“Have you ever been doing great on a weight loss plan and then, out of nowhere, had your scale freeze up on you? That is, you go one, two, even three weeks without losing any weight, and without looking any leaner? Weight loss plateaus like these are usually caused by accidental over-eating or over exercising, and there are simple dietary and exercise strategies you can use to remedy those.
That said, water retention can also be the cause of “mysterious” weight stagnation. Women can really suffer from this due to the fluid retention that comes with the menstrual cycle. If you’re not familiar with water retention and what to do about it, it can really throw you for a loop because cutting calories further and increasing cardio-the two simple ways to get the scale moving again-can actually make it worse. This can lead to a bout of frustration, which can lead to binging, which sets you back even further.
In a perfect world, we would always lose weight each week while eating healthy and consistently exercising. Well, it usually doesn’t work out like that. It turns out that weight loss can be quite erratic sometimes. You can sit at the same weight for several weeks, and then lose 3-4 pounds overnight, and it can sometimes occur after a large cheat meal.
How is that possible? The answer is water retention. If you lose a pound of fat in one week, it can be obscured-both on the scale and in the mirror-by an extra pound of water that your body is holding. While daily fluctuations in the amount of water you drink and sodium you eat account for most of the water you retain, simply being in a caloric deficit can cause water retention. A major reason for this is the fact that it raises cortisol levels, which in turn increases fluid retention.
If you find your weight stuck for several weeks despite being absolutely sure that you’re in a caloric deficit (weighing your food and keeping your activity levels up), then the following these strategies may help you flush out the fluid you are holding.
Reducing your sodium intake can reduce your water weight. This can be done by cutting out canned or pre-packaged foods, not eating deli meat, reducing salting your food, not using sauces or dressings, and cutting your dairy intake.
While it may be annoying to cut out yet another thing in your diet, it is worth reining in your sodium for a few days to get the scale moving again. Drinking plenty of water helps normalize your fluid retention, and cut back on your exercise to get your cortisol under control. Also, make sure you are not in too severe of a caloric deficit. Go over your diet and compare it against your total daily expenditure using a calculation like Katch McArdle. Bring yourself to a 500 calorie deficit to avoid the cortisol issues that come with greater calorie restrictions.
Another key to fluid retention is getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can result in elevated cortisol levels later in the day. Try and get a minimum of 6-7 hours of rest. And finally, chill out! You can reduce cortisol levels by simple taking some time each day to relax, listen to music, drink some tea, get a massage, take a nap, or do some deep breathing. Using these tricks could move you past your plateau in no time!
Having a stretch where your weight loss slows to nothing is a natural phenomenon. You’re consuming fewer calories than you used to, so your metabolism has slowed down to conserve them. Keep in mind that, as long as you stick with your workouts and healthy eating, you’ll typically start losing weight again after about three weeks. It’s also important to remember that while you may not be losing weight, you should be experiencing positive changes to your body like a smaller waist, more toned stomach, stronger arms and more. Remember that that the plateau WILL END ON ITS OWN, but following these tweaks can help the scale move and jump start your losing streak.”
Eat Yourself Skinny!