How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

When starting a weight loss regime which involves diet, exercise or a combination of both it can be very easy to lose weight. The pounds usually slide off in the first few weeks provided that you are burning more calorie than you are consuming.

With some diets, particularly those high in protein and low in carbohydrates, there will also be a substantial water loss in the first few weeks, which although it is not the type of loss you are looking for, does show up on the scales.

What is a weight loss plateau?

However, once you settle into a diet, it is common for weight loss to slow and eventually even stop altogether, resulting in a weight loss plateau. This can be demoralizing and frustrating, as although you are still following your diet, you are no longer seeing the results which make it worthwhile and give you that extra motivation to continue.

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

A weight loss plateau occurs because your calorie requirements to lose or maintain weight changes as your body weight changes. At your new lower body weight, you in fact need fewer calories to maintain your new weight than you did when you were heavier and even fewer again to continue to drop the pounds.

For this reason, if you reach a plateau in your weight loss you need to either up the calories you are burning or reduce the amount you are consuming even further to get continued weight loss.

Changes to help you break the weight loss plateau.

Assess if you really need to lose more weight

The first thing to consider when you stop losing weight is if you have already reached a healthy weight for you. When setting a goal weight, it is important to be realistic and aim for a suitable weight that is appropriate for your height and body type.

If you try to aim too low, you will end up in a constant struggle in trying to reach and maintain this goal weight whilst your body is fighting against you – which is likely to be difficult to maintain and have a negative impact on your well-being.

If you find you hit a diet plateau at a weight which is healthy for you, take a step back and consider if you really need to lose any more weight, or if you should simply aim for maintenance. If you are within the healthy weight range and feel energetic and healthy, chances are you are at your ideal weight.

Rather than losing more weight, aim to maintain your healthy weight and work on things like toning and strengthening which can improve your health and appearance.

Adjust your diet

If you feel you need to push past the plateau to reach a healthy weight, adjusting your diet is a good way to do it. As you now weigh less than you did when you started your diet, you now need less calories to lose weight than you did before. Try techniques such as reducing portion sizes, eating larger portions of low calorie foods such as fruit and vegetables and choosing high fiber and high protein options to keep you fuller for longer. These resources will give you more ideas:

Be aware of what you are eating and make sure that calories are not creeping into your diet through drinks, mindless snacks or eating left over’s off kid’s plates, as these all contribute calories to your diet.

If you feel that there is no easy way to reduce your calorie intake further in a healthy way, it is a good idea to consult a dietician, as they may be able to advise you on how to cut more calories without losing important nutrition in your diet.

Change your exercise routine

Burning more calories is another great way to break through a weight loss plateau, and may mean you do not need to cut your food intake any more, although a combination of diet and exercise adjustment is probably the most successful.

Increasing the number of work outs you do, the time you do them for or the intensity can all help to burn more calories. If you have limited time to work out, the best way to burn more is to do higher intensity workouts as these burn more calories in a shorter time frame.

Sometimes, even a change or variety in your work out can be enough to burn more calories. If your body gets too used to a workout it becomes less efficient at burning calories. So by varying your routine or choosing something different you can burn more calories and prevent boredom.

Although cardio type exercises tend to burn the most calories, strength training can also contribute and will increase muscle mass which in turn burns more calories even when you are at rest.

Keep a food record

Even if you are sure you are still following your diet correctly, it is amazing how little bits of food, drinks, and larger portions can sneak in over time, often without you even realizing it. By keeping a food diary or using a food tracking app (our food tracker is free!) and recording everything that goes into your mouth you can pick up on any areas where you might be sabotaging yourself.

Increase incidental activity

Although organized work outs are great if you want to lose weight, don’t forget that every little bit of physical activity you do throughout the day will contribute to the calories you burn. Be it playing with children, cleaning the house or walking up the stairs, the more of these types of activities you do, the more calories you burn. Try walking or riding to work if you can, or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Don’t lose hope

It is easy to throw in the towel and give up when you are following a diet and doing exercise and not seeing the results you want. A weight loss plateau can be a breaking point for many dieters, who simply lose hope and go back to their old eating habits as they cannot see the point of continuing.

However, if you push past this set back and find a way to continue to lose weight, you will not regret it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you cannot understand why you are not losing weight. A health professional such as a dietician or even a personal trainer at the gym will be able to give you advice and support to come through the plateau and reach your weight loss goals.

