How to Lose the Last 10 Pounds of Stubborn Fat

If you’re trying to lose the last 10 pounds, then here you’ll uncover how to finally get rid of that last stubborn weight. Sure, it was pretty straightforward losing weight before, but now you’re stuck on a frustrating plateau with a scale that refuses to budge.

Now imagine effortlessly shedding those last 5-10 pounds of stubborn weight without killing yourself in the process. The truth is what has worked before to lose weight isn’t enough anymore. But here you’ll get the most effective, science-backed methods to beat this final weight loss phase.

You can be dieting, cutting calories, and doing endless hours of cardio, but you still can’t lose these last few pounds. It’s frustrating to seemingly be doing everything right and working hard without results to show for it.

Calories in vs. calories out isn’t going to be enough anymore. Other factors in play are holding onto those last stubborn pounds. Here is a blueprint with actionable steps to say goodbye to those last 10 pounds for good.

Why the Last 10 Pounds Is the Hardest to Lose

As you probably already know by now, the last 5-10 pounds are the hardest to lose. Depending on your genetics, your body will first lose fat in the easiest areas. But then your body will hold onto fat in stubborn areas like your belly, love handles, hips, and thighs.1

It’s no surprise that most hit a plateau and stopped losing weight after losing a lot of weight before and even after being super disciplined. Reaching your goal weight probably won’t be achieved by doing “small tweaks” anymore.

As you get down to the last 10 pounds to lose, your body will hold onto this weight tooth and nail. “Set point weight theory” is a concept that your body has a certain weight range it naturally likes and tries to maintain.2

Your body changes your metabolism, hormones, hunger, and food intake to keep your weight within this desired range. Suppose you try to cut calories even more. In that case, your body can panic and continue to hold onto weight by slowing your metabolism (adaptive thermogenesis).3

Our caveman ancestors developed genes to store fat for survival. The more efficient they were at storing fat, the more likely they were to survive long times without food. And they’ve passed down these genes to us, making dropping those last few pounds much harder.4

As you enter middle age, you’ll be in a harder stage for weight loss than in your 20s and 30s. Hormonal changes in middle age make weight loss harder. This is why many tend to get the “middle age spread” in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

Key Takeaways:

  • Your body naturally has a “preferred weight” it likes to stay at for survival reasons. It’ll adapt and set your metabolism to stay at this weight.
  • Doing what you’ve done before will not be enough anymore to lose the last 5-10 pounds. You’ll need to step up your game.
  • Middle age years will be harder to lose the last stubborn fat because of hormonal changes.

Hormones and Weight Loss

Your hormones will determine how much weight you’ll lose.5 This is especially true when it comes down to the last 5-10 pounds. If your hormones aren’t on board with you losing weight, then it’ll be like pushing a boulder up a cliff.

Your body wants balance (homeostasis) for survival and to keep its “piggy bank” of fat stores for a rainy day. So your body will adjust and adapt to what you’re doing. If you just keep cutting calories, then your body will respond by slowing your metabolism and changing your hormones.6

These are the main hormones that affect weight loss:

  • leptin
  • ghrelin
  • insulin
  • cortisol
  • estrogen
  • testosterone
  • growth hormone

With age, women tend to have declining levels of estrogen with perimenopause and menopause.7 As men age, their bodies don’t have as much testosterone and growth hormone.8 These hormonal declines cause men and women to store more fat in stubborn areas.

Leptin is known as the “fat controller” hormone. Leptin is produced in your fat cells, and the more fat you have in your body, the easier it is for you to lose weight.8 This is why losing the last 10 pounds is much harder than the first 10.

Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone” and regulates your appetite. It’s produced in your gut; high levels tell your brain to feel hungry, and low levels tell it that you feel full.9 As your body wants to hold onto those last 10 pounds, it’ll increase ghrelin to make you feel hungry and likely overeat.

Insulin is known as the “fat storage hormone.” It is what’s largely responsible for love handle and lower back fat storage. If your body is insulin resistant and doesn’t manage insulin very well. In that case, fat will constantly be stored in these stubborn places.10

Cortisol is the “stress hormone” since too much stress and lack of sleep cause it to become chronically elevated. Cortisol can be responsible for storing belly fat and cause you to retain water weight. It can also hurt thyroid functioning, slowing your metabolism even further.11

Key Takeaways:

  • Your hormones are largely responsible for losing the last 10 pounds.
  • Optimizing your hormones will be key to finally reaching your goal weight.
  • Age, genetics, diet, lifestyle factors, and exercise all play a crucial role in optimizing your hormones for weight loss.

