Why You Might Suddenly Stop Losing Weight Despite Your Weight Loss Efforts

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By Alex Haley

Updated on

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Losing weight can be challenging. Common difficulties include following your diet, finishing workouts, and avoiding frequent snacking. Another challenge you may experience is reaching a weight loss plateau, a period when weight loss is stagnant. This usually happens 24 after you start losing weight. In fact, only around 10-20% of people successfully maintain their weight loss past this point.

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to mark the end of your weight loss journey. There are several reasons why weight loss plateaus happen, and you can address them to continue reaching your goals:

Why does a weight loss plateau happen?

You’re not eating enough

Although calorie deficits are essential for many weight loss diets, eating too little can prevent you from losing weight. When your body doesn’t receive enough food, it will conserve energy by storing fat and lowering your metabolism as a survival response. Overall, this hinders your weight loss.

You’re too stressed

The link between stress and health is that it affects eating patterns. A stressed body needs more oxygen, energy, and nutrients to survive. As such, you tend to crave and eat comfort foods like highly-processed snacks. Cortisol also stores fat due to glucose circulation. Therefore, your weight loss plateau may be caused by stress-related overeating and fat accumulation.

You’ve reached your set point weight

This is one of the main reasons why you’re not losing weight. Your set point weight is the weight your body has gotten used to over the years, so it doesn’t want to go past that level. Below, we’ll discuss this theory in detail.

What is set point weight theory?

Despite eating healthily, dieting, and exercising, no one is safe from this phenomenon. Luckily, understanding how a set point weight works can help you overcome it.

Your set point weight is the body’s predisposition for a certain weight. It differs for everyone—one person can have 250 lbs as their set point while another has 150 lbs. This happens when the body defends itself against reaching a lower weight, as it feels like fighting against its nature. Many health experts consider this a sound theory after observing that many people keep a consistent weight for extended periods of time.

Some factors affecting your set point weight are genetics and medication. Your genes regulate half your weight, so you might observe that you have a similar weight as your family members and relatives. Meanwhile, medicines you take for existing health conditions can cause weight gain as a side effect, preventing effective weight loss.

Can you change your set point weight?

Yes, it’s possible to change your set point weight. You can do this through behavioral changes, including setting the right goals and incorporating more movement into your daily routine.

Setting a smaller goal weight is more achievable initially, helping you stay motivated to keep up with your healthy habits. So, you can aim to lose 5% of your weight first, then aim for another 5% after. This way, you lose weight in small yet steady increments.

On the other hand, increasing physical activity helps your body get used to burning many calories, benefiting you in the long run. Aiming to lose 1500-2000 calories weekly is a good starting point and has been shown to help maintain weight loss. You can also try periodized workout programs. These slowly build up your workouts from low to 

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about the author

Alex Haley is a specialist in bio-information and operations. Alex has an interest in the field of genetics, with a focus on genome sequencing. When not working, Alex enjoys reading about scientific developments that may be relevant to her work or studies. When she's at home, she spends time with her family and friends. She also likes to read books about science fiction and fantasy worlds where anything is possible!