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Get Past Your Weight Loss Plateau

10 Quick Fixes for Diet Slumps

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Updated July 19, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Get Past Your Weight Loss Plateau
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  1. Am I building muscle? It is typical for dieters to lose muscle when they lose weight. But your metabolism slows when you lose muscle, so you want to keep as much muscle as possible. One way to do this is by weight training. Quick fix: Make sure that at least two of your weekly workouts include strength training. This doesn’t mean that you have to become a body builder, but simple bodyweight exercises like push-ups and lunges will help you maintain a healthy body composition.

  2. Am I eating enough protein? Protein has been shown to mitigate some of the metabolic adjustments that happen when you lose weight. Researchers believe this is because protein helps us to maintain the muscle we have and build new muscle. Quick fix: Evaluate the nutrient balance of your current diet. Make sure that you are getting enough protein to adequately build the muscle you need to maintain a healthy metabolism.

  3. Should you re-evaluate your goal? It is frustrating when you hit a weight loss plateau, but it might be a good time to re-adjust your goal. Maybe your current weight is healthy. How do you like your current body size? Could you stay where you are and be happy in the maintenance phase? Quick fix: If you decide that you still want to lose more weight, set new short-term goals to keep yourself invested in the program. Evaluate your successes and ask yourself how you can raise the bar to include new achievements.

  4. Am I still motivated? Are you still as motivated as you were on day one? Probably not. Every dieter goes through a honeymoon phase and the phase that follows usually includes the plateau. This is when reality sets in and we get lazy about making healthy choices throughout the day. Your new short-term goal may help to get you reinvested in your plan, but you can also use new motivational techniques. Quick fix: take the time to acknowledge and be proud of your progress so far. A plateau is really a badge of honor, so give yourself some credit! Then, don’t hesitate to set up new rewards for yourself to keep your plan on track.

  5. Are there medical factors at play? Plateaus are normal and almost every successful dieter hits one. But if you have gone through this list and none of it applies to you, it may be time to check in with your doctor. There may be a medical cause for the lack of weight loss. Quick fix: After you’ve tried all of these quick fixes, make an appointment to talk to your doctor. New diet medications are on the market that may work for certain people and weight loss surgery may be an option for you as well.
 

Sources:

Phillips SM, Zemel MB. " Effect of protein, dairy components and energy balance in optimizing body composition." PubMed.gov 2011;69:97-108.

George A. Bray, MD; Steven R. Smith, MD; Lilian de Jonge, PhD; Hui Xie, PhD; Jennifer Rood, PhD; Corby K. Martin, PhD; Marlene Most, PhD; Courtney Brock, MS, RD; Susan Mancuso, BSN, RN; Leanne M. Redman, PhD. " Effect of Dietary Protein Content on Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition During Overeating." Journal of the American Medical Association 2012;307(1):47-55.

Russell J de Souza, George A Bray,Vincent J Carey, Kevin D Hall, Meryl S LeBoff, Catherine M Loria, Nancy M Laranjo, Frank M Sacks, Steven R Smith " Effects of 4 weight-loss diets differing in fat, protein, and carbohydrate on fat mass, lean mass, visceral adipose tissue, and hepatic fat: results from the POUNDS LOST trial." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition January 18, 2012.

James A Levine, Sara J Schleusner and Michael D Jensen. " Energy expenditure of nonexercise activity." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 72, No. 6, 1451-1454, December 2000.

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