Women’s Hormones and Weight Loss

Women usually have a harder time losing the last 10 pounds than men. Middle age can bring drastically lower levels of estrogen with perimenopause and menopause. Women also have less muscle mass than men and will lose muscle with age (sarcopenia) if not resistance training.12

Many women who used to be naturally thin in their younger years could suddenly find themselves gaining weight. Belly fat buildup is common in middle-aged women due to declining estrogen levels and lower muscle mass.13 It’s known commonly as “menopause belly.”

If you’re a woman who thinks they’re in this category, then it would be a good idea to have a doctor test your hormone levels. Just because you might have “normal levels for your age” doesn’t mean it’s ideal. Studies have found hormone therapy has helped middle-aged women lose weight.14

If you’ve been cutting your calories and carbohydrate intake to an extreme level, then you might have to increase them back up. Putting yourself into an extreme calorie deficit can be stressful, and your thyroid could cause your metabolism to slow down to a turtle’s crawl.15

By boosting calorie and carb intake back up for 1-2 months, you’ll actually be preparing your body for weight loss. Then, once your body has had a reset, you can start tapering back down on your calories and carbs to finally lose weight.

Also, a woman can hold onto water weight for up to ten days before menstruation.16 The scale can be deceiving and make you think you’re not getting any results when you’re just holding water. So, it’s best not to weigh yourself during this pre-menstruation period.

Key Takeaways:

  • Women tend to have a harder time losing the last stubborn pounds than men due to declining estrogen and muscle loss.
  • Women who were thin all their lives could suddenly find themselves gaining stubborn belly fat.
  • Extreme calorie-cutting for women can slow your metabolism down to a turtle’s crawl. It may be effective to reset your metabolism by increasing calories and carbs for a while.

8 Ways to Lose the Last 10 Pounds Fast

Now, let’s dive into how to lose those last 10 pounds. These are the proven and science-backed methods you can start using to finally reach your weight loss goals.

Put Your Body Into a Calorie Deficit

Wait… didn’t you just say that cutting calories can cause your metabolism to stop weight loss? Well…it’s complicated!

If you put your body into an extreme calorie deficit and for example only eat 800 calories a day, your metabolic rate will become a snail. But on the other side of the coin, you could still be eating too many extra calories.

Studies have found that people drastically underestimate how many calories they eat each day.17 So, I always recommend that my clients record and calorie count everything they eat. Studies have found those who track their calories had more weight loss than those who didn’t.18

There’s a saying, “What gets measured, gets managed.” So, if you’re measuring your calories, then you’ll know exactly how many you’re consuming, and if it’s too much, you can start cutting down. Use a journal or a calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal to get your calorie intake to pinpoint accuracy.

Most women will lose weight by consuming 1200-1500 calories per day.19 And men usually lose weight with 1500-2000 calories per day. Everybody is different, so you may have to tweak your intake levels to see what keeps the scale moving.

I can’t recommend enough to make your own meals. Meal planning and food prepping is the secret to staying on track with your calorie intake.20 You’ll know exactly how many calories you’re taking in and will be less likely to overeat.

Cut Your Carb Intake

Eating too many carbs will make it much harder for your body to burn fat. This is because your body will first use sugars and carbs as a fuel source before your body fat. Your body stores carbs and sugars in muscle as glycogen, which will also be used for fuel before your body fat.21

Sugars and carbs can also spike your blood sugar and then insulin. Insulin is a hormone that promotes storing fat and blocks fat burning. If you’re insulin resistant, I’d recommend cutting down on your carb and sugar intake. Low carb diets have been found to be effective for weight loss in middle age people.22

Eating 100% keto isn’t necessary to lose the last 5-10 pounds. You can eat low-carb daily or cycle your carb intake throughout the week. Low-carb days should be no more than 50g of carbs, moderate-carb days should be around 50-150g of carbs, and you can have a higher-carb day once a week.

Stay away from high glycemic carb foods like:

  • grains
  • legumes
  • starchy vegetables
  • starchy fruits
  • cereals

Not all carbs will be bad for you. Eat more low-glycemic veggies like leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. When eating fruit, go with low glycemic choices like berries and avocados.

Carbs can also make you hold onto more water weight too. Glycogen (stored carbs) contains 3g of water every 1g.23 As you cut carbs and deplete glycogen with exercise or fasting, you could experience the whoosh effect. This is when stubborn weight quickly comes off seemingly all at once.

