When you’re trying to lose a few pounds there’s no better feeling than stepping on the scale and seeing that the number has gone down. But when that weight loss comes to a screeching halt no matter how carefully you’re eating, or how much you’re exercising, there are few things as frustrating.
You’ve hit a weight loss plateau, and it’s easy to feel discouraged.
But don’t throw in the towel. Restart your weight loss again instead, with these five plateau busting tips.
1. Pay attention to portions:
When most of us start a diet we pay close attention to portion sizes, sometimes even weighing or measuring food before we eat it. But the longer you’re on a diet the easier it is for those portion sizes to creep up on you without you even noticing it.
To kick your weight loss back into gear try refocusing on portion sizes for at least a week. When you begin to pay closer attention to how much food you’re putting on your plate again you’ll likely be surprised by how much you’re actually eating.
A good rule of thumb is to fill at least half of your plate with veggies, with protein and healthy carbs filling up to a quarter each. And for portion sizes keep in mind a serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, a serving of cheese should look like three dominoes and a serving of nuts should just about fill a shot glass.
2. Focus on fiber and protein:
If your weight loss has slowed or stopped you may have accidentally cut back too far on your fiber and protein. Any healthy low carb diet should have plenty of both.
Making sure to include some protein and fiber in every single meal could be all it takes to unstick the numbers on your scale in no time. Nuts and legumes are both good choices to cover your bases, while allowing you to stick to good resistant carbs.
3. Bust out of the exercise rut:
If you’re sticking to the same workout you’ve always done your body may have adapted to it, stopping weight loss in its tracks. But breaking out of your exercise rut by mixing up your routine a bit could be all it takes to get things moving again and break out of that weight loss plateau.
Maybe try throwing in a new cardio routine once or twice a week. Perhaps switch to interval training, accelerating your exercise speed for short bursts and then switching back to normal speeds. Or introduce some strength training or resistance exercises to the mix.
The idea isn’t to increase the amount of time you’re working out, but rather to switch out what you’re doing during that time.
4. Bump up workout intensity:
Just like our attention to portion size can slip over time, so can our focus on exercise intensity. When you first started exercising you likely pushed yourself to get a good workout. But has that intensity slipped?
Maybe your lunchtime power walks have become afternoon strolls. Or perhaps your 50 freestyle laps have turned into 20 round trips of doggie paddle. But whatever the change, if your workout intensity has dropped it could be behind your weight loss plateau.
Make sure your cardio workout pace is intense enough to be effective. A good rule of thumb is that it should be difficult, but not impossible, to hold a conversation while you’re working out. If you’re unsure if your workouts are strenuous enough you may want to invest in an inexpensive heart rate monitor to help you figure out when you’re in the zone.
5. Try a cheat day:
As strange as it sounds taking a cheat day could be exactly what you need to restart your weight loss. The key is to cheat the right way. More on that in a moment, but first let’s take a quick look at why it works.
When you slim down and shed some of the fat you’ve been carrying around your leptin levels can take a nosedive. Leptin is the hormone that signals to your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. But when your levels suddenly dip your brain can become confused, getting the signal that you need to start conserving calories so you don’t become malnourished.
Replenishing your leptin levels with a cheat day could shift your body right back into weight loss mode. But this isn’t a green light to eat a pint of ice cream, or down a bag of chips in front of the boob tube. Instead focus on eating some healthy carb-heavy meals, such as a plate of spaghetti made with whole wheat pasta or baked chicken over wild rice.
When your weight loss slows down to a crawl don’t get discouraged, and don’t quit. With these tips you can get over that weight loss plateau and finally lose those last few pounds.
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