It can be so frustrating when you’re doing everything right but that number on the scale just won’t budge. You are eating the right things for your body, tracking everything so you don’t go over your calories, moving regularly but the scale stubbornly stays the same. You just do not know what to do when weight loss is slow and you feel your motivation disappearing.
Trying to figure out what to do when weight loss is slow can be exhausting, demotivating and frustrating.
There is so much advice out there, so many options for tackling slow weight loss. Off the top of my head, I can think of 15 ways I could tweak my regimen to get things moving but what if you try it all and the scale still doesn’t move?
What to do when weight loss is slow is a long list, but here is the kicker. It might not be anything you are doing, or not doing. The good news is that there are things you can do.
What to do when weight loss is slow
Start with the basics. Are you tracking? Really? I am skeptical because I know how many of you tell me what pain it is to track everything you eat.
I’m a coach, so I don’t indulge you in your excuses.
Go to your phone settings now and look at your screen time. How much time did you spend on Facebook, Instagram or your app of preference in the last week? It takes no more than ten minutes a day to track your food.
The more you track the quicker it gets because most apps remember your preferred meals. With one swipe you can add all the food in a meal. Not tracking because you don’t have time is not a valid excuse.
Once you can really and truly say that you are tracking, what else can you look at? What you eat is just as important as how much. In the Protein Priority Diet we, obviously, prioritise protein as the most important macro. But within the protocol, we focus on whole food, nutrient density and how well a food suits your body.
If you are eating the wrong food, weight loss will be slow or non-existent.
Dairy can slow weight loss
Dairy is usually at the top of my culprit list. If your weight loss is slow and you are eating dairy, especially yoghurt and soft cheese, it can be causing your slow weight loss. Many of us have a low level lactose intolerance.
Sometimes it’s not enough to cause the dramatic symptoms of “diagnosed” lactose intolerant people. It can be so low level that you don’t even notice the mild symptoms. But these can be enough to slow or stop weight loss.
What if you have done all that and nothing. What to do when weight loss is slow and you are eating the best food for your body, in the right quantities and at the right times of the day?
Why your weight loss might be slow that has nothing to do with food
I always say that health is built in the gym and weight loss happens in the kitchen. This is very true, I lost more than 46kg (100lbs) without setting foot in a gym. However, there are situations where your rate of weight loss has nothing to do with the food and everything to do with your body, your health and other factors.
What to do when weight loss is slow
Now that we have ticked off all of the food related reasons for slow weight loss what is left? Actually a lot. In the Protein Priority Diet we also talk about the importance of taking care of your body. For example, your circadian rhythm, moving in the right way for muscle health and understanding how aging affects your ability to lose weight.
1. Your Age
As we age our metabolism slows down. It’s often said that it’s just a side effect of aging but I reject the idea that we must accept that. Mindset is everything here. Do you expect to slow down as you age? Do you expect to move less? Do you expect to get weaker? Then you will get what you think about.
Instead, look at how to keep your metabolism higher as you age. There are lots of things you can do to improve a slowing metabolism. Go lift some heavy weights. If you are new to weight training, your body weight is enough to start with. Yoga and pilates are good starting off points and they will help with flexibility too.
2. Your Hormones
It’s well known that stress can slow down or stop weight loss. Cortisol is the main culprit here and one of the major stress hormones. Just like insulin, you can become cortisol resistant. This means that you are producing enough of this hormone but your body just isn’t getting the message so it pumps out even more.
High cortisol levels can affect blood sugar levels and healthy thyroid function. It can also cause weight fluctuation, and low metabolism symptoms. You can’t avoid stress but you absolutely must manage it to get your weight loss back on track.
I sometimes get an email from members of the Protein Priority Diet telling me that they want to cancel their membership because their life is stressful and they aren’t losing weight and it’s adding to their stress levels. I always offer these members a quick chat with me. When I explain that the stress is actually causing the slow weight loss and how to fix it, they come back weeks later telling me that they were successful.
Managing stress must be a huge part of your weight loss regimen.
