9 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight
If losing weight was a piece of cake, it would be easy and everyone would be healthier!
Though, we can clearly see that’s not the case.
We are in the midst of an epidemic of massive proportions. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, it’s there, and we have to do something about it!
This is about your health. Being at a healthy weight (or, more specifically, a healthy Body Fat Percentage), not only puts you at a lower risk of disease but allows you feel better doing the things you love.
Have you been trying to lose weight (body fat), or have you lost it only to gain it back?
Before you throw in the towel once and for all, ensure you are not making any of the following mistakes:
YOU ARE STARVING YOURSELF
If having excess body fat occurred from eating too much, then logic would say you need to eat less!
This has been taken to extremes though with people cutting 800 calories right away in hopes to lose weight quick! Or they start skipping meals to eat less.
This goes wrong because your body goes into starvation mode and you start storing what you eat as fat because your body thinks it’s starving. It holds on to energy because it doesn’t know when it’s going to be fed again.
Instead of just skipping meals or not eating much and starving to cut calories, focus on calorie-density:
Calorie-Density compares the amount of calories in a food in relation to weight. For instance, fruit has about 300 calories per pound, whole grains and legumes each have about 500 calories per pound, and veggies have about 150 calories per pound. Oil and butter each have about 4000 calories per pound.
Whole, plant foods are the least calorie-dense, so you can eat a lot of them; yet, they’re the most nutrient-dense – the amount of nutrients in a food relative to weight – which means they give you what your body is actually craving. You get a bigger nutrient-bang for your calorie-buck! You can eat as many whole, plant foods as you want!
The more you eat, the healthier you are.
2. YOU ARE CUTTING OUT CARBS AND/OR FOLLOWING A HIGH FAT DIET
Carbohydrates are what your body actually wants to use for energy. If you cut them out, you’re going to feel exhausted, foggy, and probably a little cranky.
Carbs have been deemed THE reason why you gain weight, which logically doesn’t make sense.
It makes no sense that carbs instantly get turned to fat, whereas fat does not quickly store as fat; in fact, this doesn’t happen as simply as people make it sound. Carbs can be stored as fat through a process called “de novo lipogenesis,” which is pretty inefficient. Fat however does not need a separate process in your body to be stored as excess fat.
Why does this point matter? Because choosing to cut out carbs because “carbs make you fat” requires your diet to turn into a high-fat diet. A high-fat diet will provide you with excess fat, which will lead you to weight and body fat gain.
When there was a push to shift to a low-fat diet years ago, we got fatter. Why? Did low-fat fail?
Rather, we as a country actually started eating more fat than we were eating before. We’ve never adopted a truly low-fat diet (fat intake less than 10% of daily calories).
What’s great is that whole, plant foods have the exact proportions of carbs, fats, and protein that our bodies need to thrive. So, choosing those foods over animal and processed foods will automatically lead you to better health and a healthier body fat percentage.
3. YOU EAT TOO MUCH PROCESSED FOOD
As you might’ve noticed, I’ve been using the term “WHOLE” foods.
Processed foods commonly have up to 80% of their nutrients stripped from them and a ton of junk added back in: oil, salt, refined sugars, and a whole host of chemicals.
These things are added to supplement nutrients that were stripped out, to make it taste extremely sweet/salty, and to add weight to the product so that you pay more.
These foods tend to be very calorie-dense but not very nutrient-dense and can hinder your efforts to lose body fat.
4. YOU ARE FOLLOWING THE “FAT-BURNING ZONE”
It sounds PERFECT! The Fat-Burning Zone! We’ve finally found it!!
Unfortunately, this is a misrepresentation of what is actually going on.
The “Fat-Burning Zone” is an intensity at which you can exercise and burn a larger proportion of energy from fat. Sounds great, though there are a couple problems with it.
First of all, the intensity at which you’re supposed to exercise is so low (about 50% of your max heart rate) that it seems like you’re hardly doing anything. It’s actually difficult to work at such a low level and maintain it for however long your workout is.
Second, because your intensity is so low, you hardly burn any calories at all. Even though a greater proportion of the calories you burn comes from fat, the total amount of calories that you burn is so low that it doesn’t really matter.
It’d be better if you worked harder (70-85% of your max heart rate) because you’d burn more calories overall. When you work at a higher intensity, a greater proportion of calories burned comes from carbohydrates; though, because you burn more TOTAL calories, you’re actually also burning more calories from fat than if you were working in the “Fat-Burning Zone.” Don’t worry, as you exercise at a higher intensity, you still are using fat as part of your fuel.
