We’ve all been there: you’re a couple of months into your new diet or exercise regime, and those pounds you were losing have all of a sudden come to a sudden halt.
The frustrating truth is that it usually points back to your own habits.
What causes weight loss plateau?
Chronic stress: A healthy diet and physical activity are vital for weight loss, but being stressed can be counter-productive. Studies show that chronic stress increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases your hunger and food cravings1.
Poor quality bacteria: If your gut does not harbor optimal levels of good bacteria, it can sabotage your weight loss. Healthy bacteria help activate an enzyme known as cAMP kinase. cAMP kinase is an enzyme that determines the amount of fat your body carries. When cAMP kinase is active, it helps the body lose extra fat reserves.
Not enough fiber: Not including enough dietary fiber in your diet can also be one of the reasons you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels, keeps you full, and prevents overeating. Our digestive enzymes cannot breakdown fermentable fiber such as oat bran, resistant starch from beans, legumes, and pectin from fruits. However, your gut bacteria can act on it and make butyric acid. Butyric acid is a short chain fatty acid, which studies show work along with good bacteria in promoting weight loss2.
Trouble sleeping: Not getting enough sleep impacts your ability to lose weight. Studies show that sleep disruption can cause weight gain and problems with weight loss3,4.
What you can do to prevent weight loss plateau
Just because you hit a plateau, don’t revert to unhealthy habits. These tips will help you get back on track:
Lower stress: You can combat the adverse effects of stress through breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and building mindfulness. If you are someone that travels a lot you could use herbal supplements like ashwagandha to cope with stress. Studies show that ashwagandha can help lower stress and anxiety by 44%5.
Probiotics: Taking a probiotic supplement or eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt contain probiotics that boost your healthy gut bacteria count.
Eat more fiber: Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Aim to include at least 20- 30 grams of fiber per day.
Get some sleep: Try keeping a sleep routine by going to bed at the same time every night. Avoid watching TV, using a smartphone, or laptop at least an hour before bedtime. You can also try a natural supplement to help you fall asleep.
Maintain a food journal: Keep track of what you eat and portion size throughout the day. Sometimes, it is easy to cheat when you are out with friends.
Garcinia Cambogia: A popular weight loss supplement that comes from a fruit that grows on a tree by the same name. The peel of the fruit contains high amounts of hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is the active ingredient believed to be responsible for most of its weight loss benefits
1. Stress, cortisol, and obesity: a role for cortisol responsiveness in identifying individuals prone to obesity, 2016 Jul;56 Suppl:S112-20. doi: 10.1016/j.domaniend.2016.03.004. Epub 2016 Mar 31
2. Effects of short chain fatty acid producing bacteria on epigenetic regulation of FFAR3 in type 2 diabetes and obesity, 2014 Mar 1;537(1):85-92. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2013.11.081. Epub 2013 Dec 8
3. Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes, 2014 Aug;21(4):293-8. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000082
4. Sleep, obesity, and weight loss in adults: is there a rationale for providing sleep interventions in the treatment of obesity?, 2014 Apr;26(2):177-88. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2014.911150
5. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults, 2012