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What to Do When Weight Loss Plateaus

what to do when weight loss plateaus

When you lose weight, you may encounter a phenomenon called the ‘Weight Loss Plateau‘ when the weighing scale stops dropping after losing some fat or flab for a while. It is common for those trying to lose weight to run into weight loss plateaus. 

The short answer to this is yes and no. Depending on the diet you’re on and your regimen, knowing what to do when weight loss plateaus is crucial in order to stay on your weight loss journey not just physically, but on a mental level as well:

What to Do When Weight Loss Plateaus

What is a Weight Loss Plateau?

what is a weight loss plateau

The plateau in your weight loss results from a temporary pause in your progress. When you lose weight for the first few days (or weeks, or months) of your journey, all of a sudden, things seem to level off, despite your weight-loss program still being the same. Suppose you are charting your weight loss, and the number stops dropping, the line flattens out, and you reach a plateau. When you’re not making progress, it can be frustrating and hard to stay motivated.

Weight Loss Plateaus: When does it occur?

According to many experts, weight loss plateaus after six months of following a low-calorie diet. As of yet, there is no definite explanation for why this occurs. According to medical experts, the reason is most likely the change in metabolism. Here are a few concepts that can help explain this:

Your body sheds water weight first.

As part of a weight loss program, your body releases glycogen to provide energy. Glycogen comprises a portion of water and is a type of carbohydrate. In the beginning, you lose “water weight” due to this process. Afterward, your body will use fat and muscle to generate energy. There is only a temporary effect of water weight. The water weight will return once you renew your glycogen stores, which can look like a plateau. If you want to continue burning fat, you’ll need to increase your activity levels and decrease your caloric intake.

There is a decrease in your metabolic rate.

Since your muscle mass decreases as you lose weight, your metabolism naturally slows down. You burn calories faster when you have more muscle in your body. It becomes difficult to lose weight when you cease to burn more calories than you eat. In addition, your metabolism may slow down to conserve energy if you consume fewer calories.

The efficiency of your body increases.

As a result of losing weight, your body will not have to work as hard to exercise and perform daily tasks, thus burning fewer calories. Maintaining the same movements and intensity levels will also help you perform your workout routine efficiently. Without challenging your body, you could reach a plateau in your weight loss.

Your fatigue is frequent.

When you always feel tired, you may have reached a weight loss plateau despite getting eight hours of sleep.

You no longer feel hungry.

During a weight-loss plateau, you may not feel hungry anymore – at least not like you used to. As a result of ignored hunger, your brain can no longer recognize hunger signals as before.

You might become ill eventually.

There may be a lack of calories, protein, and other nutrients in the diet. When you reach a weight loss plateau, you may experience hair loss, irregular periods, a cold, or just a general feeling of ill health. Consequently, your metabolism slowing down is probably the cause of the weight loss plateau. 

Things to Remember If You Have a Weight Loss Plateau

Do not put too much pressure on yourself if you fail to lose weight despite sticking to a diet and exercise plan. Don’t beat yourself up; instead, celebrate your accomplishments. Whenever you reach a plateau in your weight loss efforts, your goal is closer than ever. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Don’t rush. When you reach a plateau, it can feel discouraging, but it’s important to remain patient. Achieving your weight loss goals takes time because it is a lifestyle change. Feel free to give yourself a few weeks to adjust to the new plan if you’re feeling stressed out. As soon as you’re ready, you can get back to your ideal weight.

Be careful not to overdo it. Avoid extreme measures such as fasting, over-exercising, and other extreme measures if you feel tempted to do so. Reducing your calories too much might slow your metabolism and make you miss essential nutrients. You can also get injured by overexerting yourself.

Keep trying. If your weight loss plateaus, you need to change what you’re doing. The plateau can be overcome with a new plan, realistic expectations, and a positive attitude.

Weight Loss Plateau: Tips for Overcoming It

quote about weight loss plateaus and words of encouragement

Losing weight is difficult when you hit a weight loss plateau or stall, which can be discouraging, however, losing 50 pounds in 3 days may sound great, but it isn’t natural or healthy, and could actually work against your health. 

