Have you been dieting and exercising but not losing weight? Try these proven plateau solutions

  • 3 Minutes Read
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you have been dieting and exercising but not losing weight, don't throw in the towel! Instead, take a minute to read about some straightforward and effective techniques that will help get the scale moving again, and get you closer to your goal.

dieting and exercising but not losing weight

Dieting and exercising but not losing weight?

Perhaps the toughest part of any weight-loss journey is overcoming the inevitable weight-loss plateau, known as consecutive weeks of staying at the same weight while putting forth the effort. Here are several weight-loss plateau solutions you can try. Try one or combine a few and then see what works for you. You may need to apply one of these again, further down the road.

Weight-Loss Plateau Solutions

Stay on top of tracking

Did you know that consistently tracking your food and drink intake is a proven weight-loss technique? Studies show that tracking (such as with an on-line app) is a predictor of weight-loss success. Here are some resources to help increase the accuracy of your tracking:

Review your records

Just as a detailed spending plan wouldn't be as useful if you never reviewed it, the same goes for a tracking plan. After a week or so of tracking what you eat and drink, examine your records. Look for relationships between food and nutrient intake, exercise, and weight loss. Many online apps allow you to create different reports (daily, weekly, monthly) to help you see how your choices impact your weight.

Set a reasonable weight-loss goal and a reasonable time frame

You will be more successful in achieving your ultimate long-term weight goal if you break it into smaller goals. For example, if you eventually want to lose 40 pounds, start with a smaller goal: "lose 5% of my weight." Did you know that a loss of 5-7% of your body weight can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes? If you have hit a weight-loss plateau, ask yourself if the original goal was unrealistic, and consider making a manageable adjustment.

When determining how fast you should work to lose the weight, we suggest setting a goal of losing between a half-pound to 2 pounds a week. Some evidence suggests that people who lose weight gradually are more successful at keeping it off over the long term. It is also known to be a safer method.

Eat regularly

Eating regular meals helps regulate your blood sugar and prevents you from getting overly hungry, or worse, "hangry." When you become too hungry, it becomes more challenging to control your portions. High-calorie/high-fat foods tempt you as the body searches out quick energy.

Some people succeed at breaking a weight-loss plateau by changing up their eating schedule. Let's say you tend to eat a greater proportion of your calories at night. Consider switching to eating a larger breakfast and a lighter dinner. Or try experimenting with limiting the hours in which you eat during the day, often referred to as time-restricted eating. To learn more about time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting, check out:

Prioritize non-starchy veggies and protein

Non-starchy veggies

Non-starchy vegetables are naturally low in calories, yet high in vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. Many people find if they make an effort to eat at least 2 vegetable servings at every meal, including breakfast, they end up feeling full on fewer calories. For more tips on how to fill up on fewer calories, check out:


Meeting your protein needs each day is essential for weight loss. Since protein foods take longer to digest than carbohydrates, you will likely stay full longer if you eat some protein at each meal. Aim for about 20 grams of protein per meal from various sources: lean meat, fish/seafood, poultry, legumes, eggs, and dairy, for example.

More protein resources:

Get adequate sleep

Chronic sleep deprivation affects appetite and stress hormone production, which also affects caloric intake and physical health. Research also shows that exposure to bright light or daylight in the morning is related to lower body fat and a lower BMI-another good reason to improve your sleep.

For more information on sleep:


Exercise is not just about calorie burning; it helps improve overall health and reduces risks for chronic disease, especially type 2 diabetes. If you are able, strive to do some cardiovascular activity every day. In addition, add some kind of strength training 3 days a week to help preserve muscle while you lose weight.

Exercise resources

Stay motivated

Staying motivated to lose weight over a long period of time can be a challenge. What motivates you at the start of your weight loss journey may shift once you are 6 months or a year into your new lifestyle. Reflect on your motivations for living a healthy lifestyle, and talk with friends, family, or a professional counselor if you feel stuck.

Resources on motivation:

You've got this!

If you have been dieting and exercising but not losing weight, do not give up! Take a deep breath, remind yourself how far you have come, and that you are worth the effort and energy it takes to lose weight, keep it off, and enjoy years of better health ahead.

To gain support and connect with others who are working hard to lose weight, check out our community forum at: https://www.mynetdiary.com/weight-loss-forum

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

This blog was reviewed and updated by: Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Weight Loss->Plateau (Weight Stall)
Sep 1, 2020

Start Your Free
Food Diary Today

Sign up Devices