So you took the plunge and signed up for a weight loss program. You look forward to losing weight, feeling better, and getting healthy. But once you start it's a whole different story. While you may feel like you are doing anything with a T, the scale is stuck and you can't figure out why.
There are many reasons why your weight loss could come to a standstill. Some are more obvious while others are just plain surprising. Before concluding that you've hit a weight loss plateau, try starting with the basics to make sure you aren't making any mistakes. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest difference!
It's important to remember that losing weight is all about maintaining a negative energy balance: this means that your "calorie intake" is less than the "calorie expenditure". "Calorie Expenditure", also known as Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), is more than just your physical activity. Many factors contribute to this number. Click the link below to learn more about calories, TDEE, and what they mean during your weight loss journey:
The Importance of Adjusting Calories for Weight Loss
Before we dive into the possible reasons for a lean booth, it's important to evaluate your goals. Disappointment often results from exceptions. Your weight loss goals should be realistic, including time frames. Stop preparing for disappointment by expecting the pounds to drop immediately. Be patient and give yourself some grace. When you do the work, that's all that matters.
A healthy and realistic expectation of weight loss should be around one to two pounds per week. However, if you need to lose less weight or are nearing your goal weight, a weight loss of 0.5 pounds per week is still a healthy weight loss rate.
You want to lose weight at a healthy, gradual rate to minimize the effects of metabolic adjustment (your metabolism slows down). Weight loss of more than 1% of your body weight per week is not recommended to avoid a slowdown in metabolism.
Wondering if you've hit a weight loss plateau? Check out these 10 reasons the scale might get stuck:
This is a matter of course! As mentioned earlier, weight loss depends on caloric intake being lower than caloric intake. If you're overeating for your current activity level and weight, this could definitely be a reason why the scale is stuck. Make sure you stay within your recommended daily calories by keeping a grocery journal. The NuMi app by Nutrisystem is the perfect tool to help organize your meal plan during your weight loss journey.
2. Skip meals
If you thought skipping meals would help you lose weight, guess again! While a calorie deficit is essential for losing pounds, research shows that eating too little can actually hinder your weight loss. If you regularly skip one Nutrisystem Meals or snacks, you could be unwittingly sabotaging your success on the scales.
In a 12-month study published by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, overweight or obese postmenopausal women who skipped meals experienced 4.3% less weight loss than women who did not skip meals. Research from the University of Eastern Finland also found, according to ScienceDaily, "Children who skip main meals are more likely to have excess body fat and an increased cardiometabolic risk." Piedmont Healthcare explains that skipping meals can alter blood sugar levels and decrease metabolism.
If that's not enough to convince you to stick to your eating plan, a review of 45 observational studies published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice concluded that skipping breakfast increased your risk of overweight / obesity and increased abdominal obesity. "There was no significant difference in these results between different age groups, sex groups, regions, and economic conditions," say the researchers. They theorize that this connection is caused by changes in appetite and decreased satiety, leading to overeating and impaired insulin sensitivity.
6 signs you are not eating enough (yes, you can!)
3. Ignore nutrition labels
Just because a food says on the label that it is healthy, organic, or all natural doesn't mean it is a smart choice for your weight loss goals. Berkeley Wellness warns of the "health halo effect" that occurs when a food or product exhibits some healthy properties but is "perceived as virtuous in all respects."
This health halo has been shown to cause consumers to become overly concerned with food just because of certain words and phrases on the label. "To avoid being affected by the health halo effect, ignore catchphrases, slogans, and images that make foods appear healthier than they really are (turn the package over to read the nutrition labels)," says Berkeley Wellness.
Click here to learn how to read a nutrition label! >
4. Forget about your measuring cup
In the US, it's no secret that portion sizes of food have been increasing for decades. You see it every time you eat at your favorite restaurant. While you might think you are busy with your meal, these larger servings can make you overeat. The same problem occurs again when preparing your own meals and snacks. You get used to seeing and eating larger portions, so you help yourself more.
While Nutrisystem sends pre-portioned meals and snacks right to your doorstep, you still need to incorporate some food additives and flex meals yourself. To stay on track, get back to basics and have your measuring cups and spoons handy. You can also invest in food scales to make sure you are eating the right amounts of lean meat, nuts, and cheese. Start this with every meal and with every snack in between to refresh your memory for dietary portion sizes. When preparing flex meals, pay attention to portions and always measure your PowerFuels, SmartCarbs and extras.
