Can’t lose weight no matter what you do? Don’t make these 19 mistakes
There’s your lean friend who always seems to be attacking dessert. There’s the pencil-thin colleague who lunches on burgers the size of her head. And then there’s you.
Day after day, you toss a salad for lunch, nibble on ‘baked chips’ for snacks, refuse desserts and climb six flights of stairs four times without stopping daily — yet you can’t get that weighing scale to budge downwards. How is it that you’re still heavy when you’d swear on your favourite double cheese pizza, “But I don’t eat that much!”
You may think you’re eating less, depriving yourself of your favourite foods, and working out. So why can’t you lose a single kilo? What’s going on with you?
Here are 19 possible explanations for why you’re not losing weight:
1. You’re not keeping track of what you’re eating: “Awareness is incredibly important if you are trying to lose weight. Many people actually don’t have a clue how much they’re really eating,” Dr Sanjay Aggarwal, a general physician at Holistic Healthcare Centre in Delhi, says.
Studies show that keeping track of your diet helps with weight loss. People who use food diaries, or take pictures of their meals, consistently lose more weight than people who don’t, Dr Anupam Dey, a Kolkata-based dietician adds.
2. You’re not eating enough protein: Protein is the single most important nutrient for losing weight.
“Eating protein can boost metabolism and make you automatically eat several hundred fewer calories per day. It can also drastically reduce cravings and desire for snacking due to protein’s effects on appetite-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin and others. It also helps to prevent weight regain,” Dr Dey says.
If you eat breakfast, then this is the most important meal to load up on the protein. Studies confirm that those who eat a high-protein breakfast are less hungry and have fewer cravings throughout the day.
3. You’re eating too many calories: “A large percentage of people who have trouble losing weight are simply eating too many calories,” Dr Dey says.
You may think that this does not apply to you, but keep in mind that studies consistently show that people tend to underestimate their calorie intake by a significant amount.
“If you are not losing weight, then you should try weighing your foods and tracking your calories for a while. It is generally not necessary to count calories and weigh everything for the rest of your life. Just do it every few months for a few days at a time to get a feel for how much you should be eating,” Dr Dey suggests.
4. You’re not eating whole foods: Food quality is just as important as quantity. Eating healthy foods can improve your health and help regulate your appetite. These foods tend to be much more filling than their processed counterparts.
“Keep in mind that many processed foods labeled as health foods aren’t really healthy. Stick to whole, single-ingredient foods as much as possible,” Dr Aggarwal says.
5. You’re exercising, but not in a way that’s benefiting your body: You are either exercising too much or you need to mix it up a bit and give the body a bit of a shock.
“Enjoy a variety of workout techniques: Weight training, pilates and yoga. Weight training is also very helpful to raise your metabolism,” Dr Aggarwal says.
6. You’re binge-eating (even on healthy food): We’d love to be able to say you can eat as much healthy food as you like, but unfortunately this is just not the case. Binge-eating is a common side effect of dieting. It involves rapidly eating large amounts of food, often much more than your body needs.
Dr Dey says, “This is a pretty big problem for many dieters. Some of them binge on junk food, while others binge on relatively healthy foods, including nuts, dark chocolate, etc.”
“Even if something is healthy, the calories still count. Depending on the volume, just a single binge can often ruin an entire week’s worth of dieting,” he warns.
7. You’re not chewing your food: Chewing your food until it’s liquid will really help with weight loss and better digestive performance.
8. You’re still drinking sugar: Studies show sugary beverages are the most fattening items in the food supply. Our brains don’t compensate for the calories in them by making us eat less of other foods.
“This isn’t only true of sugary drinks like your favourite cola; it also applies to so-called healthier beverages, which are also loaded with sugar,” Dr Dey says.
Even fruit juices are problematic, and should not be consumed in large amounts, he adds: A single glass can contain a similar amount of sugar as several pieces of whole fruit!
9. You’re not sleeping well: Sleep = repair. When your body gets enough rest, it’s able to perform. Good sleep is one of the most important things to consider for your physical and mental health, as well as your weight.
Studies show that poor sleep is one of the single biggest risk factors for obesity. Adults and children with poor sleep have a 55% and 89% greater risk of becoming obese, respectively.
