If you stop losing fat for an extended period of time, it can be incredibly frustrating. You haven’t slacked off in the gym or started eating everything in sight, and yet you are still at the same weight. I understand how hard that is. I went through a frustrating plateau that lasted for 18 months. I learned a lot about my body during that time. The good news is that you can make simple changes to restart fat loss. Here are some ways to break through the dreaded weight loss plateau.

Identify a true plateau

As you lose weight, your caloric needs change. If you lose a significant amount of fat, you may need to decrease your food intake. This is not a true plateau but is a common mistake made on weight loss journeys. Your body has different energy requirements as it gets smaller, so you must adjust your calories accordingly.

Increase your intensity in the gym

If you have determined that you are on a true plateau, do not immediately decrease your food intake. Instead, increase your intensity at the gym. Add in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or make it even more intense. You can also make small changes in your current routine. Lower rest time between sets, increase your rep range, start running or change your regular type of cardio. Your body gets used to your fitness routine and will stop reacting to it. You need to do something different to force it to continue losing fat.

Track your food accurately

When I hit my 18-month plateau, I found that I was not properly tracking my food. I was not measuring my food accurately and was eating more than I realized. If upping the intensity in the gym does not work, then take a hard look at what you are eating. Buy a food scale to accurately measure your food. Pay careful attention to every single thing you put in your body. Little things like salad dressing or nuts can mess up your caloric intake.

Switch your diet up.

Once you know your intake is correct, try changing up your diet. Change your carbs. Change your protein. Add in more veggies. You may find that switching the foods you eat will do the trick. You can also play with your macronutrient ratios. Try going low carb and high fat. Increase your protein. Give carb cycling or intermittent fasting a try. There are several nutritional tools you can use to change your diet without cutting calories.

Sleep more

Are you getting enough rest? If you are not sleeping at night, you will not lose weight. Make sure you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is not a luxury! It is necessary for your body to function properly. If you are going hard at the gym, then you need to make sure you are resting. Do not be scared to take a rest day. Let your body rest so it can repair itself before your next session. If you feel overly tired, skip the gym and sleep instead. Rest is necessary! We are not made to go hard 24/7. You are not being lazy! You are taking care of your body.

If you feel like you are in a plateau, go through the above steps to restart fat loss. Do not lose faith! You are making the best choices for your body. Be patient with yourself. Remember, it took me 18 months to break through a plateau. Our bodies can be difficult but that does not mean we should give up. Stay strong and keep going. I know you can do it!