So you’ve started exercising more, your diet has improved, and you're starting to feel good when all of a sudden the number on the scale just won’t budge. One of these eight things might be the reason your weight is staying the same and give you some guidance on where to go from here.
1. You’re Building Muscle
When you start weight lifting, you'll likely also start building muscle, especially if your diet is on point and you're getting in enough protein. One reason why your weight may not be fluctuating much is because you are building muscle and losing body fat at nearly the same rate. One way to test this theory is by keeping track of your body fat percentage through caliper readings or other scales/inbody measurements that take body fat. Remember that these tools aren't usually 100% accurate, so instead of looking for exact numbers just look at the trends over time (aka whether your BF% is increasing or decreasing). If your programming is correct, don't count out muscle mass as a reason for your weight not changing much!
2. You’re Not Burning As Many Calories As You Think
Just like body fat tools not being 100% accurate, calorie trackers aren't either. In fact, my absolute favorite tracker, the apple watch, has about a 40% error rate. So again, don't count on exact numbers here. Instead, look at trends over time. Are you consistently working out and burning a decent amount of calories during your workouts? Have you improved your diet and are you tracking your macros/calories to ensure you're eating for your goals? Don't use your calorie tracker to see how much you should be eating, and also don't adjust your calorie intake based on how much you burned. Stick with your program and the results will come.
3. You’re Eating More Than You Think
Just because you're tracking your calories, doesn't mean you're doing it correctly! If you even have a shred of doubt, check out this blog post that I wrote to help you all with myfitnesspal. The biggest mistakes that I see with tracking are forgetting to track beverages, condiments/sauces, and cooking oils as well as underestimating how much you're actually eating. Sometimes 3oz looks a lot smaller than it actually is. When in doubt use a food scale or if you're not trying to get that specific use measuring cups/spoons instead. At least then you'll still know about how much you're eating versus eye-balling it.
4. You’re Not Sleeping Enough
You'd be amazed how much sleep can affect how your body feels and functions on every single level. In one study, dieters that got a full night's sleep had about 25% better results than their sleep-deprived counterparts. Sleep-deprived dieters also felt hungrier, producing higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure. Bottom line: get those 7-8 hours and your body will thank you.
5. It’s Time To Change Your Programming
Following a program is great, but following the same workouts over and over can cause you to hit a sticking point. In order to see change in your body, you have to continue changing your programming - nutrition and workouts. A good indicator that you need to change your workouts is when they feel easy or like you're "just going through the motions". You should feel challenged throughout most, if not all, of your workouts.
6. You’re Stressed Out
Stress, like sleep, might be the surprising reason that your weight loss progress has stalled. When you're chronically stressed out, the hormone cortisol can run unchecked making it difficult to lose weight and leaving you bloated, tired, and unmotivated. Stress can also alter your eating decisions, sometimes causing people to want to overeat or make poor food choices leading to weight gain. Figure out the sources of stress in your life and try to manage them as best as you can. Get rest, practice self care, and when in doubt - journal it out!
7. You Need More Water
We are literally made of water people, if you're still not drinking enough of this liquid gold my only question in - WHY ? Drinking enough water will only help your body. It will improve your skin, aid in digestion, assist your body in filtering toxins, help with recovery after a tough workout, and reduce water retention and bloating. Time to start chugging (completely kidding, drinking a gallon slowly throughout the day is much more effective for hydration than chugging your water).
8. You're Eating Too Much Sodium
Nowadays, everything has sodium. But too much can cause bloating and water retention, tipping the scale in the wrong direction and potentially discouraging you in your fitness efforts. If you track your food on MyFitnessPal, you can keep an eye on your sodium intake there. I'd recommend trying to keep it under 1500 mg daily.
There you have it - eight possible reasons you might be dealing a plateau and how you can get out of it. If you need some help overcoming this sticking point, feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to help you find the solution and get back to pushing for your goals again. Let’s get your body working FOR you instead of against you.