3 Ways to Break Through a Weight-Loss Plateau

Scale not budging? Try these effective tips.

Q: I’m committed to losing the 15-20 pounds I’ve gained over the past year. I do 30 minutes of cardio almost every day, and have been following a 1500-calorie meal plan. I started shedding weight consistently over the first few weeks, but now I’ve hit a plateau. The scale is totally stuck! Do you have any advice to get it moving again?

A: You are not alone! One of the most common frustrations in weight loss is when all progress halts and your weight levels off. Unfortunately, weight plateaus are quite common. That’s because as you lose weight, your metabolism typically slows and you may need to adjust your caloric intake to a lower level. Simply put: the smaller you are, the fewer calories you burn. If you’re diligently sticking with your plan and your weight is at a standstill, consider trimming 200 daily calories.

Here are a few more smart strategies for busting through a weight plateau:

  • Boost your metabolism. Since your metabolism naturally slows down as you lose weight, exercise is the obvious way to keep it stoked. You’re already doing a good amount of cardio exercise – and that’s great. But you should also add two to three days of strength training. As your weight goes down, you not only lose fat but also a small amount of muscle. Since muscle is critical to keeping your metabolism revved, any loss can reduce your metabolic rate and hinder weight loss. Strength training helps to preserve and build muscle, which gives your metabolism a little lift.
  • Check portion sizes and get rid of extras. After following a diet for a few weeks, we often loosen up and begin to grab this and that. It’s amazing how much extra food we can munch on without realizing it – so eat mindfully and consider keeping a food log for accountability, if you’re not doing so already. Also, pay attention to your beverages (alcohol included, as well as what’s going into your coffee and tea). And get out your measuring cups and food scale again. Most dieters routinely underestimate portion sizes.
  • Don’t eat after dinner. Try to eliminate nighttime snacking for a couple of weeks. When you’re through eating dinner, put closure on food by sipping an herbal or decaf tea. You can also try flossing and brushing your teeth; this is a good thing to do after all your meals, in fact.

To get the scale moving in the right direction, try these additional strategies as well.