Overcoming a Weight Plateau

Do you feel your weight loss is starting to slow down (or even stop?) as 2014 draws to a close?

It is a frustrating fact that some people trying to lose weight will reach a weight plateau. Often despite being perfectly compliant with recommendations, week to week you bear the disappointment of scales that refuse to budge! There are a few reasons why this could be the case.

Your Resting Metabolic Rate has dropped:

A reduction in metabolic rate is an almost inevitable physiological outcome of weight reduction and calorie restriction for two reasons. The first – on an energy restricted diet, it can be difficult to maintain muscle mass because your body is catabolic (breaking down fat, carbohydrate and lean tissue) rather than anabolic (building lean tissue). This loss in lean tissue (which shouldn’t exceed 20% of total loss) can lead to a drop in metabolic rate, as muscle is our most metabolically active tissue. This drop can be lessened by ensuring regular meals and commencing resistance training early in the active weight loss phase of your program.

Your exercise regimen needs adjusting:

Our bodies are very good at adapting to our external environment. Unfortunately the same applies to exercise. As your muscles become more efficient at co- coordinating and fuelling a particular mode of exercise eg. walking, the amount of energy you expend during that activity will decrease. By altering the type of activity you do, you will be challenging your body by using different muscle groups, which are less efficient, and therefore use more calories. Try something different like cycling, swimming, rowing or using a cross-trainer. This is where a gym membership can be handy – you have a variety of equipment at your fingertips. Otherwise look into casual visits at the local pool, or purchasing a new bike! The other important thing to be aware of with exercise, is that as you get fitter, you will need to increase the intensity of your activity to keep within your target heart rate zone.

Let’s be honest: Are you really being compliant?

One breads and cereal serve or two? These little things might not seem like much at the time, but together they can have a significant impact on whether or not you lose weight. This is the time to get really strict with yourself again – weigh your meat portions, measure your bowl of breakfast cereal and record exactly what you’re having in a food diary. This would include adding up the calories using your Fat and Calorie Counter or food exchange lists in your manual. Maybe you’re not really at a plateau after all! Are your clothes feeling looser, but the scales aren’t moving or moving in the wrong direction?! It might be the case that your body composition is changing; ie you are gaining muscle tissue, which of course weighs more than fat. That’s why we like to keep an eye on those other measurements like your waist and hip circumference, neck and body composition. We don’t want the focus to be only on the scales

A final note:

If you think you’ve tried everything suggested above and you weight is still not moving, now is a good time to re-assess your goals and discuss with the dietitian what is realistic for you. Studies show that even moderate reductions in body weight (5-10%) significantly reduce health risks. Ultimately you can only control the things you can control – your food intake, fluid and exercise levels. Focus on the positives – like how much your behaviour has changed and how differently you act in certain situations (eg: eating socially). Take the time to enjoy living a healthier and happier lifestyle!

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