What Causes The Weight Loss Plateau

  • Post last modified:August 11, 2021
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You have worked hard to adopt a balanced, low-calorie diet and improve your workout habits, and you have seen your weight go down and feel better.

Just when you dream of wearing your most beloved dress again, suddenly one day, the number on the scale no longer moves downward.

For days or even weeks, no matter how hard you are trying, there is no change in weight.

You almost suspect that the scale is broken.

It turns out that you have encountered a plateau, the most hateful thing in weight loss progress.

The challenge of weight loss plateaus can be incredibly frustrating. You must be wondering: Am I doing something wrong?

According to the experts, it’s normal for weight loss to slow and even stall. By knowing what causes the weight loss plateau, you can determine how to react to your new, healthier behaviors and stop backsliding.

what causes the weight loss plateau

Weight loss plateau causes

You may find that weight drops rapidly in the first few weeks of weight loss, especially after switching to a low-carbohydrate diet.

During this initial period, the weight you lose is commonly called “water weight.”

This is because your body obtains energy by releasing the sugar stored in the liver and muscles [*].

Part of the original glycogen is composed of water. Your body burns glycogen, which causes water loss. Therefore, most of the weight loss at the beginning is actually water.

Once the excess water in your body is almost eliminated, the rate of weight reduction would, therefore, decline considerably.

This slowdown does not mean that weight loss has stopped. Experts believe that the safe and lasting weight loss rate is 0.45 to 0.90 kg (1 to 2 pounds) per week.

However, if you don’t pay attention to the following details, you may soon encounter the weight-loss plateau.

1. Going all-in on one method

What method are you using to lose weight? Dieting or exercise?

  • Dieting: Do you eat very little every day? Could your diet be lacking in nutrition?
  • Exercise: Are you doing aerobic exercise or strength training daily? Is it the same intensity and the same rhythm?

If the answers are yes, then your metabolism may have slowed down.

Your body would gradually adapt to, and no longer be sensitive to, the same method and rhythm. This also leads to a reduction in metabolic levels.

Also, high intensity and prolonged exercise will cause muscle exhaustion. It is not conducive to weight loss, even though your weight will decrease in the short term.

A study has found that above a moderate level of physical activity, the total amount of energy consumed in one day by the body tends to level off—that means you don’t burn more calories, even if you increase your physical activity.

2. Watch out for the hidden sugar

Are you skipping cookies, cake, or other sweet treats to reduce your sugar intake? That’s a good start, but you’re probably still eating more sugar than you realize.

Sugar is produced naturally in many nutritious foods, such as vegetables and fruits. Therefore, being more knowledgeable about locating foods that contain added sugar can help. 

There are over 60 names for added sugar[*]. For example:

  • syrup: corn syrup, rice syrup
  • words that end in “ose”: fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose
  • sugars: cane sugar, brown sugar, yellow sugar sugar
  • fruit nectars
  • concentrate of juices
  • Honey
  • Agave
  • molasses

3. Too much of a “good thing”

if you are following a ketogenic or low-carb diet to lose weight, you must know that you should eat more high-quality fat and moderate amounts of protein, and eat fewer carbohydrates.

This is not wrong.

In the first few weeks when you switch from a normal high-carbon water diet to a low-carbon water diet, you must eat more fat in order to allow the body to adapt to replacing glucose with fat as an energy source.

The problem is:

once the body and brain are adapted to this metabolic mode, if you continue to add more fat to the body, not only will the weight not drop, but it may actually increase.

How could this happen?

It turns out that fat also has calories, and it’s not low!

4. Eating more after exercise

Physical activity is important. It improves your overall health, helps with weight management, reduces disease, strengthens bones and muscles, etc.

You must have sweated off hundreds of calories during that Spin class. However, you probably have also experienced that huge wave of hunger after a workout? 

It happens to many of us. Food is always the first thing that comes to mind, regardless of whether you ate beforehand or how many calories you burned.

The reason is that your body needs more food to replenish what the exercise just eliminated and repair damaged muscles.

At this time, if you don’t control your appetite and pay attention to your diet, eating more unhealthy foods will speed up the absorption of cells and convert more sugar into fat.

5. Feeling stressed out

Since you started the weight loss process, the number on the scale has perhaps become a barometer to you. This will increase intangible emotional pressure.

Coupled with all kinds of stress in life and work, this pressure can lead to a rise in cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

A study published in the journal Obesity found that high levels of cortisol in the long term (such as a few months) can cause weight gain.

6. Low quality of sleep

Do you have sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders are conditions that frequently impact your ability to get enough quality sleep.

The signs and symptoms include:

  • have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television or reading
  • fall asleep or feel very tired while driving
  • have difficulty concentrating
  • often get told by others that you look tired
  • react slowly
  • have trouble controlling your emotions
  • feel like you have to take a nap almost every day
  • require caffeinated beverages to keep yourself going

You sleep badly at night no matter how exhausted you feel. This will take a serious toll on your mood, energy, efficiency, and ability to handle stress.

Furthermore, it can damage your physical health and lead to weight gain. 

Even though you are trying very hard to lose weight, the lack of quality sleep may still cause a plateau.

Now you know some of the main factors that affect weight loss, but what should be done if you inevitably enter the plateau stage and how to breakthrough

Continue reading. We will talk about how to shake off those stubborn extra pounds in the next article.

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