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Overcome a weight loss plateau

You’ve been doing all the right things to get fit: eating clean and mindfully, counting calories and steps, busting your hump at the gym. And it worked for a while, as pounds steadily melted away. But now the number on the scale just won’t budge. You’ve hit the dreaded weight loss plateau.

It can be a normal part of the process, says obesity expert Caroline Cederquist, MD, medical director of Cederquist Medical Wellness Center in Naples, Florida. “When you lose weight, you’re shedding fat but also lean muscle. When your muscle mass declines, so does your metabolism,” she explains.

The good news? A tweak to your routine may be all you need to jump-start your slimdown. “Even small changes—like lifting weights or eating more protein—can get you back on track,” says Dr. Cederquist. Read on for five expert-recommended ways to modify a weight-loss plan so you can push past that lull and keep moving closer to your goal.

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Do more strength training

You love spin class because it torches a bajillion calories—but odds are you leave the studio feeling famished. “High-intensity cardio workouts burn a large percentage of calories from carbohydrates, so afterward, that tends to be what you seek out to replace the energy,” says Jennifer McDaniel, RD, founder of McDaniel Nutrition Therapy in St. Louis. What’s more, a killer sweat session seems to beg for a reward, she adds: “There’s this perceived feeling of working out so hard, you’re allowed to now eat way more than you normally would.”

Try alternating your cardio workouts with resistance training, says Steve Moyer, a celebrity trainer in Los Angeles. A 2014 study published in the journal Obesity found that strength training actually helped people shed more fat (specifically belly fat) than cardio. It also builds lean muscle, of course—and the more lean body mass you have, the higher your metabolism. “As you gain muscle, your rate of weight loss in pounds may be slower, but your rate of fat loss will be greater,” says Moyer, whose clients include Zoe Saldana and Nina Dobrev. For lasting results, he recommends doing at least two strength workouts a week.

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Start measuring your portions

Keeping a food journal can be a key step toward more mindful eating. In fact, a study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dieters who recorded their meals and snacks daily shed twice as much weight as those who didn’t. But when you hit a plateau, it may be worth taking an even closer look at what you eat in a day—specifically, how much you’re eating.

“I think it’s important to occasionally spend a week weighing and measuring your food,” says Janet Brill, PhD, professor of health and wellness at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “You may be surprised by your portion sizes. It’s easy to forget what a three-ounce serving of steak or half a cup of pasta looks like.”

The idea isn’t to obsess over every bite but rather to give yourself a serving-size refresher course.

For one week, use your smartphone to take photos of the proper portions of your dietary staples. That way, you can refer to the pics for a quick reminder anytime you need to. This tactic is easier than visualizing a cut of meat the size of a deck of cards, says Brill, or noodles in the shape of a tennis ball

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Try eating more

Yes, it’s true you need to create a calorie deficit to shed weight. But there’s a caveat: If you’ve been tearing it up at the gym in full-on beast mode—and you notice you feel hungrier than usual—you may actually need to eat more food to keep burning calories.

“If your calorie intake is too low or you get too hungry, you start to lose metabolism-boosting muscle as well as fat mass,” explains Brill. “To lose weight while still preserving muscle mass, you might need to increase your calories.”

That doesn’t mean hitting Olive Garden for a never-ending pasta bowl, of course. The trick is choosing the right foods, says Brill, and sprinkling them in throughout the day to stay nourished. She recommends filling up on lean protein, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. Try turkey slices, plant-based proteins (like edamame and lentils), farro, bananas, carrots, nuts, and avocados.

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Add lean protein to every meal and snack

Weight-loss experts have always encouraged us to fill our plates with produce as a way to reap the benefits of its hunger-busting fiber, along with its antioxidants and other nutrients. But if you’ve been laser-focused on loading up on fruits and vegetables, your diet may need more lean protein. You should have a serving every few hours, says Brill. Nuts, eggs, and meat are more caloric than an apple or a pile of power greens—but the protein will keep you full longer and can lower your overall calorie intake for the day.

Moreover, a 2015 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that incorporating protein into every meal and snack—starting with breakfast—helps control appetite and manage body weight. “A balanced diet that includes some protein helps fuel your muscles,” explains Brill. And as you already know, the more lean body mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be. Not to mention, your body has to work harder to digest protein, and through that process you burn even more calories.

