You were going strong, eating healthy and exercising, and you watched your weight steadily go down. But now your fat-loss has stalled. Before you get down on yourself about your weight-loss plateau, make sure you've actually hit one. There are many ways to measure progress besides the scale. So even though the numbers may not be moving (or maybe they're even increasing), check out your body composition, body measurements, how strong you feel, and how your clothes fit. You may have decreased your body fat percentage and increased muscle, and a regular scale won't measure that.
If you've determined that you've truly hit a fat-loss plateau, "It's important to take an integrative approach towards breaking through a weight-loss plateau," she said. "It is so much more than numbers on the scale or counting calories. Factors like emotion, food sensitivity, physical activity, environment, and medications all can play a role, so it's important to address these in addition to diet." But if your sleep, stress, and emotional well-being are doing well, here are some healthy eating tips that can help break through that fat-loss plateau.
1 Be Mindful of Portion Control
"Even if you're eating the healthiest of foods, some are calorie dense - like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and nut butters - and therefore it's important to stick to moderation". Note that one serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons (not half the jar), and for almonds, it's one handful (about 23). Eyeballing your portions could be the reason your weight has stalled, so take a week or two to measure everything, just to be sure you're eating as much as you think you are.
To help keep your portions in check when eating at home, use a small bowl or plate. On the go, use single-serving snack packs, which provide immediate portion control.
Here's a quick tip: when meal-prepping on the weekend, make these snack packs for nuts, pretzels, and trail mix. We also like making these adorable mason jar snack packs, perfect for hummus and veggies or chips and salsa.
2 Keep a Food Journal
Keeping a food journal can increase awareness of how, what, and why you eat. By observing these patterns, you can make changes to promote balanced meal planning and support overall weight management. Many health apps on smartphones have food-tracking features like MyVision, which makes it easy to log your food. Many apps are also interactive, offering fun social features that allow you to share your information as part of an online community where you can support one another.
Keeping a food journal won't work unless you're honest and accurate, so measure your food, track every lick, bite, and taste, and you can even share your food journal with a friend to help you stay accountable.
3 Your Diet Should Be Focussed on These Foods
The bulk of your daily meal plan should come from vegetables first, with an emphasis on whole, plant-based foods. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
If you eat meat, some opting for lean protein sources, including white-meat poultry such as chicken and turkey, shellfish, fish, and eggs. If you eat lean beef, go for 92 percent lean or higher. When choosing dairy protein, opt for reduced-fat or nonfat. Whatever way of eating you choose; your goal should be on healthful eating patterns.
4 Snack Smart
If you're going to snack between meals, going for snacks that contain healthy fats, protein, and fibre. This dynamic combo keeps hunger away, which can prevent you from reaching for high-calorie foods. "Some snacks I recommend to my clients include nuts, fresh-cut veggies with hummus, whole-wheat crackers with string cheese, plain Greek yoghurt with berries, and apple with peanut butter," Richard said.
5 Practice Mindfulness
Most people don't think about being mindful when they eat, but it can be one of the most insightful ways to support your healthy relationship with food. It's important to examine your emotions and ask yourself, "Am I really hungry or just bored?" - use the hunger scale every time you eat. "I encourage you to pay careful attention to the two Ws - the what and why: what you're eating and why you're eating. This helps to not only enjoy and savour your food more but can help prevent overeating.
One easy-to-follow tip is to focus on eating slower. It takes approximately 20 minutes for fullness signals to transmit from the stomach back to the brain. So, if you eat too fast, inhaling your meal in under 10 minutes, and aren't paying attention, it's easy to eat more than what the body is calling for. So, make sure you spend at least 20 to 30 minutes to enjoy your meal.
6 Focus on Fibre
"Eating high-fibre foods will keep you fuller longer on fewer calories," so aim to fill up on at least 25 grams a day. Go for veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Soluble fibre, in particular, can help with weight loss and has been shown to help reduce belly fat. A research study in over 1,100 adults found that every 10-gram increase in soluble fibre was associated with a 3.6 percent decrease in belly fat. Foods high in soluble fibre include legumes, apples, brussels sprouts, avocados, and flaxseed.
7 Limit Artificial Sweeteners
Consuming artificial sweeteners may increase sugar cravings, causing you to eat more, which will lead to weight gain. Avoid soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, packaged foods, and baked goods that contain artificial sweeteners.
8 Be a Label Reader
Don't just grab food and throw it in your grocery cart! Pay attention to the nutrition facts label and ingredients list, with an emphasis on reducing added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium and avoiding foods made with trans-fat (often listed as hydrogenated oils).
9 Plan Ahead
Going off your healthy eating plan could be one reason you've hit a plateau. So, plan ahead! Have lunches and snacks premade over the weekend, and cut up veggies to use for your weeknight dinners so you're not tempted to order takeout. These Buddha bowls take less than one hour and offer almost 30 grams of protein.
10 Limit Alcohol
Be conscious of drinking too much alcohol. Aside from the empty calories, registered dietitian Julie Upton, MS, of Appetite For Health said that drinking also stimulates your appetite and chips away at your willpower. "Ever wonder why Taco Bell or pizza seem like a good idea at 1 a.m. after you've been out drinking?"
11 Stay Hydrated
Sometimes hunger is mistaken for thirst. If you're feeling hungry, try drinking water first. Keep a reusable water bottle nearby and drink throughout the day. Aim to get at least 80 ounces, but listen to your body and drink as often as you feel thirsty.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.