You may be able to lose weight and break that weight loss plateau again if you follow the strategies down below, but remember you MUST stick to almost all of these points I’m about to make in order to really lose weight in a healthy matter without getting plastic surgery (which is not recommended).

Maintain a food diary

It may seem like you’re eating very little, yet you still have trouble losing weight. By keeping track of your calories and macronutrients such as protein, fat, and carbs, you can better understand how much you consume. Depending on your needs, you can adjust your diet accordingly.

Consume fewer calories

Calorie deficits are necessary for fat loss: you must consume fewer calories than you burn. Cut your daily calories further, provided you do not go below 1,200. If you consume fewer than 1,200 calories a day, you may feel hungry all the time, which may lead you to overeat.

Get a new workout routine.

As your body gets used to your routine, it becomes more efficient at completing the workout. Your body will burn fewer calories if it does not have to work as hard to move in a certain way. Moving your body in new, challenging ways can help you break through a plateau. Take advantage of one extra day of HIIT training: goblet squats, rows, push-ups, and push-presses. Try something new or increase the intensity of your workout.

Take walking, for instance, and include intervals at a faster pace. Even if each interval only lasts a few minutes, you will burn more calories if you push yourself. By walking at a higher incline, you can also increase the intensity. 

Increase your protein intake

Fat loss depends on protein. As a first benefit, it keeps your muscle when you are calorie-deficient. Furthermore, it prevents overeating and snacking on junk food by keeping you satisfied. The third benefit is that it boosts your calorie burn throughout the day since it requires more energy to digest than carbs or fat. Protein should be consumed throughout the day in the form of nuts, eggs, lean meats, dairy products, and quality protein powders.

Get Your Testosterone Boosted With Heavy Exercises

Low testosterone levels can occur if you carry excess fat around your lower abs. However, the consequences of “low T” go far beyond love handles, as it can affect your health, sexual life, and overall well-being. Lifting heavy, total-body weights stimulates muscle growth and is a great way to raise testosterone levels. Strength exercises also speed up fat loss compared to bicep curls and calf raises. You should perform heavy squats, deadlifts, lunges, and barbell presses during your workouts. 

Exercise Strengthens Muscles

Incorporating strength training into your routine and building muscle can also help you overcome your weight loss plateau. Even when you’re not moving, your muscles burn more calories than your fat. A minimum of two workouts per week should include strength training. Among the exercises, you can do push-ups, weight lifting, and resistance bands. Repeat each exercise until it becomes difficult. Don’t exercise them two days a row to let your muscles recover.

Consume more healthy fats

Eat more fat if you want to lose more fat. Animal fats, butter, coconut oil, nuts, and avocados are healthy fats that help you relax and stay full. They also help you maintain your testosterone levels. Healthy fats force you to reduce your carbohydrate intake if you follow the other rules. Never consume artificial fats, which can cause heart disease, and get at least 30 percent of your calories from good fat sources.

Make sure you stay hydrated.

When you drink water, you perform at your highest level in the gym since even a slight amount of dehydration can negatively affect your performance. Additionally, you’ll reduce your metabolism if you skimp on water throughout the day. Drink a tall glass of water first thing in the morning to stay hydrated. If you are wondering how much water you should consume each day, I recommend starting with a liter bottle.

Don't drink alcohol

Your weight loss efforts may be sabotaged by alcohol. Even though an alcoholic drink contains only about 100 calories, it does not provide any nutritional value. The majority of people also drink more than one drink at a time. Alcohol also loosens inhibitions, so you may overeat or make poor food choices when you drink. Food-related impulsive behaviors may be particularly challenging to overcome.

Keep carbs to workout days only.

Athletes who avoid all carbs will have miserable workouts, and their results will be even worse. Without carbs, you’ll have trouble building muscle, burning fat, and targeting your abs. The fiber and vitamins found in fruits and whole grains improve your overall health and help you stay slim. After a hard workout, starchy carbohydrates like rice and potatoes can replenish your glucose levels, helping you lose weight. You should only eat carbs when you are doing heavy, complex exercises. As a result, you will be able to recover faster and build more muscle rather than gaining fat.

