If weight loss is part of your health goals, hitting a plateau on the scale can be frustrating and discouraging.
But, before throwing in the towel, take some time to reflect:
How are your other measurements, like circumference and body fat %, changing?
How are your clothes fitting?
How are your workouts going-- any highs or lows?
If you’re losing inches and rocking your clothes or crushing PBs (personal bests) in the gym, then take a big breath: you’re still moving towards your goals. Afterall, the scale is only one of MANY tools you can use to track your progress. Plus, the scale is notoriously picky, so your weight loss stall- or gain- could be due to other factors, such as:
You’re weighing yourself at different times in the day - Hydration level and the amount of food eaten/ digested/ eliminated are major factors in daily weight fluctuation (which can be as much as 3-10lbs throughout the day!), making it futile to compare days where the weights were taken at different times.
You’ve been eating more starches/ grains than you usually do - More water can be required to properly digest complex carbs like starches and grains; so, if you’ve been eating more than you usually do, expect more water retention than normal.
You’ve been eating more salt than usual - Your body tightly regulates things like blood pressure and fluid osmolarity. An increase in salt can cause a shift in these, so the body will retain more water to help its return to homeostasis (its happy place).
You’re lifting heavier than usual - After an intense workout, the body needs increased amounts of water to effectively repair itself.
You’re stressed out - Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, promotes water retention.
So, regardless of the cause, rest assured that the retained- or gained- weight is most likely due to water retention and not fat gain. Of course you can play with the factors above to get the scale to reflect your progress.
However, if your other progress markers have stalled too, then it’s time to reflect on your program. More times than not, a CONSISTENT confirmation of the basics will get you through the weight loss plateau. When reviewing your program, be sure to ask yourself?
Am I truly in a caloric deficit? Calories are king in weight loss. Many people underestimate how much they are actually eating. Actively tracking your calories-- or just writing down everything you eat-- are good steps to take here. Or, kill two birds with one stone: opt for lean meats, veggies and fruits to make up most of your meals and snacks. These low-calorie, high-nutrient foods are filling AND healthfully nourishing, and, in many cases, will help you keep in a deficit without having to strictly count calories. **NOTE: if you’ve been losing weight, remember that your body will adjust to your new caloric needs. So, even though you were in a deficit before, you may not be in one now because your energy needs are lower.
Am I getting enough sleep? Lack of sleep elevates cortisol, which promotes water retention and a slew of other adverse health effects. For the sake of your aesthetic goals and health, get your shut eye!
Am I drinking enough water? Water is so, so important in many bodily functions-- so drink up and focus on veggies and fruits with high water content!
Am I pushing myself in my workouts? Your body needs consistent exposure to greater stress than it’s used to so it can breakdown and repair stronger. Try mixing up your workouts or grab a training buddy to help motivate you!
As they say, getting healthy is SIMPLE, it’s just not necessarily EASY.
But, once you’ve found your own tricks and habits to CONSISTENTLY do the above (which we can absolutely help you with), you will be able to break through your plateau in a healthy and sustainable manner. Some plateaus last a week, some a month- or two! Just keep going.
And, when true consistency fails, go see your doc. There may be an underlying physiological reason that preventing you from moving forward.
In sum, the scale is only ONE tool in your toolbox, and it can be finnicky to use and trust. Other methods, like how your clothes fit, how you move and how much energy you have can be more encouraging and truthful indicators to how well you’re doing (#BecauseWeKnowYou’reKillingIt).
The TriForce Team