I started a diet two months ago and was making really good progress, but I haven’t been losing any additional weight for the last three or four weeks. Any idea why? I haven’t changed anything. It just stopped.
For anyone trying to lose weight, your experience is extremely common. Weight always seems to come off quickest at the beginning – but subsequent results get stalled. So why does this tend to happen?
To lose weight, dieters must create a calorie deficit. In other words, more calories are burned than are taken in through food. To create the calorie deficit, healthier dieters tweak both ends of the equation by increasing physical activity and decreasing daily caloric intake. In other words, less calories in and more calories out.
At first, results are quick and dramatic. As the Mayo Clinic points out:
During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part this is because when calories from food are reduced, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds on to water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases water, resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water.
After the initial weight loss, things tend to slow down. Most often, this is due to a decrease in the body’s metabolism.
Your metabolism is the process by which your body burns calories for energy – and at lower body weights, we burn fewer calories. In other words, even though you’re still exercising and eating the same amount of food, the calorie deficit no longer exists.
To lose additional weight loss, you must again tweak the equation to create a calorie deficit. That may mean fewer calories in (i.e., eating less) or increasing calories out by vamping up your workout program or daily activity. Try adding another 15 minutes to your workout. Or, increase the overall intensity of your workout (i.e., shorter rests, less talking, doing intervals, etc.) so that you burn more calories in the same amount of time.
By re-creating the calorie deficit, you’ll see additional results. That is, until your next plateau.