Take supplements containing fish oil.

Fat loss will be accelerated by omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Fish oil enhances fat oxidation and reduces cholesterol levels while exercising. Additionally, fish oil supplementation leads to a decrease in fat mass and an increase in muscle mass. To reap the full benefits of fish oil, increase your intake to six grams daily.

Fast intermittently

Fasting intermittently increases fat oxidation, which leads to fat loss. Exercise and fasting also boost insulin sensitivity, allowing nutrients to be delivered to muscle rather than fat. In addition, fasting during calorie-restricted diets resulted in greater weight loss. Make it easy for yourself and skip breakfast for a few days so you can eat a healthy meal in the afternoon instead.

Keep an 8-hour sleep schedule.

Sleep may be the problem even when you train hard, eat clean, and still don’t see great results in the gym. Less sleep slows fat oxidation and leads to 60 percent more muscle loss. During your deep sleep cycles at night, your bodies produce growth hormones, so sleep deprivation also destroys your muscle gains. Every night, make sure you sleep eight hours.

Dietary Consultation

Talk to your physician or registered dietitian if your efforts aren’t working to break through a weight-loss plateau. You may need to reconsider your weight-loss goal if your eating habits can’t be decreased or increased further. Don’t forget to appreciate the weight you’ve lost.

Does Losing Weight Take a Long Time?

To lose weight permanently, you must make long-term lifestyle changes. Tracking your weight loss progress and celebrating weight loss milestones is an essential change key to losing weight. Getting started on your fitness journey can be exciting, but you might be anxious about seeing results. In the end, it is seeing the scale move that motivates us to continue the behaviors we are following. Many people give up a healthy diet when they don’t see weight loss results. 

Fortunately, most people see some results after committing to weight loss within a few months. I’ve heard that you’ll notice a difference in yourself after four weeks, while others will notice a difference after six to eight weeks. Ultimately, however, it depends on your particular circumstances. Weight loss can be sped up or slowed down by several factors, so you should set expectations based on your circumstances. Keeping a healthy lifestyle & losing weight requires following a weight loss program. We have listed some of the most popular weight loss programs below.

Popular Weight Loss Programs

Diets can be used for much more than just weight loss. Diet changes can help you lose weight, but they can also help you improve your habits, focus on your health, and lead an active lifestyle. In some diets, you’ll be encouraged to reduce your food intake by stopping your appetite, while in others, you’ll be instructed to reduce your calories and fat intake. Many diets focus on changing eating patterns and lifestyles rather than limiting foods. We have listed the four most effective diet plans for losing weight and improving your health.

WW (Weight Watchers)

We begin our list with ever gold WW. Formerly known as Weight Watchers, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is an established diet company. At the core, WW is still a diet with a weight loss goal, even if it’s billed as a wellness brand. In contrast to other diet programs, Weight Watchers emphasizes portion control and wholesome ingredients over restricting your food choices. Moreover, it promotes sustained weight loss over time instead of crash diets.

WW’s new questionnaire allows you to share your favorite foods and weight loss goals. Depending on your answers, it creates a personalized diet plan for you. WW offers some zero-point foods and allows you to maintain your healthy diet using your personal point budget.

ZeroPoint Foods. The foods in this list provide fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats while they are low in sugars and saturated fats.

PersonalPoints Budget. This is the total number of points you can spend. There are different weekly and daily budgets assigned by WW.

Foods with a zero point value are the healthiest. By eating more, you will have more points left for other foods, such as your favorites. With the WW app, you can track what you eat, drink, and do. By rewarding you with extra points, it encourages you to make healthier choices.

Members can choose from several membership programs with varying inclusions. The company’s plans include:

  • Digital Plan — $20 per month, 
  • Digital 360 Plan — $29.95 per month
  • Workshop + Digital Plan — $45 per month.
  • Personal coaching + Digital Plan — $59.95 per month


Those new to WW can start with the basic digital plan, which includes calorie tracking, fitness guides, food recipes, and community support. If you want everything, you can opt for Personal Coaching + Digital Plan.

