Have you been losing weight and despite staying on your diet and exercising, your weight suddenly stays the same?   Don't get discouraged, it's normal for weight loss to slow down and even stop.   This phenomenon is called the "weight-loss plateau" and it's more common than you think.  Even the best planned weight loss program can become stalled.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here's why this happens.   A rapid weight loss is common during the first few weeks of a well planned diet.  When calories are reduced the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate stored in the liver and muscles.   Glycogen holds a lot of water so when it is used up at the beginning of a diet, it also releases the water--about 4 grams per gram of glycogen, resulting in a sudden weight loss that is mostly water.

Once your diet progresses and  you start burning lean muscle tissue, your metabolism slows.  Metabolism is the process of converting food into energy.  When you lose weight you lose fat and lean muscle and this weigh-loss changes once your metabolism slows.   At this point,  you need to increase your exercise or decrease your food intake if you want to lose more weight.   If you continue the diet/exercise regimen you started with, you will maintain your weight but probably not continue to drop many pounds.

To get past this weight loss plateau, you need to

  • Review your eating/exercise habits and be sure you haven't "cheated" along the way
  • Cut more calories--try reducing your diet by 200 more calories
  • Increase your workout...either in time or intensity
  • Try to increase movement during the day----take stairs instead of the elevator, run your errands on foot.
  • Applaud your success and make sure your goals are reasonable--just don't fall back.





Great post. calories in vs calories out ultimately determines a weight loss plateau

The last mile is always the hardest - this is never more true than when dieting to reach your ideal weight. The tips here are sound advice: recognizing your achievements thus far is absolutely key to further success.

Slow down of metabolism is main cause of accumulation of cholesterol and associated diseases. Enhancing the muscle mass of the body is the only solution to improve the metabolic rate and burning of excess cholesterol.

The same can be said for exercise as you can reach a plateau from doing the same exercises all the time.

Good article on a complicated topic. However, if you are doing things right you shouldn't be losing lean muscle mass. Your body will only burn muscle mass if you're not using it and/or you're in an extreme calorie deficit. Want to get past that plateau? Do MORE resistance training and don't be afraid to use heavy weight - man or woman.

Excellent advice. Although this is not stated in the blog, this information is probably applicable to men as well as to women, at least to some extent. Correct? EDITOR'S NOTE: Probably

For a person can achieve weight loss should change their eating habits. Avoid or reduce the junk food and replace it with vegetable fiber. The process should be slow, and so do not go through abstinence we need to exercise 20 minutes a day as minimum

I would have to agree that the first few weeks are really easy to lose weight. I get so frustrated because I try to do everything I can to lose weight, but I just can't seem to lose weight.

The “weight-loss plateau” is exactly the point when most diets break...it's highly important to know and be prepare for this phenomenon. The steps that you mention (in order to pass this stage) are great, and I hope people on a diet will adopt them.

There are so many factors that go into weight loss, the information can really be overwhelming. I like to try small things that are easy to incorporate into my diet and see if they really do make a difference.

I believe that the Plateau can be avoided simply by having a lifestyle change all together. Never consider "going on a diet", consider "changing your life". Otherwise people go up, down, and hit plateaus.

I find that if you have a cheat day once a week it helps your weight loss and avoids the plateau. The trouble with reducing your calorie intake even more is that it causes the body to think it’s in hard times and that it needs to store fat. By having a cheat day the body decides that it’s not starving and can afford to lose weight and as a bonus the satisfaction of eating without guilt for a day a week helps to keep you on track to your goal. EDITOR'S NOTE: Interesting, has anyone else tried this routine and found it helpful???

I have been losing weight lately & it is difficult to bust thru those times when your weight just hangs there even though you know you should be dropping a couple of pounds but if you stick with it you will finally get the results you want

I agree, the question is to identify foods with low glycemic index, because there are some that alone helps us to burn fat naturally, so that your metabolism will accept properly.

I know sometimes that plateau is what gets you & you get off track & break your diet so hang in there

This vicious circle of eating is really big problem, but if you work out enough, eating is not so important. Unfortunatelly, most of people with overwight are not able to work out enough.

