There will always be a time when your weight loss stalls, this is a time to not get frustrated and simply give up and buy a box of donuts. With a little self reflection you should be able to get over this plateau and continue with your successful weight loss.
Underestimating calories in. “Is that 1/2 cup of potatoes of 1 cup?” Those sort of questions can wreck havoc on your weight loss. I know no one likes to measure their food and in most cases you really shouldn’t have to, but without actually having any practice how do you really know what 3 ounces of tilapia really is (reality this is one you are more than likely to underestimate)
What can I do? Buy a cheap digital food scale that has the ability to zero out after you add a container, which allows you to plop your plate on it press the zero button and add your meat/vegetables/potatoes and get an accurate measurement without any math required. Do this for a week and then after a week estimate and them measure to check how you are doing once you are accurate at least within an ounce you should be able to wean yourself off the scale.
Eating too much diet food. This one may sound confusing given you are trying to lose weight. The problem with “diet” foods is they remove one macronutrient (fat) and replace it with a worse one carbohydrates (sugar). Though it is true that a gram of fat does contain more calories than a gram of carbohydrates which can lead to a higher amount of calories per volume, those fat calories keep you full longer and in nearly all cases are more nutritious for your body. This in effect causes you to eat less overall calories overall.
What can I do? Avoid items with “Low Fat” or “diet” in their names. The one possible exception would be diet sodas which you should avoid anyway, but in this case no calories is much better than 110 calories all of which coming from sugar. So enjoy your full fat dressing and cheese and stay full longer.
You are not tracking your total calories. There is not much point in knowing how much you eat if you do not actually track this total. Again this can be cumbersome but this is valuable information that help you potential understand where your overconsumption may be coming from.
What can I do? Use an online program like my personal favorite MyFitnessPal or Livestrong myPlate. These both allow you to log your food as well as your workouts on their site free via their website. Want to enter your food on the go? Both sites offer mobile application which allows you to search, log food entries, and see your current calorie count on the go. Both of these sites have extensive community generated food databases which seems to have every product I have thrown at it. This will provide you a great historical record of what you have eaten before and during your weight stall. You can look at patterns here from the calorie or possibly more insightful the macronutrient level.
Your weight will fluctuate. It is completely normal for your weight to change throughout the day which if you think about this should be obvious. In the morning after you do your morning bathroom routine is typically the lowest you will be during the day this is because you haven’t eaten or drank for 8-9 hours you will wake up dehydrated and most likely hungry. This is a great positive time to weigh yourself. As you eat meals this add immediate weight to your body by the foods mass. Drink a 16 ounce glass of water, oh crap just just gained a pound. As you can see it is very easy to cause your weight to increase which should not be alarming. One other factor is when the last time you did some serious reading in the bathroom…been a few days expect to have a few extra pounds on the scale.
What can I do? Don’t get stressed about 0.5 to 1 pound increases on the scale and if you haven’t done your reading in the bathroom don’t even waste your time weighing yourself. You should be concerned about the downward direction your weight is going not the day to day results.
Your leptin levels are too low. Leptin is a hormone that tells your brain that you have enough extra fat for storage. There are various ways your leptin levels can decrease making it much more difficult to lose weight (if not impossible).
What can I do? Get plenty of sleep, by getting 8-9 hours of sleep, when you lack hours in bed your body produces less leptin. Eating your veggies will provide fiber to fill your stomach signaling the release of leptin keeping your satisfied to lose more weight. Get plenty of Omega-3 in your diet, this can be from natural sources like fish or you can also supplement with some fish oil capsules if you don’t have fish in your meals too often.
Overestimating the calories burned during exercise. You may not have been as intense with your workout as you may have been thinking burning less calories than was calculated. Also important to know if that calculation includes your basal metabolic rate as well calories burned from exercise. For example I burn 100 calories an hour sitting at a desk and I burn 200 calories going for slow walk. So sure I am burning calories but the net increase from my exercise is only 100 calories not the 200 calories that treadmill was telling me.
What can I do? Get a hear rate monitor to more accurately measure your calories being burned at your intensity. Be sure to consider your basal metabolic rate when considering your calorie consumption when included with exercise.
You body just burns less calories. I pound of muscle burns 7-10 calories per day, though fat burns 2-3 calories per day as well. Lost 60 pounds of fat and maybe a couple pounds of muscle? That means you now your body is burning 200 less calories than it was before. So if you are consuming the same number of calories as when you started your diet you might just not be burning enough to continue weight loss.
What can I do? Good news now you are not packing around those extra pounds it takes less energy so you shouldn’t really be hungry for these extra calories. Try scaling back your calories slowly (about 100 per week) to see if the weight comes back off.
You have hit a plateau. You body naturally wants to be in a state of body weight balance.
What can I do? If you stay here more than a few weeks try bumping up your calories about 50 per day until you begin to see weight gain then back down 100 calories and maintain this maintenance calorie load for a couple of weeks. This one will give you an idea how life will be after you have reached your weight loss goal but also give your body a chance to get accustomed to not be in a calorie deficit. After a few weeks reduce your calories by 500 and see what happens can be a great way to kick start your weight loss again while boosting your leptin levels.