From Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS.

Year after year, the results are the same: millions of people cite “losing weight” as one of their top New Year’s resolutions. Yet year after year, the vast majority of those people fail in their efforts.

As we near the end of January, work or family responsibilities may have already caused you to slack on your gym attendance, or maybe stress has driven you straight back to the cookie jar that you vowed not to touch. Either way, these compromises can certainly affect the number on the scale and make it much more difficult for you to reach your weight loss goals.

But what if you’re still exercising on a regular basis and eating a whole food diet that’s low in sugar and processed foods—yet you’re still having trouble losing the weight? The fact is, many people hit a plateau along the path to weight loss, and the pounds stop coming off as fast as they did when they first launched their get-fit plan. Their bodies get used to their new diet and workout routine, and the same strategies that were effective for the first 5 or 10 pounds just don’t work anymore.

While these plateaus can feel insurmountable, the good news is that they are relatively easy to bust through. And once you know these tips, you’ll know exactly what to do next time the number on the scale begins to stall.

Go On a Bone Broth Fast.

One of the most common culprits behind slow weight loss is a slow digestive system. We all know that health begins in the gut (where around 80% of our immune system is located), but you may be surprised to know that weight loss begins there as well. In addition to carrying around pounds of waste material in your gut, sluggish digestion can cause toxins to be released into the bloodstream, where they cause widespread inflammation that makes it more difficult to lose weight—or leads to actual weight gain.

If you suffer from constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas or any other tummy troubles, there’s a good chance that your gut is unhealthy and that losing weight will be more difficult than it needs to be. To get things running smoothly again, I recommend going on a three-or-four-day bone broth fast. Bone broth is a great, all-natural source of collagen—the same protein that is contained in the tissues lining the GI tract. And when ingested, collagen can soothe the intestine, heal leaky gut, speed up digestion, promote probiotic balance and growth and, ultimately, help you lose weight.

To do a bone broth fast, consume a 12-ounce serving of bone broth five times per day. It is recommended that this is the only food you consume during the fast, but if you must eat, avoid any problematic and/or inflammatory foods, including dairy, gluten, sugar and processed foods.

Spice Up Your Food.

In Ayurveda (India’s 5,000 year-old healing system), spices have long been revered for their health-boosting properties—including their ability to help people maintain a healthy weight. Spices like turmeric and cinnamon have warming qualities that aid in digestion, heal the gut and support the growth of probiotics—all of which support weight loss. Additionally, these spices are also known anti-inflammatory agents, which also aids in weight loss.

Try adding a half a teaspoon of cinnamon to your morning smoothie, or mix in a dash of turmeric to your favorite salad dressing.

Eat More Protein and Healthy Fats.

When you’re trying to lose weight, cutting back on calories is often the natural first step. But the problem with eating less is that your metabolism slows down to adjust to the lower caloric intake, and you have to work twice as hard for every pound of weight loss—hence the plateau. But not all calories are created equal, and you can’t just load up on French fries and chocolate cake and expect your waistline to shrink.

Studies have shown that high-protein diets are effective for weight loss, as protein keeps you fuller longer and helps to eliminate cravings for sugar and carbs. Protein also helps you to build lean muscle mass, which will then help you burn more calories even when you’re not working out. I recommend consuming half your weight in grams of protein if you’re looking to shed pounds.

I also recommend making healthy fats from foods like coconut oil a regular part of your diet. Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that fight inflammation and are immediately used as energy by the body, instead of being stored as fat.

Work Out in Bursts.

Thanks to data that shows that interval training can burn more calories in a shorter time than steady-state cardio exercise, more and more people are jumping on to the interval training bandwagon. By alternating short, high-intensity bouts of exercise with slower recovery phases, you initiate the release of human growth hormone and certain enzymes within the body, which are essential for fat burning. You also trigger a metabolic afterburn, which ensures that your body continues to burn fat up to 36-48 hours after you’ve completed your workout.

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, there’s another way to ramp up the fat-burning power of your workout even more: Break it up into small bouts of exercise scattered throughout the day. Not only is it easier to squeeze in 10 or 15 minutes of exercise, as opposed to 30 or 45, but research shows that multiple, short (and intense!) workouts may actually reap the same benefits of one long session.

Want more from Dr. Axe? Learn how food can help you get over a bad mood and which foods encourage muscle growth. 

The New Potato and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or ailment.
All content on The New Potato (even when supplied by a medical professional) is intended for educational and conversational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any new diet, exercise regime, or wellness routine.