Muscle loss during a fat loss period can easily be prevented with heavy strength training. “Cheat days” or refeed days are used to keep the glycogen stores full so can keep training hard. Also, don’t overdo the cardio portion. Focus on a calorie reduction and build or prevent loss of muscle mass with heavy strength training.

I totally advocate the points you make in this article. I think it is very important to celebrate the little things and ignore small set backs like an evening of gluttony ... (cheesecake) Taking the stairs over the elevator should be applauded and recognized to yourself that it's a small achievement but one that counts as well...

I’m interested in this whole subject because since last January I’ve lost 62 lbs. In that time I’ve had to battle against plateau after plateau. I’ve tried everything from increasing my exercise to changing my diet from one to another. For example I started eating vegetarian and lost 34 lbs… but that stopped working for about 7 weeks. Then I changed to what I considered to be the opposite. I started into low carb high protein diet, and that’s where I lost the rest. But now that’s stopped working for me… and my search is on. The number one thing I’ve found to be true is that no matter what… I need to keep fighting against body fat, because loosing the weight has improved my health a great deal, and I can only get better from here.

the most important thing is taking care of your health and eat healthy to lose weight, exercise and force your body to do what it should not. Watch your metabolism and analyzes what your best option for losing weight.

many thanks! plateauing is a major problem I personally suffer from

Taking smaller meals frequently, 5-6 meals per day. Take a glass of water before taking a meal, you will feel and will not take as much. Do cardio workouts 20-30 minutes 3 days a week. Make sure you also take a lot of water per day, 8 glasses of 8oz daily or more. This will help to lose weight.

Hello My balance has improved by 100% after two months of the vegetarian diet. Of course, the vegetarian diet and regular walking, the body strengthen, consolidate and I lost 6.5 pounds. Today, nine months, since I'm on a vegetarian diet. I lost 13 pounds. I feel much much better. Also, I no longer have digestive disorders, insomnia, as well as Sun and problems with sleep. All I had in other weight-loss plan. But I lost weight even though I did not want this to 13 pounds and really feel much better. Thank you for great blog and high quality content. I wish to everyone huge success with their diet and healt. Never never never give up and never give up. Success you can wait just around the corner. Beautiful greeting Mark

I sat on a plateau weight for a few years until I changed my exercise regime - purely by accident! I got a dog and now walk her twice a day, probably 50 minutes total. I lost a stone over three months without even realizing it! Regular with a little cardio did it for me.

I enjoyed the article and it makes a lot of since. I have reached the weight loss plateau on several occasions and have tried several things. I have actually worked on drinking more water and picking up my cardiovascular exercises, doing more at the beginning of my work out and doing more after my strength workout. The losing weight process has slowed but when I performed this routine I still lost weight.

I love how you broke down the weight loss plateau in such a simple and descriptive manner. It's so true about the first couple weeks being mainly water loss and then going to muscle loss. It's important to keep the body replenished, but at the same time continue to shed those extra pounds.

I hate to say it but i dis agree with working out harder and cutting more, when you hit a peak trying eating just a bit more the next day. This will allow your metabolism to spike creating a more natural weight loss, when you cut out more there is a good chance you will go into starvation mode.

Increasing the intensity of your workout is a really good option to burn more calories. Another great tip is to do some interval training after your weight training. You will perform your interval training by doing short sprint (30 sec) and slow down for a jogging of 30 to 45 sec. Repeat this cycle 10 to 15 times. whit this you should be able to break your weight loss plateau

I think the information contained in this post is equally useful for men.

When you start on a diet set goals for yourself. 3 things you should do before you start Decide Commit Succeed

I liked this article except that you said it's good to increase the method you're using to break the plateau such as decreasing calories, moving around more, etc. What I have found that works for me is to jump up my calories one day a week once in a while by maybe 500 and then resume the diet. If you go far too long on a calorie deficit plan, your body will think it's starving and you'll lose muscle instead of fa

I absolutely agree that many people reach a plateau point, and then unfortunately, may give up. However, like the post suggests, this is the time to re avaluate your adherence to the diet plan, and also, should be increasing your exercise load, gradually. This is not about burst exercise that then lands you in medical care fr strains and sprains However, when you reach a plateau, by actually then ramping up your effort a little, you will usually be able to kick start the weight loss process again somewhat.

