When you first begin a weight loss journey, simply cleaning up your diet and increasing activity will help the excess pounds come off. As you lean out, it gets harder and harder to make the number on the scale budge. Those last few pounds are always the trickiest to lose. Utilizing the following tricks for losing those last 5 pounds can help you finally reach your goal weight.
Why Does Weight Loss Slow?
Let’s say that you’re 40 pounds overweight. When you diet, you create a caloric deficit, meaning that you are consuming fewer calories than you’re using each day. This forces your body to burn fat for energy, allowing you to lose weight.
Your body willingly lets go of the first 10, 20, and even 30 pounds. As you approach your goal weight, your body sends out an alert to hold onto the remaining weight in order to keep you from “starving.” Of course, you’re not actually starving, but your body thinks you are because you’ve lost a considerable amount of weight.
In order to lose those last few pounds, you need to reevaluate your diet and exercise regimen. What worked when you were at your starting weight may no longer be effective. Bigger bodies require (and burn) more calories. Smaller bodies, on the other hand, need fewer and burn fewer unless you’ve added muscle (which, you should!).
Aside from caloric intake, the same exercise routines that helped you initially drop weight may not be working anymore. This is widely due to the fact that are bodies are incredibly adaptable. So, it’s time to change a few things up.
Tricks For Losing Those Last 5 Pounds
Fine-Tune Your Diet
When you first began your fitness routine, making small changes like avoiding processed foods and moving a little bit each day was usually enough to get the scale to move. After a while, you’ll need to fine-tune your diet and become more meticulous. This includes paying more attention to how many calories you need and how many you’re actually taking in each day.
You’ll find these articles helpful:
- How Many Calories Should You be Eating Daily to Lose Weight?
- 5 Healthy Foods Not to Eat When Losing Weight
- 6 Calorie Tracking Tools for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off
Chances are, if you’ve come this far, you’re already eating plenty of whole foods. If not, you’ll want to get most of your groceries from this Whole Foods Shopping List.
As you get closer to your goal weight, you’ll want to eat more protein and fiber. These two things will boost metabolism, help you digest more slowly, and keep you from overeating.
When reevaluating your diet, you’ll also need to pay more attention to your pre- and post-workout snacks. A general recommendation is to eat a high-protein, low-carb snack before your workout and a high-protein, moderate-carb snack afterward.
Now, depending on the intensity of your workout, you may not even need to consume anything before or after. Pay attention to how you feel. If you feel hungry or low on energy before your workout, have a snack. The same goes for after. Chances are, unless you’re exercising at an extreme, high-intensity rates, you can do without the added calories. In other words, don’t force yourself to eat before and after your workout if you’re not hungry just because you think you’re supposed to.
Pay Attention to What’s in Your Cup
Losing those last five pounds means that you need to be drinking a lot of water. Aside from being calorie-free, water will maintain the rate of your metabolism. Furthermore, weight loss causes your body to release extra toxins. By drinking plenty of water, you can flush these toxins out.
You should be drinking a minimum of 64 ounces per day, although drinking more is even better! If you struggle with staying hydrated, check out these 12 Easy Ways to Increase Your Water Intake.
One thing that you should absolutely avoid at this point is alcohol. Not only does it slow down your metabolism, but it also increases your chances of choosing unhealthy foods. Do yourself a favor and avoid it altogether until you reach your goal weight.
Related: Happy Hour and Your Waistline
We probably don’t even need to mention this, but just in case: you should also avoid drinking sugary beverages like soda, juice, and sweet tea. These drinks lack nutritional benefits and are extremely high in calories. Even diet soda should be avoided, as the artificial sweeteners can cause you to crave sugary, processed foods.
As weight loss slows, staying active and getting creative with exercise can help you burn extra calories.
One of the ways that you can shed those last few pounds is by setting a daily step goal. You can choose whatever number you’d like, though the most common step-goal is 10,000 steps per day. Having this goal will give you something to work towards and give you a reason to move. Studies have shown that people who take 10,000 steps a day are thinner and have a lower BMI.
