Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau with Functional Medicine

If you've been working hard to lose weight and have hit a plateau, you're not alone. Nearly everyone experiences a plateau at some point during their weight loss journey. While the general consensus is that it's due to a general 'slowing' of the metabolism, or not enough exercise, evidence suggests more complex underlying causes that involve the way hormones interact with your metabolic function.

Learn more about conditions we treat: Weight Management

Signs of a weight loss plateau

After successfully losing weight for a time, men and women often complain they're not able to reach their weight loss goal, or that weight loss has stagnated—no matter what they do. Individuals who have successfully lost weight following a regular physical activity and a healthy diet suddenly aren't seeing the results they were used to. They also notice that the weight tends to cluster around their abdomen. These excess pounds seem stuck despite exercising more or eating fewer calories.

A weight loss plateau occurs when your body stops responding to the methods that were initially effective to help you lose weight. You might now feel unmotivated, tired, or discouraged at the thought of being unable to continue losing weight.

To keep seeing results in your weight loss efforts, you need to re-evaluate the health of your diet, hormone balance, and gut health to enhance the function of your metabolic rate.

What causes you to stop losing weight?

A weight loss plateau may be due to your metabolic rate. Your environment, gut function, sleep habits, muscle mass, and so much more impact your resting metabolic rate and fat storage. Factors that may slow your metabolic rate include:

  • Dysbiosis in the gut involving Candida, or yeast overgrowth
  • Insulin resistance
  • Muscle loss
  • Hormone imbalance (estrogen dominance, low testosterone, etc.)
  • Hypothyroidism (low or underactive thyroid)
  • High stress
  • Poor sleep

Related: How to Lose Weight When You Have Hypothyroidism

What should you do if you hit a plateau?

What you do when you reach a weight loss plateau will depend on your goals. 

For some, a plateau isn’t a problem. If you are happy with maintaining your weight, keep going with your current diet and exercise routine. However, if you're frustrated with the lack of progress, and would like to continue with fat loss, you have several options involving hormone testing, in-office treatments, and lifestyle & diet changes.

How to continue losing body fat

Use these tips when you feel stuck on your weight loss journey.

Make small changes to your routine

Sometimes, metabolic rate can simply adapt to a new baseline. When this happens, try making small changes to your routine. Making small changes regularly encourages your body to continuously improve and change. 

To increase your metabolic rate, try to: 

  • Increase the number of reps during a workout—if you usually do 10 pushups, try 12 next time
  • Take more rest days than usual
  • Try a new type of exercise or workout
  • Adjust your diet by increasing protein, or upping your water intake
  • Increase intake of vitamins & minerals involved in fat metabolism, like magnesium, B vitamins, and L-carnitine. IV therapy is a fast and efficient way to do this.

Fix your gut

Your gut is responsible for breaking down and absorbing vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from your diet. If your gut is in a state of dysbiosis or you have underlying infections, your healthy diet may not be working as hard for you as it could be.

Candida, or yeast overgrowth, can cause weight gain by driving food cravings, inflammation, and insulin resistance (1).

Dysbiosis, or small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) causes bloating and nutrient deficiencies, resulting in metabolic dysfunction.

Some pre- and probiotics may help prevent weight gain, and that people who are overweight or obese tend to have less diversity in their microbiome than those at a healthier weight (2). 

Learn more about gut function testing.

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Balance hormones

Hormones play an essential role in controlling the rate of your metabolism and fat storage. If you are experiencing symptoms like fatigue, low libido, or chronic inflammation in addition to a weight loss plateau, it could be due to a hormone imbalance.

To ensure optimal hormonal health, consider consulting with a specialist and undergoing routine hormone tests, such as:

  • Thyroid panel
  • Sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, progesterone)
  • HbA1c & blood glucose
  • Cortisol
  • DHEA

The body can also develop a resistance to hormones that control appetite, such as leptin. If you’re leptin resistant you may feel hungry even though you just ate, and have trouble controlling cravings. Healthcare providers don’t normally test for leptin levels though, and not all laboratories offer it.

Your CentreSpringMD provider can help you determine which hormone testing options are right for you.

Enhance fat metabolism with IV therapy

IVs are a natural way to boost your metabolism and help you burn more body fat. That’s because many of the vitamins and minerals in IV therapy cocktails directly affect fat metabolism, such as magnesium, L-carnitine, vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins.

Intravenous (IV) vitamin infusion therapy is a fast, easy, safe way to maximize the effects of a healthy lifestyle by delivering nutrients straight to the cells that need them while bypassing slow and inefficient digestion processes.  

Learn more about how IV therapy can enhance fat metabolism.

Drink more water

Good hydration plays a critical role in weight loss, detox, muscle building, and recovery. Staying hydrated can help you lose more weight, even without changing any other parts of your diet or exercise (3). 

Drinking water stimulates the metabolism and energy expenditure which may help you lose weight. Upping water intake appears to also stimulate lipolysis, or the process of breaking down body fat for fuel (4).

Aim for at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day, and more if you’re active. Herbal tea, green smoothies, and some fruits are also helpful to stay hydrated.

Reduce cortisol with rest & stress relief

Elevated cortisol levels are associated with increased fat around the belly, which is often the one area most people wish to target when trying to lose weight. The biggest factor that ramps up cortisol production is nothing other than our good friend, chronic stress.

Researchers have also identified a stress-related protein known as betatrophin that makes it difficult to break down body fat and lose weight (5). 

To reduce cortisol levels and allow your body proper recovery:

  • Get adequate sleep (7 to 9 hours per night to support weight loss)
  • Take a rest day from working out
  • Adjust exercise intensity
  • Try stress management techniques like deep breathing or meditation

About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep, and this can slow metabolism and wreak havoc on hormone levels, both of which are key in achieving optimal fat loss. Aim to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. This should help you push past any weight loss plateaus you may be having.

Read: The Best Morning Routine for Metabolic Health

Incorporate strength training

Strength training helps build and maintain lean muscle, which is key to losing weight and improving body composition at any age. Muscle also burns significantly more calories at rest than fat does, igniting your metabolism. Unfortunately, muscle mass also decreases at a rate of 3 to 8 percent every decade on average after age 30, according to research (6). 

Loss of lean muscle mass results in resting metabolic rate (RMR) reduction of 2 to 4 percent per decade (7), which means you’ll gradually require fewer and fewer calories to power your metabolism if you’re losing muscle.

You can break a weight loss plateau with functional medicine

Maintaining weight loss can be challenging, but the right tools can help you adapt your routine to reach your long-term goals. 

Hitting a weight loss plateau could be a sign to re-evaluate important body functions, like your hormones, gut function, or sleep quality. When you improve these through diet, lifestyle, or treatment with functional medicine you’ll experience better overall health and a continued improvement in body composition.

Your integrative team at CentreSpringMD can help you uncover your weight loss roadblocks so you keep seeing results and steer clear of a plateau.




gut health, Holistic Medicine, Hormone imbalance, weight loss

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