You’ve been steadily losing weight for the past few months when suddenly, the scale won’t budge by even half a pound. You cut back on a few calories and ramp up your exercise a bit to try to get back on track, but the scale still doesn’t move. In fact, it may go up a little! This type of scenario is all too common, and it’s enough to make even the sanest among us just a little bit crazy.
Though it may seem like a stroke of black magic, there’s usually a pretty reasonable explanation for why we stop losing weight. Once you realize the underlying cause, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to do to push past your frustrating plateaus. So without further ado, here are some possible reasons the weight isn’t coming off anymore.
You’re Not Eating the Right Foods
The old adage “calories in, calories out” is a bunch of malarky in my opinion. And it turns out many nutritionists agree with me. If you’re not eating very many calories, but what you do eat is devoid of the nutrients your body needs to thrive, your body is more likely to hold onto weight.
Instead of limiting yourself to 1200 calories of whey protein shakes, sweetened granola bars and processed foods, make sure your food choices are better for your body. You need plenty of nutrients from whole foods like whole grains (not white flour!), fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats.
The nice thing about switching to a whole foods way of eating is that you can get a lot more food for your allotted number of daily calories! Don’t believe me? Just hop online and see how many calories are in a slice of pizza versus a cup of broccoli. You may be shocked to discover just how well you can eat and how satisfied you can feel when you choose better sources of calories.
You’re Working Out Too Hard
I know, it can be tempting to step things up a notch when your weight loss slows down or stops altogether. But overtraining is counterproductive and can make things worse. It’s especially important to limit the cardio you do each day. Too much cardio can slowly eat away at your lean muscle mass, which will cause your metabolism to dip and you’ll lose fewer calories throughout the day.
To make sure you don’t run into this common problem, limit your cardio to a few days per week and make sure your sessions don’t go any longer than 60 minutes most days. You can still work out every day, but switch things up by adding strength training sessions. These will help build up your muscle mass so you boost your metabolism and burn more calories without even trying. That sounds like a win/win situation to me!
You Have Too Much Stress in Your Life
If you’re dealing with more stress than your body can handle, it will respond by pumping out a lot of cortisol. This stress hormone is an important one, but when it’s present at excessively high levels, it signals to your body that it should hold onto fat. High levels of cortisol are also associated with belly fat. So if you have a spare tire around your middle, it’s time to try meditation, yoga, or anything else that will help you manage your stress levels.
These are just a few of the most common reasons for weight loss plateaus. If you have stopped losing weight despite your best efforts, try addressing the above possible causes. Once you do, you’ll hopefully start to see the scale respond in a positive way once again.