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

7 Ways to Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau

By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND

Ever wonder why those first few kilos or pounds easily come off then all of a sudden the weight loss comes to a screeching halt? You ask yourself, “What I’m I doing wrong?” The answer: Nothing. It’s normal!

Unfortunately, when the plateau hits many people give up and convince themselves they have a slow metabolism or something is wrong with their new healthy lifestyle changes and then they QUIT.

Don’t despair! This is a normal part of any weight loss cycle. If you talk to most people who have lost a significant amount of weight and reached their goal, they have likely experienced 2-3 weight loss plateaus.

It’s important to understand the leaner you become the slower the weight loss will be. The desired changes are occurring, and within a few days or a few weeks weight loss will resume at a normal healthy pace.

Age, weight, length of time you’ve been overweight, and gender all influence the frequency and length of time a plateau can last. Other factors that influence weight loss plateaus are increased visceral fat such as a fatty liver and other organ and visceral fat. As your body replaces the organ fat with healthy tissue this will also be a period where weight loss may not occur. During weight loss insulin and leptin sensitivity will be improving as visceral fat is replaced with healthy organ tissue. This is a very important step for long-term weight management. Here is more on blood sugar control while Rebooting.

I often see immense improvement on blood tests while the patient has no immediate weight loss changes. Reductions in cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, insulin and elevated liver enzymes will return to normal levels while there may be no weight loss for a period of time. As the dietary changes improve the metabolism, the weight will then follow!

There are a number of excellent suggestions given in our weight loss plateau guidelines and here are a few extras:

    1. Change your style of exercise. Just like our bodies can grow accustomed to our eating plans they can also be accustomed to our exercise plan, so if you always walk try running for short intervals, riding a bike or going for a swim. Light weight bearing exercises can also give the metabolism that extra boost.
    1. Learn to relax. Stress can have a negative impact on your weight loss as cortisol a stress hormone can slow weight loss down.
    1. Think healthy rather than thin. Remind yourself of all the wonderful good you are doing for your body and your long-term health. The weight will follow.
    1. Try new juice recipes and ingredients. Give yourself a broader spectrum of nutrients if you are drinking the same thing too often. Always keep the vegetable to fruit split 80% to 20%.
    1. Increase your juices and whole foods. Taking in too few calories can slow your metabolism down, but increasing your nutrients and calories may give the metabolism that extra kick that it may need.Your body can adjust to your new eating and calorie intake after a few weeks to a few months so you can shake it up a little and have a few days where you increase your intake. This is called calorie recycling or zigzagging when you increase consumption for a day then reduce again for 4-5 days to avoid the starvation mode.
    1. Visualize and see yourself at a healthy weight. Mind over matter. Think, believe and visualize yourself healthy and at your desired weight.
    1. Be patient. Stay strong and motivated and know that just because the scale isn’t moving as fast as you want it to, your body is achieving greater health which in the long run means a more sustainable weight loss goal will be achieved.

What to do when your weight won’t budge.

It happens to runners and endurance athletes, and it happens to dieters, too: You’re working hard to meet your weight-loss goal when suddenly, the needle on the scale refuses to budge. This roadblock often occurs just after your initial weight loss, and again when you can’t seem to lose those last few pounds. It’s very discouraging to keep working hard when you can’t see the fruits of your labor. To make things worse, these weight-loss plateaus can last from several days to months.

If your weight loss has come to an abrupt halt, you must be wondering: Am I doing something wrong?

According to the experts, hitting these plateaus is nothing unusual. As your weight drops and your body composition changes, so do your nutritional needs. There are several reasons why your weight can hit a plateau:

  • As your weight goes down, you not only lose fat but also a small amount of muscle. It’s estimated that up to 25% of the body tissue lost during weight loss comes from muscle. Since muscle is critical to keeping your metabolism perking, losing it can reduce your metabolic rate and hinder weight loss. Strength training can help preserve and build muscle to get your metabolism humming again.
  • The set point theory alleges that your body naturally tries to maintain a certain weight where it is most comfortable. If you find yourself stuck at the same weight time and again, you may have reached the comfort zone. Reducing much further typically results in regaining weight.
  • You may need fewer calories or more physical activity to sustain your lower weight. This is the most likely cause of a weight-loss plateau. Further, it’s almost impossible to lose much weight without exercising. Many scientists agree that whether you exercise is the best way to predict whether you’ll successfully maintain your weight.
  • Other factors that can influence weight loss include thyroid or adrenal gland problems, medications you’re taking, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and quitting smoking.

