What is a Weight Loss Plateau?
Should this happen (after 3 weeks of no results), here’s my checklist to help guide you to find out the cause and hopefully a solution.
Rate each point, on a scale of 1 to 10, to help you figure out what the issue is.
- Cheat Night – Is there more than one a week? Is it 1 and a half or more? In my experience having more than 1 cheat night will make it extremely difficult to lose any fat. Is your cheat night a massive all out binge? For me, a cheat night is any meal with a starter and dessert with resonable amount of alcohol. It is not a cheat day, that includes several high calorie meals, 3 bottles of wine or 15 pints of beer, a bag of chips on the way home from the pub and a high calorie fry up the next morning! Try measuring your progress on the scales or measure your body fat on a Monday, Friday and Monday again. If significantly up on the 2nd Monday, chances are its your weekend binge is causing the issue.
- Portion Size – Are you eating more than your think? Have you been too generous to yourself? Even “healthy” foods can be high in calories. Track them via myfitnesspal app.
- Not Exercising Enough – You may be just balancing your food intake v’s calories burned. Increase your exercise to 5 days a week to raise your metabolism and help create a calorie deficit. Vary your routine and be sure to introduce some strength training.
- Too much alcohol – Are you having alcohol every night or several nights a week? A pint of beer (240kcals) has as many calories as a Mars bar(244kcals)…. How many calories did you consume from alcohol the past week? If you figure out how to drink lots of alcohol and lose weight, please let me know!
- Measurements – How are you measuring your progress? The scales alone may not be accurate as there are many variables to weight, with muscle, water, food, poo, clothing and time of day all having huge affects to your weight. You are heaviest in the evening, sometimes by more than a 2lbs/1kg. So if you weighed yourself on week 1 in the morning and were 12 stone 5 lbs but weighed yourself in the evening on week 2 and were 12 stone 5lbs, you might be mistaken and think you made no progress. Measure your progress with body fat %, as well as weight, strength and fitness measurements to see your real progress.
- Wrong Diet – If you are slimmer now and a diet that’s worked in the past is no longer working, you may need to change it or at first, try reducing portions/calories by 15%. You could also try a 16 hour fast once or twice a week to see if you can kickstart your metabolism.
- Sleep – Are you getting enough? Being sleep deprived will have huge implications on your metabolism, hormone balance and nutrient absorption. Find out why you’re not sleeping and spend the next week focusing on getting enough sleep. Personally I’ve found sleep apps really good but they take persistence before they work.
- Stress – Is your life overly stressful? Are you anxious or on edge a lot of the time? Similar to sleep, this can be detrimental to your metabolism and hormone balance. Can you amend your working hours? Can you chat to your boss to get some additional help or to offload some projects? You could eventually burn out or wake up 5 years from now with the same high stress but suffering even more with your health or body image as a result.
- Not eating enough – Are you starving yourself or eating very little? This may cause your metabolism to shut down or trigger your body to go into survival mode.
- Having lots of little cheats – Are they adding up over a week? Keep a food diary or be absolutely strict with your food plan/diet to see if that’s the cause.
- Repeating the same exercise for months or more. Vary your exercise routine as much as possible. Your body is incredibly smart it will only grow when challenged and as a result be forced to burn more calories.
- Main meal – Are you eating your main meal at night? Even if healthy, in my experience your evening meal should be smaller than your lunch. Compare your calories on myfitnesspal and switch to main meal at lunchtime. Give your body the nutrition and calories when it has time to burn them off.
- Iron Levels – Have you had them checked recently? Do you get fatigued quickly or are cold a lot of the time when others aren’t? Speak to your doctor, if all the above points have been ruled out.
- PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Check with your doctor, if you feel you have any of the symptoms.
- Food allergies – do you regularly feel bloated, sick, headaches or get digestion issues after eating certain types of food? Don’t include a massive meal out and feeling bloated afterwards, binging will make anyone feel ill. Get a proper blood test to determine if you have any serious allergies. Everyone has sensitivities to lots of foods, but it’s finding the one or more that are affecting you the most, that is the key.
- Thyroid – Have you had your thyroid function checked? Your doctor will be able to do this and make recommendations.
- Nutrient absorption, IBS, hormone deficiencies etc– There are other medical conditions that may be affecting your plateau, but only a Doctor can test for the symptoms and they may be difficult to prove the cause or identify a single cause. There may be a combination of several factors at play.
- Beware of internet research. Articles like mine and others on the web, are mostly based on experience and essentially anecdotal evidence. Look hard enough and you’ll find evidence to prove or disprove anything on the internet. Don’t assume just because you read something that sounds good that it is true, speak to a doctor before taking any drastic or dramatic steps.
No matter what’s causing your plateau, whether its emotional eating, portion sizes or a genuine medical condition, don’t let it deter you from eating healthily and exercising. Being thinner or fitting a certain clothes size, shouldn’t be your only goal. When fit and healhy you feel more confident, are stronger, more toned, have more energy, wake up refreshed, get an endorphin buzz and feel better about yourself, this is what’s really important 🙂
If you’d like help getting in shape, losing weight and feeling great, checkout my Body Slim course. Please share on social media if you found this article helpful and don’t forget to follow me on my Facebook page to get up to date articles like this. Thanks, Andy