You’re ready to lose weight so you go on a diet. The pounds pour off for a while. But, suddenly, the weight loss seems to lose steam. Dr. Donald Hensrud, who heads up the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program says there are ways to get past it.

“When we lose weight, we lose a little bit of muscle mass, and that does slow metabolism a little bit,” Dr. Hensrud says. “Eventually, we’re going to plateau.”

He says that plateau is normal – even if it is unwelcome.

Your metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. The more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism. But, when you lose weight and muscle mass, your metabolism slows down and so does your weight loss.

“One way to counteract this slower metabolism is to do more physical activity,” Dr. Hensrud says. “So if people can increase their activity, it can help to keep the weight off – even if their metabolism is a little bit slower.”

Plus, with more physical activity, he says you’re likely to increase muscle mass that you lose from dieting, which should speed up your metabolism and calorie burn.