Overcoming Weight Loss Plateaus: 5 Tips to Try


Frustrated because your weight loss goals are missing the mark? Get over weight-loss plateaus with our five expert tips. 

You’ve cut out treats and and you’re getting in regular workouts, yet the scale is not changing. Seriously? What gives? No need to wave the white flag of surrender in your weight loss battle. Add the tips below to your fat-torching arsenal to start seeing results.

1. Add strength training to build muscle

Are your workouts mainly focused on cardio? Although cardio is important for keeping your heart healthy and your metabolism humming, too much cardio for too long can inhibit muscle growth. In other words, endurance cardio sessions (more than 90 minutes) can break down muscle mass and muscle mass burns more calories at rest than fat. Also, low-intensity cardio has been found to stimulate ghrelin levels, which may make you feel hungrier.

“Strength training helps to increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat,” says Lynice Anderson, director of Renown’s Healthy Heart Program. “Keeping and adding muscle is the key to weight loss and maintenance. You don’t want the weight you are losing to be muscle, and it only takes a few times a week to work those muscles.”

2. Get more sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the less you sleep, the more you weigh. The purpose of sleep is to restore your body, including the hormones controlling your hunger: leptin (which signals fullness) and ghrelin (which makes you hungry). Sleep-deprived people tend to feel hungrier and eat more. In fact, adults who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight than those sleeping more than seven hours. Of course, if you sleep less than five hours a night, the news is even worse. A 16-year study of nearly 70,000 women determined those who slept only five hours a night were 32 percent more likely to gain weight (33 pounds or more) than those who logged at least seven hours of shut-eye.

3. Track it to lose it

Anderson suggests mindfully monitoring your food intake. “Even registered dietitians underestimate their calories,” she says. “Get back to basics and really assess what, when, why and how much you are eating. It can be surprising how the calories add up throughout the day. Studies have shown that those who keep daily food logs tend to lose and keep weight off more successfully.”

4. Relax … really!

Stress is bad for your waistline. The hormone cortisol is produced when you are stressed, which can put your normal hunger set point into overdrive. Cortisol also makes it easier for your body to store fat, especially around the waistline. Let’s face it, it feels better to eat candy or a cookie then it does to eat a handful of celery in a stressful moment. So, it’s a good idea to plan non-food related rewards for when you are stressed — take a few breaths, walk around the block, drink some water, phone a friend, or indulge in a relaxing activity for 10 minutes, like listening to music.

5. Think big picture

“Take it easy on yourself,” Anderson says. “One poor choice does not mean you should throw in the towel. Try not to focus only on the scale. Make your lifestyle changes about being healthier and taking care of your body and soul.”

Feel like you need a nutrition refresher to get over your plateau? Our wellness teams specialize in nutrition counseling (non-diabetes), weight management and sports nutrition. To schedule a personal appointment, call 775-982-5073. Learn more with Renown’s Health Improvement Programs.


  1. Getting bored with treadmill? Try walking around the local high school track 3-4 times while listening to invigorating music. Swing your arms during walking. Try steps. Walk up and down them slowly which does 4-5 things at once-builds muscle, improves balance, raises heart rate gradually, makes you move your arms which tone them, uses the core for balance and forward momentum.
    • Hello Glory! Thank you for reading BestMEDICINE.Our full schedule of events and classes is here: https://www.renown.org/interact/classes-events/Thank you!Roseann
  2. This is good advice. I have been overweight for years and dieted often to no real result. Now I track my food and liquid intakes daily, including the alcohol (which has about 70 calories and ounce). I also joined a gym. I treadmill for 30 minutes a day. I could only do 6 when I started. I also work the weight machine for both upper and lower body. I am about 6 weeks into this new life and I am down about 12 pounds. I am 72 years old.