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Nora Saul, MS, RD, LDN, CDE

Manager, Nutrition Services
Joslin Diabetes Center
Boston, MA

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Indoor runner legs is walking slowly on the treadmill for light exercise

Weight Loss Plateau

Ask the Expert


I have been trying different diets (low-carb, high-protein, high-fiber, etc.), but nothing works for me! Currently, I'm walking and jogging on a treadmill five days a week and eat moderately (about 1,300 to 1,400 calories daily), but I still can't lose weight! Why is this happening, and what can I do?


You are not alone in your struggle to lose weight. Many people who reduce their caloric intake and increase their exercise in an attempt to lose weight find that they reach a plateau at some point. This often leads to frustration and abandonment of good intentions. There are many reasons you may be having difficulty. Although physicians and dietitians talk about losing one to two pounds a week, weight loss does not always follow neat patterns. There may be times that you lose three pounds in one week and nothing for the following two weeks.

Other factors may be the amount and type of exercise you are doing. It is important to vary your routine to get the most benefit from exercise. When you started your current routine, it was probably difficult for you to get through. Now your body has become stronger and developed more muscle mass so the same exercises do not produce the same energy expenditure. If you are doing aerobic exercise, try adding some resistance exercises to your schedule.

Sometimes extra calories can sneak in when you aren't looking. For example, are you accounting for calories coming from beverages (the extra cream in your coffee perhaps)?

Here are some tips that may help you lose weight.

  • Consider working with a registered dietitian who can design a personalized plan for you or join a safe, commercial weight-loss program. There are some weight- loss programs on the Internet that allow you to log your daily food and activity levels. Ask your health care provider to recommend a few.
  • Keep a record. Write down what you eat. Record your daily exercise activities. Weigh yourself regularly. Research shows that regular monitoring is associated with weight loss and maintenance.
  • Enlist a friend to work with you. Having someone to encourage you can keep you motivated and on track.
  • Don't give up. Permanent weight loss is a slow, gradual process.
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