8 Ways To Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau
You’re doing everything right: you’ve ditched donuts and cereal in the morning for a nutrient-dense green veggie juice. Instead of a huge bowl of pasta for dinner, you’re eating Miracle Noodles. You’re exercising almost every day. Why then all of a sudden have you hit a weight loss plateau? And how can you overcome the sudden halt in progress?
Here are some ways you can lose those last stubborn pounds and reignite your metabolism...
#1: Intermittent Fasting
Also called “time-restricted feeding,” intermittent fasting is perhaps one of the easiest ways to lose weight.
Here’s how it works: you limit intake of calories (drinks included) into a window of at least 12 hours. In other words, if you’re going to have a snack at midnight, then don’t eat breakfast until 12 noon the following day.
One of the most popular methods of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 protocol. This is when you consume all your calories in an 8-hour window, and fast for the other 16 hours. (Example: eat from 11 a.m. and finish eating by 7 p.m.)
How Does Intermittent Fasting Help Break Weight Loss Plateaus?
If you’re only eating during an 8-hour window, you’re most likely not going to eat more than 3 times a day. In fact, many people who consistently eat during a time-restricted window tend to eat just two big meals a day.
Eating several times a day—even if what you’re eating is seemingly healthy—may cause your insulin levels and blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Intermittent fasting works in one respect because this method of eating tends to keep insulin levels lower. When your insulin levels are lower, your body’s fat-burning potential is far greater.
Time-restricted feeding also can help accelerate weight loss simply because when you eat less often, you tend to eat fewer calories.
In addition, preliminary studies show that intermittent fasting raises the level of a certain metabolism-boosting hormone called norepinephrine.
Quick Tip For Those New to Intermittent Fasting
The most difficult part of intermittent fasting at first for some people is overcoming hunger in the morning. There are two things that can help with that. First, realize that what you’re experiencing isn’t true hunger, i.e. starvation. Rather, your body may simply be accustomed to eating first thing in the morning. Secondly, taking an electrolyte supplement (or drinking water with Himalayan sea salt) can help keep your morning energy levels high, even if it will be a few more hours until your first meal.
What If I’m Already Doing Intermittent Fasting And Have Hit a Weight Loss Plateau?
Then try eating your calories much earlier in the day. There is some preliminary research suggesting that not eating late at night can be better for your body composition. Why? When you don’t eat late at night, it reduces inflammation and blood sugar levels in your body.
If you’re really desperate to break your plateau, try going 5-6 hours between your first and second meal of the day. Finishing your last meal of the day by 3 p.m. might be too difficult for some people. If that’s the case for you, at least make sure you’re done eating by about 6 in the evening. Then, don’t have any calories for at least 16 hours.
Weight Loss Plateau Breakthrough #2: The Ketogenic Diet
Many people in the Miracle Noodle community live a ketogenic lifestyle. If you’re not familiar with keto, here’s a crash course…
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat (and moderate protein) way of eating. There are a few degrees of strictness when it comes to limiting carbs. But with true ketogenic diets, the upper limit of net carbs (total grams of carbs minus grams of fiber and sugar alcohols) is 50 grams.
After as little as a few days of restricting net carbs (it could take longer for some people), your body will enter a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is when your body burns stored body fat for energy for fuel, rather than the body’s preferred, usual source of energy: glucose (sugar).
[Miracle Noodle makes it easy to slash total net carbs. Several of our pasta alternatives contain less than 1 gram of net carbs per serving.]
If you’re following a keto diet and have yet to try intermittent fasting, combining the two may help you shatter your weight loss plateau, and vice versa. (Check with your doctor to make sure the keto diet and intermittent fasting is safe for you.)
Already Keto But Can’t Lose More Weight? Try These 2 Hacks...
Over time on a keto diet, you may also experience a weight-loss snag. There are a couple different hacks you can try. First, you can try doing one or two carb cheating days a week.
Also called the “cyclical keto diet,” increasing your carb intake may be beneficial if you’re doing high intensity exercise. Research on the benefits of increasing your carb intake one or two days a week is virtually non-existent, but some people claim to have had weight loss success.
The flip side of the cyclical keto diet may also work. For some people, a so-called “Fat Fast” may help accelerate weight or body-fat loss. A fat fast reduces both the number of calories and the amount of net carbs for a few days. While grams of net carbs are already low on a keto diet, while on a fat fast, the net carbs are even lower: 10 grams per day. Considering that one cup of blueberries contains 13 grams of net carbs, you can see how easy it is to exceed 10 grams.
The reason why you wouldn’t want to do a keto fat fast for more than a few days is that when you severely restrict carbs, you’re most likely not consuming enough antioxidants from fruits and veggies, which are technically carbs.
#3: Smash Your Weight Loss Plateau with High Intensity Exercise
Perhaps one of the reasons you’re frustrated that your weight loss success has stalled is because you’re exercising every day. However, if during your waking hours, you’re sedentary for the whole day, minus the one hour you’re spending at the gym, your metabolism might not be primed for the pump.
So rather than exercise for one prolonged session during the day, try splitting your workouts into a few short bursts of higher intensity exercise during the day. There is some preliminary evidence that doing this can result in “Modest reductions in subcutaneous and abdominal body fat in young normal weight and slightly overweight males and females,” concludes this study.
#4: Burn more calories throughout the day
In addition to doing short bursts of exercise during the day, try to burn more calories by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car far away and hoof it. When taking the stairs, skip a step. Set a timer on your phone to get out of your chair and go for a 2-minute walk…
#5: Go Green At Home
Using everyday household cleaning products, cosmetics and self-care products that contain harsh, synthetic ingredients can interfere with weight loss success (and may jeopardize your health).
Here’s why: some synthetic chemicals in these products mimic estrogen and bind to estrogen receptor sites throughout the body. These chemicals (called “xenoestrogens”) trigger body-fat storage in bodily tissues.
#6: Give Your Liver A Rest
The liver is the main detoxifying organ in the body. Because of xenoestrogens and other modern-day stressors, your liver might be detoxifying your body a little on the sluggish side. If your liver isn’t functioning optimally, your weight-loss potential suffers.
With this in mind, let’s revisit intermittent fasting. Every once in a blue moon, it’s actually beneficial to fast for a 24-hour period. Doing so can give your liver a much-needed rest.
#7: Manage Stress
Being stressed out results in your body continuously needing to produce the stress hormone, cortisol. Numerous studies (like this one) show an association between high stress levels and higher abdominal fat distribution.
Start a meditation practice, or find other ways to manage your stress.
#8: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Obviously, getting better sleep can help manage stress levels. But poor sleep quality isn’t only bad for your mental well-being and energy levels. It’s also detrimental to your body composition. Research links poor sleep quality to overeating and being a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic.
Have you tried intermittent fasting, keto, or any other of the weight loss plateau tips below? Leave a comment.
The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.
Judd Handler is a health writer and certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition therapist.