How To Break The Weight Loss Plateau

Okay, this isn’t going to be what you expected but, in order to break the weight loss plateau successfully, requires that you celebrate your good fortune of being in a weight loss plateau or weight loss stall in the first place.

In this post you’ll learn the important WHY of being in a weight loss stall. Once you understand why you’re in a stall and that scientifically it’s a positive sign that you are moving your weight loss progress forward, you’ll have peace of mind and… less stress. 

Of course, you’ll also get the strategies on HOW to Escape the clutches of the dreaded weight loss plateau.

To get us warmed up, I created the below overview video training where I cover “Why Weight Loss Plateaus Happen”, and the “3 Weight Loss Plateau Solutions”.

Why Has Weight Loss Slowed?

Why? Why?  WHY?!!

You’ve been following every rule. Devoting yourself completely to the process. Sacrificed!  And you’ve been rewarded with some weight loss progress, but now…..nothing!?

It feels like a cruel joke when exuberance and enthusiasm over losing a few inches gives way to despair and defeat as your weight loss progress comes to a grinding halt. A Stall. That frustrating and spirit-sapping, Weight Loss No Man’s Land. The doldrums. The uplifting wind that had filled your sails has dried up, disappeared. And in it’s place is self-destruction, uncertainty, and perhaps, resignation. 

The 3 Enemies Of Weight Loss Progress…

Self-destruction is your greatest saboteur, “I’m just weak.” “I’m no good.” “I’m not strong or smart enough.”, you tell yourself. 

 Uncertainty is your greatest fear. It’s everyone’s greatest fear.  You think, “What if I can’t lose the weight?” “What if I fail….again?” 

And resignation is your greatest foe. “I’m just meant to be fat.” “This is my fate.” “This is how it’s supposed to be for me.” “What’s the use of trying?”

None of these is true. They might be your current self-truth. But they are not actual truth. Not. Actual. Truth.

Science save lives. Science restores sanity.

In order to break the weight loss plateau that you are in, you need to know why your weight loss plateau occurred in the first place. Understanding the science, you are renewed and resolute. Stall? Nope. You are simply moving through a necessary phase. Armed with knowledge you will prevail and your weight loss efforts will be rewarded!

Let’s take a look.

Weight Loss Saboteurs

  1. Homeostasis
  2. Stress
  3. E-Impediment

How many times have you heard someone cry out,

“I don’t like change!”

How many times have YOU cried out, “NOooooo!”

Change is unsettling. Change is unpleasant. Change is downright loss.

You have to let something go. Loosen your grip. Trade one thing for another. This is why you don’t ‘like’ real change. It feels different. And ‘different’ takes time to get used to.

It’s exactly like this with weight loss. And the science behind it is homeostasis. 

Homeostasis is the collective physio-biological processes  going on within you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even when you’re sleeping! You probably aren’t even aware of these processes. 

The amount of sugar or glucose flowing through your veins. The amount of insulin your pancreas is releasing, moment to moment, to keep your blood sugar in check and your cells fueled. The increase or decrease of your metabolic rate, or how much energy your body expends. Your body magnificently adjusts to changing environmental stimuli to maintain “normal”.  Internal stability. 

“Let’s just keep things the way they are, thank you.” 

Being stable internally, your body is optimally staged to handle daily life. Chaos is not tolerated! Change, to your body, is instability.

Homeostasis is Trippin’ Me

Here’s an example of homeostasis you can relate to. After spending time inside a dark building, you step outside into the brilliant sunshine. What do you do? Probably squint, without even thinking about it. And your pupils constrict to protect against the flood of ultraviolet light into your delicate, highly sensitive eyes. 

That is Homeostasis at work. Your body adapts instinctively to environmental change, in this case your eyes to the beautiful sunny weather. Your body is engineered to protect and serve you. All you need is a bit of know-how of how it all works and you can move or break the weight loss plateau.

Weight Loss Is Change. 

It Is Body Composition Change.