But more than likely, your weight is at a plateau because your portion sizes have crept up, and/or your workouts have decreased in intensity or frequency. You also may be indulging in high-calorie foods more often.

The truth of the matter is that most people let down their guard a little after their initial weight loss. It’s perfectly natural to get more comfortable with the eating plan, and possibly overlook the prescribed portion sizes or quantities. The result is weight maintenance instead of further weight loss.


One Pound of Fat

Some dieters expect their rate of weight loss to be constant. But most people drop weight more quickly when they first begin a reducing program. This initial loss, unfortunately, is half fluid and does not reflect how much actual fat tissue you’ve burned. It’s only later that each pound lost reflects the burning of real fat, roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories.

So don’t be fooled into thinking that your initial rate of weight loss will continue. It’s hard work to burn off 3,500 calories a week!

Jumping Off the Plateau

How can you get off the plateau and lose those last few pounds? According to the successful losers of the National Weight Control Registry, the secret is persistence. Here are nine ways to get back on track:

  • Exercise: it builds muscle and revs up your metabolism. This is the single most important step you can take to lose more weight. Look for ways to work more activity into your life instead of trying to fit in unrealistically long workouts.
  • Start strength training a few times a week. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat and helps burn more calories.
  • Check your portion sizes. Maybe it’s time to get out your measuring cups and scale again. Most dieters routinely underestimate portion sizes.
  • Are you journaling your food? Keeping up with your journal is a great motivator and helps you be aware of exactly what and how much you are eating.
  • Weigh yourself once a week. Doing it more often can be counterproductive.
  • Make sure your weight-loss goals are realistic. It may be time to shift into weight maintenance instead of striving for more weight loss.
  • Curb-late night munching, which can sabotage your calorie intake.
  • Focus on the health benefits of the weight you have already lost. Put a picture of your old self in a spot where you’ll see it often, to help you stay motivated. Delight in how far you’ve come, and how good you look and feel.
  • Shake things up in your diet. Treat yourself to a new cookbook, or a subscription to a healthy cooking magazine, to keep novelty and variety in your meals.


Community Support

Visit our community message boards for support and help from our moderators and WebMD community members.

Learn from the lessons of our successful dieters. They will be the first to tell you to give up the guilt — it does nothing more than lead to bingeing. Accept the fact that plateaus are perfectly normal, and, perhaps with a tweaking of your diet and exercise routine, you will start moving again toward meeting your weight-loss goals.

Reaffirm your commitment to the program and regain the determination you had when you began. Can you remember what motivated you to start our program? Call upon your reserves -­ you have come this far, so don’t give up now.

One more thing: It may be time for a well-deserved reward for all your hard work. How about a shopping spree for fall clothing in that new smaller size?

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

  • How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

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A keto plateau or weight loss stall can happen to anyone for various reasons. While it’s a frustrating experience, the good news is that you can get past it with a few essential strategies.

When you hear the words “keto plateau,” what comes to your mind? If you’re thinking about stalled progress on a keto diet, you’re correct.

Read further to learn the reasons behind a keto stall and what you can actually do about it.

What Is Keto Plateau?

Also known as a low carb diet plateau, keto plateau happens when your fat loss progress has stopped. The first time you started the diet, your initial plan was to keep on making improvements in losing weight and feeling your very best.

Yet a couple of months pass, and you start to notice that you’re slowing down.

“Generally, weight loss is pretty rapid at the start of keto as your body adjusts and you lose a lot of water weight.

Once that initial shock to your body is over, it begins to adjust and burn through that stored fat. This is a slower process and it is supposed to take time, so it’s important to be patient,” says Tara Finnerty, RD, CKNS, CSP, CD, owner of Sugar House Nutrition, LLC.

First of all, don’t feel bad. You should know that plateaus happen to anyone, regardless of the type of diet they’re on. Your body is amazing that it can adapt to anything. That includes food, environment, and various stressors.

