Losing weight
Female showing how much weight she has lost by wearing her old jeans that are sizes too big

Losing weight is tough—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Commitment and a passion for healthy living can combine to help you shed those unwanted pounds, but sometimes all of your hard effort seems to go unrewarded.

When you first changed your diet and hit up the gym four times a week, the pounds starting melting off. A few months in, and your weight seems to have leveled off—and those pesky pounds seem to be here to stay.

This frustrating plateau happens to the best of us, and there are ways to overcome it. Keep the following tips in your arsenal.

Adjust Your Calorie Intake — Down OR Up

As you begin losing weight, your metabolic rate changes; your body now requires fewer calories to fuel your efforts as you’ve gotten smaller. The 400 calories you cut from your original daily intake may need to be increased to a 500-calorie cut.

Conversely, it may be in your best interest to actually increase the amount of calories you’re taking in each day, especially if you’re taking part in strenuous exercise. Working with a licensed dietitian—or even talking with your general practitioner—can help you determine your caloric needs, and hopefully push you past your weight loss hump.

Consider the Types of Calories You’re Eating

The weight loss equation is more than calories out versus calories in. Consider the types of calories you’re putting in your body, because 150 calories from almonds is quite different than 150 calories from half a candy bar.

These calories are processed by the body differently; the almond would quickly be converted to fuel, while processed foods like a candy bar are more easily converted to fat.

Switch Up Your Exercise Routine

Running five miles on the treadmill everyday has its benefits, but keep in mind that your body is designed to adapt.

That 5 mile run might have felt like torture a few months ago, but as time goes on, your body has likely gotten used to the strain—meaning you’re breathing easier and running faster. As your muscles become familiar with repetitive workouts, you have to switch it up to make your routine effective.

Focus On Your Gut Health

The bacteria in your gut plays a crucial role in your ability to maintain a healthy weight, and it plays a part in your weight loss efforts as well. Studies have found that high-fat diets can actually encourage the growth of bad bacteria that promote inflammation in the body and contribute to weight gain.

If you’ve been struggling with digestive issues, or you’re finding that your weight has plateaued, consider taking a supplement to support your gut and colon.

There are many supplements available, so make sure to look for those that can directly deliver the help your digestive system it needs; check out the new digestive health supplements from Zacol and commit to healing  your gut—and watch your waistline shrink.

Get Your Rest

If you’re struggling to get your recommended 8 hours of sleep every night, make a commitment to getting to bed earlier. Insufficient sleep has been proven to play a role in appetite; the less sleep you get, the harder it is to be satiated. This can result in excessive food intake, which leads directly to weight gain. If you have a hard time getting to sleep, check out the resources from MIT Medical.

Stay Hydrated

You’re likely on a regimented fitness plan during your weight loss journey (if not, consider joining a local gym like Chuze to kickstart your metabolism), so hopefully you’ve kicked up the amount of water you drink in a day.

It may be time to kick hydration up a notch; studies show that drinking water increases the amount of calories you burn, known as resting energy expenditure. Dehydration can also lead to food cravings; next time you want to grab a bag of chips, drink a liter of water instead.

Strength Train

When weight loss is the goal, too many of us focus on cardio. While your 45 minutes on the treadmill can do the body good, there’s much to be said about incorporating a strength training routine into your daily exercise regimen.

Don’t let your weight loss plateau get you in the dumps; take charge of your journey and incorporate these helpful tips—and make 2018 your healthiest year yet!