True weight loss isn’t about pounds, it’s about inches. You don’t necessarily want to weigh less, you want to ‘be’ less. Meaning, you want less body fat. Right? Who cares what a scale says when we are down 3 pant sizes and rocking life again?

Homeostasis applies to weight loss specifically under the Law of Energy Conservation. Body fat is energy. Food is energy. Your body has been given energy in the foods you’ve eaten and your body has been storing energy in the fat you’ve been carrying. 

Losing Weight Is Breaking The Law

With your weight loss attempt, you are “breaking the law”, messing with your body’s energy conservation. Having an ample store of energy/fuel/fat on your person is critical to sustaining life. Your body, my body, his body, her body is designed to generate energy from food and conserve or carry it. 

When you eat less food/energy your body will slow its metabolic rate. That means your internal system gets sluggish. It’s your body’s attempt to conserve energy. Your body slows so that it uses up or expends less fuel. Crikes. Not cool for losing weight, huh? 

Your body will also conserve energy by holding on to the fat you are carrying. Crikes again.

You’ll know this is going on if you experience cravings. Thinking about food. Longing for food. And when you really pay attention, you’ll notice the incessant thoughts for foods that are carbohydrate foods. These foods quickly get converted into sugar, aka blood sugar – glucose. 

When your body is ‘trapped’ in burning sugar, your homeostasis mechanism is operating on the law of energy conservation. Your body is keeping your fat stores locked down while urging you to continue consuming sugar. You see. Your body has just two basic fuel choices. 

1.) You can be burning sugar/glucose. 

2.) Or you can be burning fat. 

Burning Fat | Burning Body Fat Is How Permanent Weight Loss Happens. 

Your body uses up the fat you’re carrying. But it can only do that if your body is lacking one ingredient. There is just one single variable. And you need to know how to manipulate it if you want to burn body fat. That variable is insulin. (A powerful fat creation and fat storage hormone.)

When you know how to manipulate your insulin secretion, you own the key to your weight loss / body fat burning kingdom. When insulin is up, body fat stays put. When insulin is low, body fat lets go. This is critical, life-impacting science. Insulin is key.

Let’s wrap up the homeostasis – weight loss slowed or stalled – science.

The Two Reasons Why You’re In A Weight Loss Plateau Or A Weight Loss Slowed Phase 

  1. Your metabolic rate has slowed.
  2. Your body fat stores have locked down.
Weight Loss Tip - Lower Insulin with Fasting

How Do You Break The Weight Loss Plateau?

Good news!

To break the weight loss plateau requires only two steps… 

  1. Eat up!    When you don’t eat, your body registers the lack of incoming fuel, so your metabolic rate slows. The trick is to eat foods that keep you in weight loss/fat burning mode rather than in weight gain/sugar burning mode. This keeps your body from conserving energy. In fact, the opposite happens. You increase your metabolic rate. That means… you burn more body fat. Hooray!


  2. Insulin down!  Getting insulin down and keeping insulin down takes some know how. The cool thing is, once you know it and DO it, you own the power for the rest of your life.

Isn’t it crazy? The rest of the world counts calories and Fitbit steps and cries out in exasperation and confusion. “Why can’t I lose weight?!?”  WHY!?

 The Answer To “How To Lose Body Fat?” Is Insulin.

One word. One variable. One hormone. One often un-acknowledged piece of the weight loss puzzle. 

If you are carrying waist weight, it’s insulin. 

In fact, you can consider your waistline your insulin belt. 

How Your Fat Creation, Fat Storage Hormone Insulin Works…

Insulin is the hormone secreted by your pancreas that handles your glucose/sugar in your bloodstream. When your blood sugar rises, insulin rises. When your blood sugar lowers, insulin lowers. When does blood sugar and insulin rise the most? When you are consuming carbohydrate. 

Just remember, you can’t just stop eating or eat less, unless you’ve nudged your body to begin consuming itself, aka fat burning. And even then, expect those periods of time, a weight loss plateau, when your body is adapting to its new normal. 

Usually weight loss plateaus occur at about every 5 pounds or so. In the beginning, weight loss appears to be happening quickly. This is because of the initial water weight release. 

