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Weight loss plateau – and how to break through!

The dreaded weight loss plateau! I can safely say if you have ever dieted you have been there. After a while the weight is not coming off anymore.

So with time you really start to question yourself and everything you are doing. Should I eat less? Should I train more? Maybe I should just end it all since there is no point in it?

So lets see a couple of reasons of why you might of hit a weight loss plateau.



This is a big problem when it comes to a weight loss plateau. If you are not a regular sleeping beauty, chances are the lack of sleep is holding you back.

When we get too little shut-eye, our metabolism slows down to conserve energy. That slowdown triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which increases appetite. Your body thinks it needs more energy, so it asks for more food.

Even though cortisol isn’t the demon hormone it is made to be, chronically elevated levels could cause weight loss plateau.

In a vicious cycle, sleep loss also causes our bodies to release more ghrelin, another hormone that signals hunger, and less leptin, the hormone that tells your stomach that it’s full. With your hormones out of whack, your body wants more food and lacks the sensitivity to know when to stop eating. Not to mention that being awake more hours gives you more time to snack.

In a study of 225 people they found that those who spent 4 hours a day in bed for 5 days in a row, gained almost 2 pounds more than those who were in bed for about 10 hours, over the course of just one week!

 “Sleep restriction results in an insulin-resistant state in human adipocytes. Sleep may be an important regulator of energy metabolism in peripheral tissues.” (Broussard, Ehrmann, Van Cauter, Tasali, Brady, 2012)

If you want to know how to improve your sleep, I have got you covered.


A colleague of mine said he isn’t losing weight. He mentioned he probably ate too much calories. I couldn’t helped myself and told him, that he can’t achieve much with that kind of attitude. The problem word was probably, which implied he isn’t keeping track.

Chances are if you’re not experienced enough to know by instinct, you need to track calories. You will underestimate how much calories you eat. Everyone does, even I did it in the beginning. Anytime a weight loss plateau happens, chances are calorie intake is to high.


I’m not talking hitting the gym. What are you doing the rest 23 hours when you’re not sweating your ass off? And I’m assuming you’re sweating, which means you’re are doing proper intense training, be it on cardio machines or weight.

I see to many people not even breaking a sweat, and then complaining that regardless of how much they work out, the just don’t lose weight.

Regardless if you’re a man or a woman, you should hit the weight at least three times a week with the zeal of Mongolian invaders.

And to go back on the 23 hour thing. Even if you do go to the gym, you cant sit through the day. You burn only so much calories in one hour, so make sure to make the most of your time when you are not at the gym.

Take the stairs, park further away from your building, etc.

And I recommend installing a pedometer app on your smartphone so you can track how many steps you made during the day. Sadly due to the nature of modern work, where we sit 8 hours a day it causes damage on our waistlines and health. 15k steps should be a good starting number.


Ok before you think i have lost it and you’re reading delusions from a rambling man, where we talk about stalls and whooshes, just give me a minute to explain myself.

There is actually some physiological rationale to this. A lot of people have noted that fat loss isnt linear. It is often discontinuous, it often happens in stops and starts. You may be dieting and dieting and doing everything correctly and as planned, and nothing happens.

Then boom basically overnight you drop a couple of pounds and look leaner. Like some kind of witchcraft. But i assure you its not.

After the fat cells are emptied of stored triglyceride, they will temporarily refill with water (the potential part of the mechanism could be the fact, that glycerol attracts water).

The woosh effect, and we’re not talking about capes

After all being said and done. Weight loss plateau is a big mind game you will face sooner or later, and you will need to win it to achieve your goal. And as long as you don’t quit you will burst through it!





  1. Broussard, J. L., Ehrmann, D. A., Van Cauter, E., Tasali, E., & Brady, M. J. (2012). Impaired insulin signaling in human adipocytes after experimental sleep restriction: a randomized, crossover study.Annals of internal medicine157(8), 549-557. http://annals.org/aim/article/1379773/impaired-insulin-signaling-human-adipocytes-after-experimental-sleep-restriction-randomized
  2. St-Onge, M. P., Roberts, A. L., Chen, J., Kelleman, M., O’Keeffe, M., RoyChoudhury, A., & Jones, P. J. (2011). Short sleep duration increases energy intakes but does not change energy expenditure in normal-weight individuals.The American journal of clinical nutrition94(2), 410-416. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/94/2/410.short

Author: Ivan Vlahinić

I am not a scientist. But i don’t have to be a scientist to be able to deftly use the scientific method in your daily life. In fact, you can be one helluva ‘thinker’ (in the scientific sense) and not be a scientist. For instance, nutritionists and personal trainers like me, who use and embrace science and the scientific method are better trainers because of it. Why? Because rather than just being a parrot and telling my clients what to do, because that’s what I have been told when I was younger I understand the "why" of my advice. And if I dont? Then I fully admit that i don't, and that's fine. The more you learn in the field of fitness and nutrition, the more you realize there is a lot of stuff that you dont know. But this is something that is true of all fields of work or life. The scientific method is the single most powerful way of thinking, that's why I embrace it. Anecdotes are nice, but data and facts trumps anecdotes.

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