BLOG FITNESS, NUTRITION, WEIGHT
January 24, 2014
3 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight
Losing weight is not necessarily an easy task, but at least the rules are simple: consume fewer calories than you burn on a regular basis, and the weight will come off. That is it. Your weight is a result of your caloric balance over a period of time. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. There is no getting around this fact. However, if you are working hard at a weight loss program and are reaching for that goal, and you are NOT losing weight, then what is going on? Are you a medical mystery? What could cause this? While there are a number of things that may cause stagnation in weight loss there are three major things that you should look at first.
1. You are eating too much.
Remember our rule: your weight is a result of your caloric balance over a period of time. The “calories in” part of this equation only includes your food. Most people eat more than they think. If you ask a given individual how many calories they eat per day, most likely their estimate will be 500 calories below their true intake, and this is if you ask someone who has been tracking their calories. First off, if you are not tracking your food, you should. If you bite it, write it. And if you get a coffee or tea, track that too. There are two reasons why most of us consume more than we think. The first reason is that we underestimate portion size. We think that a plate of pasta is two servings, when in reality, it could be 5 servings. This misunderstanding can result in a lot of calories, so measure your food. Measuring your food is a great way to learn the true portion sizes of what you are eating. The second reason is that many people who track their food do not track all of it. They track their meals and major snacks, but not track the handful of peanuts, or small pack of M&M’s, or their mocha in the morning. I mean, those don’t count, right? Wrong! Those three things that are not tracked just equaled (potentially) 500 calories. So again, if you bite it, write it.
2. You are not moving enough.
This entails the second part of our rule: calories out. Remember NEAT? If not, you should watch the video here. NEAT stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, and it plays a major role in managing your weight. This accounts for the calories you burn just moving around throughout the day. Your body will burn a lot of calories just staying alive (brain activity, organ function, food digestion, etc.) and it will also burn calories every time you choose to move. If you are sitting most of the day, your NEAT will be low. More importantly, if you are exercising, your body will want you to sit more in order to decrease your metabolic output. Your body will not want to lose weight. Its default motivational settings are to eat more and move less. It is very possible that you burn 400-500 calories during your workout. It is also very possible that after your workout, and during your workday, you move around less. About 500 calories less, to be exact. Because your body wants to keep you calorically balanced, we recommend you use your pedometer to track your steps. Your minimum goal should be 5,000 steps, but the more the merrier. Pay attention to how much you are moving. Still crush your workouts, and make sure to be up and moving throughout the day.
3. You are not sleeping enough.
The first two points note the “calories in” and “calories out” parts of our equation. Sleep is directly related to both. Studies have shown that poor or low sleep results in a decrease in circulating leptin (a satiety hormone) and an increase in ghrelin (a hunger hormone.) That’s right, low sleep leads to more hunger. This already puts you at a disadvantage in regards to your food choices. Think about the last time you did not sleep well. Did you crave sugar more the next day? Most poor sleepers report they do, and the research has pointed to the hormonal reason why that is the case. Also, low sleep can lead to higher cortisol. While cortisol is a necessary hormone for metabolism, higher levels of the hormone, especially chronically, is not good for your health. You can expect greater hunger and cravings, and more fat to be stored around your abdomen. Sleep is like a magic pill. It helps reset your brain and body after a day of use. If you wake up and are not fully recovered, you will most likely try to compensate by eating more and moving less. To ensure you get good sleep, plan to go to bed at the same time every night. Also, avoid bright lights and tv / computer / phone screens for a couple hours before bed. You can find more about the sleep videos here.
If you are trying to lose weight, stick with the effort. Consistency is key. If you happen to be stuck, try assessing the above three things. 98% of the time, it is one of these that is limiting your progress. If you are still stuck, talk to your 20/20 Lifestyles Support Team for more ideas.