The 3 Stages Of A Fat Loss Plateau's And How To Break Through - Hannah Dawson
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Let’s talk fat loss plateaus; they are so frustrating if we don’t understand what type of plateau we are in. If you are reading this, I’m sure you have experienced a plateau at some point or another in your fitness journey, and if not, you will.

I’ll start by saying that plateaus are normal and will be a part of your journey. We all go through them, and it’s just recognizing what stage you are in so you can navigate and pivot through the plateau. There are three stages when it comes to plateaus, and these stages are all based on where we are at in our fitness journey.

Leave me a comment below on what stage you’ve been through or are currently in? Is there anything new you’ve learnt from me today? Can’t wait to hear.

These are the 3 stages:

STAGE 1: Lack of adherence to plan

STAGE 2: Metabolic adaptation & Adaptive thermogenesis

STAGE 3: Overtrained & Depleted

This is what they are and how to break through them:

Stage 1: Lack of adherence with your plan

This plateau happens due to a lack of adherence to your plan and is broken with working harder and progression in mindset, nutrition, training, cardio, and consistency. I usually tell the FCB members to rate themselves from 1 to 10 in each area ( mindset, nutrition, training, cardio and consistency). Whatever one is the lowest, that’s your area that you need to dial in.

Look over your goals. Are they smart goals? Are they attainable? are you doing your mindset work daily? What are you feeding your mind? How is your self-talk?

Then there’s nutrition. Are you tracking your food or following a meal plan? If you’re not doing any of those, you have no idea if you are in a caloric deficit and chances are you are not.

Then there’s the training component. Are you tracking your workouts? are you adding Progressive overload? Chances are, if you’re not tracking, you are not adding progressive overload.

As I said, this type of plateau is broken with working harder and progression. Most times, it’s working hard in the kitchen and working harder in the gym, tracking your workouts pushing yourself.

Another thing to consider is cardio. Are you the type of body that just needs to do a little bit more cardio? Do you have more weight to lose?

Then there’s consistency. Are you consistent? Results come from consistency; consistency is going to require TRUST, FOCUS & PATIENCE.

So whatever area you rated yourself less than an 8/10 needs focus! So dial in, don’t complain just do the work.

STAGE 2 PLATEAU: Metabolic Adaptation & Adaptive thermogenesis

Metabolic Adaptation:
This type of plateau happens around 3-4 months into your fat loss plan because of loss in total body weight. The more weight you lose, the more your deficit shrinks because your BMI decrease.

Adaptive thermogenesis :
This means your hormone system detects a change in body weight below its usual set point. It works like the thermostat in your house. If your temperature drops below the normal set temp, your furnace will kick on the heat. In the same way, if your hormones detect a significant decrease in weight loss, it will turn the calorie-burning down and increase the hunger hormone, so you eat more, burn less, and your body can get your weight back up.

If you are already in a pretty low caloric deficit and you’ve lost weight, decreasing your calories more will not work. You need to re-establish a new deficit for your current weight.

There are six ways to re-establish a deficit and break through a stage 2 plateau: choose one method from below.

  1. Add refeeds 1-2x week increasing calories: this will tell your hormones everything is good and make you mentally feel better.
  2. Calorie cycling: this means you will have higher and lower calorie days based on your training program.
  3. Carb cycling: this means you will have days that are high carb days and lower carb days, and this will again be tailored to your training program
  4. Clean up your food choices ( food quality), so if you like me and your flexible diet, you may have to limit those soul foods and start eating more whole foods.
  5. Add HIIT or PLYO as this will help create a new deficit as well. If you already do this, you can increase the frequency, intensity or duration.
  6. Increase your NEAT (non-exercise activity). This means moving more. Increase your daily steps, standing instead of sitting, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving.

STAGE 3 PLATEAU: Overtrained & Depleted

This stage can happen 6-8 months into your fitness journey. This is a late-stage plateau, and you have to break through this differently than the first two. I have gone through all stages, and this one is by far the hardest, in my opinion. You have to understand that training harder and dieting harder won’t always work, especially in this plateau type. A dieted down, taxed out nervous system and depleted body will not respond the same way as a well-fed, well-rested body.


  1. Take a reload week: decrease volume, intensity, duration, frequency.
  2. Take an entire rest week, no workouts at all.
  3. Take a diet break, stop counting, tracking- eat some yummy soul foods and give your mind and body a rest.

NOTE: rest periods for this may be more extended than others. Some people may need just a week; others may need up to a month. Just know whatever you need, listen to your body and don’t worry about losing all your gains. I can promise when you start again; you’ll get even better results.

I am happy to help; if you feel stuck in your plateau, feel free to send me an email at

If you are a visual learner, watch my YouTube video.

Want to start tracking your progress and start seeing amazing results? Get my PLAN DO SUCCEED JOURNAL |

I am Hannah Dawson from Edmonton, Alberta. I am a wife and mom of two girls. I am a transformation and mindset coach helping women around the globe change their stories. I am the creator of an online platform called the FIT CLUB, where I give women the tools to reach their fitness goals.

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