How to Beat a Weight-Loss Plateau

by Casey Holley

About Casey Holley

Casey Holley is a medical writer who began working in the health and fitness industries in 1995, while still in high school. She has worked as a nutrition consultant and has written numerous health and wellness articles for various online publications. She has also served in the Navy and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health administration from the University of Phoenix.


A weight-loss plateau is frustrating for a dieter. Before the plateau, you were losing weight each week, and then the weight loss stopped. Although it is disheartening, it is normal to hit a plateau during your weight-loss journey. It is possible, however, to beat the plateau and meet your weight-loss goals.

Scrutinize Your Journal

Step 1

Keep an accurate diet and exercise journal. Write down everything you eat and drink daily. Include what physical activity you do: duration, activity and intensity.

Step 2

Check your journal to determine what ruts you might have fallen into. For example, if you eat broccoli each day for lunch and walk 60 minutes at an easy to moderate intensity, you have fallen into two ruts. You might need to make some adjustments to continue to lose weight.

Step 3

Review your food choices to determine whether you are eating based on healthy eating guidelines. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends a pyramid where you eat mostly vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and oils, and whole grains. The next pyramid level contains nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, fish, poultry and eggs. Dairy is the next level up, and red meat, butter refined grains, potatoes and sweets are on top.

Step 4

Note any unhealthy food choices you have been making. Just one piece of cake regularly or one unhealthy take-out meal per week adds calories to your diet that might contribute to the weight-loss plateau.

Step 5

Pay attention to any emotional triggers that may be contributing to your weight loss plateau. Stressful situations could cause you to keep weight on because of cortisol, states University of New Mexico.

Change Your Plan

Step 1

Consult with a weight loss expert. You might be in starvation mode and might need to eat snacks throughout the day. Also, look at the quality of your calories. If you are eating prepackaged foods, switch to fresh foods. Generally, prepackaged foods contain more sodium, fat and calories than fresh foods.

Step 2

Increase your activity. Add more time to your daily workouts, or increase the workout's intensity. Working out more or harder increases your lean muscle mass. More lean muscle mass revs up your metabolism and helps you get past the plateau.

Step 3

Reassess your weight-loss goals. The weight you are aiming for might be unrealistic for your body frame. Use a body mass index chart to determine whether your current weight is within the normal BMI range. If it is, you can opt to maintain your current weight instead of trying to lose more.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or