How to break through a weight loss plateau


Over the last several years practicing obesity medicine, I have seen many patients hit weight loss plateaus and get frustrated. I personally have experienced the same in my own weight loss journey. Here are a few tips to get past the plateau.

  1. Add strength training to your exercise routine. Strength training promotes muscle growth and will help burn more calories. In a 12 week study of women with obesity who followed a low calorie diet and lifted weights for 20 minutes daily, lost an average of 13 pounds and 2 inches from their waist.
  2. Eat your lean protein. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied for a longer period than carbohydrates. Protein also helps protect against muscle loss and decreased metabolic rate.
  3. Avoid Alcohol. Even though there are seltzers, vodka, or light beers containing less calories and carbohydrates, they should be avoided. Alcohol interferes with weight loss by providing more calories, increases belly fat storage and also leads to increased appetite.
  4. Drink your water. Your body may think you are hungry, but, you really are thirsty. If you are experiencing hunger, try drinking water instead. Keep a water bottle with you so you can be ready to drink your water. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or very light yellow.
  5. Eat your vegetables with every meal. This way you are replacing high calorie foods with low calorie foods. Vegetables are also higher in fiber which will keep you feeling fuller, longer.
  6. Manage your stress. When you are stressed, the body releases a hormone known as Cortisol. The increased cortisol production that’s associated with stress can interfere with weight loss. In one eight-week study of 34 overweight and women with obesity, a stress-management program that included muscle relaxation and deep breathing led to an average weight loss of 9.7 pounds.
  7. Get enough sleep. Sleep deprived can lead to increased cravings, increased hunger and therefore weight gain.

Weight loss plateaus can be frustrating and discouraging. However, they are a normal part of weight loss. If you need any additional information, please visit

Christaki, E., Kokkinos, A., Costarelli, V., Alexopoulos, EE.C., Chrousos, G.P., Darviri, C. (2013). Stress management can facilitateweight loss in Greek overweight and obese women: a pilot study. J Hum Nutr Diet . 2013 Jul;26

Flegal, K. M., Kruszon-Moran, D., Carroll, M. D., Fryar, C. D., & Ogden, C. L. (2016). Trends in Obesity Among Adults in the United States, 2005 to 2014. JAMA, 315(21), 2284–2291.

Matsuo, T., Suzuki, M. (1999). Effects of dumb-bell exercise with and without energy restriction on resting metabolic rate, diet-induced thermogenesis and body composition in mildly obese women. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. . 1999 Jun;8(2):136-41.

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