Last Updated on by Eat Better Move More

How Long Do Weight Plateaus Last

It happens to most of us, athletes, or those who are trying to achieve weight loss. You are working hard to achieve your desired weight, and then suddenly, one day, you see no improvement. So you increase your workout intensity, and still, the weighing scale is not budging at all.

Not only does it budge, but the weighing scale also doesn’t move at all despite weeks or even months of effort. You made changes in your dietary plan, and yet, there are still no changes. It’s very discouraging that you worked so hard for it, and suddenly, it came to an abrupt halt.

If the weighing scale doesn’t move at all, you might be wondering, is there something wrong? Why am I not improving? The reason for that dilemma is that you have reached your weight plateau.

Fortunately, all hope is not lost, and perhaps, you can do something about it. But first, you need to understand why it happens before knowing how to get past the weight loss plateau to achieve your health goals. 

What Is A Weight Loss Plateau

How Long Do Weight Plateaus Last

Following a strict diet and exercise is a difficult task, no matter who you are. You need to develop it into a habit and strictly follow the guidelines to achieve the desired weight. When you do start, the improvements only come after a week or so.

Finally, you have seen improvements, and you are steadily losing weight at a fixed rate. Now, you just need to keep it up until you reach your goal. Your goals might even take six months to complete, and yet you persevere.

Fast forward a few months, the progress starts to stall. At first, you start to notice that you aren’t losing as much weight. A few weeks later, there is barely progression at all. Finally, there is no progress no matter what you do.

Why does that happen? There are a few theories, but to sum it up, your body is adapting to changes.

We often think that weight loss is a linear progression. We think of it as going down at a fixed and steady rate. However, that isn’t the case. The ideal weight loss journey is straight down. But in reality, there are fluctuations, meaning there are ups and downs.  It isn’t ideal, but it is practical for long-term weight loss goals.

But why does it happen?

Why Does Weight Loss Progression Plateau?

Typically, weight loss plateaus happen after six months of progression. There are several theories as to why they happen, and here are some of the theories:

Losing Muscle Mass

When you start your weight loss routine, it’s not just fat stores that are being used up. A certain small amount of muscles are also burned up as well. According to research, 25% of the body tissue that was lost in weight loss is muscle.

You won’t necessarily lose strength, so it might not seem like a big deal, but you need those muscles. Your muscles are critical in helping you lose weight faster. The more muscles you have, the more energy is needed to use despite being at rest. So if you lose your muscles, your metabolic rate is reduced. As a result, fewer fats to burn.

To spring your muscles back up, start doing some strength training exercises. Once you build your muscles, even at rest, those muscles will burn fats real quick. 

SetPoint Theory

Our bodies have a built-in natural set point, and this set point is determined by the environment or by your DNA. The factors are hard to quantify, and there could be a lot more reasons why it happens.

One thing is for sure our bodies have a set point. When you reach the setpoint, the body recognises that it is comfortable at that determined weight. So if you have exhausted all options, and you are still stuck at that weight, you’ve might have reached the limit. Attempts to reduce weight any further might instead gain weight due to muscle development. 

Fewer Calories 

Another factor in losing weight is that you may need fewer calories than you initially thought. Among the causes of weight loss plateau, this is by far the most prevalent case.

Weight loss is simply not just about eating less. It’s impossible to lose much weight without exercise—unless, of course, you are starving yourself. Even then, after starving yourself, you will gain your weight back once you start eating again.

To achieve successful long-term weight loss, you need to factors. Proper diet and exercise, and many researchers agree. 

Other Factors

Other factors may lead to weight loss plateaus, such as medications, pregnancy, menopause, or adrenal gland problems. Consult your doctor on why your weight loss program is plateauing.

How To Overcome Weight Loss Plateau 

If your current routine is not getting results, perhaps it’s time to mix it up a little. Here are some ways you can use to overcome your weight loss plateau. 

Record Your Eating Habits

A lot of us typically underestimate the number of calories we take in. To see if calories have is causing your weight loss to plateau, start writing down your eating habits. Record what you eat and drink throughout the day, and then check how many calories it has.

The results might surprise you. Now that you have the records, you can start to set things straight. Limiting alcohol and sugar is one of the most effective ways to successfully break through the plateau. 

Increase Exercise Intensity 

Adjust your workouts accordingly as soon as your progress starts to dwindle. When you start to exercise, your fitness level gradually improves. The more fit you are, the more things you can do. Expand your horizon, and see what you can do with your improved body.

Also, start doing some strength training exercises to build up your muscles. The more muscles you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be.

Better Sleep

Studies have shown that sleeping enough hours can improve weight loss outcomes. Sleeping might just be the thing you are looking for.