Recently, I’ve had several people ask me this question…
“Lauren, I was making so much progress. I was losing weight, but then the progress slowed. It’s finally stopped completely, and now I can’t get the numbers to budge anymore. Pretty sure I’ve plateaued. What am I supposed to do?? Help!”
Oh the dreaded plateau. Anyone that’s ever tried to lose a little weight has been there. And it’s frustrating as hell.
But let’s be honest. You’re an athlete. You’re not one to give up easily. If you were, you’d have never made it to level you did, so instead of quitting like some might, you know it’s not an option for you.
Since you’re so persistent, I’m going to give you 3 tips to help you bust through a plateau.
1. Honestly evaluate your diet and exercise when you hit a plateau.
This piece is critical. You have to take a 100% honest look at how well you’re sticking to your nutrition goals and your workouts. If you can’t be straight with yourself, then nothing else you do will work long term.
Ask yourself these questions…
- How well am I sticking to my meal plans?
- Am I letting unplanned treats sneak in? Stuff like candy, donut here and there, chips, crackers, etc. can easily trip people up.
- What’s my alcohol intake look like these days? Am I imbibing more than normal?
- Am I doing my workouts? Or am I taking more days off than normal?
- How stressed am right now? Have my stress levels gone up recently?
- Am I getting 7-8 hours of sleep? Or have I been skimping on the sack time?
- Has my progress actually stopped? Or is the scale not moving but I’m still losing inches?
Write down your answers to these questions, then go back and take a look at them.
If you find that you’re NOT sticking to your meal plan and workouts that were getting results in the past, then I’ve got news for ya….
Your first step is to renew your commitment to your original workouts and meal plan.
No, it’s not an earth shattering solution, BUT this may be just the ticket to bust through a plateau. If the plan isn’t broke, there’s no need to fix it (as long as you’re sticking to it).
If this is you, then give it a 3-4 more weeks on this plan. If you reel in the sweets and other treats, cut back on the alcohol, get back to your workouts and there’s still no change, then think about changing up the plan.
On the other hand, if you HAVE been sticking to your plan, then maybe it’s time to look at the plan itself and make some adjustments. Let’s talk about those options next…
2. Are food sensitivities keeping you stuck?
Think food sensitivities aren’t an issue for you?? Think again…
I was talking with a friend of mine several months ago about how her progress had stalled. I asked her to share with me what she eats in a typical day and noticed that she was eating 3-4 servings of dairy a day between whey protein in her shakes, yogurt, and milk. My suggestion to her was to reduce her dairy intake significantly if not cut it out all together.
She messaged me a few weeks later with this…
“I wanted to let you know that your suggestions and answers really helped me make some more progress, so thanks! Cutting out dairy seemed to make a difference. By cutting it out and only having it as part of a cheat meal sometimes, I actually figured out that I’ve become pretty sensitive to dairy. I’ve never had that problem, or at least noticed it before, but my stomach feels a lot better when I don’t eat it!”
Just because you don’t break out in hives when you eat a certain type of food doesn’t mean you don’t have food sensitivities. The best way to figure out if you have food sensitivities is to systematically eliminate common culprits from your diet and monitor progress for a few weeks.
Two of the most common allergens are dairy products and gluten containing foods, but sugar alcohols can also cause problems with some folks, too. Take a look at what you’re eating day in and day out; if you see these types of foods throughout your meal plan, cutting them out might be just what you need to give your metabolism a boost and bust through you plateau.
3. Eat the right amount of carbs to break through your plateau.
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but gone are the days of carbing up. Instead, you gotta start thinking about what kinds of carbs you’re eating and how much — you gotta figure out your carb tipping point.
Your carbohydrate tipping point is the amount of starchy carbs that allow you to lose the fluff and gives you enough energy to keep up your intense workouts.
Finding your carb tipping point is critical if you’re trying to slim down. Too many carbs, and you won’t make any progress. The same thing can happen if you eat too few carbs, not to mention you’ll be too tired for a good workout with super low carbs.
Since everyone is different, finding this tipping point typically takes trial and error, but in late March I’m launching a nutrition program to address this issue. Stay tuned for details!
Until then though, pay attention to how much bread, pasta, grains, potatoes, and starchy veggies (corn, squash, etc.) that you eat. If you’re eating a heavy portion of carbs at each meal, it might be helpful to cut out the starchy carbs in your last meal of the day. Give that a try for a few weeks and make sure you record your progress.
If you eat essentially NO carbs and your progress has stalled, consider adding some carbs to your first meal of the day. Then do the same thing – monitor your progress.
Plateaus are frustrating. I’ve had more than enough experience with them, so I know they suck. Keep making systematic changes and monitoring your progress after each change. And be PATIENT! You WILL break through the plateau, but sometimes the body just needs to know you’re willing to wait until it’s ready. :)
Let me know if you’ve ever plateaued and what you did to get through it.