Many of us have experienced that period in our fitness journeys when the number on the scale steadily decreases, but then all of a sudden it won’t budge — no matter what we do or how hard we try.
What’s a plateau exactly? A plateau occurs when you seem to be doing all the right things, like eating right, exercising regularly, limiting your alcohol intake, and sleeping enough, but your body refuses to drop those last few extra pounds.
Plateaus can also occur in the gym, namely when you feel like you have
less energy, you are frequently tempted to skip your workouts, or your body feels weaker than it
did before. This stall in your progress can be demoralizing and confusing, and the lack of
motivation that results from it has the potential to catapult you back into your old habits.
Luckily, there are a few easy adjustments you can make to get things back on track and start seeing results again.When you lose weight, your body undergoes important changes that can have tremendous long- term effects.
In addition to a reduction of fat tissue and an increase in muscle tissue (if you
regularly incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen), your body begins to decrease
its release of leptin, which is the hormone that your fat cells produce to lower your
When this happens, a hormone called ghrelin, or “the hunger hormone,” increases
and, as a result, you will be hungry more often and have an elevated appetite than ever
When you lose weight, your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), or the number of calories your
body requires to perform its life-sustaining functions, is lower. This means that you need less
calories than you did before — and if there is a surplus because of your increased appetite, you
will gain weight or the number on the scale will remain the same. Therefore, when struggling with a weight loss plateau, keeping a close eye on your nutrition and calorie intake, as well as the size of your portions becomes even more important than it was
There are many apps, such as MyFitnessPal, that will help you keep track of your daily
calorie and macronutrient goals to make sure that you stay on target. At the same time, you must
allow yourself some flexibility because constantly feeling deprived can wreak havoc on your
motivation and lower your chance of breaking through that plateau. To avoid this, follow the
80:20 rule: 80% of your daily calorie intake consists of unprocessed whole foods, while the other
20% is flexible — so you can indulge in (small portions) of your favourite guilty pleasures. This
approach will allow you to create a healthy lifestyle change, rather than a diet mentality that is
bound to stall as time progresses.
Although it might seem counterintuitive, taking time off from the gym will also help you see
results again. Take a week off and do some low-intensity cardio, like
going for a hike, and then, when you hit the gym again, switch up your routine to stimulate new muscle groups.
Also,incorporate more protein in your diet to build muscle, increase strength, and get those results you’ve been working so hard for. Finally, make sure you get plenty of rest after a tough workout.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to determine whether what you’re experiencing is
a plateau at all. You likely have a number in your head that’s your ‘goal weight’, but instead of
killing yourself to reach it, ask yourself: “Do I feel more confident?”, “Do I feel stronger and
more in control?”, “Am I proud of what I have accomplished?” If you answered yes to any of
these questions, perhaps you haven’t plateaued at all, but instead you have achieved your fitness
goals and it’s time to switch to maintenance mode.
The number on the scale is trivial and doesn’t account for muscle mass gain and body composition — it just calculates your overall weight.
Instead, focus on how you feel. No matter what scale says, be proud of how far you’ve come,
and be confident knowing that you are beautiful no matter what the scale says.