Also, the higher your intensity, the more you’re throwing your body off of its resting state. To get back to its resting state, it must expend energy. This extra energy expenditure after you’ve finished exercising, this “afterburn” effect, further leads to a greater calorie burn.
5. YOU ARE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Lack of sleep leads to a whole host of problems. It itself leads to increased hunger and appetite, but what’s worse is that when you’re fatigued from a lack of sleep, your willpower is lower, which can lead you to make worse decisions than you would otherwise – poor food choices, not working out, etc.
Sleep is also when your body repairs itself. It’s your body’s time to recover from all the stresses it’s been subjected to, so not giving it this time leads to poor recovery, hormone imbalance, and consequently an increased body fat percentage.
Set a sleep routine with a plan to get the right amount of sleep: go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Your body will love this rhythm and you’ll get enough sleep to feel rested.
6. YOU ARE NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER
Every process in your body requires water to work.
Water helps boost your metabolism, helps remove toxins that can increase the stress on your body, and also helps you to feel fuller. For exercise, it increases your energy and power output and decreases your risk for cramping.
Plus, if you’re not drinking water, you’re probably drinking something else – usually a high calorie beverage – that will not aid you in your goal to lose body fat. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces.
7. YOU ARE CONSUMING EMPTY CALORIES & HIDDEN CALORIES
Sodas, loaded coffee drinks, oils, salad dressings, and alcohol are a few things that tend to be pretty high in calories without actually providing you with nutrients or filling you up and satisfying you for a long time.
These choices are so calorie-dense, they don’t fill you up, and they can increase your appetite for other unhealthy choices. For instance, choose a broth based soup instead of a creamy one like clam chowder. Choose grilled over fried.
Make the switch to black coffee, tea, or water with some lemon.
8. YOUR KITCHEN IS FULL OF JUNK
If you were trying to give up smoking, one thing you wouldn’t do is keep buying cigarettes.
It’s the same idea with losing body fat. If you truly want to make a change, then it starts with what you buy. If you know that if chips are in the house that you’ll eat them, then stop buying them.
We have finite willpower as humans. We only get so many “willpower-points” per day. If you had to spend more than normal dealing with traffic, or finances, or other people, then you have less to spend on avoiding the junk food in the kitchen.
You’ll have a much easier time making progress if you get rid of the food that requires willpower to avoid.
9. YOU ONLY WATCH THE SCALE
I’ve been saying “body fat” throughout this article instead of “weight” on purpose.
Body weight is just a number. It’s a combination of muscle, fat, water, and bone weight. As you eat healthier, exercise more, and start to lose fat and gain muscle, your weight might actually not change as much as you want even though you might have when from 30% body fat to 20%.
Body fat percentage is a much better metric of health than weight and it’s better to focus on body fat rather than weight.
Whew! Those are some big ticket items that can really keep you off course toward losing fat and feeling better.
Here is a quick review to help you with a guideline for the mistakes and the fixes:
YOU ARE STARVING YOURSELF
The Fix: EAT! Fruits and veggies are low calorie, high value foods.
YOU ARE CUTTING OUT CARBS AND/OR FOLLOWING A HIGH FAT DIET
The Fix: DO eat carbs in the form of whole plant foods. Your body NEEDS carbs!
YOU EAT TOO MUCH PROCESSED FOOD
The Fix: Cut down on the food that comes in packages, rely on fresh fruits and veggies. If there are ingredients that sound like chemicals, you can bet its not a great food choice for you.
YOU ARE FOLLOWING THE “FAT-BURNING ZONE”
The Fix: Get your heart rate up with interval training and burn more calories!
YOU ARE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
The Fix: Set your sleep routine with “lights out” and wake-up at the same time every day.
YOU ARE NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER
The Fix: Drink half your body weight in ounces every day.
YOU ARE CONSUMING EMPTY CALORIES & HIDDEN CALORIES
The Fix: Forget the whipped cream, creamy salad dressings and creamy soups. Switch to “plain” instead of heavy sweeteners. All those calories add up!
YOUR KITCHEN IS FULL OF JUNK
The Fix: Eliminate the junk food temptations – don’t buy them and clean out your kitchen cupboards right away! Just throw it away.
YOU ONLY WATCH THE SCALE
The Fix: Instead of the pounds on a scale, track your inches and body fat to get a true measurement of your losses.