By Carlee Frank

We’ve all been there — sweating through every workout, dieting like a champ and watching the pounds drop on the scale, but then it hits: the weight loss plateau.

After this point, it seems impossible to lose weight. Your regular workouts and diet plan just aren’t cutting it, right? Well, this week, we’re busting the weight loss plateau with science and some good ‘ole determination. But first, we must understand what happens to the body during the initial stages of diet and exercise.

As you cut calories, the Mayo Clinic says your body acquires its energy by releasing glycogen — a type of carbohydrate — from the muscles and liver: “Glycogen is partly made of water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it releases water, resulting in weight loss that’s mostly water.” Therefore, initial rapid weight loss is common.

However, as you lose water weight, you also lose muscle mass. Due to the fact that muscles boost your metabolic rate, a decrease in muscle mass lessens the amount of calories you burn, which leads to a weight loss plateau.

How, then, do you overcome the plateau? Well, it can be achieved in one word: change. You must change your diet and workout routine. Tip No. 1 is to begin a strength-training regime, or simply increase the resistance if you already strength train. Since muscles burn at least four times more calories than fat, stepping up your strength training will boost your metabolism. You can purchase simple dumbbells for at-home workouts or join the gym and ask for a trainer’s assistance.

Tip No. 2 is to consume less food. Registered Dietitian Kathy McManus said to Glamour magazine, “Women often forget that the smaller their body, the fewer calories it requires.” So, whether you are a man or a woman, visit a dietitian or use a BMR calculator to determine the number of calories you should consume on a daily basis. Additionally, you should make sure to eat the proper amounts of carbs, protein and fat because these nutrients also aid in weight loss. In fact, healthy fats actually burn visceral fat — stubborn and dangerous belly fat — quite effectively.

The third and final tip is to incorporate more movement into your daily routine. If you are immobile for the majority of the day and get the bulk of your movement during exercise, try adding bursts of movement to the times when you are normally sitting. For example, park farther away from your place of employment, take a five-minute walk during work or stand rather than sit at your desk. If none of these tips help, visit your doctor or dietitian for a more personalized solution.

Many people view the weight loss plateau as failure or believe their diet is no longer working. In reality, however, the plateau is expected and healthy. So, if we anticipate this stage and immediately change our routine instead of calling it quits, weight loss will continue.

Furthermore, a change of pace may improve morale and keep you motivated. Test out a new workout class, such as CrossFit or yoga, and look up tasty recipes for cleaner food. Eating Well lists Kefir, green tea, eggs, artichokes, avocado, peanuts and chickpeas as foods that help your body burn belly fat. Follow this link for recipes that include these foods:

Hopefully this week you will begin again to see results in your health and fitness journey!