Upon initial insulin lowering, fluid is no longer retained. People mistake this for weight loss. Yes, it IS less weight on the scale but, it’s not actual body fat loss. Using up body fat (true weight loss) happens over time through repeated right action. Choosing foods that least stimulate an insulin response and doing that over and over and over again.

Repetition Leads To The Shortening Of Weight Loss Plateaus

Repetition calms the body. Repetition is interpreted by the body as its new normal. Each stall is a plateau or place of adaptation. This is your body’s time to establish internal recognition of its revised composition. As you continue to provide fuel (eating fat focused) your body will release and use up fuel (body fat). But this will only occur when insulin is down.

Because your body is highly adaptive, your weight loss strategy need be sporadic. Expect “stall” periods. Initiate new activity. Extend fasting periods.

Remember, periods of fasting mean periods of low insulin. Low insulin means body fat burning.

Let’s look at another reason why your weight loss slowed or plateaued.

 STRESS!!!… Will Inhibit Weight Loss Progress

You’re not surprised are you?

You know you want junk food when you’re stressed. It’s called comfort food for a reason. But WHY. Why, exactly, is stress causing your weight loss plateau? Do you know?

Here’s the secret. The answer to any weight loss slowed, weight loss stall, weight loss plateau question is INSULIN.

Connecting-the-Dots of Insulin, Stress & the Weight Loss Plateau

Another one of life’s “Are you effin’ kidding me?!”, is the weight loss saboteur, stress. Losing weight, initiating change, can be stressful. So, how the heck are you to lose weight when stress keeps you from losing weight?!

In the opening of this article, uncertainty was mentioned as life’s greatest stressor. 

It’s NOT knowing. 

You will eliminate the stress induced by uncertainty by becoming quite certain. Clear. When you know exactly how stress impacts your body’s ability to lose weight you are in the driver’s seat.

By now you recognize, even if you don’t fully understand, how insulin impacts weight loss. So the question is, “Does stress influence insulin?”. Or is it the stress itself that impedes weight loss? 

The answer is… it’s both.

The 5-Steps Of  Stress Response & It’s Impact On Weight Loss / Body Fat Burning

  1. Life happens. (stress)  Loss of job, relationship turmoil, living with a chronic disease, selling your home, disappointments, unexpected curve balls, etc.
  2. You react.  A natural, unintended emotional response occurs within you. Whether a positive or negative stimuli, your emotional reaction triggers your fight or flight response.
  3. Cortisol Releases. Your fight or flight hormone triggers an internal chain of events to quickly support your welfare. One of the links in the chain is your ‘need’ for immediate energy. Fuel.
  4. Liver Dumps Glucose. Glucagon responded to your cortisol which signaled your liver to release its stored glucose into your bloodstream to meet your immediate need for energy to fight or flee the situation.
  5. Pancreas secretes Insulin. There it is again…Insulin! To address the blood sugar rise, insulin responds. You, like all humans, are like a broken record. Blood sugar rises. Insulin rises. Body fat is locked down.

This is where you draw the line. Knowing that weight loss requires strategies to navigate homeostasis which include adaptation periods, you are not going to stress over a weight loss plateau. 

Quite the opposite. You embrace each weight loss plateau as another chapter in your weight loss journey. Because that is exactly what a weight loss plateau is! Another milestone to be celebrated! 

Isn’t it interesting? We celebrate birthdays. We celebrate graduations. We celebrate promotions. Why don’t we celebrate plateaus? 

We don’t celebrate weight loss plateaus because most think of it as a negative, an undesirable place. We wrongly think and then get stressed with our wrong thinking that it might be the end of our weight loss journey. It’s not. 

Your weight loss plateau is just an acclimation or adaptation stage along your way. Like base camp and various elevation camps when climbing Mt. Everest. Or scuba divers’ strategic resurfacing from a deep sea dive. 

Any significant change to the body must be gone about slowly, with ample time to adapt between each phase of the change. 

