they’re offered. If you’ve been finding yourself hungry more often, it might be time to incorporate healthy snacks into your routine. This will keep you from getting too hungry and overfilling your plate later. 

Snacks can also prevent the drop in blood sugar that makes us want to reach for the first thing we see at mealtimes. 

Some good choices include:

  • Fresh fruits

  • Fresh vegetables

  • Non-fat Greek Yogurt

  • Whole-grain crackers and hummus

  • Air-popped popcorn 

Tip #6: Switch up your workout routine

If you’ve been exercising the same way throughout your weight loss journey, odds are your body has adapted and it’s time to shake things up. Challenging your body with new workouts forces it to work harder, boosting your metabolism and burning more calories. There are countless ways to keep your workouts anything but routine, including: 

  • Lift weights – When you lose body weight, unfortunately, you don’t just experience fat loss. You also lose muscle mass. Experts claim that up to 25 percent of the body tissue you lose during weight loss is muscle. Muscle is necessary to keep your metabolism humming along. If you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down, thus also slowing down your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) – this sometimes results in a fat loss plateau. Lifting weights and general weight training rebuilds muscle and boosts your metabolism.

  • Jump around – Plyometric workouts that involve jumping and explosive movements challenge your muscles and your cardiovascular system. They also burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time.

  • Hit the pool – Swimming is another calorie-blasting full-body workout that is very likely to put you in a calorie deficit. It’s also low impact for those who have joint problems. 

  • Split it up – Instead of doing one workout in the morning, try dividing it into two. Working out gives your metabolism a boost and keeps it elevated even after you finish. Thus, working out twice will burn more calories than working out once, even if the total time you spend exercising is the same.

  • Try something new – When we do the same thing over and over again, we get bored and stop challenging ourselves. This is true for physical activity too. Trying different types of exercise will continually challenge your body to adapt.

Tip #7: Track your food and workouts in a journal 

We often eat more than we think we do. Writing down what you eat in a journal can help you keep track of where you might be getting more calories than you need. Furthermore, an important step in overall health is mindfulness. A food and exercise journal can boost your awareness of not only what you eat and how you exercise but also how those things make you feel.

Tip #8: Be mindful of your hunger cues

Speaking of mindfulness—journaling about your food intake can help you understand when you tend to feel hungry throughout the day. If you’re always starving at 11:00 A.M. and then overeat at lunch, maybe you need to add more protein to your breakfast or incorporate a mid-morning snack.

Tip #9: Manage stress in a healthy manner

Another important factor in weight loss is stress management. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone. This causes cravings for high-fat and sugary foods. It can also cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate. All of this makes it difficult to function, let alone concentrate on your health. 

Some excellent de-stressing choices include:

  • Yoga 

  • Meditation

  • Exercising

  • Deep breathing

  • Journaling

Even just a few extra minutes per day of these activities can help you refocus on your weight loss journey and can get you back on track.

Tip #10: Get good quality sleep

If you aren’t sleeping enough, your diet, exercise, and stress levels will all suffer. High-quality sleep is necessary for overall health and body fat loss. In fact, a study showed that just two weeks of poor sleep slowed weight loss by up to 55 percent, even when the participant’s caloric intake stayed the same.

Overcoming weight loss plateaus with Found

Sleep, stress, mindfulness, exercise, and a healthy diet—they’re all components of a successful weight loss journey. If you’re wondering how long does it take to notice weight loss, understand that, sometimes, no matter how hard you work to make healthy changes and to form healthy habits, your body doesn’t respond the way you’d like. If you’ve tried everything to get back on track and you feel like you’re stuck at a never-ending red light, Found might be able to help. 

Our prescription weight loss program can help balance your body and get you back on the path to weight loss success. We also provide you with the support you need to keep you accountable through our health coaches and online community.

Take our quiz today to see if Found is right for you.

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