If you’ve been adhering to a strict healthy eating and fitness plan for a while but are failing to see the results, it may be time to rethink your weight loss strategy. From dieting blunders to physical factors, any of these 10 reasons could be why you’re not losing weight.
Whether a hard session at the gym or a long week of exercising military willpower against unhealthy foods, we all have a tendency to reward ourselves for hard work. However, treating yourself too much for work done can be counterproductive, and even undo the hard work you're supposed to be rewarding.
We frequently overestimate the calories we burnt in exercise and underestimate those in our healthy diets, and rewarding yourself for this can increase the net calorie intake, halting your progress. It is important to carefully monitor what you’re eating and burning to ensure that you don't unpick the hard work already done.
Keeping a log of calories eaten and burnt can be a beneficial way of ensuring you don't overcompensate for work done, and as important as making sure you do reward yourself with satisfying and tasty foods, it is important that these treats are controlled and not abused.
You’re not getting enough sleep
You may think that cutting back on sleep to make time for a workout is great for your health and fitness, however not getting enough sleep could actually minimize the benefits of exercise and cause you to gain weight. Not only can sleep deprivation affect exercise performance and endurance, but it slows down your metabolism, increases appetite and makes you more likely to give into cravings. Not getting enough sleep can cause an increase in ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, encouraging you to reach for the cupboards more, whilst decreasing the hormone leptin that stimulates fullness.
Not getting enough sleep can cause an increase in ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite...
Sleep also provides the needed recovery from both exercise and day-to-day life, and without muscle and mind recovery, your willpower and motivation will decrease. Stress is also a significant factor in the progress of weight loss, when stressed the body is in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’, increasing the levels of cortisol, an appetite stimulant. Getting adequate rest and recuperation through sleep, advised around eight hours, will reduce stress and help you control appetite.
You’re drinking too many sugary drinks
When working hard to keep up your exercise regime and eat cleanly, you can sometimes forget that fluids have an impact on calories. Picking up a tasty coffee on the way to work or embracing a weekend with a few alcoholic drinks can add greatly to your calorie intake without even realising it. Sugary drinks, particularly carbonated drinks, are the enemy to any diet as we generally don't associate fluids with calories.
While we all know the main calorie culprit when it comes to our drinks is alcohol, you should also consider the calories in fruit juice, smoothies, soft drinks and many hot drinks.
Substituting these devious devils can be easily accomplished; fruit juices for no-sugar cordials, putting sweetener and fat-free milk in hot drinks, and sticking to lower calorie spirits such as gin and vodka, can all help when trying to avoid drinking your calories. It is worth remembering however, carbonated drinks, even diet ones, are detrimental to diets. Even sugar free or diet sodas will affect your body’s reaction and cravings for sugar, and so it is worth remembering that despite the ’zero’ calorie label, carbonated drinks are generally harmful to your waistline and should be given a wide berth.
You’re not exercising portion control
If you’re eating low fat, healthy meals but still not losing weight, it may be worth looking at your portion sizes. While you may think that you’re only eating three meals a day, with the increasing portion sizes many of us consume, you could actually be eating the equivalent of six or more standard serving sizes each day. It is worth remembering that although the food you’re eating may be healthy, it should still be eaten in moderation, as eating too much of anything will cause you to gain weight.
It is important to remember also a lot of typically health foods can stifle your weight loss due to their rich calorie or fat contents.
It is important to remember also a lot of typically health foods can stifle your weight loss due to their rich calorie or fat contents. For example, 100g of pumpkin seeds, a healthy and nutritious snack, has 610 calories compared to 100g of salted pringles, a relatively fattening and insubstantial snack, has only 524 calories. It would not be beneficial to replace seeds and nuts with crisps, as unhealthy snacks contain more fat which can be equally damaging to waistlines, but consuming large quantities of healthy foods could be what is stopping you from shifting those unwanted pounds.
You’re eating too little or skipping meals
While eating too much food is the most obvious cause of weight gain, eating too little can also hinder your ability to shift the pounds. Your body has a natural instinct to protect itself, so when it is not given an adequate amount of food and nutrients it will automatically go into starvation mode when deprived of such nutrition, causing the metabolism to slow down and the body to hoard food as fat. As a result, it will become much more difficult for you to lose weight.