In order to accomplish this, you need to think outside the box. Take the stairs, park far away, walk to work and school if you can, or take the kids and dog for a few laps around the neighborhood. Increasing activity will increase your weight loss.
When it comes to exercise, you’ll need to switch thing up. Your body is incredibly adaptable to its environment and the stress that it is routinely placed under. Performing the same workout over and over again will eventually cause your weight loss to stall. For this reason, you’ll want to change it up routinely. Perform HIIT one day, switch to steady-state cardio, and then simply go for a hike or bike ride the next day.
HIIT is extremely effective at burning fat, but it also places your body under stress that can cause your cortisol levels to rise if performed all the time. Give your body a break with different forms of cardiovascular exercise, including steady-state cardio.
Switch it up by trying all of these fun and effective routines:
- Lean Body HIIT Workout Challenge
- 30-Minute Melt Off the Weight Cardio Workout
- Belly Fat Melting HIIT Workout Routine for Beginners
- No-Running Cardio Workout
- Lose Weight with the Walk Fast/Slow Plan
The AHA recommends getting 150 minutes of steady-state cardio in each week, or 75 minutes of HIIT. When combining the two, aim for a total of 100-125 minutes per week.
Using 2 pound dumbbells is great for aerobic exercise, but you’ll want to start lifting moderate to heavy weights if you want to shed those last few pounds. Don’t skim over this paragraph because you’re afraid of “getting bulky.” I know you thought about it…
Lifting weights boosts the fat burning process while also firming and toning your muscles. It also provides you with a seriously hot bod.
The sooner you start weight training, the better. As you shed those excess layers of fat, you will reveal your perfectly sculpted, still-feminine muscles! It is recommended that you lift weights 2-5 days per week. If you don’t currently follow a weight-training program, give one of these a try:
- 3 Best Home Workouts to Build Muscle for Beginners
- 7-Day Intro to Weight Training Fitness Plan
- Top 4 Barbell Exercises for an Athletic Figure
- 21-Day Body-Toning Workout Plan for Beginners
Keep in mind that you should continue performing cardio in conjunction with weight training.
Get Plenty of Rest
Okay, so this may sound counter-intuitive, but sleep is actually an extremely important factor in losing those last 5 pounds.
When you don’t get enough rest at night, your hormones can get all out of whack. Your hunger hormone, Ghrelin, spikes, causing you to crave more sweet and salty foods. Leptin, the hormone that tells you that you’re full, decreases, telling you to eat more. Stress, or Cortisol levels, also jump which slows metabolism and negatively affects workout performance.
Do yourself a favor and try to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. We know that’s easier said than done, but it is possible for most people! Save yourself time at night and in the morning by meal-prepping breakfast, lunch, and dinner ahead of time. Turn off the television earlier and put your electronics away. Laying down in a cool, dark room can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer!
When you combine all of these tricks, you’ll set yourself up to successfully reach your weight loss goal once and for all! If you continue to struggle, it’s possible that you’ve already reached a healthy weight.
Are Your Weight Loss Goals Too Low?
Now, I know you may not want to hear this, but it’s possible that you’ve already reached the healthiest weight for you. Where did the number that you’re aiming for come from? A licensed physician, dietitian, or nutritionist? Or, is it just the weight that you think you should be able to see on the scale?
Your goal weight should be a healthy number for your height and age. Choosing an unhealthy, unattainable goal weight will lead to nothing but disappointment and frustration.
Honestly, your goal weight should be a range, not just one set number. Instead of a hard 130, your goal weight could be 130 to 135 pounds. Setting a range instead of a specific number is much more maintainable, as your weight can fluctuate up to several pounds each day. Also, try not to pay so much attention to the number. Focus on how you look and feel as well. Chances are that if you’re inching towards your goal weight, you look and feel pretty great already!
We hope these tricks for losing the last 5 pounds help you achieve your dream body, but remember that your health is more important! Don’t let the number on the scale define you; you are SO much more than that!