Can't you remember your portion sizes? Find out how to become a Nutrisystem Portion Pro, then Read our comprehensive buying guide here! >
5. Don't keep track
Overeating, skipping meals, and portion control can all be made easier if you do your food tracking more carefully. We recommend trying to track your diet at least 80% of the time, or about five to six days a week. Make sure you accurately track your food intake, including serving sizes and ingredients. That way, if you find the scale stuck, you can take a look back at your journal and see where you might be overdoing it.
Unconvinced? Take it from the experts: According to a study published in the journal Obesity, self-monitoring your diet is the most important predictor of success in losing weight. “New research shows for the first time how little time is actually needed: an average of 14.6 minutes per day. The frequency of monitoring, rather than the time spent on the process, was the key factor for those in the study who successfully lost weight, ”says ScienceDaily.
Consider downloading the NuMi app, the FREE smart weight loss tool to complement your personalized Nutrisystem program. Easily log your food intake, water, physical activity, measurements, and weight loss in one organized place.
Your personalized NuMi guide
6. Save on protein and fiber
Picking PowerFuels and SmartCarbs Low protein and fiber low in fiber can also affect your weight loss. Do your best to maximize the protein in your PowerFuels and the fiber in your SmartCarbs. The more protein and fiber, the better! The reason? Protein and fiber can help minimize metabolic adaptation. Protein is more thermogenic than carbohydrates and fats (meaning it needs more energy for digestion and absorption). This means that eating a high protein food will burn more calories than eating carbohydrates and fat. Fiber is not completely digested, so the caloric contribution of fiber is lower than that of other carbohydrate sources.
Swap out your regular food additives for more nutrient-rich options. For your PowerFuels, try soybeans instead of peanuts. Enjoy grilled chicken instead of a hard-boiled egg. For your SmartCarbs, pick berries or apples with the skin instead of grapes or fruits with less fiber. You can also choose high-fiber cereals in lieu of regular versions and whole grain breads with at least three grams of fiber per serving.
7. Sedentary lifestyle
If you've skipped the gym or your daily walk, it could be a reason the scale is stuck. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. A mix of cardio and strength training is a good place to start. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise or diet program.
Are you looking for an easy way to add physical activity to a busy schedule? Divide those 30 minutes into three 10-minute workouts! Go for a walk, lift a few weights, or try Pilates three times a day. Check out these 10 ten minute workouts for more ideas! > Interval training can also boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories. Click here to find out more! >
8. Building muscle
However, once you've hit the gym and built muscle, you may also get stuck on the scales. "Muscles are more compact than fat, so when you gain lean body mass, they're firm and take up less space than fat," says Baylor College of Medicine. In the meantime, knowing this is the case for you, try to find other measures of success. For example, your jeans may fit better or you may have more energy. These unscaled victories are just as valuable and important as any number on the scale.
Don't have dumbbells at home? Click the link below to see nine household items you can use instead !:
9 household items to use for a home workout
9. Other lifestyle factors
Lack of sleep can interfere with weight loss. If you're having trouble closing an eye, stick to a regular sleep schedule, says the National Sleep Foundation. Limit your caffeine consumption and screen time in the hours before bed. The light emitted by screens on TVs, computers, cell phones, and tablets reduces your body's production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep and wake cycles, says Harvard Health. You can try this too bedtime exercise routine. >
Stress: We all experience it at some level in our lives. But did you know that stress can have an impact on the hormones that are linked to weight gain and hunger? Chronic stress can stop weight loss and affect that number on the scale. Cope with the stress in your life with a little self care. Try meditation, daily exercise and Breathing techniques. You should also find a support system and get involved in your community. If you feel excessively stressed, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Another reason you might not expect? A recent illness or injury can lead to weight gain or stagnation due to increased inflammation that leads to water retention. In addition, recent injuries or illnesses can reduce daily activity levels and lead to a decrease in total calorie expenditure throughout the day that is usually not taken into account. Some drugs can also block weight loss. In this case, we recommend that you contact your doctor to find the best strategy for you. This may mean changing your Nutrisystem program a little (reducing the load, etc.). Once you've recovered, you should be able to start exactly where you left off pending approval from your doctor. This setback is not the end of your weight loss journey. Remember, your overall health should always take precedence over the number on the scale.
10. Weight loss plateau
If you've got rid of the above possibilities and still can't see the scales, a weight loss plateau may occur. In this case, you will need to adjust your daily caloric intake and / or increase the intensity and duration of your exercise. A good diet and exercise plan will adapt to your decreased energy needs as you lose weight. Reach a Weight loss advisor to discuss your NuMi calorie goal in more detail. They can help you adjust if necessary. Don't worry about this weight loss challenge. While it's daunting, it happens to everyone and with a little perseverance you will overcome it.
Consultants answer 10 of your most frequently asked questions about Nutrisystem