Health & Spirit

Nutrition News: Hitting a Plateau

Charlyn Fargo on

Have you hit a plateau in your weight loss? I'm working with a client now that can't seem to get her weight to budge. Over the past four months, she's lost 28 pounds, about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds a week, which is considered the right amount to lose. That's respectable in anyone's book. Now, though, she's hit a wall. She started at 233 pounds in January. Now she's down to 205 and hoping to get to 180 for her 5 foot, 3 inch frame. She consistently tracks her food on the MyFitnessPal app and portions her meals into containers.

What do you do when you hit a plateau in your weight loss journey?

First of all, review your habits. Have you slipped back into an old habit, gone back to white bread instead of fiber or eating fewer fruits and vegetables? Are your portion sizes good? Have you skipped your exercise routine because of work or some other pressing activity? Many times, we need to go back to the basics.

I always recommend choosing a protein and a carbohydrate for snacks and meals -- eating them together -- to help slow digestion and to make you feel "fuller." Protein foods suppress the hormone ghrelin, which is secreted by the stomach and stimulates appetite. Foods high in fat raise the amount of ghrelin, causing increased hunger. When you eat carbohydrates alone, you often feel hungry within an hour, while protein foods give you that "full" feeling.

With any plateau, you have the option to step up your exercise or lower your daily calories by 100. You don't have to spend another hour in the gym -- just increase your general activity during the day. Maybe park your car farther away or take the stairs instead of the elevator. It all adds up. Our phones can track our steps so we know exactly how much activity we're getting. There is such a thing as going too low in calories -- and putting ourselves into hibernation, where our body stores our calories instead of burning them. Be mindful of that.

Finally, make sure you're getting enough rest. It's amazing what better decisions we make when we have a good night's rest. Too little sleep can fog our brain, causing us to make poor food choices.

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The bottom line? Go back to what worked in the beginning. Paying a little closer attention to meal prep, portions and your exercise routine can push you past that plateau.

Q and A

Q: Should I weigh myself every day, or how often?

A: I weigh myself daily. That's because it's a useful strategy for weight loss and maintenance. (Aren't we always trying to lose a few pounds?) The idea of weighing often is backed by research that shows regular self-weighing is more often associated with maintaining our weight, losing a few pounds and keeping pounds from creeping up. It's a lot easier to do something about losing 5 pounds than to wait until the scale shows a gain of 15. For those just maintaining their current weight, a weekly weigh-in (at the same time and with the same amount of clothing) is effective.


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