8 Ways to Bust a Weight Loss Plateau
losing weight at a nice clip when all of a sudden the scale
stops moving. And it seems like there's nothing in the world
you can do about it. Weeks go by and the needle hasn't
budged. You've hit the moment every dieter dreads: a
When you're on a weight loss journey,
the question isn't whether or not you'll hit a plateau, it's
when. Plateaus are like bad weather on a long hike: it's
inevitable that you'll run into it, but knowing that in
advance doesn't make it one bit less frustrating or annoying
when it happens. However, cheer up. Because plateaus are as
common as rain, we have a pretty good idea what to do about
them. There's an excellent chance that at least one of the
following techniques will help you break through.
1. Be a calorie detective.
When someone tells me she's stopped
losing weight, the first thing I ask is this: how many
calories a day are you eating? While calories are not the
whole story- far from it- they are still an important
component of weight loss, and they have a way of creeping up
while weíre not paying attention. Be brutally honest with
yourself- what are you eating and how much? Using a food
diary for a while is a great way to monitor this. And yes,
sodas and alcoholic beverages count! Good rule of thumb: for
weight loss, aim for calories close to your target weight [in
pounds] times 10. [or, if your weigh by kilograms,
times your goal weight in kilos by 22 for average daily
calories - WLH Editors].
2. Change it up.
The classic advice when you're not
making gains in an exercise program is to change your
routine. Same holds true here. Low carbers might try a
higher carb diet for a few days, high carbers might switch
to Atkins or South Beach. At the very least, vary your ratio
of protein to fat to carbs. Even varying calorie intake may
have a positive effect: if you're average intake is 1500
calories try dropping to 1200 for a day, going up to 2000
and then dropping back to 1500. You get the idea- your
bodyís gotten comfortable. Itís time to shake things up.
3. Exercise a temporary ban.
Food sensitivities can cause us to
hold on to weight and bloat, and the frustrating thing is
that most of us don't always know which foods cause us to do
this. So play the odds: highest on the list of "usual
suspects" are grains (wheat in particular), dairy and sugar.
Put a temporary ban on all three and see what happens.
4. Kick it up a notch. Or three.
There's been a lot of rumble in the
exercise community over the best way to work out for fat
loss and the consensus is moving towards high intensity
intervals. Forget the "fat burning zone" and go for broke.
High intensity intervals- 30 to 60 seconds- are the wave of
the future. If you're used to going at level three, ramp it
up to level 6 for a minute then slow back down, catch your
breath and do it again. Ever see a sprinter with love
handles? Training like a sprinter will lower your body fat
faster than any technique I know of, plus itíll boost your
metabolism and lower your weight. Bye bye plateau.
5. Revisit strength training.
If you're not strength training,
start now. And if you are, ramp it up a notch. Muscle is
your greatest ally in breaking a plateau. Unfortunately many
women train with weights too light to produce the metabolic
boost we're looking for. Don't be afraid of heavier weights-
you should reach the point where you can't do another rep
sometime between reps 8-12.
6. Up your protein.
Study after study shows that a higher
ratio of protein to carbs makes losing body fat easier.
Protein boosts the metabolism (in one study as much as 100
percent for 24 hours), and it also increases satiety, making
it more likely that you won't overeat. A higher protein diet
could be just what you need to break that plateau.
7. Try a gentle detox.
While fasting for weight loss
unsupervised is a really bad idea, the idea of giving your
system a rest makes sense. One way to do it is with a "smart
fast" of nothing but fruits and vegetables for a couple of
days. The added fibre is always helpful, and the massive
amount of nutrients and phytochemicals is like "spring
cleaning" for your metabolism.
8. Do a personal inventory.
Believe it or not, other things
besides diet and exercise could be stalling your weight
loss. Stress, for example. Or lack of sleep. Or medications.
Take a look and see what else is going on in your life that
might need attention. Sometimes when you clean up the
problems in one area of your life, problems in other areas
just naturally take care of themselves.
Bowden, PhD, CNS is the author of
"the Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth as well as
two other best selling books. A board certified nutritionist
with a Masters degree in psychology, he is a featured health
writer on America Online and was the Weight Loss Coach for
iVillage.com for ten years. A popular and dynamic speaker,
he has been contributed material to over 50 national
publications and appeared on CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN
and MSNBC as a nutrition, weight loss and health expert. Dr.
Bowden is Self-Growth's Official Guide for Nutrition. For
more info, free newsletter and free audio courses, please
visit him at