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Prioritize Your Protein

When it comes to your macronutrient intake, protein should be prioritized over both carbs and fats. This is for a few reasons:

  1. Protein is needed to build lean muscle.24
  2. Protein is satiating, making you feel full.25
  3. Protein is thermogenic and boosts your metabolism.26

First, factor in your protein intake when figuring out how many calories you should be taking in. Then you can figure out your fats and carb intake based on what calories you have left.

As a rule of thumb, you should get at least 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight.

So, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should get about 128g of protein per day. 1g of protein contains 4 calories, so with 128g of protein, you’ll be consuming 512 calories.

If you’re on a 1500 calorie per day diet plan, then you’ll have 988 calories left to work with. From there, you can factor in your carb and fat intake. If you’re planning on only having 100g of carbs per day, that’s 400 calories, and you’ll be left with 588 calories for fats. 1g of dietary fat has 9 calories, so that’ll be 65g of fats.

Fats aren’t the enemy, and the right kinds actually have a lot of health benefits…

  • Good fats are crucial for brain health, fighting inflammation & heart health.27
  • Good fats are satiating and make you feel full.28
  • Good fats are needed for hormone-balancing.29

So, if you aren’t getting enough fats in your diet, then your hormones will be even more out-of-whack. Many make the mistake of cutting fats too much and instead have more carbs, which is counterproductive for weight loss.

Eat the Right Foods for You

One part of the final phase of weight loss nobody talks about is the foods you’re eating. It’s best to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory, lower glycemic, and your body doesn’t have intolerances to.

I’ve met many who have had trouble losing weight just because the foods they eat don’t agree with their body. So, if you’ve tried everything but still not losing weight, then look at the food you’re eating too.

Wheat, grains, and gluten can cause you to hold onto weight. For some, wheat can cause insulin to spike and hunger to increase. This can prevent weight loss, especially with those last pounds. It can also trigger inflammation in your body, making you hold onto excess weight.30

Dairy is another food that many have intolerances to. Milk, for instance, is low on the glycemic index but can cause high insulin. If you’re lactose intolerant, then dairy could hurt your gut health. This can throw off hormones like ghrelin and end up affecting your hunger.31

I mostly follow a modified Paleo/Primal diet. Just eating real whole foods and avoiding anything processed or refined is the key. Meats, fish, eggs, veggies, low sugar fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, and even some dairy if it agrees with your body.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

I always tell my clients not to drink their calories. Soda, fruit juices, smoothies, energy drinks, etc. that contain empty calories and sugars are a big no for this last stage of weight loss.

When it comes to weight loss, beverages with zero-calorie sweeteners are going to be a better choice than ones with sugar. Stevia and monk fruit are the preferred zero-calorie sweeteners since they’re more natural forms than chemical ones like aspartame and sucralose.

But keep in mind, even though these are zero-calorie sweeteners, they could still slow your weight loss. Some theorize these sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar that they’ll increase your tolerance and cravings for sweeter foods.32 Also, some believe they’re so sweet they could still cause your body to release insulin in anticipation of incoming sugars and carbs.33

So, if you’re really trying everything to drop those last pounds, then consider cutting out artificial sweeteners. They could be what’s secretly holding you back despite containing zero calories.

Alcohol is best not to be consumed when you’re trying to lose these last pounds. At least only sparingly when having a cheat meal. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, almost double that of protein and carbs. Most alcoholic drinks contain sugar and carbs too.

Alcohol could prevent you from getting deep sleep. For most, alcohol helps them fall asleep faster, but it can also keep you out of deep REM sleep.34 REM sleep is when your body has the most recovery and growth hormone is produced.

But, if you refuse to give up your nightly glass of wine, then be sure to factor it into your daily calories. Cut out carbs or some fats in replacement of the calories from alcohol. And only drink zero sugar or low sugar alcohol beverages.

Be sure you’re drinking water throughout the day, too. Most mistake thirst for hunger, which can cause you to overeat.35 Water boosts your metabolism, helps break down body fat for fuel, improves exercise, and helps remove toxins from your body.

A general rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in fluid ounces daily.

So if you weigh 160 pounds, then you should drink at minimum 80 fl. oz. of water. A typical glass of water is 8 oz., so you should drink 10 of those per day.

If you don’t like drinking plain water all the time, then add a flavor enhancer like Mojo H20. It’ll encourage you to drink more while providing electrolytes and other essential nutrients into your body.

Lose the Last 10 Pounds With Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a simple yet highly effective method for reaching your goal weight. Studies have found fasting will instantly cut out, on average, 550 calories daily.36 This calorie reduction alone will help with weight loss.

