Plateaus are a pain in the behind and inevitable. If you are in a calorie deficit, your body will plateau at some point. A true plateau is when weight has stabilized for at least one month.
Plateaus occur when your body adapts in order to reach homeostasis. Your body is always working to maintain an equilibrium in every aspect. This is why our body’s temperature is maintained at about 98.6 degrees fahrenheit and why we have a sodium/potassium pump. This is a good thing. It means your body is doing its job.
Now that we know we will most likely plateau at some point during our weight loss journey, let’s use this opportunity to not freak out and ditch the deficit all together, but to make a plan of action.
There are two ways to consider a plateau:
1. An opportunity to take a diet break and maintain weight loss. Consider this option if you’ve been dieting for a while.
2. Keep going and push through. Consider this if you haven’t been dieting for long.
If you decided to go with a diet break, increase your calories to maintenance. This is when you do not gain or lose weight. Continue the habits that helped you lose the initial weight. That might mean you continue to eat less energy-dense foods, maintain a physically active lifestyle, self-monitoring, etc. The mere act of maintaining weight loss is a huge challenge.
If you decided to push through, you will want to either lower your calories and/or increase exercise.
- Lower calories by 100
- Increase cardio by adding 5-15 minutes/session
- Combination: lower calories by 50 and increase cardio by adding 10 minutes/session
Do this for a week and note any changes. If nothing changes, pick one of the above and try again.
What strategies do you have for busting through plateaus?