The Weight-Loss Plateau | Reader's Digest

The Weight-Loss Plateau

This frustrating phenomenon makes building muscle especially important

from Stealth Health

There’s nothing more frustrating than hitting a weight-loss plateau, particularly when you’re still doing everything right — eating right, exercising, passing up the ice cream and doughnuts. So what gives?

First, you should know that it’s not your fault. Weight-loss plateaus are perfectly normal and easily explained. Your basal metabolism, or the energy your body consumes just to survive, accounts for about 70 percent of all calories you burn — and it depends on how much you weigh. The less you weigh, the lower your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Lose enough weight, and boom! Your metabolism slows and you hit the weight-loss plateau. The only way to lose more weight is to decrease the amount of calories you take in, increase the amount of calories you burn through physical activity, or both.

You can boost your basal metabolism, but only indirectly, by building muscle. Muscle tissue requires more energy than fat does, even when you’re at rest. In fact, every pound of muscle you add burns another 30-50 calories a day.

Best bets for building muscle? Walking will help a bit, but resistance training (such as lifting weights, doing push-ups, or using exercise bands) will help more.