Make peace with your weight loss plateau! See it for what it truly is, a plateau, not an end.

How To Break a Weight Loss Plateau

  1. Stay the course.
  2. Keep calm.
  3. Change it up.

The first two steps are clear.

Let’s talk about, “Change”. Earlier in this post I talked about “change” as unpleasant and uncomfortable. And that’s exactly what you need to break through a weight loss plateau. Not so much discomfort but “unexpected different”. For example, if you are exercising along with shifting your diet for weight loss, change up your activity through one of these modes:

  1. Frequency
  2. Duration
  3. Intensity

So if you’re walking, you can either add a few extra walks (frequency) or walk a bit longer (duration) or try interval sprint walking or find a path with some good hills (intensity).

With eating, your best move is to eat less frequently. The longer you can extend your periods of insulin suppression, the more you are free to use up body fat. Just be sure you’re “not eating times” are pleasant, not stressful. Because, as you leaned above, stress works against your weight loss efforts. SHIFTing to a fat-focused eating plan is the ultimate, happy with accidental fasting, near-effortless weight loss there is.

When you eat that way you spend most of the day… not hungry. We call it accidental fasting because it happens naturally, without effort or willpower.

And one final thought.

The Dual-Energy Variables of Consistency Over Time Just Might Be The Most Significant Component to Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau

I call these dual variables, “AA” and “EE”.

Application Apathy
“AA” or Application Apathy has to do with consistency. There is absolutely no substitute for consistency. Every athlete, musician, surgeon, scientist, mother, coach, teacher knows consistency is king. Guard against apathy. Apply the science daily.

Excessive Enthusiasm
Use caution regarding EE.  Excessive Enthusiasm can have a boomerang effect if you attach too much energy to your initial progress. Inflated euphoria deflates as progress appears to slow. Remember, results happen quickly, but true change takes time. 

Guard your heart against disappointment by embracing a somewhat matter-of-fact attitude. Enthusiasm is certainly required to achieve anything great, however, tether your emotions with a healthy dose of common sense. Cool?

Be pragmatic, rather than fanatic.

Fanatic implies an unreasonable amount of enthusiasm.

Pragmatic, on the other hand, is being concerned with actual practice, everyday affairs, not engaging in theory and speculation.

Your weight loss plateau is part of your transformation.

You are wonderfully and powerfully made.

You are coming into your power.

Know it.

Own it.

Live it.

Additional “Break The Weight Loss Plateau” Resources

FOOD B.S. – Learn More

Barbara McDermott’s best-selling book ‘FOOD B.S.’ brings common sense to health gain. FOOD B.S. is an entertaining romp through live with that four-letter word… FOOD. Her refreshing, no nonsense approach of uncovering truth using non-negotiable rules of science demystifies food once and for all.

“A truly unique, witty and life enhancing read!”

Weight Loss Sabotage – Watch Now

In this replay of a live training, Barbara McDermott shares the Big Weight Loss & Health Gain Mistake. and it has nothing to do with food, exercise or medication. It explains why 95% of all diets fail. And why it’s critical that you address it before attempting weight loss.

SHIFT Formula YouTube Channel – Watch Now

Visit our YouTube Channel. It’s loaded with helpful, “Get out of Health Chaos”, direction and resources. And remember to subscribe to our channel so you get notified for our new video releases! 

About Barbara McDermott

Regarded as America's #1 Insulin Suppression Coach, Barbara is the co-founder of SHIFT Health & Wellness Solution, and the best-selling author of the groundbreaking book, ‘FOOD B.S.’, With SHIFT, Barbara brings common sense to nutrition, weight loss and health gain. Her refreshing, no nonsense approach to uncovering the truth using non-negotiable rules of science demystifies food and how to defeat chronic disease once and for all.

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3 Responses to How To Break The Weight Loss Plateau

  1. Barb Meyer June 2, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

    Always love your information. You are so knowledgeable. This article had so much useful information.

  2. Janny August 13, 2019 at 7:13 am #

    I am totally in love with your work! Listening to your podcast all the time 🙂

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