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Posted on 20 Jun 2019 Views 8201 Comments 18

Why do I get weight plateaus, and what should I do?

Losing weight is a journey – and every journey has its ups and down. Here at Slim & Save, we frequently have members whose weight plateaus whilst doing the plan. We often hear reports from people who plateau particularly in weeks two or three, and again whilst nearing the end of their plan, when trying to lose their final stone or so. The latter is often experienced by members who have been on the plan for more than 13 weeks. In this article will aim to explain why these plateaus can happen, and give advice on how to overcome these to enable you to reach your target weight.

Firstly it’s important to recognise that weight plateaus are a feature of every diet or weight loss approach - weight loss is very rarely linear and it’s completely normal to have a more stepped approach to weight loss. Just because you will see periods of rapid weight loss on a VLCD, doesn’t mean you will not also see periods of plateau.

It’s also important to remember that it’s actually a good thing to have periods when weight plateaus or stabilises. Research studies show that if you have regular plateaus in between periods of faster weight loss, you’re more likely to keep the weight off long-term into the future.

Why does my weight plateau whilst on the plan?

When following a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) like Slim & Save, it’s very common to experience a plateau a couple of weeks into the diet. Weight loss is often much faster in the first couple of weeks due to the associated water loss that occurs. During the first few days of ketosis, your body will break down existing stores of muscle and liver glycogen (the body’s short time energy source). Each gram of glycogen is associated with 3-4 grams of water, so as your body breaks down glycogen, it loses the associated water as well, resulting in the initial fast weight loss.

Plateaus further into the plan or towards the end are extremely common and should be expected as part of the journey. Everyone is different and it is challenging to understand why these occur for some people more than others. As you lose weight, you will need fewer calories to sustain your new weight, so it is common for weight loss to slow down towards the end. The number of calories you get from the Slim & Save plans will still be low enough to stimulate continued weight loss, but this may well slow down the closer you get to your target weight.

Plateaus may also occur due to factors such as reduced exercise levels, hormonal changes (normal hormonal fluctuations as part of a monthly cycle, but also those related to stress) and sleep problems (getting good quality sleep is associated with more successful weight loss).

If my weight does plateau on the plan, what should I do?

If you experience this, try not to panic and definitely don’t give up. You have to stay motivated and keep going to see continued results. Try following these tips to see you through:

  • Focus on the positives in terms of how far you’ve come on your journey
  • As weight fluctuates throughout the day, week and month, consider switching to fortnightly weighing rather than weekly.
  • Make use of monitoring other body measurements (like waist circumference) - this will help to see you how far you’ve come and keep you motivated, without focussing on unchanging numbers on the scales
  • Set yourself a non-weight-related challenge or goal, to give you something to focus on; not just what the scales say.
  • If you hit a weight plateau, it’s a great time to think about your exercise routine – switching up your workouts or increasing the number of times you exercise in a week may help to kick-start your weight loss again. In particular, you could try doing more cardio exercise, e.g. aerobics, jogging, cycling or swimming.
  • Keep a careful track of what you’re eating using our meal tracker, to ensure you’re staying in ketosis (especially when following the lifestyle plan). If extra carbohydrate creeps into your diet, this can significantly affect your progress.
  • If you’ve tried all the above tips and are still struggling, take a short break from the plan (see our section on re-feeding) for a week before heading back onto your plan and getting back into ketosis.

Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDipSupport and advice are always available from our website and customer service advisers, so please feel free to contact us by telephone or our Live Chat facility if you need more information or support.

Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.

How do you cope when you hit a plateau? Leave your comments below to be in with a chance to win a Slim & Save Variety Bar Pack worth £36.99. Winning comment will be chosen on Wednesday 26th of June at 4 pm.



