Home Health CHERYL A. MAJOR: Reasons Why Dieters Reach a Plateau When Losing Weight

CHERYL A. MAJOR: Reasons Why Dieters Reach a Plateau When Losing Weight


Cheryl A. Major is a volunteer contributor to WestfordCAT News. Email news to [email protected].

Why do you plateau on a diet?

Nearly everyone who has dieted has started out with great enthusiasm, wonderful commitment and intention…only to be derailed by the dreaded plateau.

Why in the world do we plateau when we’re trying to lose weight?  The answers are several and are actually pretty interesting.  The first answer is that you’re most likely not losing fat, you’re losing water weight. If you’re on a diet that requires eating lower amounts of sodium than usual, you are probably losing water weight.  Entwined with this water weight dilemma is the fact that depending on several variables, your weight can vary by as much as three pounds a day.  The variables include hydration.  Are you drinking more water than you usually do; don’t misunderstand me, you don’t want to restrict your hydration so you think you’re losing weight.  You simply want to be mindful that your water consumption may be contributing to your perceived “plateau.”

Another factor or variable for women may be that hormonal changes can cause them to retain water during their menstrual cycle.  One way to deal with the ups and downs so you don’t get discouraged is to take your “best weight” during the week and compare it with your “best weight” the next week.  This assumes you are getting on the scales every day.  There’s no merit in weighing yourself everyday and becoming discouraged to the point that you give up when it very well may be water weight fluctuation.

Another factor in the dilemma of the diet plateau is that as your body loses weight, it requires fewer calories to function.  If your intake remains the same, and your body no longer needs that much fuel, you will experience a plateau or even weight gain.

The fact is that weight loss needs to be a long term commitment with an eating regimen that then becomes a life style to maintain a healthy weight.  You shouldn’t expect to healthily lose more than one to two pounds of fat per week.  Please note, I said “fat”, not weight as weight would include water weight.  What you want to leave behind is the excess fat. With that said, if you want to lose 20 pounds, it can easily take you 10 to 20 weeks to lose 20 pounds of fat.

To be successful at this, you must have your calorie intake be lower than your calories used by your body.  You can plan a meal, whether it’s at home or out so it helps you to feel fuller on less fattening foods.  For instance, if you have soup or a salad or for that matter, any food with a high water content before you begin to eat your main course, you will feel fuller sooner and will be less likely to eat more of the foods that will sabotage your weight loss efforts.  Key along with this approach is to maintain vigilance and commitment regarding portion control!

There are a number of hunger suppressing foods you can eat that will keep you from being so hungry and can help you make it to the next real meal or healthy snack without reaching for that bagel!  Some of them are:

  • Apples – the pectin prevents blood sugar spikes; it’s a soluble fiber helps you feel full; a fruit that will help you avoid a blood sugar crash; the pectin in an apple can help you feel satisfied for 1-2 hour…go for organic apples.
  • Rice Bran – an insoluble fiber; contains zero calories; 1 -2 tablespoons in a glass of water stops the release of ghrelin (hunger hormone) for about an hour; avoid wheat bran (wheat sensitivity is common and so much wheat is GMO).
  • Green Tea – Contains EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which calms your ghrelin and creates a feeling of fullness; EGCG stimulates thermogenesis which stimulates your metabolism and helps your cells burn fat…Think it’s boring? Add a little xylitol (sweetener) and coconut or almond milk…
  • Avocado – Contains protein as well as healthy fat and fiber
  • Green Leafy Vegetables – contain Phytonutrients

Try incorporating a few of these suggestions into your food plan, and let me know if they help you stay on track!

Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show Thin Strong Healthy airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com   Cheryl offers ongoing information and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier.  Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor.  She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.

Questions?  Email Cheryl at [email protected] and be sure to put Health Question in the subject line.  Your question and its answer will be included in a future article.