This is an excerpt from Diet Lies and Weight Loss Truths by Melody L. Schoenfeld & Susan M. Kleiner.
If you find yourself at a weight loss plateau, there are several strategies you can use to try to break through it:
- Increase your protein. As we discussed earlier in this book, there is a certain thermic effect of protein, and protein can keep you feeling fuller longer. Including more protein in your diet might help give you an edge on burning a little more and eating a little less. It can also help fuel your muscles for those workouts, because you’ll probably need to.
- Move more. Or at least move more intensely. Your body might have adapted to the pace at which you currently train, so you might need to move a little faster, run or walk on hills instead of flat ground, lift heavier weights, or increase the amount of time you do physical activity. If you’re not weight training, add in some strength sessions. If you’re not doing cardio, add some exercise to get your heart pumping. You can also start ramping up what is known as NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT can really ramp up the number of calories you burn in a day (188), so you can do things like stand instead of sit, climb the escalator (or stairs) instead of riding it or taking the elevator, park a little further away from your destination than usual, carry your own bags at the market, and even fidget in your seat. The more you move, the better.
- Eat more fiber. An easy way to do this is to up your non-starchy veggie intake. Vegetables are not only full of fiber, but they are low in calories and dense in nutrients, so you can eat a lot of them and not really risk going overboard on your daily caloric needs. Fiber in general helps keep you feeling full (so you will likely eat less) and has many other health benefits to boot (189).
- Drink more water. Sometimes your body sends hunger signals when it’s actually thirsty, so make sure you drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Water can also take up room in your stomach, leaving less room for food, so it keeps you from taking in more calories.
- Check your sleep. If you’re not sleeping enough, your metabolism can actually drop, and sleep deprivation has been found to be a factor in weight gain (190). Most people need around seven to eight hours of quality shuteye per night, although there are variations in overall sleep requirements from person to person. We’ll talk more about sleep hygiene later in this book, but if you try everything and can’t figure out why you’re still not sleeping right, you may want to talk to a qualified medical professional and figure out what’s going on. And while you’re at it . . .
- Lower your stress levels. High stress levels can not only interfere with sleep and exercise but can also trigger poor eating habits and behaviors (more on this later) (191). There are several ways to address stress (we’ll talk about some of these later in this book). Find a method that works well for you and stick to it consistently. Stress is something that affects all of us; keeping it under control is extremely important.
- Track your food. It’s possible that you’re eating more (or a lot less) than you think you are. Tracking your food for a week or so can make you a lot more mindful of what’s going into your body so that you can pinpoint issues you didn’t realize were there.
If everything seems to be on target and your body fat still won’t budge, you may want to talk to your doctor about having some tests done to ensure there’s nothing awry with your hormones or anything else. Issues with the thyroid and other hormones can interfere with weight loss, and the right medication or medical plan can often set things right again.