Another case is that you may be too lax yourself. You’re no longer paying that much attention to your macros, food quality, and lifestyle – and probably, you’re not trying anything new lately.

Just because you stalled on keto, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Our goal in this guide is to help you get back on track as soon as possible.

But first, it’s important to explore possible causes behind a low carb plateau.

What Causes Weight Loss Stalls?

Why has my keto weight loss stalled? You may be asking yourself this question right now.

Finnerty says that if you’re experiencing a keto plateau for over a month, then it’s time to look at some common problems that caused it.

Metabolic adaptations

Try to approach anyone who’s on a stall, and they will tell you that “It’s probably my metabolism.”

A 2014 article from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition explains it clearly. It states that efforts to achieve weight loss can eventually lead to metabolic adaptations 1.

Since the body perceives minimal body fat as a sign of energy unavailability, it responds by conserving energy. Furthermore, your body prompts you to take in more energy by increasing your appetite 1.

That explains why after a period of steady weight loss, your body slows down.

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

Metabolic adaptations can cause keto plateaus

Hidden carbs

In one of his podcast episodes, keto expert Dr. Berg mentions how a lack of awareness can cause you to consume hidden carbs in restaurant foods 2.

Common culprits include the following:

  • Barbecue sauce and other sauces
  • Processed cheese
  • Soy oil or corn oil
  • Salsa, dressings
  • MSG
  • Breading on meat
  • Deli meats

There is still a lot more worth mentioning. The bottom line is that carbs commonly hide in fast foods and foods that are highly processed. These foods often come out of a box and go right into your mouth 3.

You’re not just dealing with hidden carbs, but also multiple chemicals and synthetic ingredients 3.

Changes in macros percentage

On a ketogenic diet, your macronutrient percentages look like this:

  • 55% to 60% fat
  • 30% to 35% protein
  • 5% to 10% carbohydrates

So on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, your carb limit is 25 to 50 grams daily 4.

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)Adjusting keto macros can help break your stall.

This is one of the reasons why people plateau on keto:

They calculate their macros at the beginning of their journey and stop there. Calculating your optimal macros should be a continuous process because different variables change. Such include your personal goals, weight, and activity level.


Are you paying less attention to your calorie intake? Because while the “calories in versus calories out” model is not everything, still, it counts.

For example: If you’re eating keto-friendly foods but you’re being sedentary, you’re still missing out on the chance to burn more body fat.

Another point to keep in mind: Just because you’re doing keto, doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Practicing portion control is important.

Finnerty also suggests that you ask yourself, “Am I grazing constantly? Am I eating too much processed keto food?”

Research from the NIH shows that people who eat a diet full of ultra-processed foods consume 500 calories more per day and gain more weight 5.


Our modern world is a culprit behind most of the stress we experience. It creates stress in various ways. Diversity in people we interact with, our “hustle” culture, and technology to name a few.

Too much stress increases cortisol, your stress hormone. Cortisol increases your appetite and affects your food preferences. You’re more likely to crave comfort foods that are often high in sugar 6.

A study by Yale also revealed that cortisol exposure affects fat distribution. Fat tends to accumulate more in your abdominal area. This is the area that surrounds your organs 7.

You’ve shed a lot of pounds. You’re looking good and feel at the top of your game, climbing the steep slope to that perfect body. You’ve almost reached that peak, but the slope has flattened out and began to plateau. Don’t be discouraged. Hitting a plateau is normal and happens to everyone—even athletes and power lifters. Here’s how you can get your groove back and work your way through it.

Count Those Calories
Think back to when you first started your diet and fitness program. You made a number of changes, drastically altering your lifestyle, physical activity and food habits. Your body reacted well to the sudden change and you began losing weight quickly, dropping them by the pound. It’s important to remember that during a weight loss program, our bodies change and you may need to re-evaluate what you’re doing periodically. It’s simple: what worked before, won’t work anymore. You may need to amp-up your workout or add more fiber or protein to your diet. Calorie deficit is not always the solution. Depending on your body type, you need a certain amount of calories to stay in top form for your workout.

The Change Up
Our bodies are built to adapt. Whether it’s to something as simple as the weather, or to something as strenuous as exercise. If your diet or exercise simply isn’t cutting it anymore, change things up a bit. Consulting your trainer and nutritionist, and modifying your diet and workout will trick your body out of its complacent state. Alternatively, if you’re without a trainer, joining a new class or simply trying out a friend’s workout might just do the trick.