10. You’re not cutting back on carbohydrates: If you have a lot of weight to lose, and/or if you have metabolic problems like type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, then you may want to consider a low-carb diet.
In short-term studies, this type of diet has been shown to cause up to 2-3 times as much weight loss as the standard ‘low-fat’ diet that is often recommended.
“Low-carb diets can also lead to improvements in many metabolic markers, such as triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and blood sugar, to name a few,” Dr Aggarwal says.
11. You’re eating too often: It is a myth that everyone should be eating many, small meals each day in order to boost metabolism and lose weight. Studies actually confirm that meal frequency has little or no effect on fat burning or weight loss.
“It is also ridiculously inconvenient to be preparing and eating food all day. It makes healthy nutrition much more complicated,” Dr Dey says.
12. You’re not drinking water or drinking too much alcohol: Drinking water can have benefits for weight loss. In one 12-week weight loss study, people who drank half a litre of water 30 minutes before meals lost 44% more weight. Drinking water has also been shown to boost the amount of calories burned by 24-30% over a period of 1.5 hours.
If you like alcohol but want to lose weight, then it may be best to stick to spirits (like vodka) mixed with a non-caloric beverage.
“Beer, wine and sugary alcoholic beverages are very high in calories. Also keep in mind that the alcohol itself has about seven calories per gram, which is high. That being said, the studies on alcohol and weight show mixed results. Moderate drinking seems to be fine, while heavy drinking is linked to weight gain,” Dr Dey says.
13. You’re not eating mindfully: A technique called mindful eating may be one of the most powerful weight loss tools. Numerous studies have confirm that mindful eating can cause significant weight loss and reduce the frequency of binge eating
“It involves slowing down, eating without distraction, savouring and enjoying each bite, while listening for the natural signals that tell your brain when it has had enough,” Dr Dey says.
He adds, “Eat with zero distractions, just you and your, eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.”
14. You have a medical condition that is making things harder: “There are some medical conditions that can drive weight gain and make it much harder to lose weight. These include hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and sleep apnea. Certain medications can also make weight loss harder, or even cause weight gain,” Dr Aggarwal says.
Best to see a nutritionist or doctor who can support you and suggest certain tests that will confirm this so you can take appropriate action.
15. Your expectations are unrealistic: Weight loss is generally a much slower process than most people want.
“Although it is often possible to lose weight fast in the beginning, very few people can continue to lose weight at a rate of more than 1-2 kilos per week,” says Dr Dey, adding, “Another major problem is that many people have unrealistic expectations of what is achievable with a healthy diet and exercise.”
The truth is, not everyone can look like a model or bodybuilder. The photos you see in magazines or on social media are often enhanced using carious apps or sofwares.
Dr A suggest, “If you have already lost some weight and you feel good about yourself, but the scale doesn’t seem to want to budge any further, then perhaps you should start working on accepting your body the way it is.”
16. You’re not getting enough Vitamin D: A huge number of people have low Vitamin D, which is associated with weight gain and several metabolic processes. If you spend much of your life indoors, get your Vitamin D checked with your doctor.
17. You’re too focused on ‘dieting’: “Dieting is not way of life. I often ask people are you weight conscious or health conscious? They’re very different mentalities that foster very different choices,” Dr Dey says.
‘Diets’ almost never work in the long term, he adds. If anything, studies actually show that people who ‘diet’ gain more weight over time.
“Instead of approaching weight loss from a dieting mindset, make it your primary goal to become a happier, healthier and fitter person. Focus on nourishing your body instead of depriving it, and let weight loss follow as a natural side effect,” Dr Dey says.
18. You’re sitting all day: You’re not moving your body enough throughout the day, and your body does not like this.
“Some of you have office jobs and are tied to your desk, but is it possible to go for a few minute stroll every hour? Or walk 20 minutes to grab lunch?” Dr Aggarwal says.
19. You’re eating out too much and not cooking at home: ”You just don’t know what that restaurant is using to cook your food,” Dr Aggarwal warns.
Assume they’re using the worst vegetable oils, heavy amounts of butter and oil, and poor-quality produce. Unless you’re dining at a place that claims healthy cooking and uses healthy produce, learn to love your kitchen.
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