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Breaking Through a Weight Loss Plateau


Has the scale suddenly stopped moving downward despite your best efforts towards your weight loss goal? Seeing the same number on the scale week after week is frustrating and disheartening, but also fairly common. In today’s  blog I will cover five things to consider if you have plateaued in your weight loss journey. 


First things first, it is important to remember weight loss is a  journey with ups and downs. Losing weight is not always going to follow a downward linear progression. There will be days your weight goes up and days it goes down, as long as the long term trajectory is on the correct path, success can be obtained. With that being said, here are five things to consider if your journey has hit a roadblock.

  1. Review your goals and where you currently are.

Your short term goal may need to be adjusted for the betterment of your long term weight-loss goal. If you have recently dropped some pounds and are now stuck,  it may be time to focus on something else in the short term. Focusing on things like strength and muscle gain may be just what you need. Building strength and muscle boosts your metabolic rate.  Countless scientific studies have shown muscle gain is an effective fat burner. 

The scale not moving may also be a sign that you have been packing on muscle. Not only is muscle an effective fat burner, it is also more dense than fat, which will in turn make you look smaller and tighter. Checking your body fat and skeletal muscle percentage on an In Body machine will give you a more complete picture of your fitness. 

  1. Check your stress.

Stress is a common cause of overeating, but stress itself can also make you gain weight. Cortisol is a stress hormone released by your adrenal glands in stressful situations. Cortisol suppresses bodily functions such as your digestive system and muscle growth processes. A scientific study conducted by Stanford Medicine in 2018 shows a link between chronic stress and increased number of fat cells/weight gain. It may be time to take time to work on balancing yourself out and distress rather than pushing harder or creating more stress by worrying about the scale.

  1. Track all the calories you consume 

Tracking everything you consume may surprise you. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed people underestimate the amount of calories they are consuming by an average of about 47 percent. Do not forgot to calculate snacks and beverages in. Fitness apps such as My Fitness Pal and MyPlate make tracking fairly easy. If your weight loss is stalled and you are consuming well over 1200 calories a day try cutting down 300-500 calories a day for a week or two then recheck your weight. It is important not to cut your calories to extreme lows when trying to lose weight as this can damage your metabolism. If you are already under 1200 do not cut any more out.

  1. Avoid alcohol 

If you have looked into nutrition at all I am sure you have read or been told that alcohol contains many calories that provide no nutritional value and alcohol consumption lowers inhibition which tends to lead to poor nutritional choices. Those points are true and should be taken into account. However, let’s say you track your calories and left room for a few drinks and promise yourself you won’t eat anything with it.  Then that is okay right? 

No. Here’s why: 

Alcohol turns off your body’s fat burning process. There have been multiple scientific studies showing that alcohol directly prevents muscle gains, fat loss, and muscle recovery due to it inhibiting muscle protein synthesis. A study conducted in 2014 by an Australian Exercise and Nutrition Group states “We conclude that alcohol ingestion suppresses the anabolic response”.  If you are at a weight loss plateau and have been drinking, put down the hooch for a few weeks and watch the scale drop. 

  1. Increase your Non-Exercise Thermogenesis (NEAT)

NEAT is all the calories your body burns from movements you do without the intent of exercising. Moving like a snail outside the gym may be stalling your weight loss. Putting an emphasis on more frequent basic movement outside the gym such as walking or household chores can burn hundreds of extra calories a day.I previously wrote a blog on strategies to increase your Non-Exercise Thermogenesis which can be found here. 

Remember, weight loss plateaus are very common and plague even the most seasoned fitness enthusiasts. If the scale won’t budge don’t beat yourself up, go through this list, try implementing one change at a time, give it 3-4 weeks, and see how it works.

-EarthFIT Coach Sam

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