This Is What Nutritionists Do When They Want to Lose 5 Pounds

Updated: Mar. 14, 2022

Lose the last 5 pounds and prevent a weight-loss plateau with these tips from registered dietitians, from keeping a food journal to reevaluating your exercise routine.

How to lose the last 5 pounds

Picture this: You’re just 5 pounds shy of your target weight loss goal, but a week goes by, two weeks go by, and the scale stays the same, despite working out and eating healthy . And no, it’s not broken. So, what gives? The truth is as you’re losing weight, you’re losing body mass, meaning your body will need fewer calories than before. In other words, your diet and exercise routine may need to be modified to your new weight. To get more insight on how to shed the last 5 pounds, we spoke with two registered dietitians who reveal what they do if they want to lose weight.

Woman writing in journal and using laptop

They start keeping a food journal

When Jennifer Vimbor, LDN, founder of Nutrition Counseling Services in Chicago, feels her clothes getting snug, she starts a food journal to keep track of what she eats during the day. As she records her eating habits, she looks for what’s not right or working in her situation. “It tends to be fiber is low and fat intake is high,” she says. Based on what she records in her journal, Vimbor may eat more fiber and make sure she drinks enough water throughout the day. (These are the health benefits of eating fiber.)

Woman holding supplements in hand

They add a multivitamin or probiotic

Multivitamins and probiotics give your body the vitamins you might miss if you’re cutting back on calories and help regulate your digestive system. Vimbor recommends a simple one-a-day vitamin, preferably one without a lot of lofty claims or high levels of any one nutrient. When choosing one, look at the inactive ingredient list. If there are two or fewer ingredients listed, it’s probably a good vitamin. For probiotics, Vimbor says only 10 to 20 billion colony units or organisms per serving is needed. “Anything more than that is not needed to get the therapeutic effects,” she says. (These are some signs you may not be getting enough vitamins.)

Woman putting produce into a basket

They avoid processed foods

Avoiding processed foods means steering clear of as many boxed foods as possible. “Foods without a label are great,” Vimbor says, such as fruits and vegetables. She recommends eating foods with five or fewer ingredients if you’re trying to watch your weight or just stay healthy. (These are the best healthy-eating secrets nutritionists use.)

Woman sleeping on couch

They carve out time for sleep

How much rest you get can help or hinder your weight loss. A lack of sleep could be stopping you from losing those five pounds, according to Kate Merkle, RD, at Nourishment Works in Chicago. “People need restful and adequate sleep,” she says. (In fact, these are tips to help you lose weight while you sleep.)

Man and woman eating at table

They pay attention to their body’s eating clues

As you’re eating, notice what is truly satisfying your appetite. Those are the foods you want to continue giving your body so you avoid feeling deprived. “Folks tend to eat less because the food is satisfying,” Merkle says. (Find out more about intuitive eating here, and why doctors say diets don’t work.)

Man smiling during a run

They reevaluate their exercise routine

When you do the same exercise routine every day, your body adapts to the routine and needs something new to challenge it. “If you’ve been doing the same workout for a long time, it’s time to mix it up,” Vimbor says. Merkle advises picking an activity you enjoy, rather than forcing yourself to do cardio or other trendy exercises. “Make sure you’re aligning with your values through your physical activity,” she adds. (Also, check out the best workout you should do at every age.)

Woman and young girl preparing food

They avoid drastically cutting calories

Vimbor says cutting back on calories can actually cause you to gain weight in the long run. Cutting calories usually leads to overeating later when you get so hungry and can’t stand it any longer. “Pounds come back on quickly when you cut calories drastically,” Vimbor says. When it comes to calories, quality trumps quantity. Fill up on quality fruits and vegetables of all colors and eat good grains. You won’t feel deprived, and you’ll be giving your body good foods. (Here’s why you should eat more fruits and vegetables.)

Man holding salad bowl

They become extra mindful of what they’re eating

What you’re eating is only part of the equation. Some people eat when they’re bored or when they feel anxious. Merkle advises her clients to slow down and be mindful of what and why they’re eating. By recognizing and addressing bored or stressful feelings, you can retake control of your eating habits and recognize overeating when it happens. (These mind tricks can stop emotional eating in its tracks.)

Woman drinking blended juice

They steer clear of crash diets

Losing any weight—even five pounds—takes time. “When you really want to make real changes,” Merkle explains, “it can take longer than our culture or brain tells us.” Though you may be tempted to try the get-thin-fast diets that promise quick weight-loss results, avoid the temptation. Slow and steady really does win the race. (Check out the best free planners for weight loss.)