If you’re still eating right and exercising but can’t seem to lose any more weight, you might have hit a weight loss plateau. It’s normal for weight loss to stall after a while. This is not necessarily an indication that you’re doing something wrong. It might just be that you need to adjust your weight loss plan to account for the changes in your body and metabolism.
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Normal Weight Loss
The normal speed of weight loss is 1/2 to 2 pounds per week, according to Harvard University Health Services. When you begin a diet, you probably lose weight faster because much of it is water weight. As you continue on your diet, the weight loss slows down. Nutristrategy notes that you burn fewer calories the less you weigh. For example, a 180-pound person might burn 409 calories per hour doing low-impact aerobics. However, a 130-pound person burns only 295 calories doing the same. So if you keep doing the same activities, your weight loss slows down or stops.
Weight Loss Plateaus
Weight loss plateaus are common if you’re dieting but not exercising. This is because strict diets or fast weight loss can cause you to lose muscle mass. Muscle speeds up metabolism, so the less muscle mass you have, the slower your metabolism and the less weight you will lose. It’s also possible to become lax with calorie counting once you’ve been on a diet plan for a long time, so you might be eating more than you think without even realizing it.
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t lose weight, you might have an underlying medical condition that’s causing the plateau. Shape Magazine states that hormonal imbalances, kidney problems, prescription drugs such as antidepressants and even diabetes can affect your weight. If you’re taking any prescription medications or notice any other symptoms, consult with a doctor.
Increasing your workouts in either length or intensity can help with weight loss. Try adding 10 or 15 minutes to your daily exercise routine and see if that makes a difference. You can also switch to a more intense activity. For example, Nutristrategy estimates that one hour of doing calisthenics can burn up to 563 calories per hour for a 155-pound person, but an hour of low-impact aerobics burns only 352 calories. For a higher calorie burn, try step aerobics, running, boxing or hiking.
It takes 3,500 calories to lose a pound, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you’re not losing weight anymore, it might be that you’re eating more than you realize. Cutting a few hundred calories from your daily diet should get you back in track. According to Health.com, simple ways to cut down calories include choosing turkey instead of beef, cooking with nonstick cooking spray instead of oil, eating smaller portions and skipping sugary drinks. Keep a food diary to help you figure out how much you’re eating and where to reduce calories, or eliminate obvious sources of extra calories, such as gravies and sauces, desserts and fast food.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Oprah.com: Passing Your Weight Loss Plateau
- Harvard University Health Services: Healthy Weight Management
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Weight Control and Diet
- Nutristrategy: Calories Burned During Exercise
- Health.com: 20 Easy Ways to Cut 250 Calories a Day
- University of Michigan University Health Service: Weight Reduction
- Shape Magazine: Hidden Causes of Weight Gain