When you begin a weight loss journey, things tend to go great at first. The motivation is high, adrenaline kicks in, and the weight comes off rapidly. But at some point, it seems as though everything has come to a halt. You’ve hit a weight loss plateau.
A weight loss plateau can be incredibly discouraging, especially when you are doing everything right! You’re choosing healthy foods, watching your portion sizes, and exercising regularly, but the scale just won’t budge. And it’s not just a few days. A weight loss plateau can last weeks or even months on end.
Weight loss plateaus occur despite our best efforts because our bodies are incredibly smart and adaptable. Your body adjusts both to your exercise and eating habits, requiring increased activity and decreased calories. But you can only go so far before that type of lifestyle becomes unbearable.
The good news is it’s not all about exercising more and eating less.
Here are 14 simple tricks that can boost your metabolism and give your body a nudge in the right direction.
1. Go Green
You want to be aware of how much you’re eating, but you certainly don’t want to starve yourself. An excellent way to get more for less is by eating lots of green vegetables!
Greens and other non-starchy vegetables contain a ton of nutrients yet very few calories. For this reason, you can pretty much eat as many as you want.
Instead of reaching for that extra helping of rice, add a double serving of non-starchy vegetables to your plate. It will not only fill your belly but will provide you with lots of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
2. Cut Back on Carbs
If you’re in a weight loss slump, cutting back on carbs can be an effective way to budge the scale.
One large review of 13 studies showed that those who ate 50 grams or less of carbohydrates per day lost significantly more weight than those who ate a low-fat diet (1).
You don’t want to completely cut out carbs, as they are a significant source of energy. But cutting down on carbohydrates and replacing them with more non-starchy vegetables can be an excellent way to get your weight loss back on track.
3. Have a Refeed Day
Hitting a weight loss plateau does have its perks ya know. How? It gives you an excuse to go high-carb for a day, and we all love our carbs.
I know what you’re thinking, “But didn’t you just tell me to cut back on carbs!?” Yes, I did, but hear me out.
When you lose weight, you lose fat. When you have less fat, your body produces less leptin, a hormone that controls hunger and energy intake. As a result, hunger levels and cravings rise.
Research indicates that the best way to boost leptin is to eat more carbohydrates (4, 5). The carbohydrates tell your brain that it’s not going to starve, thus, reducing cravings and suppressing appetite.
Beware that a reefed day is not a “cheat” day. Continue your day by choosing healthy options, but feel free to add more carbohydrates to your meals, particularly the meals surrounding your workout.
4. Exercise Harder, Not Longer
Let’s be honest; working out is hard. I’m a health and fitness junkie, and even I have trouble motivating myself to workout every day.
Luckily, you don’t need to put more time into your workout, just more effort. Try increasing the intensity of your workout.
Whatever type of workout you do, there are plenty of ways to add in more effort. If your workouts consist of walking, try a combination of walking and running. If you’re already running, add some sprints to your routine. If you do resistance training, go ahead and grab a heavier set of weights.
Whatever you can do to up your effort and get your heart rate pumping, go for it.
5. Protein It Up
You’ve heard it a million times before: eat more protein if you want to lose weight. Well, that’s because it’s true!
Protein boosts metabolism more so than any other nutrient. In fact, protein digestion increases calorie burning by 20-30% (8).
Not only is it important to eat your protein, but be sure you include it in every meal. Spreading your protein intake out will help you to burn more calories and control appetite throughout the day.
It’s recommended for healthy adults to consume 20-30 grams of protein with each meal (11).
6. Hit the Weights
As much as you want that stubborn fat to come off, it’s inevitable that losing weight causes you to lose some muscle along with that fat.
Muscle helps to burn calories and boost metabolism. As you lose weight, and thus some muscle, your metabolism slows down.
However, you can maintain as much muscle mass as possible by adding weight lifting to your workout routine. Research suggests that strength training decreases body weight and body fat without reducing muscle mass, thus increasing your metabolic rate (12).
