Plateau In Weight Loss: Duration and Frequency 

Weight loss plateau timeline is the question that interests many. How soon one is expected to hit the weight loss stall? How long will it take? 

The truth is, there is no clear weightloss plateau timeline. For each person, the timing will be different. 

You will most likely fail to avoid the plateau unless your goal is to lose 2-3 lbs and stop

Instead, you have three main tasks ahead: 

  • to stay motivated and keep high spirit
  • to avoid gaining your weight back 
  • to break the weight-loss stall comfortably, but as soon as possible

Weight Loss Stall Is Normal 

First of all, I have to remind you that hitting a stall in weight loss is normal. It only means that you entered the metabolic adaptation, and have to get out of it. More on metabolic adaptation and its mechanisms in this post: What Causes Weight Loss Plateau?

Secondly, to break through, you have to keep in mind all possible reasons and understand the principles behind the stall. More on weight loss plateau causes in this post: Weight Loss Plateau Effect

Being able to switch off the metabolic adaptation (which is always the primary mechanism behind the stall), and take into account additional factors means getting over the stall faster. 

Now, let’s count the possible timing. 

How Fast One Hits Weight Loss Stall

Most people trying to lose weight quickly via harsh methods like strict diet, hit weight loss plateau early. 

The harsher is your approach, the more calorie deficit you create. 

The more acute is the calorie deficit, the faster you start losing weight in the first one-two weeks. 

The faster is your initial weightloss, the faster you enter metabolic adaptation, and therefore, you will hit weight loss plateau quickly. 

Generally, you should not face weightloss plateau after 1-2 weeks of your efforts. This is way too fast, and if this happened to you, you’d better take a step back and reassess your strategies. Probably the calorie deficit you create is too rough, or other causes can add to the problem.

Make sure you keep in mind all additional aspects that may influence your fat burning process. 

Now, if weight-loss stall in two weeks is a bit too fast, three weeks for plateau in weight loss is pretty much a standard. Most people see their weightloss slows down on the third-fourth week of efforts.

If you run into weight-loss stall by the end of your first month of diet or exercise, or both, well, this is pretty normal and standard situation. 

In this case, you need to give yourself some time, and make sure you actually do everything right with your diet and exercise. Most people really need to tweak their approach a bit to get over the weight loss stall, and to postpone the next one (wait, what do you mean the next one? Am I going to hit another stall? – Well, the probability is high, just keep reading). 

Learn more about weight loss stall breakthrough strategies in this post: Plateau In Weight Loss: Three Practical Solutions

Just in case you see no weight loss stall for a long time, say, for a month and a half, or more, and continue to lose weight steadily, there are two scenarios

One is that you are very lucky, and you found this sweet spot with your weightloss regimen (or you are a witch). 

Second is that something is wrong and your body does not switch on the metabolic adaptation (and while it means you do not stall, this is actually bad). 

Perhaps you should make a pause in your routines and diet for a week or two, and check if the weightloss actually stops as well. This is a mock alert to double-check that all mechanisms of the body function as they should. 

If you stop dieting and exercising, and your weight-loss stops as well, then good, you are fine. Keep doing what you were doing.  

If you stop following your weight-loss routines, but continue to lose weight without doing anything for it, please visit the doctor. This is definitely not a healthy situation.  

Duration of Weight Loss Stall 

Weight loss plateau duration depends totally on your particular case.

That means that there is no “normal duration” of a weightloss plateau. Some people manage it in a week, others bother with a weight loss plateau for a month. If you faced this problem, and you are wondering how long will it take, well, I can provide some benchmarks for you. 

Generally, the stall lasts until you break it on purpose

To break it effectively, you need to increase the consumption of calories, and at the same time increase burning of fats. If you are not very sure what I am talking about, check this post.

Another rule of thumb is that, the leaner you already are, the harder it will be for you to break the stall.

This happens because the body is more reluctant to part with its precious fat reserves. Your task is to softly continue to burn the fats without forcing yourself into starvation mode, otherwise the body will shut down even more. 

The leaner you already are, the harder it will be for you to break the stall

Plumper people, on the other hand, usually face stalls that are easier to break. This happens also because excess weight, as a rule, includes excess water and wastes of the body.

When plump people take effort to decrease their mass, the first things they get rid of are water and wastes. The process of losing excess water and wastes does not switch on the metabolic adaptation, so the stalls are shorter in time, and easier to get over. 

The process of losing excess water and wastes does not switch on the metabolic adaptation, so the stalls are shorter in time, and easier to get over

Yet, as soon as your excess weight starts to consist mostly of fat, you will have harder times losing every next pound, the tempo will slow down, and the stalls will become harder to get over. 

In case you are obese and hit a long-lasting stall, please double-check your strategies. Perhaps you dived into a rough calorie deficit and switched the metabolic adaptation too early. 

Number Of Stalls Within One Weight Loss Journey 

The bad news is that, yeah, if you need to lose more than 2-3 lbs, you will probably face more than one plateau in weight loss. 