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

Get Your Pulse Racing
Sometimes, the solution could really be a simple one—your heart rate. Wearing a heart rate monitor helps evaluate performance levels. Increase the intensity of your cardiovascular activity and weight training to keep your heart rate high, and in turn, burn more calories.

The Big Sleep
Sleep is one that most important aspects of fitness. If you’re not getting adequate sleep, your body doesn’t have time to rest, recover, and reboot in order to power on through the next day to its full potential. Lack of sleep only means increased levels of stress, and less time for the body to rebuild muscle and replenish energy lost during the day.

In the words of American journalist and author Hunter S Thompson, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.” Push yourself and break the monotony. But remember to find joy, fun, and passion in your fitness routine.

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

It is important to change up our personal fitness program when we experience a plateau.. Similarly, it is essential to adjust our fitness program when we notice boredom or disinterest in our exercise program. Lastly, if we no longer feel challenged or see the physical fitness benefits that we are used to, it can be a telling sign that a fitness program change is necessary.

Over the years, as both a personal trainer and fitness manager, I have seen many clients plateau with their fitness program for a variety of reasons. Those reasons have ranged from not overloading their neuromuscular system properly, overtraining with inadequate recovery, to not changing up their fitness program often enough. Due to these reasons, it is integral to try new things, expand our comfort zones, and strive to new limits.

Listed below are some ideas and tips to successfully break through fitness plateaus. And for more on this subject, we have a PDF you can download with a lot more information.


Change up the frequency of how often you are doing specific pieces of your fitness program. Before making a change, it is essential to consider your baseline and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How frequently are you doing a specific exercise type such as running, biking, or weight-training?
  • Is it too little or too much?
  • How often are you strength training the same muscle group each week or utilizing the same exercises?

Remember, too much or too little can limit our success and decrease motivation and excitement.


Consider shifting the intensity of your workouts to reduce monotony and increase the physical challenge. Ask yourself how hard you tend to work while exercising. Remember, if we work out too hard to the point of over exercise or injury, it can limit our desire to use it.

You can also change up the parameters of your exercise prescription to make a change. For example, you might consider changing up their program’s FITT principles (FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise).

Changing these specific fitness principles can help you improve results, increase motivation towards exercise, reduce boredom, and counteract a plateau.

Either too much intensity, or too little, can impact your exercise motivation and commitment. When we do not increase the demands of our workout or challenge ourselves enough, it can also thwart our best intentions.

As a reminder, to continuously improve with our fitness goals, we need to overload the neuromuscular system with physical demands continually. If we do not do this and our body gets used to the status quo, we will not see the results we desire.


One way that individuals can adjust their program and create a new fitness plan is to work with a personal trainer. This can help individuals experience a more intense workout, incorporate new ideas into their current regime, and/or obtain a fresh new program.

Overall, do not be afraid to try something new and change up your mode of exercise. If you are a long-term runner but feel bored with running, why not try something different? Do you feel burnout from weight training? What about swimming a few days during the week to change up the resistance workout?

Similarly, if you have always wanted to take a dance class but never have, now is the time. Making these types of changes might be what you need to reset motivation. Ask yourself what sounds exciting or fun and try that. Even if it’s short-term behavior, it might be the break you need from your current exercise modality or program to re-energize and re-motivate.


Trying something new or changing up what you are used to can be daunting. Furthermore, it can be hard to be a beginner again with a brand new fitness program or exercise modality.

However, it is more important to push ourselves outside our comfort zone. In either situation, it is essential to keep a flexible mindset and be patient with yourself along the way. The ability to adapt and adjust our planned efforts when needed is critical for our long-term fitness progress.

Conclusion: Listen to Your Body and Then Make a Plan!

It is important to stay receptive to what our body is telling us. Staying responsive to our own internal cues of disinterest and boredom, and what our response to exercise is telling us, is an essential first step. The second step is to create a plan to adjust one’s exercise program.

Additionally, shifting frequency, intensity, flexibility, and trying new things is a surefire way to break through fitness plateaus.

