Last week we talked all about what a weight loss plateau really is and how to make sure you’re actually hitting a plateau. Make sure you read last week’s post before diving into today’s topic– how to get over a weight loss plateau!
Remember, on average it can take about 3-6 months of actively losing weight or a weight loss of about 20 pounds (although this is very individualized) to actually hit a plateau.
Alright, here’s the golden rule to make sure you’re in a weight loss plateau.
If you know without a doubt your calories are in check and you’re exercising consistently and you weigh yourself for three consecutive weeks and the scale will just not budge, you’re likely hitting a plateau.
Okay, so what now?
If you have more weight you want to lose and you hit a plateau there are two things you need to do.
Getting over a weight loss plateau:
Step 1: lower your calories
Step 2: exercise a bit more
I know. I know. It’s unfair. But remember, if you’re 20 lbs lighter and you aren’t carrying around 20 additional pounds on you each day, your body requires less energy for everything. Movement is just easier for your body.
Your metabolism or BMR (basal metabolic rate) drops because you weigh less.
Just to throw a little extra science at you, your NEAT is non-exercise activity thermogenesis, which is the activity you do outside of exercise such as walking to the mailbox, making dinner, fidgeting, etc.
As your body gets lighter, NEAT significantly drops as well. This is the body’s way of trying to conserve energy since it’s thinking wait what, why all the weight loss?
The body wants to prevent starvation so your willingness and energy to complete NEAT activities decrease.
To compensate for the drop in metabolism and NEAT activities since your body is now lighter, your calories have to be lowered again to be in a deficit because the calories you were once consuming to lose 20 lbs is now your calorie goal for weight maintenance.
It’s hard to lower calories again, eating less is not fun. We want to make sure you aren’t starving as you continue to lose weight. That’s why you want to increase your physical activity a little.
Even increasing your physical activity from 3 days/week to 4 days/week + some additional walking will make a huge difference.
You WILL adjust to your new calorie & exercise goal.
Remember the goal is to not cut your calories too low. Finding an appropriate balance is very important for sustainable weight loss!