So ladies, next time you’re at the gym don’t shy away from the weights!
7. Make Friends with Fiber
Shoot for at least 30 grams of fiber per day from foods like whole grains, beans, fruits, and veggies.
8. Manage Stress
Stress doesn’t just kill your mood. It can ruin your weight loss game as well.
Not only does stress promote binging on comfort foods, but it also changes your body chemistry by increasing the production of the hormone cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.”
Increased levels of cortisol also cause higher levels of the hormone insulin. Insulin increases fat storage within the body and even causes you to crave sugary and fatty foods.
Check out this article to learn natural ways of managing stress and anxiety.
9. Grab a Daily Cuppa
Don’t worry I’m not going to tell you to quit caffeine. In fact, caffeine has been shown to boost metabolism and increase calorie burning (17)!
I wrote about the fantastic health benefits of coffee in this article.
However, green tea may be an even better choice. It contains compounds called catechins, which boost metabolism and speeds up the livers fat-burning capacity. In one study, green tea was shown to increase fat burning by up to 17% (18).
So go ahead and enjoy your daily cuppa, just be sure not to load it with cream and sugar.
10. Eat Fat to Burn Fat
Not only is dietary fat an essential energy source for your body, but fat aids in weight loss. That’s right; you need to eat fat to burn fat.
Research shows that high-fat diets not only aid in weight loss but allow the body to use fat for energy, rather than store it (19).
After the body depletes its glycogen stores, it will turn to either fat or muscle for energy. We’ve mentioned above the importance of maintaining muscle mass for weight loss. That’s why it’s important to have that source of stored fat for the body to use instead.
The trick is to eat the right kinds of fat. Fill up on foods like avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
11. Treat Yo Self
Let’s be honest, we all need a bowl of ice cream or piece of pizza every now and again to keep ourselves sane!
It’s important to make room for the foods you love. Otherwise, your weight loss journey simply won’t last. That said, it’s important to decipher between a cheat and a treat.
The word “cheat meal” makes me cringe. I wrote about why I hate cheat meals in this article.
A cheat meal promotes that idea of losing control and going all out. A treat, on the other hand, is a controlled way to get in the foods you love. You can make room for that chocolate bar or that bowl of ice cream or those fried pakoras without overdoing it.
Allow yourself a small treat every day or every other day. A small indulgence will take the edge off and give you something to look forward to
12. Don’t Skip Meals
There’s no hard and fast rule as to how many meals you should eat every day and what time you should eat them. That said, it’s important to eat throughout the day.
When you go for hours without eating in between meals, your blood sugar levels plummet. This can lead to sugar cravings and overeating.
If you’re always on the go, be sure to pack some light snacks to munch on in between meals. Light snacking will keep you satisfied throughout the day and will prevent you from overeating later on.
13. Start a Food Journal
Sometimes it’s hard to see our own bad habits. You might think you’re doing everything right, but one little habit may be slowing down your progress.
Food journaling is a great way to slow down and take a look at how you’re doing from the outside. One study showed that keeping a food journal nearly doubles your chances of weight loss success (20).
A food journal can be an excellent way to uncover areas of improvement, both in your diet and lifestyle habits.
14. Get in Those ZZZ’s
A lack of sleep is not only bad for your physical, mental and emotional health, but it can impede on your weight loss progress.
Additionally, being too low on energy can greatly affect your motivation and discipline to stick to your health plan. How often do you feel like putting on your running shoes after a lousy night’s sleep?
If you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau, reflect on whether or not you’re making sleep a priority.
Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau: Wrap Up
Weight loss plateaus can be frustrating and discouraging. You put everything into your weight loss journey. When you get stuck, it seems like it’s all been for nothing.
But don’t lose heart. Many times you just need to make a few simple tweaks to your routine, and you’ll be back in the game in no time.
Have you ever experienced a weight loss plateau? How did you get out of it? Share in the comments below!