Tricks to Lose those Last 5 Pounds
Experts offer strategies to make losing those last 5 pounds easier.
By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Losing those last 5 pounds can be maddening. You're eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, but no matter what you do, you can't seem to move the needle on the scale. Runners call it "hitting the wall," and it happens to dieters, too.
When you hit the "last 5 pounds" wall, making some simple changes can often help. WebMD talked to experts who recommended steps to power past the plateau.
Are Your Weight Loss Goals Too Low?
Before you read the expert tips, ask yourself: Could the weight goal you're aiming for be too low? Do you really need to tackle those last 5 pounds, or is your health, fitness, self-esteem, and quality of life already improved?
Anne Fletcher, RD, author of Weight Loss Confidential, urges dieters to reconsider the importance of the last 5 pounds.
"If it is really hard to lose those 5 pounds, is it worth it? And will you be able to maintain that lower weight?" asks Fletcher, who also wrote the Thin for Life series of books.
She says being at the ultimate goal weight -- what she calls "fantasy weight" -- is overrated because it can be very difficult both to get there, and to maintain.
But if you really need to chisel off those last few pounds, it may be a relief to learn that your weight loss woes are quite predictable.
"As your body mass is reduced through weight loss, you need fewer calories than you did when you were heavier," says Fletcher. You need to tweak your diet and fitness plans as your body composition changes or weight loss plateaus are sure to interrupt your weight loss journey.
Take a step back and try to figure out why your weight loss has stopped. Most of the time, dieters are eating more than they think or stuck in a rut doing the same exercise routine over and over again. With a few simple changes you can lose those last pounds once and for all.
Exercise Your Options
To lose 1 pound of fat you need to cut 3,500 calories by eating fewer calories or exercising more or preferably, a combination of both. Be careful not to cut calories so low your body thinks it is starving and triggers a weight loss plateau to conserve body weight.
If you don't want to eat less, exercise more. Increasing physical activity is an excellent way to power past the plateau because it burns more calories and builds muscle. As you increase your muscle mass, your metabolism gets a boost and can help get you back into the losing mode.
Here are five more expert tips to power past the plateau and rid yourself of those last unwanted pounds.
Published March 14, 2007.
SOURCES: Dawn Jackson Blatner, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman; and Northwestern Memorial Hospital Wellness Institute, Chicago. Anne Fletcher, MS, RD, author Weight Loss Confidential and the Thin for Life books, Houghton Mifflin Co., 2007.
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