Do you feel like you’re doing absolutely everything possible to lose weight, but the scales aren’t budging? You might be destroying yourself in the gym several times a week while only eating chicken, rice and veggies for lunch and dinner, but nothing’s happening! Obviously, this can be infinitely discouraging but don’t give up just yet, maybe you just need to tweak something in your life to unlock your weight-loss potential!
Eating too little
We’re throwing you a curveball for our first entry! While it may seem that eating less would automatically equal weight loss, not eating enough is actually one of the main reasons people, especially women, have trouble losing weight.
What typically happens is, in an attempt to shed kilos, people significantly drop their calorie intake to even less than 1,200 and/or go on excessive elimination diets, leading them to miss out on a variety of nutrients. They then think “why aren’t I losing weight? I’ve been training an hour per day and only eating kale and fish oil tablets!”
What occurs here is, because there’s not enough energy being consumed to sustain a rigorous exercise regime, the body’s metabolism slows to a crawl and thus, weight is hard to shed.
To make it easier, it’s like charging your phone to 10% and expecting it to last your entire night out, it’s just not going to happen.
Sadly, there are many fad diets out there advocating eating virtually nothing and exercising like you’re training for the next Mr Olympia title, avoid them at all costs.
It’s simple, if you’re doing more exercise, you’re going to need more energy, which means eating more food (but not too much)!
Eating too much
I know we we’re just banging on about how you’re not allowed to stop eating, but now we’re telling you not to eat too much, it’s a delicate balance.
While it may seem obvious that “eating too much” would be a problem for weight loss, we’re not just talking about ordering pizza every night, this also applies to healthy food. For instance, someone might be eating very healthy foods but, in too high a quantity, when compared with their rate of exercise.
Weight loss occurs when there is more energy leaving the body than going in, therefore if your body is burning less energy than the energy you’re getting from food, healthy or not, weight loss will not occur.
Often this situation arises due to not planning out meals or portions correctly. For example, eating a nice, healthy and well-rounded breakfast but then only having a muesli bar for lunch at work, so by the time you get home, you’re STARVING and think “well, I’ve been good today, may as well treat myself”.
A recipe for weight gain right there.
You might also just be piling your plate too high, thinking that because it’s “healthy” it doesn’t matter, but it does. Try scaling it back, you’ll likely find you feel just as satisfied without feeling “heavy” or “full” and better yet you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Of course, don’t think “oh well I might as well just eat junk food and exercise heaps” not all calories are created equal and the body processes healthy foods far quicker, plus you’ll feel terrible due to lack of vitamins and nutrients.
Not enough sleep
There’s no way around it, the body needs sleep. Sure, it is hard to stay on top while trying to squeeze in all the aspects of your life, if you push it however, your body will suffer. Not sleeping enough will not only make you irritable and lethargic but, may also have an impact on your weight loss.
Less than seven hours of sleep a night can have a negative impact on your diet efforts, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The research consisted of two groups of dieters (all on the same diet), one half with a healthy 8.5 hours of sleep, the other half with 5.5 hours.
The 8.5 hour group lost considerable weight from the diet, over half of the weight being from fat! The 5.5 group however, there weight loss results were halved – despite the diet being exactly the same.
In addition, the 5.5 group experienced increased cravings, less satisfaction from food and, unsurprisingly, had no energy for exercise. In the end, the 5.5 group only experienced half the weight loss than their snoozy partners, whom I’m certain were far less cranky.
Being victim to clever food marketing and hype
This one is one of my favourite topics when it comes to nutrition, and it’s basically all the internet’s fault! Social media has become a breeding ground for misinformation over the years, with people calling themselves “nutritionists” overnight and throwing out diet “advice” like they’re a judge on The Biggest Loser.
This often boils down to “try my latest detox” or “buy my smoothie cleanse’ but can often extend to the point where, foods are labelled as being healthy, when they really aren’t, let’s explore.
Take freshly-squeezed juice for example, healthy right? It certainly has healthy ingredients for the most part e.g. fruit, vegetables, antioxidants and vitamins but it’s missing something important that you would get from whole, un-juiced fruits and vegetables…fibre.
Combine this with the massive doses of sugar that juice usually delivers, and you’ve got a recipe for a surge in blood-sugar, no fibre means the breakdown and absorption of the natural fruit sugars happens far too quickly.
What’s more, you’ll likely end up going overboard with juice, it’s so easy to juice up and consume 4 oranges, a heap of spinach and 5 apples in minutes, but would you eat all of that without it being juiced? Probably not.
In summary, get a good night’s sleep, fuel your body rather than counting calories, use fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains as your primary source of fuel with some treats here and there, AND don’t buy any detox smoothies online.