When you lose weight, your body fights back. Typically, you may be able to lose quite a lot of weight at the beginning, without much effort. Then weight loss may slow down or stop altogether after a while.
This article will discuss reasons why you’re not losing weight and actionable tips on how to break through the plateau and get things moving again.
Weight loss awareness
It is very common for the scale not to budge for a few days (or weeks) at a time. This does not mean that you are not losing fat.
Body weight tends to fluctuate by a few pounds. It depends on the foods you are eating, and hormones can also have a major effect on how much water your body retains (especially in women).
Also, it is possible to gain muscle at the same time as you lose fat. This is particularly common if you recently started exercising. This is a good thing, as what you really want to lose is body fat not just weight.
It is a good idea to use something other than the scale to gauge your progress. For example, measure your waist circumference and get your body fat professionally tested. Before getting your body fat assessed ask the professional what protocol is used so you can get the most accurate reading.
My favorite method is trying on your clothing to see how well your clothes fit, or standing naked in the mirror can be very telling.
Unless your weight has been stuck at the same point for more than 1–2 weeks, you probably don’t need to worry about anything.
Awareness is incredibly important if you are trying to lose weight. Many people don’t have a clue how much they’re really eating.
Studies show that keeping track of your food intake helps with weight loss. People who use food journals or photograph their meals consistently lose more weight than people who don’t.
There is a potential downside to food tracking, especially when it’s used for the purpose of weight loss. This is not the best method for people with an eating disorder. The process of calorie counting, and food tracking has been shown to aggravate anxiety.
You’re not eating enough protein
Eating protein at 25 – 30% of your calories can boost metabolism by 80–100 calories per day and make you automatically eat several hundred fewer calories per day. It can also drastically reduce cravings and desire for snacking.
Protein intake effects appetite-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin and others.
If you eat breakfast, be sure to load up on protein. Studies show that those who eat a high protein meal are less hungry and have fewer cravings throughout the day. A high protein intake also helps prevent metabolic slowdown, a common side effect of losing weight.).
What is your calorie intake?
Many people who have trouble losing weight are simply eating too many calories. Typically, you need to evaluate your portions and overall calories.
You may think that this does not apply to you, but keep in mind that studies consistently show that people tend to underestimate their calorie intake by a significant amount.
Here are some helpful resources:
Calorie calculator. Use a calorie calculator to figure out how many calories to eat.
Calorie counters. Look for reliable free websites and apps that can help you keep track of your calorie and nutrient intake.
Tracking is also important if you’re trying to reach a certain nutrient goal, such as getting 30% of your calories from protein. This can be impossible to achieve if you’re not tracking things properly.
Food quality is just as important as quantity.
Eating whole foods can improve your well-being and help regulate your appetite. These foods tend to be much more filling than their highly processed counterparts.
Keep in mind that many processed foods labeled as “health foods”. Be sure to read the label to consider what ingredients might have the most or least impact on your weight loss journey. In addition, watch out for foods containing extra complex or easily digestible carbs.
One of the most important things you can do when losing weight is to do some form of resistance training, such as lifting weights. This can help you maintain muscle mass, which is often burned along with body fat if you are not exercising.
Lifting weights can also help prevent metabolic syndrome and slowdown, and ensures that your body stays toned and muscular.
This eating disorder can be a significant problem for many people trying to lose weight. Some may binge on highly processed foods, while others binge on relatively healthy foods, including nuts, nut butters, dark chocolate, cheese, etc. Even if something is deemed “healthy,” calories are calories are calories.
You’re not doing cardio
Cardiovascular exercise, also known as cardio or aerobic exercise, is any type of exercise that increases your heart rate. It includes activities such as jogging, cycling, and swimming.
It is one of the most effective ways to improve your health. It is also very effective at burning body fat, (the harmful visceral fat that builds up around your organs and causes disease).
Sugary beverages are significantly fattening items in the food supply. Your brain doesn’t compensate for the calories in them by making you eat less of other foods. This isn’t only true of sugary drinks like Coke and Pepsi. It also applies to “healthier” beverages like Vitamin water or fruit smoothies with whey protein.
Even fruit juices are problematic and should not be consumed in large amounts. A single glass can contain a similar amount of sugar as several pieces of whole fruit.
Good sleep is one of the most important factors for your physical and mental health as well as your weight.
Studies show that poor sleep is one of the single biggest risk factors for obesity. Adults and children with poor sleep have a 55% and 89% greater risk, respectively, for developing obesity.
While sleeping your body spends all night cleaning up from the day. Like a cleaning service, it goes through your body to distribute and dispose of foods, supplements and medication.
If you have a higher amount of weight to lose and/or you have a metabolic condition such as type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, you may want to consider a low carbohydrate intake.
Low carb diets have many positives beyond just weight loss. They can also lead to improvements in many metabolic markers, such as triglycerides (fat), HDL (good) cholesterol, and blood sugar, to name a few.
Frequent small meals
It is a myth that everyone should be eating many small meals each day to boost metabolism and lose weight. This method of dieting was designed or people with blood sugar issues.
Studies show that meal frequency has little or no effect on fat burning or weight loss and can contribute to weight gain or stubborn weight loss.
On the other hand, one effective weight loss method called intermittent fasting involves deliberately and strategically going without food for extended periods of time.
Drinking water has also been shown to boost the number of calories burned by 24–30% over a period of 1.5 hours.
If you like alcohol but want to lose weight, it may be best to stick to spirits (like vodka) mixed with a zero-calorie beverage. Beer, wine and sugary alcoholic beverages are very high in calories.
Keep in mind that the alcohol itself has about 7 calories per gram, which is high while fat is 9 calories per gram. Studies on alcohol and weight show mixed results. Moderate drinking seems to be fine, while heavy drinking is linked to weight gain.
Slowing down, eating without distraction, savoring and enjoying each bite while listening to the natural signals that tell your brain when your body has had enough. It is hard to be mindful when eating in front of the television, being out with friends, and at events. Here are some tips to eat more mindfully:
- Eat with zero distractions, sitting down at a table with just your food.
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Try to be aware of the colors, smells, flavors, and textures.
- When you begin to feel full, drink some water and stop eating.
If you are unable to comply with these suggestions, be strategic and develop a back -up plan on what and how much you will consume when out and about.
There are some medical conditions that can drive weight gain and make it much harder to lose weight.
These include hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and sleep apnea. Certain medications can also make weight loss harder — or even cause weight gain.
If you think any of these apply to you, speak with your doctor about your options.
If you feel you have a junk food addiction, simply eating less or changing your diet can seem impossible. Marginalizing junk food is key not only for weight management but for your health
Setting realistic expectations
Weight loss is generally a slow process. Many people lose patience before reaching their goal. Although it is often possible to lose weight fast in the beginning, few people can continue to lose weight at a rate of more than 1–2 pounds per week.
The truth is, not everyone will be able to look like a fitness model or bodybuilder, and that’s OK. The photos you see in magazines and other places are often enhanced.
At some point, your weight will reach a set point where your body feels comfortable. Trying to go beyond that may not be worth the effort or realistic and may even have potentially negative effects on your health.
You’re too focused on dieting
Diets almost never work long term. If anything, studies show that people who diet gain more weight over time. Focus on nourishing your body instead of depriving it and let weight loss follow as a natural side effect. For long lasting weight loss focus on adopting health-promoting lifestyle habits.
In the end, changing your weight and your lifestyle requires patience, dedication, perseverance, and resilience.