Your hormones also improve with fasting and put your body into a fat-burning mode.37 With fasting, you’ll lower insulin levels and boost growth hormone. You’ll deplete glycogen, and then your body will have to use your fat stores for energy.

Fasting also cuts out a lot of snacking. Snacking is one of the biggest factors preventing weight loss.38 You can’t snack if you’re in a fasting period. And fasting eliminates late night snacking. Then, try to only have two meals during your feeding period.

If you’re new to fasting, start slowly with the length of your fasting period. If you’re used to eating all the time, your body has adapted to be a “sugar burner.” This is when it relies on incoming sugars and carbs for fuel instead of burning up your fat stores.

So start off by having your last meal for dinner. Then try to work up to 16-20 hours of fasting. You can start with just 12 hours of fasting and add an hour every week until you reach your ideal fasting length.

If you want to lose those last 10 pounds without exercise, then fasting will be the key. You’ll instantly cut calories, promote fat-burning hormones, and you’ll look and feel better. Exercise will help of course, but if you don’t want to exercise, then use intermittent fasting to make up for it.

To kickstart the body fat burning with fasting, add C8-MCTs to your morning coffee. These C8-MCTs won’t break your fast and are instantly converted into ketones in your body. These ketones are what your body makes from fat stores, so it’ll help to kickstart the “metabolic switch” over to burning body fat.39

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Exercise Right

The right kind and amount of exercise can really help you lose those last stubborn pounds. You can, of course, lose weight without exercise. But with the right exercise, you’ll improve your body composition by adding lean, toned muscle to help shape your body.40

If you’re sedentary, then becoming more active daily can help you burn calories and fat. Just walking 30 minutes a day more can even be enough.41 Get an Apple Watch or a pedometer to track how active you are during the day and have daily goals to achieve.

Work out near the end of your fasting window. If you’re intermittent fasting, you’ll burn more fat by working out during your fasting window. Near the end of your fasting window is ideal since insulin and glycogen will be at their lowest. Even walking or doing a light workout is effective.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can boost growth hormone, fight cortisol, and cause an afterburn fat-burning effect.42 When done right, you only really need 20-30 minutes of HIIT 2-3 times per week. You’ll need proper recovery time, and be careful you’re not overtraining. But it may not be for everyone, one study found those who are overweight can have more hunger after HIIT than lean individuals.43

Resistance training is a must if you’re trying to lose those last frustrating pounds. Muscle is responsible for 80% of the glucose in your body.44 Blood sugar and insulin play a vital role in weight loss. You’ll naturally lose muscle as you age unless you’re weight training.

I prefer to work out at lunchtime, near the end of my fasting window. I’ll first lift weights to use up any of the glycogen stores in my muscles. Then I’ll do 20-30 minutes of cardio afterward. Cardio will then really burn up those body fat stores.

Stress Less, Sleep More

For most of us, reducing stress is way easier said than done. But doing what you can to minimize your stress can be a game-changer for weight loss.

Chronic stress increases cortisol, which promotes the storage of belly fat. Resistance training can counteract cortisol, making it easier to burn fat. Exercising if you’re stressed might sound counterproductive, but it’ll help relieve the stress and allow you to sleep better.

Prioritizing your sleep is often neglected and keeps you from your goal weight. Making sure you get the 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is crucial to your overall health and wellness. I know it’s not always possible to get this amount of peaceful sleep each night, but try your best.

Deep REM sleep is when growth hormone is primarily produced. Lack of sleep can cause you to have reduced self-control the next day.45 And you’ll also crave fattier unhealthy foods. This makes it harder to stick to your diet and makes it likelier you’ll snack on bad foods.46

How Long Should It Take to Lose the Last 10 Pounds?

This is really going to depend on how willing you are to take your diet, exercise, and other factors up to the next level.

I’ve seen many be able to lose those last stubborn pounds in 2-4 weeks and others in 2-3 months. If you really hit it hard, then you can get it done in a month or less. But if you gradually work your way up, it’ll probably take 2-3 months.

How much worth is it worth to you? For some, they’re willing to go above and beyond what it takes to level up and finally reach their goal weight.

For others, they’re not willing to go through with the restriction and rigidness of their diet. Sure, it’ll take away from life’s little pleasures, but remember it’s only temporary.

Once you reach your goal weight, you can enter more of a maintenance mode. You’ll have already leveled up and adapted to dieting better. I still have pizza on Saturday nights and some other cheat meals during the week without it derailing my weight.

If you’re mentally motivated, then adding in these methods will do the job to get you to your goal weight. You don’t have to do them all, but the small changes will really add up. Time to finally reach your goal weight!