It’s perfectly normal to hit a weight loss plateau around the 6 month mark of your fitness journey, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Knowing you're not alone is nice, but you've got to keep burning fat if you want to hit your goal!
Let's begin with why plateaus happen in the first place. According to Dr. Alexandra Sowa,
"One of the main drivers of a plateau is that, after weight loss, your body's metabolism drops significantly."
So we have to keep that metabolism going strong. Not sure where to begin? We've got you!
WebMD reports, “As your weight goes down, you not only lose fat but also a small amount of muscle. It’s estimated that up to 25% of the body tissue lost during weight loss comes from muscle.” Maintaining fat burning muscle mass is extremely important for weight loss. When we lose muscle we’re going to see a drop in our metabolic burn. To add to the importance of that, The Mayo Clinic says, “And since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.” Building Muscle is also a good way to partially get out of doing our next tip (cutting calories), “by increasing muscle mass, you can help keep your metabolic rate up and not have to cut so many calories to get out of your plateau,” says Los Angeles-based registered dietitian, nutritionist and certified diabetes educator Vandana Sheth
So, if you’ve recently hit a weight loss plateau, for our tip #1 we recommend picking up some weights. Sounds easy enough right, if you’re new to strength training check out our article: The beginners guide to Strength training.
“For every 10 percent of your body weight you lose, you need to consume roughly 20 percent fewer calories to continue losing weight,” says Dr. Alexandra Sowa. Approaching a calorie cut when you’re already on a “diet” or are adjusting your food intake can sound really daunting. You may find yourself saying, “ I have to eat even less?” Worry not, switching up just a couple things might be all you’ll need to do to get back on track. Healthline.com recommends not skimping on protein, and instead try to cut back on your carb intake. BODY COMPLETE RX Slim ER Protein, has only around 2g of Carbohydrates and is packed full of plant-based protein, making it a filling option if you need to cut back on calories. Healthline.com reports that, “very low-carb diets have consistently been shown to reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness more than other diets. In addition, they cause your body to produce ketones, which have been shown to reduce appetite.”
Intermittent Fasting has blown up over the internet in past years, and while it might seem controversial, if you do it in conjunction with healthy eating and exercise you might see the pounds shed off (but don’t just take my word for it, please consult with your doctor beforehand if you have any concerns.) Once you get the hang of fasting, it’s pretty easy too. Starting off with a 16:8 (16 hours fasting with an 8 hour eating window) is the sweet spot for me. I’ll fast from 8p.m until noon the next day. Which means I can eat from 12p.m. until 8p.m. and it feels really normal: "[..]studies found that it led to a 3–8% weight loss and 3–7% decrease in waist circumference within 3–24 weeks.”
Monique Tello, MD, MPH Contributor for Harvard Health Publishing explains, “Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.”
Psychology Today reports in their article, “Why Does Chronic Stress Make Losing Weight More Difficult?”:
There appears to be a triple whammy in play that makes it difficult for people who are chronically stressed to lose weight. First, stress creates the desire to eat more. Second, stress triggers the release of hormones such as cortisol and betatrophin that increase abdominal fat and slow metabolism respectively. Third, fat-to-brain signaling appears to increase stress levels as part of a feedback loop that entrenches this vicious cycle.”
If you’ve been enjoying some summer craft beers or cocktails as a way to reward yourself or destress- try skipping that routine for now- especially, if you’ve hit a weight loss plateau. Very Well Mind says, “Alcohol causes higher amounts of cortisol to be released, altering the brain's chemistry and resetting what the body considers "normal." Alcohol shifts the hormonal balance and changes the way the body perceives stress and changes how it responds to stress.
Together or apart, chronic stress and alcohol consumption could very well be playing a big part in why you’re not losing weight; especially if you feel like you’ve been doing everything else right.
Just remember weight loss plateaus are normal. Don’t give up just because you're not seeing progress on the scale and don’t make any drastic changes all at once. Try one simple thing for a couple weeks, be consistent and be patient. You’ll see the results soon enough!
BCRX Content Writer, Klarrisa Arafa