If you’re no longer losing weight/body fat at the appropriate rate or at all, then that means your metabolic rate has lowered to the point where your current intake is either your new maintenance or getting close to it.
Many people exclaim, “I don’t understand! I’m in a caloric deficit, so why am I not losing weight?” Well, quite simply, your “maintenance calories” are a moving target. The longer you diet, the more your metabolism adapts, and the lower your TDEE/maintenance calories becomes.
If you aren’t losing weight or body fat, then by definition you’re not in a deficit. In order to progress, you must re-establish the deficit. Keep in mind, however, that a few things can cause a “false positive” for a plateau:
Menstrual cycle for women (most stop losing or gain some weight)
Excessive stress (some people under enormous amounts of stress retain quite a bit of fluid)
Consistent lack of sleep. Believe it or not, sleeping metabolic rate is important for fat loss, and I’ve seen people’s progress grind to a halt with prolonged lack of sleep
Illness creating a large immune response that increases total body inflammation and causes greater water retention and increased body weight
Injury causing an acute increase in inflammation, which may increase water retention and body weight
Lack of adherence. As much as this sounds like an obvious slap in the face of a bullet point, it’s the biggest cause of lack of progress. If you’re not consistently hitting your targets, your progress will be staggered or non-existent. You have to be honest with yourself about this. Most people will not be honest with themselves about their lack of progress. If you don’t follow your fat loss plan consistently, it will not work.
If your progress stops but you’re experiencing one or more of these problems, then it may be best to err on the side of caution and wait one extra check-in (if you can afford to) in order to see if progress will continue. However, if you’re nailing your nutrition targets, exercising regularly, and still find your progress grinding to a halt, then it’s time to make some adjustments.
As per my previous blog, use the tool required to get you passed that plateau, could be reducing calories or increasing activity, but be conservative, don't go from 0 to 100.
Understand that some people have more adaptive metabolisms than others and will adapt faster to the caloric deficit adjustments than those who are less adaptive.
I’ve worked with people who had to drop calories almost every week, while others needed only one or two adjustments throughout their entire diet.
This is where the individuality of diet comes in, and it’s crucial to understand how your body is likely to respond to these adjustments.
Make sure you keep track of every time you adjust your intake and how your body responds. This will give you a more accurate idea of how your body is likely to respond in the future, so you can adjust accordingly.