The more excess weight you have, the more plateaus you hit 

I would say that one should expect to hit weight loss stall with every 8-10 lbs of excess weight lost

See, hitting a stall once in three-four weeks is a normal tempo of metabolic adaptation.

At the same time, losing 8-10 lbs of excess weight in a month is a nice healthy tempo of weight-loss.

Therefore, if you see your speed of losing weight slows down and even stalls every 3-4 weeks, this is absolutely normal. Your only task is to stay motivated and keep pushing on. 

Stalling in weightloss is actually not the worst scenario, because there is a hidden danger lurking. 

The Hidden Danger

Having your weight loss slowed down or even stopped completely is annoying, but this only means you need to tweak your approach a bit and move on. 

The hidden danger of weight loss stall, especially a long-running one, is that you may let your guard down, and start regaining your weight back. This happens because, since you hit a stall, your calorie spending is lower. If you stop exercising, and start consuming more calories, you are likely to create calorie surplus, that will immediately result in fat depositing on you. 

If this weight loss stall and regain happens several times, you will get into the weightloss yo-yo loop, which is much harder to overcome than a single plateau. 

Learn more about weight loss stall and regain in this post: I’ll Be Back, or The Vicious Weight Cycling. Part I

Learn more about getting out of the weight loss yoyo loop in this post: Seven Super Smart Tips To Avoid the Yo-Yo Weight Effect. Part II

You have to be very attentive and careful when hitting a weight loss stall. Even a long-lasting stall is better than regaining the weight again. 

What you definitely need is good motivation. 

How to Stay Motivated 

Now you know what to do in order to break through the weight loss stall. However, you may have experienced a good deal of frustration managing it, and you need some motivation to brace yourself and keep on moving. 

First things first, let’s talk about how to avoid becoming even more UNMOTIVATED by kicking yourself for running into a stall: 

  • I am a loser, I always fail to do things properly – no, this is definitely not true. You are not alone in hitting a weightloss stall; almost every person faces this problem. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with you as a person. The truth is, there is almost NO WAY you could avoid plateau in weightloss, so this is absolutely normal. There is nothing to be ashamed of when you just lack enough information – as almost everybody trying to lose weight. 
  • I do everything right, I have lost some weight, WHY is this happening to me? Maybe the system I follow for weight loss is incorrect – you know why this happens to you now, and yes, the system you follow is probably one-sided and too rough. Yet, you do not need to give up and start looking for another fast and revolutionary way of weightloss. Just tweak the things you already do. 
  • probably there’s something wrong with me, because I lost some weight and then everything stalled; maybe there’s something wrong with my body – having metabolic adaptation switched on is totally RIGHT, so your body is absolutely smart and clever in its reactions. You should not blame your body; instead, collaborate. 

Stop feeling bad about yourself and blaming yourself. The awareness that there is nothing wrong with you is half of the motivation. 

Imagine you want to go to some place, and you follow a map. But eventually you don’t find that place, and when you double-check, it turns out that the city authorities have renaimed the street and the map was not updated yet. When you find that out, you meet other people who also followed this map and came to the wrong destination. 

Will you be annoyed? Most likely yes. 

Is there something wrong with you personally? Absolutely not. 

Are there people facing the same problem, meaning you are not stupid, it is just the instruction that is not providing full info? Absolutely yes. 

Your weightloss method just did not provide you with instruction in the case of weight loss stall. Now you know what to do 

Next, regain your positive attitude, which is the second half of effective motivation. 

Firstly, make yourself comfortable physically

Reassess your diet, and add calories. Having more energy will make you able to move mountains. 

Get more sleep to avoid being tired and drained. 

Socialize and meet people you like (or at least don’t hate). 

Spend more time outdoors. 

Spend time with animals. 

Do things that are physically pleasant, for example, take a hot bath. 

Feeling comfortable will automatically raise your mood, and even if you are not yet ready to push forward with your weightloss, you will at least be able to come to terms with steps you need to take in order to prevent weight gain. 

If you feel that you are drained and unmotivated, do not force yourself. 

Simply make sure you do not regain the weight back, and wait till you feel inspired again. 

Secondly, when you feel inspired to continue the weightloss journey, make sure you like the things you do for weightloss 

Make your meals tasty and various. 

Make your exercise easier and pleasant. One of the best criteria is you can’t wait for the workout day, and experience pleasant anticipation before starting your workout. 

When you like things you do for weightloss, you do not need motivation. We do not need to be stimulated to do things we genuinely like 

If you manage to take those two steps – making yourself comfortable physically, and making the things you do for weightloss pleasant for you – your journey will become so joyful that motivation will come naturally, from your natural desire to feel pleasure and satisfaction. 

Final Thoughts

Hitting a weight loss stall is always a frustrating experience, and making yourself even more uncomfortable is a dead-end road – or rather, this is a guaranteed road to backslide. 

So be patient with yourself and remember that your first and foremost task is to prevent weight regain. 

Then, make yourself comfortable, and reassess your approach. 

As soon as you make the weightloss journey pleasant and stress-free, you will break the weight loss stall easily. 


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