Dr. Dhurandhar’s Fat-Loss Diet


What to Do When Your Weight Loss is Stuck

Losing weight can be a challenging journey, and it’s not uncommon to encounter roadblocks along the way. One common hurdle is when your weight loss appears to be stuck. The frustration of seeing the numbers on the scale plateau can be demotivating, but fear not! In this blog, we will explore practical tips and insights to help you overcome this obstacle.

1. How to Verify Your Weight Loss Really is Stuck:

Before taking any action, it’s crucial to ensure that your weight loss has genuinely plateaued. Remember that weight loss is not a linear process, and fluctuations are natural. Here are a few key indicators to verify if your weight loss is genuinely stuck:

Tracking: Evaluate your weight loss progress over a significant period- at least two weeks. Assess the overall trend rather than focusing on daily fluctuations, as they can be influenced by various factors like water retention or digestive patterns.

Integrity check: To know if an approach is still working, you have to still be following it faithfully. It is very common to make small accommodations here and there during weight loss that add up over time. Before assuming your approach isn’t working anymore, you have to return to it with the same vigor you started with.

Plateau Duration: If your weight hasn’t budged for two to four weeks despite adhering to your true diet and exercise regimen, it may be a sign of a genuine plateau.

Measurements and Body Composition: Consider monitoring your body measurements or using body composition analysis techniques (such as bioelectrical impedance) to assess changes in fat mass and muscle mass. Remember, the scale doesn’t always reflect the whole picture.

2. Take a Break If You Need One:

We just mentioned that you have to return to your original approach, with the original vigor, to verify if you have hit a true plateau. If that sounds too unbearable, take that as a sign. Weight loss journeys can be mentally and physically taxing. Sometimes, taking a short break can provide much-needed rest and reset your mindset. It’s essential to remember that taking a break does not equate to giving up. Here’s what you should keep in mind when considering a break:

Mental Well-being: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or burnt out, it may be a good idea to take a step back and refocus. Prioritize self-care, relaxation, and stress management techniques during this break.

Maintenance Mode: Consider maintaining your current weight instead of focusing solely on weight loss during the break. This approach allows you to stabilize your progress while still practicing healthy habits.  Daily self-weighing and focusing on keeping a higher physical activity level have both been proven to help with weight maintenance. 

Reassess and Reflect: Utilize this break to reassess your goals, review your current strategies, and identify areas for improvement. Reflect on what has worked well for you so far and what changes you can make to overcome the plateau.

3. Understand What Next Steps Look Like:

Once you’ve verified that you’re truly stuck, it’s time to shift your focus towards breaking through the plateau when you are ready. Remember that weight loss plateaus are common, and they can be overcome with a few adjustments. Essentially, a plateau tells us that an increased level of physical activity is needed (if possible) and a lower calorie diet is needed to continue weight loss. So here’s what you can do to achieve that:

Start tracking your food intake: If you haven’t already, it can help to understand how many calories you are consuming. You will learn more about the foods that help you accomplish your nutrition goals as you track and notice patterns. 

A new dietary pattern: A more structured diet pattern can help you accomplish a reduction in calorie intake. This can be accomplished many ways, but should be done with care. It is a good idea to consult a registered dietitian or use a clinical-grade weight loss diet. Eating fewer calories can lead to poor nutritional status if not done correctly. 

Introduce Variety in Your Physical Activity: Sometimes, our bodies adapt to routine, leading to a plateau. Shake things up by incorporating new exercises, trying different workout routines, or exploring alternative forms of physical activity. For example, you can consider adding in strength training or a new form of aerobic activity like swimming or rowing. This can help challenge your body in new ways and help break the stagnation. 

Consider additional tools: Keep an open mind about other ways to lose weight beyond diet and exercise. FDA-approved weight loss medications are now available for weight loss, so you can explore those with your physician. Bariatric surgery can also be the best option for many people. 

4. How to Know When “Stuck” Means “Stop”:

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, weight loss plateaus can persist for an extended period. It’s important to recognize when it might be time to reassess your goals and shift your focus. Here are some signs that indicate it may be appropriate to consider maintenance or other health-related goals:

You are in a better place now: You may not have reached your ultimate goal yet. But are you in a better place, health-wise? Check in with your original motivations and see if there has been improvement on those issues. If so, you may wish to maintain this new weight and adjust your original goal. Remember, weight is not the only determinant of health.

Emotional Well-being: Continuously striving for weight loss without progress can have a negative impact on your mental and emotional health. If you find that it’s affecting your self-esteem or body image, it may be time to reassess your approach and work on those issues.

Other competing priorities: We all have to balance putting our health first with other priorities in life. If you have been putting many other things on the back-burner while losing weight. If you have reached a point where you are feeling better at this new weight, it is understandable that you may wish to focus on other things for some time and maintain this new weight.


Experiencing a weight loss plateau can be frustrating, but you can make an informed decision about how to move forward. By understanding how to verify a true plateau, knowing when to take a break, making necessary adjustments, and recognizing when it’s time to shift your focus, you can decide what is best for you. Remember, consistency, patience, and a holistic approach to health and well-being are key to managing your health over the long-term.

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