Hi. You mentioned losing water at the beginning of a diet. Years ago I tried the Cabbage Soup Diet. At the time I was in an Army Reserve hospital unit. The nurses warned me that I should not stay on that particular diet but I resisted their advice. Needless to say I lost a few pounds quickly but soon developed food fatigue from the limited menu detailed in this particular diet "plan". Since then I have learned to recognize when diet plans are no more than passing fads. A daily diet starting with a balanced breakfeast is the best way for most people to lose weight.

Just one more validating post that establishing a calorie deficit must be done in conjunction with resistance training to maintain lean muscle. Way too many people foul up their metabolism attempting to lose weight strictly with a reduction of calorie intake.

Dont Ever let a weight loss platue discourage you the body always changes and resets not only is your mind changing during weight loss so is your body deciding to loss weight is a life changing experience

I think the weight loss plateau is something all of us experience at some point in time. What I try to do is to always mix up my routines and then try new things I haven't done before. For instance, I am now looking into doing some workouts using kettlebells. In addition, about every 3 months, I take a break and give my body total rest for 7 days. This helps me to start my training again totally rested and with more energy!

Weight loss plateaus can get annoying, but patience is definitely one virtue that is not only needed, but beneficial.

This is similar to physical exercise, language learning and playing the musical instrument - you reach a certain point where there seems to be no progress. You just have to hang in there and the progress will eventually come. But it can be discouraging, i know...

Getting into shape is only as important as gaining health. Too many scams out there. Thanks.

A great way to effect the metabolism to break a plateau is to continually mix up and change around your workouts. If you keep the body guessing it can have a great impact on how well you burn energy.

One point I might add is to be sure not to do the same exercise routine over and over. The human body adapts very quickly so its important that you keep it guessing EDITOR'S NOTE: Good point from Stacy. I have been focusing my exercise on water aerobics because of a bad knee. Recently I hired a trainer to help me add some other exercises that focused on other parts of my body. She is easing me into it but I can really feel the impact even the simple core/back/leg exercises that she has started me doing. Obviously, aquacise is great but NOT enough for full body fitness. Cross training is important.

I have experienced the weight-loss plateau effect first hand. About 18 months ago I began a healthy eating plan and cut out refined sugars in my diet and in six months went from 210lbs to 170lbs. I felt so much better. But during the last 12 months I have stayed at 170lbs even though I'm still carrying about 10 to 15 pounds extra weight. I'm going to begin a food journal to see if I'm cheating and attempt to maintain a regular exericse program. Hopefully this will work. EDITOR's COMMENT: Good luck with the journal

Your body has the ability to adapt to your workouts you are right by saying "At this point, you need to increase your exercise or decrease your food intake if you want to lose more weight" Its also important to remember if you are dieting when you stop you cant just eat like you would use to.....e.g. the typical no carb diet....after which you will usually put on more weight because when you do start eating cards again your body does not know what to do with itself... You will need to regulate healthy eating to keep the weight off.... thanks for the article Adz

Thanks for the post, great reading. The main problem I think is that too many people can get totally wrapped up with the diet program, that they very often forget the simple basics which you have laid out clearly and well here. Thanks again. Regards.

When it comes to losing weight, don't believe everything you hear. There are many myths out there that sabotage all your efforts. Just take a look at the Biggest Diet Myths: * There are some diets that can help you lose fat from specific parts of the body: No diet or dietary supplement can cause local fat reduction. Look at it this way: When you put on the weight, do have any choice about where it will be stored? No! Your body gets to decide if it will go on the thighs, arms or legs, according to its genetic predisposition. The same thing happens when you lose weight.

Wow! What great information. I would like to know more about this "weight-loss plateau". Can you provide more info on this? Thank you!

I was wondering if any other women here use weight lifting in their workouts? I do a bit, but wonder if others do and if they find it useful to persue? Thanks!

Another option when reaching plateau's is to switch up the type of exercise. If you're used to doing slow, long distance types of cardio, try switching to a more intense version, such as H.I.I.T, for a few weeks and see if you can overcome the plateau.

Thanks for this information. I too have big plans for breaking through my weight loss plateau in 2012.. wish me luck!