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I saw a post here on Living Healthy about eating clean and working out. I am doing the same and don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. So I will tell you what my daily routine is for the most part. One hour of cardio plus weight training. I’ve done 3.5 weeks of Paleo so far and was going to continue for the next month or so.

Breakfast: usually egg whites, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil scrambled.

Snacks:  are usually nuts or fruits.

Lunch: Sweet kale super 7 vegetable salad mix, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and chicory and a package of dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin seeds and poppy-seed dressing.  Usually eat about 2 cups of it… just drizzle a little of the dressing. Add tomatoes, cilantro, and add my choice of protein. Usually a fillet of tilapia or salmon. Grilled chicken…something of that sort.

Dinner: Some kind of meat usually grilled or baked. With Grilled veggies.

Tons of water…

I’m currently 160-165 lbs. give or take, 5-foot-1 and 22% body fat. I’ve lost weight and gained muscle but I don’t understand why I’m plateauing. Am I not eating enough, or am I not working out enough? Please help! -Maria



Most of us would be stoked with 22% body fat, Maria! That’s already a “fit” level of leanness for women, verging on “athletic.”  If you’re in the 160+ pounds range at that body fat percentage for your height, that means you have A LOT of muscle. That’s 20 pounds more muscle than a 5’1” woman, 22% BF at 130-135 lbs. Keep tracking those measurements as you progress!

What can I do to lose 8 more pounds?

It sounds like this is your first month at trying to lose weight. So far, what you’re doing has been successful! Don’t expect weight loss to be linear with a steady drop each week. Your body is adapting to the diet and exercise program, and still responding to everything else exposed to it (hormones, environment, stress, rest). Remember, that monthly menstrual cycles can affect weight by way of water retention. So look at the overall trend of weight loss over time.

As to your question about eating versus working out, it may not be a matter of “enough,” but of choices. Overcoming a plateau means making a change in your exercise routine AND diet. A day or two of the same calories but spaced differently might do the trick, or shift more calories toward morning time. Perhaps skip the afternoon snack, unless you are truly hungry.

Have you tried drinking green tea?

After several weeks at the same weight, then you can consider a different eating plan all together or add conjugated linoleic acid or a thermogenic supplement.

I’m stuck! How can I break my weight loss plateau?

For exercise you might try high intensity intermittent training. Or switch up your cardio to a class or different machines for the same hour of time. You could adjust your weight training to higher reps at a lower weight and complete more reps. Perhaps, take up a full-body aerobic exercise that has resistance built-in, such as rowing. Consistent aerobic exercise is proven to reduce body fat mass. Give it time – it will work!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition?

Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below. To learn how to follow the “Ask Our Dietitian” Q&A CLICK HERE!

Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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