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Dear Dietitian – How do I overcome my diet plateau?

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PICT Leanne McCrate Dear Dietitian
Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, CNSC

Dear Dietitian,

I’ve been doing a very clean keto/Mediterranean diet for a year and have lost 105 lbs. I’m 11 pounds away from my goal and cannot seem to get there. I do intermittent fasting five days a week and cardio workouts 45-60 minutes a day. My carbs stay at 23 grams or less a day, 90 grams of protein, and I drink 65-80 oz of water. Any suggestions?


Dear Rita,

Wow! That’s a fantastic weight loss! Congratulations! Just about everyone on a weight loss journey has experienced the frustration of a plateau. It’s so hard to be patient, but you’ve come this far, so hang on a little longer. You will see results.

Although it sounds like you keep track of your food intake, write down everything you eat. You may find places where food is creeping in or times when you haven’t made the best food choices. Also, take the time to calculate your caloric intake for at least three days. Aim for about 1400 calories a day. Of course, a caloric deficit is needed to produce weight loss, but being too restrictive can also result in muscle loss.

While cardiovascular exercise is a vital part of weight loss, consider replacing some cardio with strength training. Lifting free weights offers the most muscle-building potential, but using weight machines is fine, too. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so when muscle mass increases, the body burns more calories, even at rest. Muscle weighs more than fat but takes up less space, so your clothes fit better. Building muscle won’t produce instant results in overcoming a plateau, so try to be patient.

Get plenty of sleep. Experts recommend getting at least seven to eight hours of continuous sleep each night. One theory is that ghrelin levels rise with inadequate sleep. Ghrelin has been dubbed the “hunger hormone” because it stimulates appetite and promotes fat storage. Hence, higher ghrelin levels may hamper weight loss efforts.

Finally, weigh yourself less frequently. Try not to focus so much on the scale. Being healthy isn’t dictated by a certain number. It’s about feeling better, reducing the risks of weight-related diseases, and feeling good about your appearance. Be proud of yourself! Yours is already a success story!

Until next time, be healthy!

Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her goal is to educate consumers on sound, scientifically-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or meal plans.