Weight loss plateaus happen to everyone. Weight fluctuates daily; things like water weight can increase or decrease an individual’s weight by quite a few pounds overnight. But if you’ve been stepping on the scale week after week only to see the same numbers, it can be disheartening, especially if you’ve double- and triple-checked your diet to make sure you are maintaining your calorie defect. One of the best ways to break that plateau is to change up your exercise routine. Cardio is the best way to burn calories in the short term, but building muscle will help increase your resting metabolic rate, meaning you’ll burn more calories while you’re working or sleeping. We’ve pulled together a list of exercises especially suited to breaking out of your plateau and getting back on track with your weight loss.

High-Intensity Interval Training

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has seen a huge boom this year for a good reason: it combines the benefits of going as hard as you can with carefully timed rests so you don’t burn out. There are myriad varieties of HIIT, from straight cardiovascular exercises to rowing to full-body strength workouts. If you are already doing HIIT and are still plateauing, try changing up your routine and make sure you’re going as hard as you can. As your body adjusts to your exercises, you will need to up your intensity; what was your eighty percent before may only be your fifty percent now. If you’re just starting out, remember that you will get the most out of your workout by doing shorter, more intense intervals. It’s harder to sustain a good burn for a full minute, but doing an interval for twenty seconds means you can push yourself well out of your comfort zone. The further out of that comfort zone you go, the more your body will have to work, and the more likely it is you’ll break the weight loss plateau.

Keep reading for more tips on breaking a weight loss plateau.


How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

Changing things up from your usual routine is one of the best ways to get your body back to burning fat. The human body is a marvel built to adjust to even the most strenuous of conditions; keeping it guessing by switching from a running or strength routine to the combination exercises of kickboxing might be just what you need to kick a plateau to the curb. While it’s primarily cardio, the complex routines also give a great full-body toning session with your body weight for resistance. Keeping your posture solid and your core tight also works for the big muscle groups in your torso and abdomen, which means you are burning more calories. If you’re someone who cannot stand the repetition and mindlessness of something like HIIT, kickboxing offers a moderate to high-intensity alternative that makes it feel like you’re accomplishing something worthwhile. After all, the more you enjoy a workout, the more likely it is you will keep at it. Keeping at an exercise regimen is one of the biggest factors in ending a weight loss plateau.

Get to know more about beating a weight loss plateau now.

Strength Training

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

Cardio is one of the most common methods used to burn weight. It burns the most calories, after all, and is a go-to for easy and effective health improvement. However, if you’re hitting the track five days a week and still find yourself plateauing, swapping some of your cardio days for strength training days can be just what your body needs to start losing again. Straight cardio is great for losing weight, but it doesn’t help maintain lean muscle mass, and you’re just as likely to lose lean muscle as well as fat when you’re losing weight. While muscle weighs as much as fat, focusing on building it ensures your entire body stays healthy and lean while keeping your metabolism from slowing down too much. Muscles need energy to function, after all, so having more means you will be burning more even while you’re doing mundane, day-to-day tasks. The great part? While you might worry building muscle will increase your numbers on the scale again, muscle burns more calories than fat. Any short-term increase in weight will lead into your numbers dropping again. Promise.

It’s time to reveal the next exercise for beating a weight loss plateau.

Jump Rope

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

What may seem like a cheap and childish way to entertain yourself with some friends is actually an effective plateau-breaking tool. As a relatively cheap and extremely portable piece of exercise equipment, a jump rope session can give you the burn of an eight-minute mile in just fifteen or twenty minutes. Why? The motions needed to manage this exercise are surprisingly complex, especially if you haven’t done it since childhood. Jumping isn’t something most adults do, and it requires more muscle work than running a step. It also helps tone both the upper and lower body, improves balance, and forces you to work on your coordination. Make sure you’re fit before you start, though, as repeated jumping can put a lot of stress on the knees and ankles. Don’t be afraid to work in other exercises, either; it’s hard to do it more than a few minutes at a time. Alternating jump rope with marching in place, jogging, or calisthenics will keep your heart rate up and your muscles engaged.

Keep reading for more ways to beat a weight loss plateau quickly.


How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

While the most common exercise thought of when weight loss and exercise are brought up, losing weight or breaking a plateau through running requires a good deal of planning. Any change, whether you’re just starting out or trying to up your game, needs to be done slowly to avoid injury. New runners or runners getting back into it should do intervals until their stamina and joints are up to the task. Once you can run consistently, however, there are two routes you can take: run longer or run harder. Marathons are a great way to burn more calories, while alternating sprints can give you a higher burn in less time. If you’re still plateauing, try working some weights in, add extra walking into your daily routines, or adjusting your diet to suit your body’s changing needs.

