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5 tips for breaking a weight loss plateau

Losing weight isn’t easy, and meal planning can feel especially challenging when you hit a plateau. But by reassessing your goals and strategies, you can usually push past a slowdown.

“Sometimes we think we’re eating really well, but little things are sneaking in and we’re not aware of it,” says Jody Malleo, RDN, LD, CDE, a dietitian and nutritionist at Piedmont.

Though weight loss progress may slow or stall, she says, it’s usually because an individual is simply consuming more or exercising less.

By considering your habits and monitoring your routines more closely, Malleo says, you can get back on the right track. Here are her best tips for moving beyond a plateau.

Ensure your diet is healthy

Nutritious choices are key for sustainable weight loss, Malleo says.

“A healthy meal plan is always going to have lots of color,” she explains. “It’s going to have lots of fruits and vegetables.”

You also shouldn’t restrict your food intake too much. Though extreme low-calorie or restrictive diets may seem beneficial at first, they’re harmful to your body and rarely result in long-term success. Healthy weight loss is about 1 to 2 pounds per week, Malleo says.

Keep a food and activity log

If your weight loss has stalled (or you’re even gaining some pounds back), Malleo recommends tracking what you eat and when you exercise.  

Have you been grabbing a few handfuls of candy at the office lately? There’s nothing wrong with snacking, but too many snacks can be detrimental to weight loss, Malleo says. If you’ve been following a healthy meal plan for a while, you may not even realize your habits have slipped.

“We get comfortable,” she says.

By logging your meals and activities, you can shine a light on opportunities to focus on to get different results.

Watch out for liquid calories

You don’t have to avoid every happy hour with friends, but remember that cocktail calories add up too.

“Liquid calories can sabotage you,” Malleo warns.

Alcoholic drinks aren’t the only culprit. Sugary juices and sodas may also stunt weight-loss progress, so it’s best to stick with water if you can.

Remember that exercise doesn’t undo eating

Exercise is healthy for your body and mind, and some activities can help you achieve weight-loss goals. But if you’re eating too much between workouts, Malleo says, time on the treadmill probably won’t undo it.

“You can’t outrun a bad diet,” she explains.

Weight loss mostly comes down to diet, but while you should monitor your food intake, you shouldn’t give up on fitness. It’s essential for overall health, and Malleo notes that exercising can support healthy eating behaviors.

Stay focused on your goals

Even when you’re leading a healthy lifestyle, Malleo says, some weight fluctuations are normal. Don’t worry if the numbers on the scale stall or creep up from time to time; the important metric is long-term weight loss.

Still, hitting a plateau after weeks or months of hard work can feel deflating. Malleo advises looking beyond the scale’s numbers for motivation.

“Remember why weight loss is important to you,” she says. “That’s what’s going to keep you motivated.”

Registered dietitians/nutritionists are uniquely trained to help people struggling with weight in identifying barriers and obstacles to success. If you are interested in talking to a nutritionist, consider reaching out to Piedmont’s Nutrition and Wellness Services at 404-605-3823.

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