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Weight Loss Plateau

Friday, March 27, 2009
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Option 1. Slide down a cliff by regaining the weight.
Option 2. Try these tips first.


"I hate these last 4 kilos," declared Arjun as he walked into my office for his follow-up. "It was exciting when I started my weight loss program at a 100 kilos." He went on to moan, "losing the initial 11 kilos seemed so simple. What is going wrong now?" He was clearly demoralized as he had followed his diet diligently, done his exercises sincerely and been very positive throughout. Then why was he not shedding the last few kilos to reach his ideal weight of 85 kgs?

Well, technically speaking we call this reaching a `plateau'. The main reason this happened to Arjun is that when his body weight went down, so did his Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Therefore he was burning calories more slowly. His body needed fewer calories to maintain his weight, and fewer still to continue losing more. To continue losing at the same rate, he needed to gradually reduce his caloric intake while increasing his energy expenditure through exercise.

Fortunately plateaus are very common and can be overcome by giving the body a little `nudge.'

NV tips to get past the plateau...
  • Understand: Your body weighs less now and burns calories differently. You must recalculate your daily energy needs (Recalculate Daily Energy Needs) and reduce your caloric intake by another 300 calories a day, and increase your exercise factor to burn an additional 200 calories during your workout.
  • Change: Try a different exercise routine. For example, change your cardio routine by getting onto a treadmill or doing aerobics or even by swimming. Indulging in an active sport is also an enjoyable way to `shake' your body out of its balanced state. 
  • Bring on some protein: Studies have shown that replacing fat calories with protein calories can help preserve your BMR. But beware! The upper limit for protein is 22 percent. So don't overindulge. 
  • Smaller meals, greater gains: Eat 5-6 small meals a day. Eating smaller portions at 2-3 hour intervals will help keep your metabolism going. Opt for clear soups, crunchy salads & juicy fresh fruits that not only fill you up, they also decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. This is an extremely useful tactic in overcoming your weight-loss plateau. 
  • Be honest: Keep an account of calories burned and calories eaten. Overestimating the former and/or underestimating the latter can lead to a false `plateau'. Maintaining a food and activity diary can help a great deal. Overindulging in so-called `health' foods can also pile on calories. So, remember the key word `Moderation' at all times.
  • Pick up those dumb-bells: Weight training is doubly useful. It burns calories as well as builds muscle mass. This is turn, helps you lose body fat and therefore, can compensate for the decline in BMR induced by weight loss. 
  • Don't give up:  You have come this far, be very proud of nearly reaching your goal. Even if you have hit a plateau, you may still be losing some weight, but may be a lot slower than when you started off. Giving up now would mean double trouble - low metabolic rate coupled with no exercise and a higher appetite. This may take you back to your original weight. 
  • The last straw: If right at this moment, you do not have the motivation to try that extra bit harder, give yourself a respite from trying so hard for a week or two, and simply focus on eating a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet that allows you to maintain your current weight. If you like to blog, seek out people who have gone through what you are going through now and will tell you how they won. Don't give in to the temptation of a weight loss pill.
Stay positive and make healthy living a life-time habit. Focus in, you are so close and just need to close the itsy bitsy remaining gap.

By, The Dietetic Team @

Post a Comment: Weight Loss Plateau Blog

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User Comments

18 April, 2013 | Shweta Khandelwal | Reply

Shweta Khandelwal Hi Nutritionvista team,

I am twenty four years old girl and used to weigh 70 kilograms. I lost initial 6 kilograms with strict dieting and exercising .But after that my weight loss came to a sudden halt.I did not lose any weight for one month.I was very disappointed. I happened to read your article and started following the tips given. I also maintained a food diary. Though my weight loss pace is slow now but I am happy that after implementing what I read in this article I was able to get past my weight loss plateau. I would like to thank your team for posting this wonderful article.

15 December, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Our body begins to adapt with an exercise routine and after an intial weight loss we tend to plateau, its therfore important that we have a regular change in exercise regime. Either a change in length of time you are exercising or intensity of exercise. Another option is to do a totally new regime every alternate day or week.

03 June, 2010 | Jivan | Reply

Jivan Hi,
I used to weigh 85 kilograms. Losing initial 7 kilograms by diet control and strict exercise regimen seemed like cakewalk. However after that, I had a hard time bringing my weight down.

28 May, 2010 | Kanika Jain | Reply

Kanika Jain I agree, plateau occurs because of our metabolism. It slows down as we lose weight .Our weight-loss efforts result in a new equilibrium with a slower metabolism which means that in order to lose more weight, we need to either increase activity or decrease the calories being eaten. Using the same approach that worked initially may MAINTAIN weight loss, but it won't lead to MORE weight loss.

Kanika Jain

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