So, you took the leap and signed up for a weight-loss program. But once you got started, it was a whole different story.
While you might feel like you’re doing everything to a T, the scale is stuck and you can’t figure out why.
Plateaus are a normal part of any weight-loss journey, but there are many explanations for them.
Check out these six reasons why the scale might be stuck:
1. Overeating. Weight-loss is dependent on “calories in” being lower than “calories out.” Eating too much for your current activity level and weight could be a reason why the scale is stuck.
“Meal delivery programs can help eliminate any guesswork,” said nutrition expert Chris Mohr.
2. Not keeping track. Overeating, skipping meals and portion control can all be eased if you get more diligent with food tracking.
Take it from the experts. According to research published in the journal, “Obesity,” self-monitoring your diet is the number one predictor of weight-loss success, and it takes less than 15 minutes each day.
Try tracking your diet at least 80% of the time or at least five to six days of the week. Be sure to include all eating occasions (even nibbling), portion sizes and ingredients. This way, when the scale is stuck, you can evaluate where you might be overdoing it.
3. Skimping on protein and fiber. Try maximizing protein and fiber in your diet.
“Protein helps preserve lean muscle mass while losing weight to help maintain metabolic rate. Also, protein and fiber keep you feeling full longer. What’s more, protein is more thermogenic than carbohydrates and fats — meaning you’ll burn more calories digesting and absorbing high-protein foods. Fiber isn’t fully digested, so the calorie contribution from fiber is less than other carb sources,” Mohr said.
4. Increasing muscle. If you’ve been hitting the gym and putting on muscle, you also might experience a stall on the scale. Find other measures of success in the meantime. For example, your jeans might be fitting better, or you might have more energy. These non-scale victories are just as valuable as a number on the scale.
5. Other lifestyle factors. Lack of sleep can disrupt weight-loss. The National Sleep Foundation recommends sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Limit caffeine and screen-time in the hours before bed. The light emitted by screens on electronic devices reduces your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep and wake cycle, according to Harvard Health. You also can try a before-bed exercise routine.
Did you know that chronic stress can halt weight-loss? Address your stress with self-care. Try meditation, daily exercise and breathing techniques. You also should seek out a support system and engage in your community.
6. Illness or injury. A recent illness or injury can cause increased inflammation that results in water retention. Additionally, injury or illness can decrease daily activity and overall calories burned. Some medications also might stall weight-loss. Keep in mind that your overall health always should take precedence over the number on the scale. Consult your doctor. It might mean modifying your weight-loss program temporarily. This setback is not the end of your journey though. Once you’ve recovered, you should be able to start where you left off, pending your doctor’s approval.