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7 Ways to Beat Your Stalled Weight Loss Engine

Updated on October 27, 2016

If there is one myth that puts fear into people who are trying to lose weight, it’s the fear of the plateau. The myth is that if you continue to be on the same diet with the same calorie reduction amount, there will be a point when the weight loss slows down or stops completely. This is even when you still have body fat to lose. The myth states that the body gets accustomed to getting fewer calories, and starts to function on less, which makes it harder to lose weight. The truth is the plateau phenomenon doesn’t exist. The body gets accustomed to the calorie reduction by reducing the amount of weight it has to carry around. Or to be politically correct, it has to burn fat for the energy your particular weight is using (but is not getting through consumption) until the energy you’re consuming and burning reaches equilibrium. There are medical cases where people burn a lot less than they should, but that is not as common as you’d think. Even with those affected people (with the help of a doctor), they can set the right conditions to still lose. For everyone else, here are 7 reasons why you think you’ve hit a plateau when you really haven’t, and how to get your weight loss on the right path again.

1. You are experiencing a shift in water weight.

Water makes up 70% of the body and it can shift drastically from day to day, week to week. For a woman, that shift can even vary much more. A lot of times when someone believes that they’ve hit a plateau and aren’t losing any more weight, if they persist on and give it a week or two all of the sudden the scale will show a significant drop when the water levels balance out. The key in this situation is to stay calm and carry on.

2. You are not calculating calories correctly.

Sometimes it’s easy to be a little off when counting calories, especially if you are not weighing items or do not have the correct nutritional information. Having a food scale is very important when trying to lose weight through calorie reduction. If everything you’re counting is a little off, you can easily go from a 1600-calorie diet to 1800 or more without even realizing it. The key in this situation is to weigh everything, and know the correct caloric information.

3. You are expecting the weight to come off as it did the first few weeks.

The first couple of weeks on a low calorie diet will have great results. A lot of the times what happens is that you first weigh yourself when your water levels are high (because of the high sodium diet you may have been eating), and then your new diet helps release that extra water and a few pounds from the calorie reduction. This gives you a false sense that this should happen every week and that you should be losing 3-4 pounds a week, instead of the .5 to 2 pounds that is realistic. So when you only lose .5 on the fourth week (because you’re only creating a 250 calorie deficit), you’re thinking something must be wrong and that you’re body is getting used to the diet, hence plateau. Sometimes you might even experience a weight gain when some of that water weight comes back. The key in this situation is to expect an initial large drop on the scale, and then either expect smaller weekly drops or don’t weigh yourself that often. I recommend once a month.

Do you believe you can still have a weight loss plateau even when all the conditions to lose weight are set?

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4. Your scale is broken.

This may seem like a funny excuse, but if you’ve owned the same scale for a long period of time if could be off alignment. Unless your scale is designed to be precise and accurate like a balance scale you would find in a physician’s office, most typical bathroom scales can be a little or way off. If it has been used a lot, or you have owned it for years you might want to consider getting a new one. Another thing you can do to tell if your scale is off is right before you go into to the doctor’s office to get weighed, weigh yourself on your scale with the same clothes you will be wearing and see if the number match up. The key in this situation is to make sure your scale is not the problem, if it is get a new one.

5. You are weighing yourself at different times.

When you’re trying to get an accurate recording on how much you are actually losing, the best thing you should do is to weigh yourself at the same time and same day every week or month. This is the best way to combat water fluctuations and keep yourself sane. A person’s weight can fluctuate up to five pounds on any given day, so when trying to get an accurate reading on how much you’ve lost (especially on a week to week basis) make sure you’re weighing yourself on the same days and times. Preferably, it’s best to weigh yourself in the morning before you’ve eaten or had a drink, and with no clothes on. The key in this situation is to be consistent.

6. You are having too many cheat days.

Sometimes if the weight doesn’t seem to be coming off, it’s not that you’ve reached a plateau, but because you haven’t really been following your diet correctly. And while almost nobody is completely perfect with any weight loss diet, it’s important to follow it enough so you are creating that deficit to lose weight. Even one bad day during the week can mess with your results at the end of it. Let’s say you’ve created a calorie deficit of 250, and you’ve followed it perfectly Monday through Friday. If you then consume an excess of 2000 calories over the weekend, then you’ve canceled any weight loss. A lot of times people think that they’ve hit a plateau when they really just haven’t been as strict with the diet as they were in the beginning. The key in this situation is to make sure you are staying on point.

7. You are burning a lot less than you think.

People burn different caloric amounts, because people are all different shapes and sizes. If you use a generalized number for what a man or a women should be burning daily, you could be off and that will affect how much or little you lose. Sometimes there is no correct science to figure out how much you are actually burning on any given day because that can fluctuate as well. The best way to combat this (instead of just believing you can’t lose weight or have hit a plateau) is through trial and error. Start at a base calorie amount for your gender, age, and weight on how much you should be burning. Then reduce the amount of calories you consume daily to the amount you would need to lose weight (250 for 0.5 pounds a week, 500 for 1 pound a week, etc.). After the first two weeks if you continue to lose at the rate that you set for yourself then you’re good to go. If you are not losing and it doesn’t seem to be any of the other reasons above, then reduce by 100 calories a day every week until you lose at the correct pace. A lot of times when people think they’ve hit a plateau it’s really because their smaller size is burning less than it did initially. So if they continue to eat the same amount of calories for weight loss they are no longer creating the same deficit. The key in this situation is to not follow a generalized guideline, but create your own.

Which of the 7 reasons do you believe is the main cause of why people think they have hit a plateau?

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Disclaimer: Before undertaking any diet or exercise plan, please consult your physician or healthcare professional. UltimateLife is not a doctor or trained health professional. Thank-you for your interest and support!

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