3. The Temperature of Your Environment
Is it summer where you are right now? No? Are you sure? Because if you are inside and the ambient temperature is between 20C and 24C then it is summer. Even if it is actually winter, with blistering temperatures outside, snow on the ground and icicles on the roof. Your body thinks it’s summer because the temperature says so. It’s called the Obesogenic Thermal Environment.
Ice Man Wim Hof is the best known cold exposure guru out there. My teeth chatter just watching his Instagram feed. He regularly swims and bathes in ice cold water. Literally. The benefits for the body and the mind are well researched.
You don’t need to do a Wim and swim in water that is 4C (I can feel the pain just thinking about it!). Mild cold exposure is enough to let your body know that it’s not summer.
Why is this so important? Summer is fat storage time. Think about bears. Throughout the seasons of abundance, summer and autumn, they eat upwards of 40kg of food A DAY! They can add up to 450–550kg of body weight from fat before they hibernate.
We are literally telling our bodies that it’s still summer or autumn because of our warm homes, offices and cars. Let yourself feel cold regularly throughout the autumn and winter months to let your body know that it’s no longer time to store but time to tap into the fat you have already stored.
4. How Much Fat You Have
The less fat you have, the less fat you will lose. Or to be more precise, the slower you will use it. Fat, in the right amount and quality, is healthy. It regulates body temperature, protects our vital organs and is a hormone factory. We need fat.
Your fat is your body’s savings account.
Besides the hormone production and thermal benefits of fat, what else is it? It’s calories. Your body stores fat to use later when food is scarce. It’s the calorie savings account.
When you have an abundance of fat, your body spends the calories with abandon. 2kg this week, 4kg next week and you start to shrink and lose weight on the scale.
At a certain point (that is different for everyone) your body gets a phone call from the bank. “Your savings are running low”. All of a sudden caution takes over. The remaining savings must be preserved.
Spending starts to slow down as your body tries to protect its savings account in case of future starvation.
What can you do about this slow down? Unfortunately nothing, except managing your expectations. You won’t continue to lose weight at the rate you did when you started.
The more fat you lose, the slower weight loss goes.
Here is where your weight loss mindset is vital. If you do the work on your expectations. Understanding that this is a good thing, then the slow weight loss you experience as you approach your goal won’t be so hard to deal with.
5. How Much Muscle You Have
I left the most important point for last. When was the last time you lifted something heavy? Can’t remember? What about your own body weight? Protecting your muscles is a vital part of weight loss.
Many people, especially those on moderate or low protein keto, lose a huge amount of lean muscle to ketogenesis. This is how your body produces the coveted ketones of the keto diet.
Your body breaks down fat and protein to create ketones. If you are not eating enough protein, your body starts to cannibalise your muscles. After all, keeping you alive is more important than keeping you strong. If you eat enough protein on keto, this doesn’t happen.
Building healthy lean muscle does a number of things including increasing your metabolism so you burn more calories. If your weight loss is slow, lifting heavy weights can lead to dramatic improvements in how quickly you lose weight. It doesn’t mean spending hours in the gym either.
If you are just starting out, your body weight is more than enough. Try some push ups. Try some squats. When it gets easy, move on to adding dumbbells or wrist weights.
It doesn’t have to be excessive to be effective.
How do I know what to try?
Try all of them, but not all at the same time. Otherwise, how will you know what has worked? Pick one, start with one that feels easy, and try it for a few weeks. Yes, weeks. This won’t be an overnight change.
If you are rolling your eyes at me right now then the best thing you can do is challenge your expectations and your mindset.
Weight loss done right takes time.
Weight loss done right means keeping your metabolism healthy, getting good nutrition and keeping your muscles strong. All of this, done right, means that when you get to your goal you will stay there. It’s how to say goodbye to yo-yo dieting forever.
If you are interested in improving your weight loss why not consider joining us in the Protein Priority Diet where valuable information like this is part and parcel of the program.
We are the anti toxic diet culture weight loss program.
No extreme measures allowed, no severe restriction is allowed and we are anti “weight loss by any means”. Read more here or reach out to me directly and I would be happy to chat to you.