Weight-Loss Stalls

Left, right, or straight ahead (the road less travelled)?

It’s common on any weight-loss program to be cruising along losing weight as expected, then suddenly the weight loss stops although you’re still far from goal weight.  This is the infamous and mysterious stall.

Once you know the reason for the stall the way to break it becomes obvious.  The most common reasons are:

  1. You’re not really following the full program any more; you’ve drifted off the path, often unconsciously
  2. Instead of eating just until you’re full or satisfied, you’re stuffing yourself
  3. You need to start or intensify an exercise program
  4. You’ve developed an interfering medical problem such as adrenal insufficiency (rare) or an underactive thyroid; see your doctor
  5. You’re taking interfering medication such as a steroid; see your doctor
  6. Your strength training program is building new muscle that masks ongoing loss of fat (not a problem!)

If you still can’t figure out what’s causing your stall, do a nutritional analysis of one weeks’ worth of eating, with a focus on total calories.  You can do this analysis online at places like FitDay (http://fitday.com/) or Calorie Count (http://caloriecount.about.com/).  You may be surprised to find out you’re eating a lot more calories than you thought.  Assuming you indeed have excess fat to lose, you can break your stall by cutting your total daily calorie intake by 400–500.  Try it for a week or two.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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