You’ve been following your diet completely and kicking butt in the gym, but the pounds have stopped coming off. What’s happening? You’ve hit the dreaded weight loss plateau. It happens to everyone, so you are not alone. It may be possible you’ve hit a plateau because you have hit your ideal weight and your body wants to start maintaining. This isn’t the case for everyone, but it is important to reevaluate your goals when you hit a plateau. If you’ve decided you still need to lose weight, it’s time to put in some more hard work. The good news is, sometimes the smallest changes can help you start dropping pounds again. Keep reading for my Top 5 Tips on how to tweak your program to restart losing weight.
Do more strength training
If you are used to doing cardio all the time, it’s time to switch it up. Cardio can feel very rewarding. You burn so many calories and finish all sweaty feeling as though you just conquered the world. Many people have the misconception that cardio is the only way to lose weight, when in fact strength training can actually help you shed more fat! Cardio helps you burn body fat (which is great), but will also burn off some of your lean muscle (which kind of sucks). Strength training builds lean muscle and burns fat! And when your body has more muscle, your metabolism is higher and it becomes easier for you to burn body fat. With strength training, it may take longer to see pounds drop off the scale, but your rate of fat loss will be greater.
Measure your food
Keeping a food journal is one of the best ways to keep your diet in check. Tons of studies show that people who keep a food journal drop more weight faster than those who don’t. However, when you hit a plateau it may be time to think about how you can be more exact about what you eat each day. It may be time to start measuring out your food. You don’t have to do this everyday for the rest of your life, but it is a good idea, for a week or two, to measure everything you eat. Eventually you will be able to eyeball the proper portion size. Use these couple weeks as a refresher on what your portions should actually look like. You’ll be surprised how off some of your guesses have actually been. This fix may be just what you need to get back on track.
Take a diet break
If you have been feeling really hungry on your diet recently, it may be time to eat more. Diet breaks allow you to eat more for a certain amount of time with the goal of energizing your body and confusing it so it doesn’t get used to the lower calorie diet. During a diet break, for anywhere between 5-15 days, you will eat at or slightly above maintenance calories. To find maintenance calories multiply your weight by 14 and 16, and eat anywhere in between those numbers. Now, eating more does not mean you should eat whatever you want whenever you want. Still make healthy choices that will help fuel your body. Eat for your goals.
Eat more protein
Step one of most “healthy eating” programs is to eat more vegetables. I personally tell all of my clients that vegetables should be present in every meal. It’s the first easy fix of a flawed diet. However, if you have solely been focusing on veggies veggies veggies, your diet may be in need of more protein. Start having protein with every meal and every snack. Protein helps fuel your muscles and will give you energy. It also takes more effort (from your body) to digest protein, so through that process you burn more calories. Get your protein from eggs, nuts, legumes, meat, fish, and more. If you are used to eating vegetables or fruit for a snack, pair those healthy choices with hummus, nuts or nut butter.
Switch up your workouts
If you are used to working out a few times a week for an hour, maybe you should try doing shorter, more intense workouts everyday. If you are used to doing high intensity interval training (HIIT), try doing longer steady state sessions. Our bodies adapt quickly to exercise, and eventually the workout that used to feel impossible will feel easy. So you need to constantly confuse your body by trying new exercises, working out at different intensities, lifting heavier weights, lifting lighter weights, working out for a longer period of time, and HIITing it hard for a shorter workout.