Noom Diet

Noom Diet is our second recommendation for breaking your weight loss plateau (only if you weight loss program seems to not be working even after a couple cycles). Unlike other weight loss apps, Noom takes a well-rounded approach to weight loss. Aside from tracking calories, it also changes how you think about food, nutrition, and dieting. Based on your current weight and weight loss goals, Noom calculates your daily calorie budget. As part of this program, you will receive access to health education, personalized tips, food recipes, coaching, and community support.

Calorie and nutrient density are categorized based on a color guide in Noom. There is no such thing as good or bad food. The majority of your diet should consist of these foods, as well as smaller portions of these foods. Using the Noom app, you can keep track of your weight, physical activity, and meals daily. Losing weight or cutting calories isn’t the only goal. In other words, it’s about living a healthier lifestyle and developing healthy eating habits. 

After your trial ends, Noom will charge you every month, every few months, or every year. There may be different offers available at different prices. With a longer subscription plan, you can save more money. In most cases, you can expect to pay $59 a month & as low as $199 a year. Neither a custom workout nor diet plan is included in these costs. If you want them individually, you must pay $39 to $59 each (discounted) or $80 to $100 each (regular prices).

In Noom, you are encouraged to eat healthier foods that are low in calories. Vegetables and whole grains fall into this category. There can be a lot of health benefits to consuming low-calorie, nutritional foods. Moreover, they can help you stay full for a longer period. Low-calorie-dense foods make it easier to lose weight by having fewer calories per serving.

Mayo Clinic Diet

As the next diet on our list, we have the Mayo Clinic Weight Loss Diet. The Mayo Clinic Diet was developed by preventive health experts, psychologists, dietitians, chefs, and professors of medicine. Using their combined knowledge and expertise, these professionals have developed a plan to help you lose excess weight and build healthy, sustainable eating and exercise habits.

The program does not completely ban any foods. Rather than focusing on food choices, portion sizes, and exercise, the focus is on educating participants. A doctor-approved healthy-weight pyramid supports the Mayo Clinic Diet, which helps you manage your energy intake to lose healthy weight without feeling hungry. This diet provides a balance between fresh produce, protein, low-fat dairy products, healthy unsaturated fats, and even a small amount of sweet foods.

Depending on your plan, membership costs range from $20 to $50 per month. Membership allows you access to hundreds of recipes, personalized meal plans, and guidance on topics such as portion control and motivation. Members also gain access to a fitness journal, a healthy habit tracker, and a weight and inch tracker as part of their membership. 

To achieve long-term weight loss, the Mayo Clinic Diet promotes healthy habits and a balanced meal plan. The plan will most likely help you lose weight if you follow it. The Mayo Clinic Diet could benefit anyone who is looking for a long-term weight loss plan that is nutritionally sound.

Healthi (formerly iTrackBites)

We end our list with Healthi, an app that offers tips, plans, recipes, and inspiration for weight loss and management. Besides tracking your activities and food intake, it also keeps track of your health. The app also provides all members access to its extensive and growing six million+ Food Library so they can easily keep track of all the foods they consume.

Among the different meal and lifestyle plans offered by Healthi are sugar reduction, carb reduction, portion control, and others. A few plans are only available to paid Pro members, while most are available to free and paid members alike. Tracking your food and activities with Healthi is similar to tracking them with WW. They call their points bites. Additionally, the app offers a community feature with a news feed and options for joining different groups.

The costs of diet apps and subscriptions such as Weight Watchers (WW) and Noom are sky-high. We recommend Healthi, formerly known as iTrackBites if you are looking for a cheaper diet app. If you do not need all the extra features most dieting apps offer, you’ll be very happy with health’s free version. There is a free version with all the standard activity tracking services and the awesome barcode scanner that makes life so much easier.

