During our initial consultation, I put my 38-year-old patient Jennifer on my foundation plan, which includes organic whole foods and eliminates problematic things like processed foods. I've found this becomes a powerful way for patients to lose weight and eliminate pain, especially when combined with lifestyle factors like consistent exercise, eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, and stress management. Jennifer did wonderfully on this plan for about a month, losing nearly 12 pounds. But then she hit an infuriating plateau: "The scales won't budge, even though I've stuck religiously to your plan," she told me during her second follow-up visit.
As a physical therapist who specializes in pain management, I often get patients like Jennifer who, despite their wholehearted efforts, eventually hit a miserable weight-loss plateau. And while it's frustrating, weight-loss resistance is never hopeless! I've found these two safe and powerfully effective plans help nearly everyone break plateaus, lose weight quickly, and banish pain.
1. The elimination diet for inflammation
Ideal for leaky gut, autoimmunity, and chronic inflammation, I've found that an elimination diet can also break the worst plateau. This is because food intolerances often creep into the best diet, stalling weight loss and exacerbating pain. My three-week elimination plan removes gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, and eggs. These common offenders, which can make you overweight, tired, and inflamed, hide in restaurant dishes and easily slip in when you attend social functions. So never "assume" that something is clean and free from inflammatory ingredients.
Researchers have found that a gluten-free diet can help you lose weight, reduce your risk for chronic disease, and lower inflammation (a key player in chronic pain). Similar benefits occur when you eliminate other food sensitivities. After three weeks, you'll want to reintroduce these five foods (one at a time) to see if you still have reactions. While you're eliminating these five offenders, stick with my foundational plan (sorry, no gluten-free cupcakes), drink plenty of filtered water, and take a high-dose probiotic while eating fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. Some patients initially express doubt that gluten and other foods could wreak such havoc—but seeing is believing—and over those three weeks, many patients lose 10 pounds or more, dramatically breaking their plateau.
2. The ketogenic diet to boost metabolism
Another tried-and-true tactic to break plateaus is a ketogenic diet. Among their benefits, studies show they can dramatically help you lose weight, lower triglycerides, improve blood glucose, and normalize cholesterol safely and without any side effects. Ketogenic diets dramatically increase your intake of healthy fats like avocado and wild-caught fish, moderate protein intake, and decrease carbohydrates to shift your body from utilizing glucose to ketone bodies as fuel.
With the ketogenic diet you'll still eliminate food intolerances, except barnyard-raised or organic eggs if you can tolerate them. The big difference with ketogenic diets involves increasing good fats and downsizing carbohydrates to low-sugar sources like leafy and cruciferous veggies, nuts and seeds, and berries. On this plan, you'll reduce portion sizes by about 20 percent, though thanks to copious amounts of healthy fats you'll stay satiated. You'll also do a 12-hour intermittent fasting window daily, meaning you might stop eating by 7 p.m. and then have breakfast at 7 a.m. And while it might sound challenging, a ketogenic diet helps you lose weight quickly and safely without feeling hungry or deprived.
For most people, the foundational plan I mentioned above gets great results. But if you hit a plateau (which happens to the best of us), an elimination diet and the ketogenic diet can become big weight-loss needle movers. I dive deep into these three plans in my book, which provides a comprehensive yet simple-to-follow plan that draws on my decades of experience working with thousands of patients struggling with weight, pain, and other health issues.