You're putting in all this work to lose weight and all of a sudden the scale stops moving. What now?
Has Your Progress Actually Stopped?
There's a lot more to body weight than whether or not you are gaining or losing fat. Before we talk about what to do when fat loss stalls, we need to know if fat loss has actually stalled. A very important thing to note is, fat loss IS NOT LINEAR. There will be starts, stops, ups, and downs along the way. (Yes even ups. Don't panic!) Here is a portion of my client Jonathan's body weight graph.
Right out of the gate you see a small bump upwards. This is totally fine. As you can see, it came right back down. At around two weeks in, there's a 4 day stall. I understand not seeing the scale go down for four days can be troubling, but I would like to point out how tiny that four day period is when you look at the big picture. After the four day stall, he lost a whopping 10.6 pounds in only two weeks. You can also see a 4.6 pound weight gain due to a hiking injury followed by 7.6 pound loss over eight days. That gain was likely not fat. There are several things that go into body weight other than just gaining or losing fat. Here are a few of them:
If you've started lifting weights within the last year, you will be gaining muscle at a fairly quick rate. Gaining muscle can make it seem like you aren't making progress on the scale (Weight loss = fat loss - lean body mass gain). As an extreme example, I have a client who went four weeks without losing any weight; however, during that time, she lost 5 inches off her waist! This is why it's important to use other methods of tracking in conjunction with the scale such as waist measurements and progress pictures.
Inconsistent Fluid Intake
A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds. If you drink a whole gallon one day and half a gallon the next day, that's a difference of 4.17 pounds. That isn't to say there will be a 4.17 pound difference in your weigh-in between those two days. You will urinate a large portion of the excess water out, but you could experience up to a two pound difference.
Inconsistent Sodium Intake
Our bodies want to maintain a certain balance of sodium and water in the cells. If we take in an excessive amount of sodium, we will retain some water as well to restore that balance.
Cortisol is a hormone produced in response to stress. As we diet for an extended period of time, cortisol levels go up. As cortisol goes up, water retention goes up. If you're consistently stressed, you will consistently retain water.
When we step on the scale we weigh our bodies as well as whatever is inside our bodies at the time. If you eat at 10 pm and weigh yourself at 6 am, there will be more food still in your stomach than if you eat at 6 pm and weigh at 6 am, which means you will weigh more. This is likely where the myth that eating late makes you fat came from.
Certain foods are less Calorie dense than others. 100 Calories from peanut butter is going to be a much smaller amount of food than 100 Calories from lettuce. If you go from eating very Calorie dense foods to foods that are very voluminous (not Calorie dense), the amount of food you eat will weigh more. As I noted in the previous section, when we step on the scale, we are also weighing the food in our stomachs. If we are eating more food volume, we will weigh more when we step on the scale.
Thank you so much for reading. If you found this article helpful, share it with your friends on Facebook! It helps us out more than you know. I will be back next week with what to do if your fat loss has stalled. As always, God bless you AND your family and I'll see you next week.