Feet standing on scale

What is a weight loss plateau (and how to break through it)

No matter where you are on your weight loss journey, you may hit a plateau at some point along the way. Weight loss plateaus are a common frustration, but it's important to remember that hitting a plateau doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. And it certainly doesn't mean you should give up on your goals.


What is a weight loss plateau?


A weight loss plateau is when you stop seeing results on the scale despite continuing healthy habits that previously helped you lose weight. In many cases, weight comes off easier when first starting out, but as your body adjusts to new eating habits and your healthier lifestyle, weight loss can slow down or stop altogether. 


Why do weight loss plateaus happen?


Many biological processes happen during weight loss and your body may need to adjust to these changes for a certain amount of time. This adjustment period could temporarily stall your progress.

Plateaus can also happen if you aren't following your program closely, are not exercising enough, are experiencing an increased amount of stress, or aren't getting an adequate amount of sleep.

Fortunately, if you've reached a plateau but are still not at your goal weight, there are some easy things you can do to break through it.


7 things you can do to overcome a weight loss plateau in a healthy way

1. Keep a food journal.

Meal planning

When you first start a weight loss journey, you may be very conscious of what you eat. But as you experience positive results, it's easy to slip back into old habits and be less strict about your diet.


The only way to know exactly what you're eating is to keep a food journal. A food journal can help keep you honest about what you are eating and allow you to look back at past meals to see if certain foods are affecting your weight loss.


Journaling also helps make sure you are eating enough. Although it may seem counterintuitive, eating less can actually stall weight loss. It's important that you fuel your body so that you have the energy you need to get you through the day AND burn fat.


2. Add physical activity to your day.

If you have not added exercise to your routine, a plateau is the perfect time to do so. Adding physical activity to your day, even if it is just a few short walks, can help kick-start weight loss again.


Daily activity doesn't mean you need to go to the gym. There are many non-traditional ways to add physical activity to your day, like taking the stairs or parking further away from your office or stores when shopping.


3. Dial back your workouts or change them up.

If you have a strict exercise routine, you may want to dial it back some. Too much exercise or exercise that is too intense can cause stress and may slow weight loss.


You could also try changing up your exercise regimen. If you have been focusing only on cardio, add some weight training. If you have only been doing weights, add an activity like yoga into your routine. Alternating your exercises can make it easier to break through the plateau.


4. Switch up your meals.

Complete GOLO meal of nicoise salad with chicken

If you are eating the same meals each week, it could be time to mix it up. When you consume the same foods over a long period of time without much variety, you may miss out on giving your body some beneficial nutrients.


In fact, a recent study shows that increasing the variety of healthy foods you eat could help improve weight loss. So, if you find yourself in a food rut, give your body different foods to process to add variety to your diet and help you break through your plateau. 


5. Drink more water.

Water can help suppress your appetite between meals and may also help stimulate your metabolism. If you are exercising more, then drinking water is especially important. This is because when muscle cells are dehydrated, they break down protein (aka muscle) more quickly and build muscle more slowly, so your workouts are much less effective.


6. Reduce your stress and stay positive.

In a recent study, participants in a weight loss trial who added stress management practices to their weekly routine lost more weight than other participants. So if you're feeling stressed, take time to decompress. 


Stress management can include something simple like not being so hard on yourself. You can also try positive affirmations, meditation, or yoga.


If you feel stressed about stepping on your scale, think about reducing the number of times you weigh yourself. GOLO suggests weighing and measuring your waist once a week, but if that becomes too stressful, focus on non-scale victories to assess your weight loss progress.


Remember, self-care isn't selfish. Take time to focus on yourself and remember how far you have come. 


7. Try the Reset 7 from GOLO.


GOLO Reset 7 logo


GOLO's Reset 7 is a one-week jump-start that can be used at the beginning of your weight loss journey. But it is also a great way to help you break through a weight loss plateau.


The Reset 7 plan servings and portions are the same as the regular GOLO for Life® Plan, except with a more limited menu. It's designed to temporarily remove foods that are harder for the body to digest or tolerate. When you eliminate these foods then slowly add them back into your diet, it can be easier to identify which ones are hampering your weight loss progress.


Following the Reset 7 plan can also help reaffirm how to properly portion meals and how to create delicious and healthy GOLO meals based on your GOLO for Life Smart Card™.




This article was written by the GOLO team with facts supported by the following sources:

National Library of Medicine: Plateaus

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

National Library of Medicine: Dietary Variety


National Library of Medicine: Stress management


GOLO is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any illness or disease. This blog provides general information and discussion about health and wellness related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. GOLO encourages you to consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. All opinions and articles linked to and from this page are those of the individuals concerned and do not necessarily represent those of GOLO, LLC or its employees. No responsibility can be accepted for any action you take or refrain from taking as a result of viewing this page. GOLO will not be liable for any errors, losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.