Healthi’s Pro membership subscription will impress you if you want more features from your dieting app. For $59.99 a year, you can subscribe to the Pro service. If you join Healthi for the first time, you will receive promotions. During the first year, you can get 50% off. The company also offers promotions throughout the year, often around the holidays, as low as $19.99/year.

Factors That Influence Weight Loss

You lose weight at a different rate depending on several factors. There are many things beyond your control.


A person’s fat-to-muscle ratio dramatically affects their ability to lose weight. In general, women have a lower RMR than men of the same height because their fat-to-muscle ratios are greater. Consequently, women burn between 5 and 10% fewer calories than men. Therefore, men tend to lose weight more quickly than women following an equal calorie diet.


With age, changes in body composition occur, such as an increase in fat mass and a decrease in muscle mass. The decline in calorie requirements of your major organs, along with this change, contributes to a lower RMR. As our RMR decreases with age, it becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight.

Calorie deficit

Creating a negative calorie balance is the key to losing weight. Losing weight depends on how much of a calorie deficit you have. Do not, however, create a large calorie deficit. You’d be at risk of nutrient deficiency if you did so. Further, you might lose more muscle mass than fat mass if you do it.

My Recommendation For Successful Weight Loss

I wish weight loss were as simple as “eat less and exercise more,” but that never quite works, does it? For the most effective long-term weight management, 1 to 2 pounds should be lost per week. For successful weight loss, you should consider the following factors.

Setting realistic goals for weight loss. You should avoid “get rich quick” schemes regarding weight loss. You should avoid diets and fitness programs that promise rapid and large weight loss, such as “Slim in a Week!” Rather, aim for a weekly weight loss of one pound. You may feel frustrated and give up if you assume you will continue losing weight at that pace.

Keep a positive attitude. People who experience gradual weight loss can feel discouraged if their pounds don’t drop at the rate anticipated. Weight loss or maintenance programs can be challenging on some days. Whenever the process seems too difficult, perseverance is the key to a successful weight-loss program.

If you want to reset your goals, you may need to adjust your calorie intake or exercise schedule. Being persistent and maintaining a positive outlook is key to overcoming the barriers to weight loss success.

Breaking Your Weight Loss Plateaus: Frequently Asked Questions

Do weight loss plateaus disappear on their own?

No, you have to make some changes. With a few tweaks to your diet and exercise routine, you may be able to start losing weight again after reaching a plateau. Get back to the determined mindset you had when you started the program and reaffirm your commitment.

Are there differences in weight loss between individuals?

There are a variety of factors that influence food intake, metabolism, and exercise levels, including genetics and environment. As a result, weight loss results will also vary from person to person.

How can supplements help speed up weight loss?

You should not take over-the-counter or prescription weight loss medications. Getting into a healthy eating habit, exercising regularly, and controlling your appetite is much healthier. A vitamin and mineral combination in your eating plan provides all of the essential nutrients.

Are cardio workouts the most effective?

A cardio workout is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. However, you should never perform cardio on an empty stomach. Though exercising on an empty stomach won’t cause weight gain, it is more effective when you have the energy to fuel the exercise.

What to Do When Weight Loss Plateaus: Conclusion

Losing weight takes time, and it’s frustrating not to see results immediately after putting so much effort into it, don’t get discouraged when weight loss plateaus, because it happens to almost everyone who is trying to lose weight. Someone may experience a weight loss plateau without cheating. They often simply need to adjust their routine, either with their diet or exercise!

In order to break that weight loss plateau, track your food again, assess your stress, and pick up some weights if the scale is stuck. Consider your lifestyle when setting your weight-loss goals. Avoid reverting to your old eating and exercising habits no matter what you do. It may cause you to gain back the weight you’ve lost. 

Maintain your weight loss efforts and celebrate your success. Enjoy the process of losing weight, and don’t be too hard on yourself. A plateau in weight loss can be frustrating, but it can be overcome.

Mike Horton (head of Weighted Living)

by Mike Horton

Mike is one of the lead editors at Weighted Living and the author of this article. He's become fascinated with weighted products (a bit too much we think) and loves to see all the different ways they can improve our loves. He's written quite a few weighted product guides as well.

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