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What to Do When You Experience Weight Loss Plateau

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 30, 2022

What to Do When You Experience Weight Loss Plateau

Anyone who’s trying to lose weight may experience the dreaded “weight loss plateau”. But what is it, really, and when does weight loss plateau happen?

What is Weight Loss Plateau?

Weight loss plateau is the period when a person stops losing weight despite still strictly following their diet and exercise regimens.

For instance, you may have lost weight successfully at the beginning of your diet routine, but months in and the weight loss stops. You did not cheat – you are still careful with your calories – but the weight loss just will not continue anymore.

That is weight loss plateau and many people find it frustrating.

When Does Weight Loss Plateau Happen?

Many experts say that typically weight loss plateau happens 6 months after following a low-calorie diet. However, there is still no definite explanation as to why it happens.

Medical experts believe that it is probably because of the change in a person’s metabolism. To further explain this, let’s review some concepts:

  • During the first few weeks of reducing your calorie intake, it is normal to experience rapid weight loss.
  • This is because your body is using glycogen for energy.
  • Glycogen, which is stored in the muscles, is partly made of water.
  • Hence, during the first weeks, you may be losing water weight.
  • But losing water weight is temporary. Soon enough, you will be losing fat for real.
  • Now, as you continue to lose fat, you are also losing some muscles.
  • Please note that muscles help in maintaining your metabolism, or the rate by which you burn calories.

So the answer to the question, “When does weight loss plateau happen?”, is probably when your metabolism has slowed down. Slowed metabolism means that you are not burning as many calories as you were burning before.

The Signs of Weight Loss Plateau

Now that we have an idea about the when and the why, let us discuss the signs and symptoms.

  • You are frequently tired. You may have hit a weight loss plateau when you always feel tired. And that is even after getting 8 hours of sleep.
  • You are no longer hungry. According to reports, when you are in a weight-loss plateau, you may not experience hunger anymore – or at least, not like you used to. This is most probably because your brain’s already used to the idea of “ignored hunger.” This means that your brain is no longer recognizing the signals that you are hungry.
  • Eventually, you might get sick. It may be due to the consistent lack of calories, protein, and other nutrients. During a weight loss plateau, you may encounter hair loss, irregular period, a cold, or just the general feeling of sickness.
  • It may hurt to eat. Because the digestive muscles become used to the idea of going for hours without food, it may hurt you a little when you eat. This means it is possible to feel pain or discomfort during mealtime.

Weight Loss Plateau Solutions

To kickstart weight loss again and to address the signs and symptoms listed above, you can do the following:

Reassess Your Caloric Intake

Perhaps, one of the best weight loss plateau solutions is to reassess your caloric requirement and intake.

At this point, you have already lost weight; so essentially, you are lighter and smaller than before. This means that the caloric intake you previously assigned may no longer be applicable.

If you are looking for a good way to check how many calories you need, you can use our BMR Tool. However, remember that to lose weight, you will need to consume fewer calories than the results.

when does weight loss plateau happen

Consider the Quality of Calories

Although calorie counting is important, you need to look beyond just the mere concept of calories in and calories out. The quality of calories matters.

Instead of depending on processed foods, try to consume more whole foods. You might also want to cut back on carbs instead of cutting back on protein or fats. Research shows that you are more likely to lose weight by reducing your carb intake.

However, be mindful. Some people who reduce their carb intake unknowingly also reduce their fiber intake. Fiber is an important part of fat loss, so be sure to get enough of it. And of course, add more protein to your diet since it helps in boosting the metabolism.

Considering the quality of your food will help guarantee that you are getting enough of your macros and other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.

Don’t Forget About Working Out

One of the best weight loss plateau solutions is to work out. It is important to focus on both your diet and exercises.

Many institutions recommend having 30 minutes of workout for 5 days a week, or a total of 150 minutes moderate exercise weekly. However, since you are trying to lose weight, these figures may differ depending on your weight loss goals and your endurance and capacities.

If you cannot hit the gym or do strenuous routines, you have other options, such as doing household chores, parking in a farther location and walking the distance, and in-home full-body workouts.

Go for Small but Frequent Meals

When does weight loss plateau happen and how can you move forward? When hitting a weight loss plateau, as mentioned, you may feel discomfort or pain when eating. Experts recommend that to remedy that, you can resort to small, frequent feeding, especially if you foresee not being able to get a full meal in a few hours.

Still, be careful. One problem with small frequent feeding is you may fail to track your calories. Always keep in mind that even small bites matter.


One important thing most people forget is hydration. When you are thirsty, you may mistake it as hunger. So drink enough fluids throughout the day.

Another thing: some studies indicate that 500 ml of plain water may boost your metabolism by up to 30% within an hour and a half of drinking it.

Key Takeaways

When does weight loss plateau happen? For people who may experience weight loss plateau, it does not mean that they are cheating. In most cases, they just need to adjust some of their routine, whether it is diet or exercise, or both!

The weight loss plateau solutions discussed above may help you get back on track. However, your topmost priority must always be your health. Things like quality sleep and not exercising when you are sick should not be forgotten.

Learn more about Healthy Eating here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Expertly reviewed by

Chris Icamen

Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 30, 2022

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