11 Tips to Get Over Your Nutrition Plateau
Have you stopped losing weight several weeks or months after starting a diet program? Don’t despair—you’ve hit what’s called a plateau in your weight-loss journey. Even serious dieters hit a lull around six months into their low-calorie program, according to experts.
Before declaring your chosen diet a failure, know that hitting a plateau is a natural part of your slimming efforts. Your eating habits and other factors may explain why you’re “stuck” at a certain weight:
- You’ve shed lean body mass or muscle.
When you lose muscle and fat during the initial phase of your diet program, your metabolism becomes slower and you burn fewer calories.
- You’re not taking enough carbohydrates.
A lack of carbs will make you lethargic, moody, and dehydrated.
- You lack exercise.
When you exercise, your body releases somatotropin, which stimulates tissue and muscle growth. More muscles translate to a higher metabolic rate or more fats burned.
- Your body may have reached its set point.
The set point theory says that your body settles into a certain weight and body fat range based on your genetics. To lower your set point, health specialists suggest losing weight in phases, adding muscle to your frame, and combining diet and exercise for a healthy body composition.
Medications and undiagnosed medical conditions can also influence your weight.
Ways to Get Over the Plateau
1. Eat slowly.
Eating at a relaxed pace releases satiety hormones, making you feel fuller and eat less. It also decreases your energy intake during the meal.
2. Don’t skip meals.
Your metabolism slows down when you skip, leading to a spike in blood sugar levels, food cravings, and most likely overeating during your next meal.
3. Drink more water.
Your body can feel hungry at the slight hint of dehydration. Drink water regularly, especially before meals to help regulate your appetite.
4. Take more fiber.
Because your body needs time to digest fiber, it allows you to feel full longer.
5. Review your caloric intake.
Eat fewer calories as your body gets lighter. Mobile apps like MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, and Lose It help you plan your diet and keep track of calories.
6. Include healthy fats in your diet.
While saturated fats are unhealthy, dietary fat from fish, nuts, and plant oils is necessary to regulate your hunger hormones and help transport your nutrients throughout your body.
7. Eat less salty food.
Salt binds with water, leading to fluid retention that increases your body weight.
8. Get adequate sleep.
Not getting a full night’s sleep can raise the level of cortisol or stress hormones in your body, which can cause fat accumulation in your midsection. This can also lead to insulin resistance—wherein your cells lose their ability to absorb the glucose—that results in higher blood sugar levels.
9. Do strength training.
Strength-training twice or thrice weekly is among the best ways to build muscle mass.
10. Add more physical activity within your day.
There are lots of ways to get your body moving outside the gym—walk more and faster, clean your yard, or do spring cleaning.
11. Avoid alcohol.
Liquor contains several calories and you’ll likely want fried or fatty food while drinking. If you’re in a social situation where you can’t avoid alcohol, take a glass or two of water for each glass of liquor. Choose red wine or flavored sparkling water over a sugary cocktail. Also, eat a high-protein meal before drinking. Besides building muscle tissue, protein boosts hormones associated with your sense of fullness.