Losing weight takes more than desire. It takes commitment and a well-thought-out plan. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting started.

Step 1: Make a commitment.

Making the decision to lose weight, change your lifestyle, and become healthier is a big step to take. Start simply by making a commitment to yourself. Many people find it helpful to sign a written contract committing to the process. This contract may include things like the amount of weight you want to lose, the date you’d like to lose the weight by, the dietary changes you’ll make to establish healthy eating habits, and a plan for getting regular physical activity.

Writing down the reasons why you want to lose weight can also help. It might be because you have a family history of heart disease, or because you want to see your kids get married, or simply because you want to feel better in your clothes. Post these reasons where they serve as a daily reminder of why you want to make this change.

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

Step 2: Take stock of where you are.

Consider talking to your health care provider. He or she can evaluate your height, weight, and explore other weight-related risk factors you may have. Ask for a follow-up appointment to monitor changes in your weight or any related health conditions.

Keep a food diary pdf icon [PDF-106KB] for a few days in which you write down everything you eat. By doing this, you become more aware of what you are eating and when you are eating. This awareness can help you avoid mindless eating.

Next, examine your current lifestyle. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts. For example, does your work or travel schedule make it difficult to get enough physical activity? Do you find yourself eating sugary foods because that’s what you buy for your kids? Do your coworkers frequently bring high-calorie items, such as doughnuts, to the workplace to share with everyone? Think through things you can do to help overcome these challenges.

Step 3: Set realistic goals.

Set some short-term goals and reward your efforts along the way. If your long-term goal is to lose 40 pounds and to control your high blood pressure, some short-term eating and physical activity goals might be to start eating breakfast, taking a 15 minute walk in the evenings, or having a salad or vegetable with supper.

Focus on two or three goals at a time. Great, effective goals are —

  • Specific
  • Realistic
  • Forgiving (less than perfect)

For example, “Exercise More” is not a specific goal. But if you say, “I will walk 15 minutes, 3 days a week for the first week,” you are setting a specific and realistic goal for the first week.

Remember, small changes every day can lead to big results in the long run. Also remember that realistic goals are achievable goals. By achieving your short-term goals day-by-day, you’ll feel good about your progress and be motivated to continue. Setting unrealistic goals, such as losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks, can leave you feeling defeated and frustrated.

Being realistic also means expecting occasional setbacks. Setbacks happen when you get away from your plan for whatever reason – maybe the holidays, longer work hours, or another life change. When setbacks happen, get back on track as quickly as possible. Also take some time to think about what you would do differently if a similar situation happens, to prevent setbacks.

Keep in mind everyone is different – what works for someone else might not be right for you. Just because your neighbor lost weight by taking up running, doesn’t mean running is the best option for you. Try a variety of activities – walking, swimming, tennis, or group exercise classes to see what you enjoy most and can fit into your life. These activities will be easier to stick with over the long term.

Step 4: Identify resources for information and support.

How to get through a weight loss plateau (step-by-step guide)

Find family members or friends who will support your weight loss efforts. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others you can talk to and rely on for support. You might have coworkers or neighbors with similar goals, and together you can share healthful recipes and plan group exercise.

Joining a weight loss group or visiting a health care professional such as a registered dietitian can help. Healthcare providers, if they feel it is indicated, may provide you with further information about medications, devices or even surgery to assist you in controlling your weight.

Step 5: Continually “check in” with yourself to monitor your progress.

Revisit the goals you set for yourself (in Step 3) and evaluate your progress regularly. If you set a goal to walk each morning but are having trouble fitting it in before work, see if you can shift your work hours or if you can get your walk in at lunchtime or after work. Evaluate which parts of your plan are working well and which ones need tweaking. Then rewrite your goals and plan accordingly.

If you are consistently achieving a particular goal, add a new goal to help you continue on your pathway to success.

Reward yourself for your successes! Recognize when you’re meeting your goals and be proud of your progress. Use non-food rewards, such as a bouquet of freshly picked flowers, a sports outing with friends, or a relaxing bath. Rewards help keep you motivated on the path to better health.