Fitness Articles

Plateau Busters - Part 1

Eat the Right Nutrients at the Right Times

We hear it all the time—you changed your habits and lost weight steadily, but after awhile, that progress halted. You’ve been stuck at the same weight for days, weeks, or even months. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying your best, feeling like you are doing everything right, yet not making any progress towards your weight loss or fitness goals.
Before you inhale a bag of cookies to console yourself, realize that weight loss takes work, and isn’t always perfect. But, there are plenty of ways you can re-energize your program (and motivation) to bust through your weight loss plateau. 
But…what is a plateau anyway?
If you’ve been exercising and cutting calories for several weeks, and you’re no longer seeing the same results that you experienced in the beginning, then you’ve probably hit a plateau. This occurs when your progress comes to a standstill, and can be described as not making any “gains” (such as improving your fitness level or losing weight), but not necessarily moving backwards (losing endurance or gaining weight).
Because every individual is unique, there’s no way to actually predict when a plateau might happen. However, the following principles of nutrition, rest, and variation will jumpstart your body, mind, and metabolism. (This article, part 1 in a series of 3, will focus on nutrition.) Incorporate some or all of the following suggestions to both prevent and overcome a weight loss plateau. With just a little tweaking, you’ll be in your skinny jeans in no time!
Eat the Right Nutrients at the Right Times

1.  Make sure you are following your SparkPeople nutrition plan correctly. During set-up, did you accurately account for your level of activity? Or, if you are more or less active than when you started the program, have you changed this option in your set-up so that your caloric plan will be accurate for you? This is very important so that you don’t eat too little for your body’s needs, which can actually hinder your weight loss.

In addition, are you accurately tracking your foods in the Food Tracker daily, yet not reaching the minimum number of calories that is recommended? It’s common to think that cutting MORE calories will result in faster weight loss, but that’s not actually the case.  You should never consume less than 1200 calories per day. Eating less than this (or too little in general) makes your body think it’s starving (known as “starvation mode”), so it holds onto every calorie, slowing your metabolism. Increase your calories to fit into your recommended range, and you’ll notice a difference.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • Great info - 9/11/2013 5:28:56 PM
  • MELJONES3478
    If you consume less than 1200 calories your body is not getting all the nutrients that it needs. - 3/27/2013 3:02:43 PM
  • What on earth is that nonsense about 1200 kcal?! It seems to be all over SP. Why should one never less eat than 1200 kcal (regardless the height and activity level)? Does one get hit by a lightning on the very same day one eats less than 1200kcal or what??? Meh... - 3/26/2013 5:54:15 PM
    This came at a good time for and my workout buddy have been trying to figure out why we hit a plateau and this could be it...Our level of active has so increased since we started working out....and we have stayed at the same calorie intake since we started loosing weight...So we are going to give this a try....Thank you - 9/30/2012 1:01:38 PM
  • Meh...Didn't really find this article all that helpful - 6/9/2012 12:57:50 PM
  • I am glad they put this up because I used to be 230 lbs. and got down to 145 lbs. but I hit a plateau and I just gave up and now I am 162.8 lbs. Now I'm gonna be more fit, follow these tips, and exercise more and what not :) Oh yeah and this time I'm toning because I didn't tone up last time neither, my maximum goal is 120-110 lbs. I'm only 5'2". - 6/7/2012 6:09:18 PM
  • I am at a total loss as to how to get to the page where we input our info to get our caloric needs figured out -it's been over two years, and I need to review it. The links in artcicles only lead me to ads. Where can I get to that page so i can make any changes necessary? - 9/14/2011 1:34:40 PM
  • I need to bring my FOCUS back . Instead of sitting on the couch watching tv I need to get up and do crunches or lift some weights. Once started it's not so hard. - 7/17/2011 6:51:37 AM
  • Good information. - 7/14/2011 3:36:09 AM
  • This article came at a perfect time! - 12/7/2010 4:21:18 PM
  • I discovered a way to break through plateaus. It started with ExerciseTV on DEMAND TV with Comcast. I did Jillian Michaels 30 min. videos. 1 minute cardio,1 minute light weight training. You keep alternating the cardio with the weights for 30 minutes. All of a sudden, the weight just started to come off easily. I'm 2 lbs. away from my Spark goal of 150 lbs. , but I'd like to lose about 12 more to reach 138. I don't know if this "trick" will work for everyone, but it's worth a try. Your heart rate stays elevated for the whole 30 mins. thus burning fat. I try to do two 30 min. videos a day. - 12/7/2010 7:28:42 AM
  • I too have reach a plateau of sorts. When I got back from a months vacation, I did not go back to tracking my meals like I should have. I always begin in the mornings and slack off by lunch time. Looks like I know what my problem is but lack motivation. - 9/24/2010 6:12:29 PM
  • I'm down to my LAST 3 POUNDS to goal weight and having quite a time busting through to get them off. I know that I really need to ramp UP my exercise, but having real trouble finding the time to do that. Just gonna have to find it, somehow. - 7/17/2010 8:40:47 AM
  • One key comment in the article.....adjus
    t your calorie intake for the level of activity!!!!!!! You have to pay attention to that one or your body goes into starvation mode and keeps storing calories..... - 7/8/2010 10:27:52 AM
  • no matter what I do I am not loosing any weight. I do weight training once a week, pilates once a week, walk evey day, and at least two other days a week I do some kind of exercise class. I eat lots of vegs, fruit, try to limit carbs, fat, no dessert, lots of fibre, yogurt, lots of water, so not sure what is happening. So far am reaching the 1200 cal per day. Just turned 65 so figure I now have no metabolism!!!

    I found the article good; however, as some have stated we feel we are doing everything we should with no results. - 5/31/2010 8:35:50 PM

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