What is a weight loss plateau?
A weight loss plateau occurs when your weight loss progress comes to a halt. Despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to lose more weight. Most people experience at least one plateau throughout their weight loss journey. But, why does it happen?
If you’ve been on a weight loss journey for some time, the strategies that originally contributed to your initial weight loss may not be working as well now that your body composition has changed. Or, old, unhealthy habits may be creeping back into your routine without you even noticing. A weight loss plateau may be a sign that it’s time to re-evaluate your plan and switch things up. It’s also an excellent opportunity to review your goals and pat yourself on the back for how far you’ve come!
Being stuck in a weight loss plateau can be frustrating, but it is very common when trying to lose weight. Here are some of our best tips to get back on track so you can break through your weight loss plateau:
1. Keep track of what & when you eat
Sticking to your healthy habits is key. If you regularly deviate from your typically healthy diet or exercise plan, your weight loss may stall. Take an honest look at what foods you are eating, when you’re eating, and how much you're moving. Keep track of your food intake and all your physical activity, and if you’re on the Jenny Craig program, talk to your consultant to see if you need to readjust your weight loss plan. To keep things easy and convenient, self-monitor by keeping notes on your weekly menu, and return to daily weigh-ins to help you notice any patterns.
2. Shake it up - increase the intensity or frequency of exercise
If you’ve been true to your weight loss and exercise programs but find yourself plateauing, you may need to make a change to start seeing results again.
If your exercise routine is focused on aerobic activity, mix in some strength training or weight training. Regular resistance workouts can help to build more muscle, which helps to burn more calories during your workouts.1 If your focus is strength, add some cardio — walking, running, cycling, swimming — to your week. Our helpful exercise guide for beginners is a great place to start!
Another way to up your calorie-burn is through interval training. In this type of workout, you'll alternate between quick, short sessions of intense activity and short resting periods, where you’ll stop completely or do a less vigorous exercise.2 To get started, you’ll do high-intensity exercise for a minute, rest, and repeat. Give your walking routine a boost by walking as fast as you can for a minute, then slowing down for a minute. Repeat to get your heart pumping!
You can apply interval training to virtually any type of physical activity you enjoy — walking, running, cycling, swimming, a workout on an elliptical machine, even strength training — and you can set the interval periods to your own preference.
Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any kind of new physical activity routine.
3. Talk with your consultant
If you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau and are a Jenny Craig member, it's important to continue attending your weekly consultations. Your Jenny Craig consultant is your personal weight loss coach and will help you review your day-to-day plan and come up with solutions to keep you on track with your weight loss program. Another tip: Revisit your motivation. Maybe you have a new reason to be inspired ... planning for a vacation, having the confidence to apply for a new job or to complete a race. By working together, you can break through the plateau and move forward in your weight loss journey.
4. Manage stress
Although it may seem unrelated to your plateau, research indicates that chronic stress can impact your weight.3 If you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed — whether it be your job or demands of personal or family life — make sure to set some time aside for yourself and practice regular self-care.
In addition to demands on your time, stress can also impact your weight loss progress.4 While it’s common for life to get busy and sometimes stressful, it’s important to take the time to monitor and manage your stress levels. Try these simple and unique ways to de-stress and reset your focus.
5. Get more sleep
Sleep and weight loss are closely linked, as sleep impacts many of your body’s processes, including your metabolism.5 One of the most important processes that sleep impacts is your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural clock, that controls your sleep-wake cycle.6 If you’re sleep deprived, you may experience a misalignment in your circadian rhythm, which may lead to hormonal changes within your body. Since hunger and appetite hormones can be impacted, getting too little sleep may lead you to reach for unhealthy snacks or sugary beverages you normally would avoid – which can lead to weight gain.7 However, by following this natural rhythm, getting enough sleep and making healthy food choices, you may be able to avoid unwanted weight gain or a weight loss plateau. Here’s how you can follow your natural rhythm: Aim to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night and eat the majority of your meals during daylight hours when your metabolism is most efficient, avoiding late-night snacks and meals.8
If you’re struggling to break a weight loss plateau, assess your sleep schedule — it might be worth getting an extra hour a night!
Remember, sustainable weight loss takes time and does not happen overnight. Use smaller, smart goals to help keep you motivated and accountable. Learn more about how to push through a weight loss plateau by getting started with Jenny Craig today!
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple.
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and is written by experienced health and lifestyle contributors and reviewed by certified professionals.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
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Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig