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How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau

March 11, 2020
How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau

As frustrating as weight loss plateaus are, they are nearly sure to happen. Mayo Clinic says they are common. Just as sure, though, is that there are ways to fight back so you can see the progress you deserve. That scale will start moving again, and when it does, you may feel prouder and stronger than ever before. These are some ways to approach a weight loss plateau.

You are eating vegetables, passing up ice cream, skipping pizza, and drinking tons of water. You are living and breathing weight loss, but one day, the scale stops moving. Another day passes, and a week, without losing weight. That is right: you may have hit a weight loss plateau. Mayo Clinic says changing your calorie balance can help you get over the hump. These are some ideas for doing that and for other ways to start losing weight again.

Change The Macro Strategy


Sometimes a little change in perspective can do the trick. If calories were all that you were looking at before, it may help to look at your macronutrients, or macros. The reverse can also be true. The macronutrients, or macros, are the protein, fat, and carbohydrates in your diet. Some ways to focus on macros without worrying specifically about calorie counts can be:

 

  • Going low-carb, which means reducing starchy and sugary foods in the diet, which can lead to fewer calories taken in as foods such as cookies, cakes, pasta, bread, soft drinks, and potatoes are dramatically reduced. Harvard School of Public Health has a list of high-carbohydrate foods.
  • Cutting back on unhealthy fats, which can lead to fewer calories by limiting high-calorie foods such as fried foods, fatty meats, and high-fat baked goods and snacks such as pies and potato chips.
  • Eating more lean proteins, which can lead to fewer calories by having foods such as egg whites, soy bacon, and fish, instead of fatty meats and cheese.

This approach can also provide a much-needed mental break from calorie-counting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more tips for losing weight.

Crowd Out The Weight Loss Saboteurs


It is common to think about weight loss in terms of everything you cannot have, but this approach has a few possible problems. It can be discouraging to think about what is not allowed, which can lead you to hop right off the healthy eating bandwagon. Another problem is that thinking about what you should not have can make you want it more. After all, the boy in the story probably did not want to stick beans up his nose until his mother told him not to. And, it is awfully hard to think of anything besides flying pink elephants when you are told not to think about flying pink elephants. Tell yourself that frosted brownies are off-limits, and you may find yourself craving frosted brownies.

An easier approach, at least mentally and from the point of view of not being excessively hungry, is to think about what you can have, and a lot of it. In general, it is a good idea to pile on high-fiber or high-protein choices, such as salads and other vegetables, lean proteins, fruit, and beans. By the time you plow through those, you may be full and not have much desire for fried foods, desserts, and other high-calorie foods. In effect, the healthier foods will be crowding out the weight-loss saboteurs.

Log Like You Used To


Remember when you first started the weight loss journey? Was there a time when you may have been logging every single bite and measuring portions to make sure you knew exactly what you were taking in? Are you still doing that? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest keeping a food diary or log to improve eating habits. 

As time passes, it often happens that a bite or two slips in here or there without being logged, or desserts start to get tasted, or butter returns as a cooking aid. Once in awhile is fine for any indulgence, but they add up when they start to get regular, and they can get regular again, before you know it, by sneaking back a bit at a time.

Logging your meals again, if that slipped away, can help pin down some reasons why weight stopped going down. There may be a few more condiments than you realized, or those trips to the vending machine may be more frequent than they had seemed, or second helpings of vegetables had been replaced by second helpings of starchy foods. Using Lark can lead you to make important discoveries and allow you to compare then and now.

Consider Health Before Calories


Do you ever get sick of thinking about calories and weight loss? Sometimes, it can help to keep the focus on food, but instead keeping an eye on calories, shifting your attention to nutrition and health. This can provide a nice mental break, which can help keep you motivated despite the scale‚Äôs stubborn resistance to moving. 

Some approaches might be:

  • Eating at least two different vegetables each at lunch and dinner.
  • Choosing only plant-based proteins or fish at least 4 days a week.
  • Baking or roasting instead of frying foods.

These changes can lead to weight loss though you may not be specifically intending them to. Highly nutritious foods tend to be lower in calories and more filling than lower-nutrient ones, and to lead to fewer cravings for high-calorie, high-sugar foods.

Cheat Often


Take a break now, and plan to take another break soon. A planned cheat day can sometimes shock your body into breaking through the plateau and going back to weight loss mode. It can also give you a mental break from being so careful with what you eat. Finally, a cheat meal gives you the chance to eat some of the high-calorie treats that may have been scarce recently. 

For many people, a weekly cheat meal can be the ticket to long-term success with weight loss and healthy eating. It can be a meal you prepare at home, or you can plan your cheat meal to coincide with a party or a restaurant meal so you can let loose at those occasions.

Weight loss plateaus are frustrating, but they are part of the game. You can take charge by being patient and persistent, and trying a few new strategies. Lark DPP can help you figure it out as you keep working towards those weight loss and health goals.

Written by Natalie Stein on March 11, 2020
Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health
Weighing Yourself for the First Time in a While
Weighing Yourself for the First Time in a While