It’s frus­trat­ing when your weight loss slows down, but hit­ting a plateau is com­plete­ly nor­mal.

Los­ing weight is not always a lin­ear process. At first, you may see weight loss every time you step on the scale. Then the num­bers start to slow down until they stop com­plete­ly. And when this hap­pens, you hit what is called a weight loss plateau. But a plateau is not a death sen­tence. Here are 8 ways to get back on track.
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Eat enough protein

When los­ing weight, it’s worth con­sid­er­ing the loss of mus­cle mass that occurs nat­u­ral­ly as you shed pounds. The more mus­cle you have, the more calo­ries you burn, so the goal is to pre­serve that mus­cle as much as pos­si­ble. To do this, you need to main­tain your pro­tein intake to a min­i­mum of 1.6–1.8 grams per kilo­gram of body weight. In addi­tion, ade­quate pro­tein intake has oth­er ben­e­fits for weight loss.

Watch your food

As you get clos­er to your goal weight, you’ll need to be a lit­tle more metic­u­lous with your con­trols. Many peo­ple down­play the impor­tance of por­tion sizes. For exam­ple, if you add just a cou­ple table­spoons of peanut but­ter to your dai­ly smooth­ie, that will be about 120 extra calo­ries, for a total of 840 extra calo­ries per week.

If you stop see­ing results, you need to pay atten­tion to food con­trol. First, famil­iar­ize your­self with what your por­tion should look like. For exam­ple, a serv­ing of beef is 85 grams (the size of a deck of cards). Once you get used to what this amount looks like, you can go back to view­ing your por­tions.

(Read also: How hor­mones affect our weight.)

Don’t pamper yourself too often

It would seem that one cake can do no harm after a hard work­out, right? This type of think­ing can stop your weight loss. The reward usu­al­ly far out­weighs the extra calo­ries burned. Those extra calo­ries add up: If you eat a 500-calo­rie treat a few times a week, that can add up to over 6,000 extra calo­ries per month. And this can play a deci­sive role in your weight loss.

Fol­low a sim­ple rule: 10 to 20% of your dai­ly calo­ries can come from treats. If you feel like you’re not see­ing results, try to stick to the 10% range.

Don’t overestimate your activity level

As you start to exer­cise more, you may find your­self mov­ing less through­out the day. Many peo­ple fall into this trap. You did a great job in your morn­ing work­out. Then when you get home, you plop down on the couch for the rest of the day to watch your favorite show because you feel like you’ve already done enough for the day.

This is mis­take. If you’re seri­ous about los­ing weight, the habit of not mov­ing after a work­out can real­ly be hold­ing you back. Take oppor­tu­ni­ties to walk, exer­cise, or climb stairs. It seems like a small thing, but this way you keep your metab­o­lism at the prop­er lev­el.

(Read also: 5 ways to make los­ing weight eas­i­er.)

Be consistent in the gym

Con­sis­ten­cy mat­ters when los­ing weight. Accord­ing to British research, skip­ping just one work­out can increase your chances of miss­ing the next by 61%.

Con­sis­ten­cy in the pro­gram is also impor­tant. While you may have heard that there must be some nov­el­ty involved, for a weight loss pro­gram to work, you have to stick with it long enough that you can actu­al­ly han­dle it.

The squat, dead­lift and bench press are the foun­da­tion for a rea­son. Peo­ple don’t give them­selves enough time to learn and mas­ter these move­ments. The soon­er you learn how to do the exer­cise, the bet­ter you will become at it. This means you can gain weight, which will help you gain and main­tain mus­cle, which will help you burn more calo­ries through­out the day and lose fat. But if you want a fun work­out, add some­thing new to the last 10 min­utes of your rou­tine.

(Read also: Why is try­ing to lose 15 kilo­grams in 30 days a bad idea?)

Recover properly

You won’t con­tin­ue to lose weight if you’re too sore to stick to your work­out plan for the rest of the week. By ignor­ing the recov­ery peri­od, you risk hit­ting a plateau. When you lift iron, you are lit­er­al­ly break­ing down your body by caus­ing micro-trau­ma in the mus­cle tis­sue, so you need time to rebuild that mus­cle.

By going home after your work­out and eat­ing well, going to bed and drink­ing enough water, you will be able to recov­er so that you can then go back to the gym and do it again.

When you’re just start­ing out, work­ing out three days a week can be a great option. Or you can do full body work­outs every oth­er day, with a recov­ery day in between.

Less stress and more sleep

When the scale refus­es to budge, start look­ing at more than just your diet. Con­stant­ly wor­ry­ing and sleep­ing less than six hours a night can affect your waist­line. This is because stress and sleep increase cor­ti­sol lev­els, which leads to excess weight.

In addi­tion, high­er cor­ti­sol lev­els stim­u­late hunger, espe­cial­ly for favorite foods (fast food, sweets). We know it’s not easy, but pri­or­i­tiz­ing your sleep will make a big dif­fer­ence in your weight loss efforts and improve your mood.

(Read also: 10 impor­tant lessons from a man who lost 65 kilo­grams.)

Limit your alcohol intake

Your favorite alco­holic drink may con­tain more calo­ries than you think. Besides its calo­rie con­tent, alco­hol can also encour­age you to eat more in gen­er­al. In one study, peo­ple who drank two alco­holic drinks con­sumed on aver­age 30% more food than those who received a place­bo. If you’ve stopped los­ing weight, it may be time to cut back on the num­ber of alco­holic drinks you drink per week.

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