When the scales seem stuck

How to overcome a weight loss plateau and get the desired results

blankYou are on a weight loss regimen and are happy that you’ve lost weight. But just as the feeling is about to sink in, you notice that the scale refuses to budge any further, leaving you surprised and sad.

If you’re already nodding as you read this, don’t worry, this experience is normal. Just like your job or your relationship, reaching a plateau in weight loss summons for change in what you are doing.

You reach a plateau when you no longer lose weight, despite continued efforts at the gym and following healthy eating habits. Many find this stage difficult to fathom and a lot of them abandon their efforts disappointed by the lack of results.

Reaching a plateau is completely normal; there is no need to take stress—either mental and physical. And however tempting it may be to think that it isn’t working, don’t get into the unhealthy eating pattern and lifestyle or you’ll fall prey to weight cycling.

The key is in not giving up. If you manage to get past this stage, you are more likely to keep the weight off for good.

Here are some ways to help you break the plateau.

Write a diary

Once you begin to write one, you’ll be surprised to see how well it works for you. During your weight loss cycle, it is normal to munch on a hand full of chips or chocolates, or to miss that exercise routine, thinking that it will cause no harm.

But when you write down everything and assess the situation, you find that all of it adds up and you know instantly what’s going wrong. You get the answer right away and know what changes need to be done.

Add variety to your workout

When following an exercise routine, we tend to get into a repetitive cycle without realising that we are doing the same exercise over and over again.

So it is prudent to mix your workout options before you and your body get into a habit. Apart from exercise, add more activity in your daily routine by doing other tasks.

Surprise your body by doing a different workout altogether. So if you regularly walk on the treadmill, abandon it and try playing a sport of equal intensity.

Limit carbohydrate intake

Reducing your carbohydrate intake may give your body the desired push to get into the fat metabolism mode. Even eating 50g – 100g less carbs per day can make a difference.

At the same time, make sure that you’re getting your required quota of proteins—they should be enough to fuel your workouts.

Don’t starve yourself

If you’re consuming less calories during a day [normally less than 1200], your body will enter a starvation mode and will slow your metabolism as it tries to hang onto fat rather than burn it for energy.

Consuming less calories can also make you feel hungry often. This leads you to reach out for the wrong foods and you end up overeating. This is one of the reasons the weight refuses to budge from its place. To avoid getting into this loop, eat frequent small meals.

Reduce your salt intake

To see your kilos disappear, assist your body in losing its excess water weight by reducing your sodium intake.

Refrain from adding extra salt in your dishes, cut down on condiments such as pickles, mustard sauce, ketchup and soy sauce. Instead, you could use lemon, spices and herbs for flavours. Also avoid eating canned foods.

Don’t let a plateau stop you in your tracks as it is a temporary phase and can certainly be overcome. Instead, view it as an opportunity to try new things while getting closer to your weight loss goal.

What causes a weight loss plateau?

Adaptation: Your body may stop losing weight after a period of dieting and exercising because your body has learned to adapt to your lower calorie consumption and higher activity levels.

Water retention: Our body resists giving up on the extra weight and hence tries to hang on to it by retaining water.

Lack of motivation and interest: Some people get easily bored of following a healthy lifestyle and this makes it difficult for them to resist the temptation of eating sweet and salty foods.

Less exercise: At times, exercise becomes a nightmare for some. So they try to avoid physical exercise and the physical instructor seems akin to a villain.

Dr Kiran Rukadikar, MBBS, is a bariatric physician and obesity consultant based in Kolhapur.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here