Why am I plateauing, and how do I break out of it?

Here are a few ways to break through a plateau:

  1. You may be undereating. If you are eating less than the “Build your Plate” guidelines recommend, you may be slowing down progress. Also, double check your portion sizes and make sure you’re not eating too many carbohydrates, as these glucose spikes will increase insulin, which prevents fat loss. Remember that protein has a modest insulin effect, and fat has no effect. 

  2. You may be overeating. If you are eating a few items from the “Moderate” or “Avoid” list every day, you’ll want to cut back on those. If you’re having white rice and fried foods outside your free meal, consider eating them only once a week during your free meal.

  3. You may need to increase the intensity of your workouts. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with exercise, but try to mix it up—find something new and push yourself. Make sure you’re sweating and breathing hard during exercise. If you’re not exercising at this intensity, you won’t see the best results. Also, if you’re not doing any exercise to build muscle, you’ll want to make this important change so you can see better results. It is best to work on building muscle in the upper body, core, and lower body to be well-rounded.

  4. When stress levels are too high, cortisol levels increase and limit fat loss. If you feel your stress levels are high, look at your weekly and monthly commitments to see what you can cut back on or eliminate from your schedule entirely. Maybe you can reassign some of your weekly tasks to other family members to lessen your load. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to look at how you can better manage the stress you still have. Perhaps you can destress with a hot shower in the evening, get a weekly massage, or start incorporating a great yoga class or DVD into your weekly routine. Meditation and spiritual practices can also be helpful in reducing stress.

  5. Insufficient sleep can negatively affect weight loss because of increased cortisol levels. Ideally, you’ll want to get seven to eight hours of good sleep a night. If this isn’t possible, get as much sleep as you can. However, if you are continually getting insufficient sleep and are not happy with your results, understand that it’s impossible to see the best results without proper sleep.

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