It’s not uncommon to stand on the scale and be discouraged by occasional disappointing weight loss results. The human body is a complex machine that can be both unpredictable and prone to natural weight plateaus. Usually, these plateaus can be overcome by simple changes in your weight loss regimen.
However, if you’re experiencing consistently disappointing numbers, or even weight gains while on your diet, there are seven potential reasons you’re not reaching your weight loss goals as quickly as you’d like.
Calorie Intake Goals
General calorie recommendations can only do so much to help you determine how many calories you need to stay healthy while also losing weight. Many people make calorie assumptions without taking into account other factors like physical activity level, age, and even gender. The result is you may actually be eating too many or too few calories for your unique body type. Too many calories will prevent you from reaching the deficit needed to burn off the pounds.
Consuming too little calories works against you with initial fast weight loss followed by plateaus and even weight gains as the body transitions into survival mode, stashing as many calories away as fat as possible.
While diet is essential for weight loss, exercise is just as important both for weight loss and your overall health. Exercise not only helps create a larger calorie deficit towards fat burning, but it also boosts your metabolism not only during but also post-workout. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week, including at least 3 days of strength training for optimal health and weight loss benefits.
While supervised, safe fasting can help boost weight loss for some individuals, regular meal skipping can actually sabotage your numbers when you get on the scale. The spacing of meals is important for not only helping you feel full to avoid bingeing on cravings but also to balance your insulin production and blood sugar levels.
Drastic changes in blood sugar can cause your body to produce more insulin to help counteract the imbalance. Higher insulin levels encourage the body to store more sugar as fat, impacting your long-term weight loss results. To combat this side effect, plan your meals evenly spread throughout the day, preferably no more than 3 to 4 hours apart. This small change will help you keep your insulin levels under control.
While not tracking your calorie intake won’t prevent you from losing weight, knowledge is power in any weight loss plan. It’s common to underestimate how many calories are in a certain food or how much food you’ve actually eaten during the day. A daily calorie log helps you budget calories better as well as helps you practice better portion control and overall food awareness.
Technology and apps make tracking both easy and convenient, allowing you to track foods from just about anywhere on your smart devices. Several apps take tracking even further by breaking the foods you eat down to their essential proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Your Emotional Health
Your emotional health plays an integral role in weight loss as emotional ups and downs can lead to goal-destroying binge eating. Giving into the occasional craving in a moderate way is okay as it helps ensure you’re not feeling deprived by your diet. However, if your go-to coping mechanism is food when life gets rough, you may want to work with a mental health professional to develop better coping mechanisms.
Emotional stress can also impact weight by triggering a fight or flight reaction in the body. This natural response floods your system with hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that can increase hunger and encourage the development of visceral fat in the belly, regardless of the amount of food you’re eating.
Don’t underestimate the calorie loads in the beverages you choose to drink. Items like juice or coffee may seem healthy or low-calorie but often contain more calories than you think. For example, even 100 percent fruit, no sugar added juices contain natural sugars and hidden calories.
Your daily coffee run can also derail fitness goals if you add flavorings, sugars or cream, especially if you drink multiple cups throughout the day.
Underlying Health Issues
If none of these options apply to your specific situation, your lack of weight loss may be contributed to an underlying health issue. For example, an underactive thyroid gland can slow down your metabolism, making it much harder to lose weight. Treatments like insulin for diabetes or corticosteroids can also cause weight gain.
Keep in mind that weight loss plateaus are common and can often be overcome by small changes in your plan and by not giving up. As with any change in your diet or exercise routine, be sure to involve your doctor to ensure that your routine is safe for your individual health condition.