How to get over a weight-loss plateau

December 21, 2012

How to get over a weight-loss plateau
How to get over a weight-loss plateau

It's a familiar scenario for anyone who's dieted or followed a strict workout regimen - suddenly, progress just stops. If you're trying to lose weight, seeing your waist shrink or your gut disappear can be very rewarding. But if that trend suddenly comes to a halt - known as a weight-loss plateau - dieters and exercisers are likely to feel discouraged, and may be tempted to give up altogether. Fortunately, there are ways to get over this hurdle.

Why a weight-loss plateau happens
According to the Mayo Clinic, a weight-loss plateau is caused by a slowing down of the metabolism. During the first few weeks of a diet-and-exercise plan, the body burns through glycogen, a carbohydrate which retains water, in order to make up for the calories and energy you're burning. In other words, when you initially shed pounds, it's likely water weight that you're losing. But as your body adapts to this new routine, your metabolism will naturally slow, which translates into fewer calories burned. You'll have to ramp up your regimen in order to continue losing weight, though exercising at the same level will help you maintain your new weight.

Unfortunately, in some situations working out harder or more often still doesn't bring about more weight loss. To get over this type of plateau, you'll have to put on your thinking cap.

Finding the culprit
It's very possible that something you're eating or a habit you've developed is what's stopping further weight loss. Take a good, hard look at your diet and see if you can "search and destroy" the culprit. If you're a drinker, keep in mind that alcohol carries extra calories. Try to find low-calorie options or food high in fiber - like opting for low fat milk and switching to brown rice.

Cutting back on sodium is also important, and something you may not have considered during your early dieting stages. When you eat too much sodium, you absorb water, which means you'll be holding on to more pounds. It's best to eat unprocessed, fresh foods (especially fruits and veggies) as these will be less likely to have high sodium content.

While you’re enjoying food, also try to eat slower and think about eating 4-5 small meals instead of 3 large meals a day. When you know that you’ll be eating in a few hours, you can make a healthier choice that might fill you up “just enough.”

Surgical options
If you're watching your diet like a hawk, ramping up your routine at the gym and still not seeing progress on certain parts of your body, then you may want to talk to a plastic surgeon about your options. Liposuction surgery can directly target stubborn pockets of fat in the abdomen, thighs, hips or buttocks. 

The mission of the Aesthetic Society includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Aesthetic Society, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to

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