Think of your body as an animal preparing for hibernation; when deprived of nutrients, the body will prepare for this shortage of food by storing any food eaten as fat. This is because when exhausted of its carbohydrate stores, its next option is to burn fat and protein. The body needs to reserve its muscle store and so will choose fat over protein as fuel.
When in starvation mode, the metabolism will slow and will store any food eaten as fats to ensure that more fats are available for fuel instead of muscle. It is therefore important to keep your metabolism high and provide your system with fuel to ensure the aversion of this ‘starvation mode’.
Your diet is too limited
Restricting yourself to fad diets or extreme dieting can be worse for the waistline that eating too much or too little, cutting out certain foods altogether or not sticking to a healthy diet regime can affect the rate of weight loss. The body performs most efficiently on a balanced diet, receiving all the needed nutrients and minerals it requires and so completely cutting certain areas from your diet will only hinder your progress as the body needs a variety of foods.
Cutting fatty foods and typically unhealthy foods are key to weight loss, but totally elimination areas of diets are counterproductive. Fad diets and overly restrictive diets also also unsustainable over an extended period of time, completely cutting carbs or fat may work for a short period of time but is essentially unfeasible as you can start craving certain foods which even those with unbreakable willpower will eventually give into.
You don’t vary your workouts
If you’ve fallen into a rut with your exercise routine, you may no longer be getting the most out of your workouts. Doing the same workouts day after day can not only affect your motivation and excitement with exercise, but can put your body into a sedimentary regime, not producing the benefits exercise should be giving.
When you workout your body will improve in its fitness and ability of whatever you are training, but if you don't push yourself, increase your intensity or change workouts, your body’s effort and improvement will plateau. Exercise will become ineffective and the results will slowly begin to dissolve.
Both mentally and physically, increasing intensity and mixing up your routines can significantly change your results...
Both mentally and physically, increasing intensity and mixing up your routines can significantly change your results, particularly the combination of cardio and weight training can encourage the reduction of your waistline quicker. Weight training can not only increase muscle mass, but increase metabolic rate encouraging weight loss, studies have shown that people who combine cardio and resistance training lose weight quicker than cardio alone.
You have a medical condition
Many medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid problems and hormonal imbalances can cause you to gain weight and make it very difficult to lose excess pounds. Also, hidden food allergies or intolerances can make it difficult to lose weight.
Making sure you are entirely health and not carrying some hidden illness or intolerance can be a significant factor, contributing not only to weight but overall health. Furthermore, while your medical condition itself may not cause weight gain, the side effects of certain medications may pile on the weight, so make sure to speak to your doctor about this if you are struggling to lose weight.
You’re not drinking enough water
Water can affect weight for a number of reasons; firstly water is an effective tool in suppressing your appetite. Too often do our bodies misconstrue hunger for dehydration and so drinking a glass of water before a meal, snack or even when you feel hungry will help your body identify when it is actually hungry to dehydrated. Cold water can even speed up the metabolism and help curb the cravings for sugar and fizzy beverages, typical issues in many people’s diets.
Water also ensures the proper functioning of the kidneys and digestive system, as without enough water the body uses the liver as additional support, resulting in the storing instead of burning of fat. Water is important both for hydration in exercise but also the controlling of appetite and functioning of vital organs, aiding the process of weight loss.
You don't eat breakfast
As the first meal of the day, breakfast is considered as an important part of your diet, restoring the fuel and nutrients burnt through the night, breakfast is important way to prepare your body for the day ahead. Although dragging yourself out of bed 15 minutes earlier to ensure you eat may sound uninviting, breakfast should be an essential part of your day. Eating a hearty meal after sleep is an efficient way to control hunger and ensure fatigue or temporary starvation does not occur, helping you resist overeating or eating fatty foods at lunch time.
But breakfast also has physiological benefits; keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level, lowering cholesterol and keeping saturated fat low. Many studies and health sites will sing of the benefits breakfast has upon weight loss and so is an important way to kick start your metabolism and keep you weight loss under control.
Simple ways that can help: Plan Ahead.
If losing weight is an important goal then you should invest the necessary time needed to plan your workouts and your food. Keeping a food and exercise journal can be an important element to any weight loss regime, as we can sometime underestimate what we eat, exercise or how many calories we consume.
Recording how much you're consuming and burning can be an effective way of visualising what it is you’re doing that is hindering weight loss. Although they don't have to be stringently accurate, journals can be an effective way to keep track of your intake, helping you keep to food limits and aims.