I am regularly faced with frustrated patients adamant they do everything right – eat healthy, exercise, limit desserts, and still can’t lose weight. But when we break it down into individual components there’s often an “aha moment” where the culprit is found. Here are some of the reasons all your hard work isn’t paying off:
You need more protein
Protein is essential for your body to build muscle and have energy. Studies show that eating protein at 25–30% of calories can boost metabolism by 80–100 calories per day and make you automatically eat several hundred fewer calories per day. Nutrient dense foods can also help curb cravings for foods that will inhibit weight loss. Some good sources of protein include nut butters (but choose one that has low sodium), eggs, quinoa, Greek yogurt (check the labels to avoid high sugar and fat content), and edamame.
Sleep routines make a difference
It’s not just what you do during the day that impacts weight loss. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep, within a regular schedule, makes all the difference in how your body functions. Some research suggests that excess weight interferes with sleep, but additional studies suggest perhaps poor sleep interferes with the body’s metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. While the connection between sleep, obesity, and heart and metabolic health appears to be an association, rather than a cause and effect relationship, it’s clear that sleep duration, regularity, and quality impact health and weight loss.
Are you consistently hydrated?
Water is a lifeline for our bodies, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s necessary for efficient weight loss. If it seems like you’ve hit a wall in your weight loss journey, consider if you’re regularly hydrated. the body needs water to burn fat efficiently, supports exercise levels to reach peak performance, also can help suppress hunger, just to make a few benefits. Read more, here about why hydration is essential to weight loss.
You’re not in a calorie deficit
Your body is a machine, and when it comes down to it, if you’re consuming more calories than your body needs, it’s going to result in weight gain. It is best to establish a calorie deficit with a combination of burning more calories with physical activity and by consuming fewer calories. Small changes can make a big difference here; adding more steps into your day, standing instead of sitting while doing work, cutting portions by half, using a smaller plate, and more ideas you can read here, will help.
Eat quality foods
Processed foods do not support your body’s functions or promote weight loss. Since they aren’t nutrient-rich, you’ll find yourself hungry sooner than if you are eating foods full of vital nutrients and protein. Whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats support our body, help keep hunger at bay, provide energy, and will ultimately help us lose weight. If you don’t already incorporate whole foods into your diet, ease into it to avoid feeling deprived of the foods you’re accustomed to. Start with one meal (or portion of a meal) being more nutrient-rich foods, and add more quality foods as the days go on. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a diet that supports your health and your waistline.
Read about the G.R.A.D.E. diet and energy-dense foods for a simple and effective way to eat healthy and lose weight.
You need to add resistance training
Physical activity is a key component of weight loss. The types of physical activities you do can impact your weight loss. Resistance training, either using weights or your own body weight, builds muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat-up to three times more, according to some estimates. Resistance training is attainable for any fitness level- adding it in will improve your strength and increase weight loss. Don’t be surprised if you find that the scale doesn’t seem to budge after starting a resistance training program, as muscle weighs more than fat. It may just be that you’re losing fat while also gaining muscle. A good gauge in your progress? Ditch the scale and keep an eye on the fit of the clothes you regularly wear. Try the exercises we share every Tuesday to get you started.
Not allowing enough time
When we set goals, it can be difficult to see them through. It’s no wonder that most people that make weight loss a New Year’s resolution have already stopped working towards their goal by February. Weight loss takes time, effort, and consistency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention share that an attainable goal to lose around 1 to 2 pounds per week. That means, on average, that aiming for 4 to 8 pounds of weight loss per month is a healthy goal. Research shows that those that lose weight quickly tend to gain it back, so avoid trying any methods (like fad diets) that promise rapid weight loss and can potentially damage your health in the process.
Consider your health or medications
Weight loss doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Most people have other health factors that play a role in how quickly or slowly they can lose weight. Factor in medications that may be necessary to manage those health issues, and it can be a bit of an uphill climb to lose weight. Some medications can impact metabolism, making it more difficult to lose weight. If adjusting other lifestyle habits like diet, activity levels, and the other tips we’ve shared above don’t help, speak to your provider about what may be done as far as adjusting medications to alternatives that work better for your individual health and goals. Never stop (or start) medication without first speaking to your provider, as the consequences to your health can be serious. Working towards and maintaining a healthy weight is important and it can be attained with mindful, deliberate adjustments to our lifestyle while still addressing other health factors.
As you can see, many factors impact our weight. But, many of the things we can do to improve weight loss also support our overall health. For example, maintaining healthy sleep hygiene supports our mental health, cognitive function, heart health, and more. Resistance training helps keep bones strong and wards off osteoporosis. Keeping in mind that these adjustments help us work towards a better quality of life, not just losing weight, can keep things in perspective and on track.