You’ve been doing everything right; watching what you’ve been eating, getting your exercise in, even avoiding sweets and alcohol only to hop on the scale and see it’s not budging. Don’t let this be the turning point where you give up and revert back to old habits. Weight-loss plateaus happen to the best of us, but before you let frustration set in it may only take a few tweaks to kickstart your weight loss again.
- Your Changing Body Composition: If you are not losing weight, but your clothes (especially around the midsection) are fitting better, then you are losing body fat and gaining muscle at the same time. This is an ideal situation and tells you that you are doing all the right things.
- Consider Weighing and Measuring Your Foods: Our portion sizes tend to get easily distorted especially if we rely on eating out. Reacquaint yourself with what your portions should look like by measuring out your foods just to make sure you are still eyeballing correctly. You don’t have to do this long, just until you get yourself back on track.
- Track Your Intake: Keeping a food journal is a great way to keep you honest about what you’re eating. If you have to write it down you’ll be less apt to eat it. This is also a good way of knowing if you are going overboard on your protein, carbohydrate and fat choices and where to begin to cutting back.
- Eat Small Frequent Meals: Sometimes we skip meals like breakfast thinking it will save calories for later. This can actually work against you. Eating frequently throughout the day ensures you are controlling your blood sugar levels and ultimately prevents you from overindulging at your next meal. Calorie control is important for weight loss, but hormonal control is even more important.
- Watch the Cheating: Sometimes when we see the scale going in the right direction we’ll allow ourselves an indulgence or a cheat meal after a tough workout. This is fine in moderation, but be mindful of the frequency with which you reward yourself. Taking the weekends off, nibbling on snacks throughout the afternoon or finishing the leftovers once dinner is done, can really start to add up. If you know you are going to cheat, eat something sensible and healthy first in an effort to curb how much you indulge. When it comes to snacks, instead of going for things that quickly add up the calories, replace refined carbohydrates with fruits and vegetables and add some lean protein for sticking power.
- Exercise: The same amount of calories that helped you lose weight might not be the same amount you need to keep the weight off. Unfortunately, when your weight goes down, you need less calories to maintain your new weight because your metabolism has become more efficient. This is a great time to insert physical activity if you haven’t already.
If you already exercise your body may have become very efficient at doing the same activity. Start to switch things up. High intensity interval training (HIIT) gives you the most bang for your buck in the least amount of time when working out. It helps to burn more body fat as it’s based on doing intense bursts of exercise followed by an active recovery to keep your heart rate up and burn fat quicker.
- Watch Your Alcohol Intake: Alcohol is fine in moderation, but pending your drink of choice it might come with a lot of extra sugar and calories which will halt your weight loss efforts. Plus drinking tends to make us lethargic slowing down our activity level along with loosening the reigns when it comes to food choices, making us move less and eat more.
- Switch up the Ratio of Protein to Carbohydrate: As we age we may become more sensitive to carbohydrates impacting our blood sugar levels and our ability to lose body fat. If you think you might be carbohydrate-sensitive consider bumping up your meals by one block of protein and lowering them by 1 block of carbohydrate. For instance, for males this might mean your meals are 5 blocks of protein, 3 blocks of carbs, and for females 4 blocks of protein, 2 blocks of carbs.
- Calorie Restriction: Most of us would rather boost our activity level than have to cut back on calories, but if you feel like you’ve covered all the bases above it might require cutting back on calories more. Ensuring you have the right balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat at each meal and snack can make cutting back on calories easier while keeping hunger and fatigue in check.