How to Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau
By Claire Kowalchik
You're humming along with your weight-loss plan and you've been steadily losing 1 to 2 pounds a week. The next several days pass and you notice you haven't dropped an ounce. Another week goes by and another-the number on your scale doesn't budge. Don't worry, most of us hit a plateau on the way to our weight loss goal.
What Is A Weight Loss Plateau?
Calorie restriction combined with weight loss can slow metabolism, making it more difficult to peel pounds away and lower that scale weight. As you lose weight, your lighter body requires fewer calories, which can mean a slowing of your metabolism. With this slower metabolism, your weight loss will also slow, even if you are still eating the same amount of calories that attributed to your earlier weight loss. This weight-loss plateau occurs when your calorie intake equals the calories you are burning. Being stuck at this weight-loss plateau is frustrating, but it happens to many people who are trying to lose weight.1 However, you can reignite fat-burning by simply following these weight loss plateau solutions.
1. Be a Sleuth
Let's be honest, restricting calories and resisting your favorite high-cal, high-fat meals can be a challenge. It's easy to sneak in a 200-plus-calorie cookie here or there or a glass of wine or beer and decide it's no big deal. Will you go to the gym or the blockbuster movie that's playing this afternoon?
Temptation can pull you off track and that's okay if you get back on, but if you find yourself on a slippery slope, and you continue to make little slip-ups in your eating or exercise routine, you'll stall body weight-loss. "It's difficult to get people to stay true to their weight-loss plan," says James Hill, PhD, Director for the Center for Human Nutrition and Colorado Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Colorado.
Take an honest look at what food you are eating and how much you're moving. Keep track of your food intake and all of your physical activity, and then talk to your consultant to see if you need to readjust your weight-loss program plan. It is best to stick with a low-calorie diet that also includes good sources of protein. Use your online tracking tools to make self-monitoring easy and convenient. Return to daily weigh-ins to help you notice patterns.
2. Shake It Up
If you’ve been true to your Jenny Craig program but find yourself on a plateau, you need to make a change to get things moving again. "You have to shake something up," says Hill. "Start with exercise."
If your exercise routine is focused on aerobic activity, mix in some strength training. Regular resistance workouts build calorie-burning muscle mass, which raises your metabolism even when you're at rest. If your focus is strength add some cardio—walking, running, cycling, swimming—to your week, assuming you are already moderately physically active.
Another way to up your calorie-burn is through high-intensity interval training or HIIT. In this type of workout, you'll alternate high-intensity bouts of exercise at 80 to 95 percent of your maximal heart rate with low-intensity rest intervals at 40 to 50 percent of maximum. The added intensity of HIIT workouts burns more calories, but you also will burn extra calories after the workout as your body uses energy to restore itself to normal resting state.
You can apply HIIT to virtually any type of physical activity you enjoy—walking, running, cycling, swimming, a workout on an elliptical machine, even strength training—and you can set the interval periods to your own preference.
If you're sedentary or have health conditions, check with your doctor before starting a high-intensity program. Then, start with just one HIIT workout a week, advises the ACSM. When you feel more comfortable with HIIT, you can add a second, but because these workouts are intense; separate them by a couple of days to allow full recovery between sessions.
3. Talk with Your Consultant
If a weight-loss plateau is weighing on your mind, it's important to keep coming to your weekly consultations. Your Jenny Craig consultant will help you review your day-to-day and come up with solutions to keep you consistent with your weight-loss program. Revisit your motivation. Maybe you have a new reason to be inspired...planning for a vacation, having the confidence to apply for a new job or complete a race. The two of you working together will move you off that body fat loss plateau and move you forward along your body weight loss journey. Remember, weight loss takes time and will not happen overnight. Stay positive, motivated and stick to your routine to reach your weight loss goal.