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Comments on Why do I get weight plateaus, and what should I do?
Karen Nutter 15/09/2019 21:07
When I hit a plateau I just increase exercise, keep busy, clean the house, gardening, walk, park at the end of the supermarket car park rather than as near as I can get, just anything to keep moving, at work stand rather than sit - it never fails and I seem to reap the benefits, I’ve used SNS a few times now and always delighted to lose just what I want to lose, I have a target weight to maintain, if my weight increases I just do the above! Lost 3 stone 7 years ago and never put all of it back on, just sometimes need to go back on the diet to prevent bad habits becoming an issue.
Alan Edmonds 07/09/2019 11:23
Hi all, same for me really. I stayed at the same weight for about 3 weeks but kept reminding myself of the positives and my end goal and not just a weekly results game . Keeping at it and believing in what you are doing is all for the greater good is why we are all doing this. As a result this week I had my first significant loss so am proud of myself for sticking to it. Remember every day is one day closer to your goal.
Maggie 18/08/2019 15:51
As stated in the article, this happens with any weight loss journey; when it plateu’s on SnS though it makes it a lot more difficult to stay motivated as you’re already doing everything you can when it comes to food/products. Each time I have hit a weight loss brick wall, it’s usually because I’m not drinking enough water. To trick my mind into thinking i’m ‘doing more’ I swap from Lifestyle to Simplicity, my head then tells me ‘I must be losing weight because I’m not eating / preparing food’, I drink more water and tend to move around a bit more too as a distraction; after a week or two weight loss kicks back in :)
angela coombes 08/08/2019 14:11
Margaret don't give up. It will work!! Just look at what you are eating and drinking in detail and you will probably find something that you are doing that is just throwing it off. For me, it was too much milk in my drinks. Another time someone advised me to drink more water and that worked too as it flushes everything through the body. Please keep trying, if it worked once it will work again...promise. Love Angela
Laura Hawkins (Honey Logan) 25/06/2019 07:12
I’m still fairly new to this (almost 4 weeks on plan) but in week 3 my weight basically stayed the same, I was aware this might happen but was still disappointed after a good effort all week to not see the numbers reduce...at that point I had two options, give up and just eat badly like I used to or to continue and look at the bigger picture...I want to lose weight, this plan is working, I reviewed my total loss over the duration (using the weight tracker) and it’s still pretty amazing, the next thing I did was my measurements, I had lost 4 inches from my waist in a fortnight! I don’t do measurements weekly as I find them a little time consuming so this was a great result to see.

Going forward in the plan I will try to use some logic, I’m female so monthly hormonal fluctuations are going to play a factor and the first 20% weight loss (which I’ve achieved) is bound to be easier than the last 20% I’ll need to lose to achieve my goal.

I love having this secret, I’m secretly losing weight and sometime soon I’ll notice it in my clothes etc.

I forgive any minor blips and continue with my day, I am human and it’s ok.
Mike Savings 24/06/2019 11:12
I too have been suffering the plateau periods during my diet journey. The S&S tracker does help remind me of the 7 stone loss and in truth all my history of slips. I well know the frustration of being good but not losing weight sorry if this sounds mean but knowing others are also struggling seems to help lol
W B Bell 24/06/2019 11:05
I think everyone hits a plateau, it is hard but it prepares us for maintaining. If we can soldier on when the scales don't seem to be moving, stick to plan and wait for the results it shows how determined we are not only to lose the weight but to keep it off. Nothing worth having came easily. Keep the faith xx
Lesley Cobb 24/06/2019 06:02
After following other diets I have always plateaued quite soon after starting and feel very disheartened. With SNS something is different. Although my weight lids has slowed I can see the difference and to receive comments from friends and family as they notice also spurs me on. I remind myself why I am on this journey and continue with the plan. Setting small goals along the way keep me focused. After years being larger I realise my body has to adjust to the changes that are happening and accept that to move forward and keep the weight off I have to understand that the weeks with little or no loss are normal. The stories and comments on the Facebook group and website are very motivational for me.
Rach 23/06/2019 15:33
I have hit the plateau.i have been the same weight 12.4 and same measurements for 4 weeks done everything 100% and tried to keep positive.
This week has been rubbish I have had a few off plan items, I know I shouldn't but only human. I keep looking at my before and now picture and of the invitation to my son's wedding in September. Tomorrow is another week and another weigh in I will keep going. If I fall off the wagon like I have this week I'll just think put it behind me and start again let's kick this plateaus butt.
Sharon martin 23/06/2019 09:37
Enjoyed reading that item.. makes me more determined to stick to plan, also to help me through, ive old photographs of me, at my biggest, then i remember how unhealthy i felt..that spurs me on.

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