Anyone who has successfully dieted knows that a point comes when you suddenly just stop losing weight, even though you’re still doing everything you’ve done all along. It happens to every dedicated dieter who has stuck to a plan. This is normal. The problem is that your body has grown wise to what you’re doing to it -- and it’s compensating.
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You probably are still losing weight, just much more slowly and not enough to show up on your scale. Instead of dropping a pound a week, you may be losing a third of a pound, or even just a quarter. Your body has adjusted to your diet and the amount of exercise you’re giving it.
Why It Happens
The more you weigh, the more calories your body requires to maintain that weight and to function. It’s your resting metabolic rate, the number of calories your body needs to exist, generally about 10 calories per pound of weight. So when you weighed 170 pounds, you needed 1,700 calories per day to maintain. Assume you began exercising and eating only 1,500 calories a day on your diet program, and you dropped 20 pounds; you now weigh only 150 pounds. If you’re still eating 1,500 calories a day, you are now consuming exactly what you need to maintain your weight -- but you won’t lose any more. Keep in mind that eating too few calories can also slow your metabolic rate.
What To Do
To break through a weight loss plateau, tweak your diet plan to coincide with how much you weigh now, not what you weighed when you started. An easy way to do this is to multiply your goal weight by those 10 calories per pound that your body needs for your resting metabolic rate. If you want to lose another 10 pounds and get down to 130, you’ll need to again lower your caloric intake, this time to 1,300 calories per day. You can balance that by increasing either the duration or the intensity of your exercise routine to burn an additional 200 calories a day, or you can readjust your diet by doing a little of both. The important thing is that you have an additional 200 calories a day to get rid of now. Once you do, you should begin losing again.
The greatest problem with a weight loss plateau is that it can undermine your conviction and determination. It can leave you with a “Why bother?” attitude. Push past that, and make sure your diet has honestly stalled because your metabolism has changed, not because you’re eating just a little bit more because you’ve been successful so far. Also speak to your doctor if you have any real concerns. You may simply have reached your optimal weight and losing more would not be advisable.