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3 ways to break through a weight loss plateau

While a plateau in weight loss is normal, it can be a frustrating experience.

Written by
Team Pilot
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
February 5, 2024
min read
3 ways to break through a weight loss plateau
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Weight loss generally occurs when you are consistently burning more calories than you eat or drink.

In theory, if you continue to eat less and exercise more, you should continue to lose more weight. However, this isn’t always the case and it can be frustrating to see your weight not continuing to go down.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that weight loss is linear. Your weight will fluctuate throughout your weight loss journey, and you may even reach a weight loss plateau. A weight-loss plateau is when your weight remains stable for at least three to four weeks.

Weight loss plateau

While a plateau in weight loss is pretty normal, it can be a frustrating experience. Here are a few reasons why you might be experiencing a plateau.


Have old habits started to trickle back in?

If you’ve been on a calorie-restricted diet for a prolonged period of time, it’s very easy for old habits to slip back in without you even realising.

Whether it’s snacking on your dinner whilst you’re cooking or occasionally starting to get seconds and include an afternoon treat, small little changes over time can slowly grow into big changes in your overall energy intake.

Are you still eating the right amount of calories for weight loss?

When you lose weight, you will inevitably lose some muscle along with fat. Muscle helps to keep your metabolism up.

This means that your metabolism will naturally decline as you lose weight, causing you to burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight.

After a significant amount of weight loss, you may need to revisit the calorie calculator to work out your new requirements.

However, there is a point where you shouldn’t be reducing any more calories (somewhere around 1200 calories), which could your body into “starvation mode”. This could cause an increase in hunger, cravings and lethargy, which could worsen your weight plateau.

It’s your survival mechanism

Our bodies are incredible machines that are always working to help us survive each day. In fact, there are thousands of processes happening in your body right now.

Some of these processes involve hormones that are chemical messengers which instruct your body on what to do. For example, eating and drinking involve hormones like ghrelin and leptin which is responsible for regulating your hunger and fullness cues.

Prolonged dieting and excessive exercise can trigger your body to turn down your fullness hormones, making you feel hungry more often.

There are also hormones that turn on to tell your body to preserve as much energy as possible by slowing down your metabolism as you continue to lose weight.

Muscle weighs more

On your weight loss journey, you might be increasing your level of exercise. If you are amping up your resistance or weight training, you will put on some more lean muscle mass. Lean muscle carries more water and weighs more than fat.

If you’re converting fat into muscle, you will find that your weight loss will slow or plateau. That doesn’t mean you’re not making progress!

What can you do about weight plateaus?

There are a few things you can do to break through a weight-loss plateau. These include:

Reassess your habits

Before changing anything, try keeping a food and exercise diary for several days. It is important to reflect on your practices to see if you have lost some of the momentum you initially had. It happens to the best of us!

Make sure you’re getting enough protein

Your body could be losing some lean muscle along with fat during weight loss, slowing down your metabolism.

To preserve that precious muscle tissue, it’s important to eat enough protein. Try to spread protein intake evenly across the day and include a protein source at every meal and at least one snack per day.

Rev up your workout and mix it up

Continue to increase the intensity of your workouts or change the nature of your exercise routine. Try weightlifting or increasing the weights during your workout routine.

You could try reducing your rest periods during workouts or aim to improve your pace if you are doing cardio. All of these measures will help you to build muscle or improve your cardiovascular endurance, helping you be more effective in burning calories.

A helping hand

If you're struggling with weight loss, Pilot's Weight Reset Shakes might be for you.

Our creamy, convenient meal replacement shakes help to keep you satisfied until your next meal and are developed with dietitians and backed by science for lasting results.

The Weight Reset Shakes contain more than 40 per cent of your daily vitamin needs for immunity and overall health as well as high-quality whey protein and are a good source of fibre. Plus, they taste delicious and contain pre and probiotics for gut health.

And, on the Rapid weight loss plan, it's normal to lose up to 2kgs a week for the first 4 to 6 weeks, then 0.8kgs each week beyond that on this class of treatment.

This could be just the thing to shake things up (pun intended!) if you're experiencing a weight loss plateau.

Weight isn’t everything

Seeing that number go down on scale can surely be gratifying, however, it shouldn’t be your only measure of success. When you are experiencing a plateau, it’s important to celebrate those non-scale victories.

These could be changes in your waist measurements, feeling more in control of your eating, feeling more confident in your clothing, exercising more, crushing your emotional eating habits and feeling fitter and healthier.

If you're looking for ways to optimise your weight loss and overall well-being, join Compound Co, Australia's digital clinic for preventative health and performance. Where we talk about all things related to health optimisation and preventative care to help men unlock barriers to everyday performance.

Photo credit: Getty Images


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