The most common reasons you’re not losing weight are most likely related to nutrition and exercise. In. That. Order. But it’s not as simple as calories in vs calories out. It’s about biochemistry. Let’s take a closer look at the basics:
Notice I said “nutrition” rather than “diet.” Diet implies a temporary white knuckle ride that you endure for a relatively short period of time before going back to your old unhealthy habits. At least, that’s usually what happens. One reason diets don’t work is because they’re typically so restrictive that you can’t sustain it for a long period of time. Another reason they don’t work is because restrictive diets not only limit calories, but also limit the amount of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs for optimal function. Furthermore, restricting calorie intake too much slows down your metabolism, resulting in a rebound effect where you’ll actually gain more weight than you lost once you go back to your normal eating patterns.
Here are some of the most common culprits:
- You eat too much, so excess is stored as body fat.
- You don’t eat enough, which slows metabolism and limits nutrient intake.
- You’re not drinking enough water.
- You eat too much sugar, which leads to insulin spikes and dips that result in craving more sugar and storing body fat.
- You don’t eat enough protein.
- You don’t eat enough healthy fat.
- You eat processed food, which is loaded with chemicals that disrupt normal hormone function.
- You drink too much alcohol.
Not sure what to do? Start by keeping a food journal so that you learn what your current eating habits really are. You can’t fix the problem if you don’t know exactly what’s broken. Be honest with yourself. I also recommend making more meals from scratch using real ingredients rather than something from a can or a box. Finally, you need a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats for every meal you consume. This will help keep blood sugar stable and calm the cravings. If you don’t know how to balance your meals, I highly recommend consulting with a Licensed Nutritionist who can work with you and your specific health needs.
When it comes to fat loss, exercise plays second fiddle to nutrition. Why? You can’t out-train a crappy diet. Exercise will make you more fit, which is a very good and healthy thing – but you need the right amount of essential macro and micro nutrients to get the job done.
Here are the most common culprits related to exercise:
- You don’t do it at all.
- You don’t do it enough.
- You don’t work out at the appropriate intensity.
- You only do aerobic exercise and blow off strength training.
If you’re currently sedentary, check with your Physician to see if there are any exercise restrictions based on your current health status. Trust me, your Doctor will be thrilled that you are interested in starting an exercise program. Walking is usually safe for most people if you’ve been completely sedentary. I don’t care how fast or how far you go at first – just get started on a daily basis. At this point, behavior change is more important than exercise duration or intensity. That part will come naturally if you stick with it.
The most effective way to get started on an appropriate program is to have a customized fitness plan set up for you by a professional Personal Trainer. They can help determine the exact exercises that you need to do as well as make sure you are doing them correctly. If you live in the Minneapolis area, give me a call and we’ll get you started.
How to Assess Fat Loss
When people say they want to lose weight, what they really mean is that they want to lose fat. The scale doesn’t tell you where your weight loss or gain is coming from: water retention, fat, or lean mass such as muscle or bone. The best way to tell whether you’re weight loss is due to fat loss is to have a body composition test done. The most accurate and useful method is a Dexa Scan that can be done by your Doctor, but it’s also the most expensive (health insurance typically doesn’t cover it unless you are having a full body bone density test done). It’s the most useful because it also tells you where on your body you are storing excess fat rather than just how much fat you have. Other methods include hydrostatic, bod pod, or skin fold measurements, but those require a skilled fitness professional to get an accurate measurement. The easiest way to assess yourself is to do basic girth measurements, such as waist to hip ratio. These methods are not as accurate, but if you do them the same way by the same practitioner they will show you trends over time.
Fat loss is actually a very complex subject and these are just the basics. This article lists a few of the most common reasons you’re not losing weight – the next article will talk about some of the less common reasons.