Weight Loss & Diet

What to do when the scale isn't budging

Weight-loss plateaus happen to all of us. Here's how to get past them.
Unfortunately the road to losing weight and keeping it off doesn’t go in a straight line. There will be good weeks and not-so-good weeks. But if you’re losing less than ½ a pound for at least four weeks in a row, you might be at a plateau.

Have I hit a plateau, or am I just bloated? 


Plateaus are a common part of the weight-loss process and occur when the scale is at a standstill (or almost) for several weeks. If your weight stays the same for just one or two weeks, or the rate of weight slows but doesn't stop, it's not a true plateau. 

To determine if you’re actually plateauing, figure out your average weight loss starting at your week 4 weight (this eliminates the higher-than-usual weight loss that sometimes happens in the first 4 weeks). 

What causes plateaus?

  • Physiological changes that occur during weight loss. (Weight loss can lower your metabolism.)
  • The loss of lean muscle tissue that commonly accompanies weight loss. (It also lowers metabolism, which means fewer calories are burned daily.)
  • You’ve been loosening up what you eat and how much you exercise, or not tracking or measuring as carefully as you once were.

How to power through it 

When you’ve reached a plateau, here are some tips to turn it around:
  • Get back to basics—eat right, measure, and track foods that have SmartPoints. Research has shown that people routinely underestimate what they consume daily*. Go back to some of the habits you honed in the beginning like tracking diligently and keeping an eye on portions whenever possible.
  • Eat more fruits and veggies. It may seem counterintuitive, eating more fruits and vegetables might help. Fruits and veggies are of course low in SmartPoints (most are ZeroPoint foods). But they’re also high in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals. Adding them to your meals and snacks throughout the day will help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
  • Increase your physical activity. Look for simple ways to sneak in more activity: Take the family (or the dog) for an afternoon walk, park the car farther away, or get off the bus a stop or two away from your destination.
  • Focus on your non-scale successesRemember that your journey isn’t just about that number. Non-scale wins (like looser jeans, better sleep, or more energy) matter, too! And don’t forget to keep your ‘why’ close by. By that, we mean remember why you joined WW in the first place. It will keep you inspired and heading in the right direction. 

*Hill RJ, Davies PSW. The validity of self-reported energy intake as determined using the doubly labelled water technique. Br J Nutr 2001;85(4):415-430.