You’ve made some great changes to your diet and started a good exercise program but you’re not losing weight. Or you’ve been able to lose a little bit of weight but it seems like you always regain it back… then you wonder, “why am I not losing weight?”
There may be a few reasons why.
The big thing to acknowledge, first off, is that you have made the decision to start getting healthy. This is the first big obstacle to overcome and if you’ve got underway with working out, or making changes in your diet, you’ve cleared the biggest hurdle.
It’s so much easier to keep eating poorly and to just sit on the couch. The fact that you’ve taken action to improve yourself, and your health, speaks volumes and will be the driving force behind your success.
Of course, everyone needs some extra info and knowledge to approach weight loss in the best way. So if you’ve been wondering why you aren’t losing weight, here are 7 things that may be causing it.
1. Working out Too Much
You’ve started a new workout routine and you’re getting the hang of it. It’s exciting to get in tune with your body through physical activity and getting feedback by feeling better after. It’s also great to see some increases in strength and even some lean muscle.
If you’ve been enjoying it, and seeing some positives, it might make sense in your mind to start working out longer and harder. If three days a week have felt great, then why not five? Why not seven straight days of strength training and cardio?
If one hour of a workout has been great, why not just do two? Or three? This would be a sure way to lose more weight and get fitter.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way and you’re better off allowing your body to rest. When you workout too much, you can make things taxing on your central nervous system. You put your body into a situation where it’s constantly being stressed and releasing stress hormones. When you don’t allow proper rest and recovery this can throw your whole body out of whack.
Overtraining can lead to injuries, muscle tears and strains. It also can weaken your immune system and make you more prone to sickness. You want to avoid this overtraining syndrome to be able to keep losing weight.((Jeffrey B. Kreher: Overtraining Syndrome))
When you’re stress hormones are up it’s more difficult to lose weight as your body wants to preserve what it has. So allow yourself time to rest and recover to improve your fitness and your weight loss.
2. Not Getting Enough Sleep
This is going to piggyback off point number one. If you are not getting adequate sleep, you can create this same overtraining syndrome in your body.
If you are not sleeping enough, your body starts to think there is some sort of trauma happening, or else why wouldn’t you be asleep?
This can also lead to higher stress hormones levels and over time they can get pretty nasty. They can lead to a lot of inflammation in the body and may be at the core of a lot of bad diseases. Along with that, this stress hormones also make weight loss very difficult and your metabolism also starts to slow.((WebMD: Sleep and Weight Gain))
You can imagine if you combine overtraining and a lack of sleep; you can pretty much kiss losing weight goodbye.
Make it a point to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. This means creating a good wind down routine, sticking with it, and starting it at the same time each night.
Look to cut out blue light from electronics that can disrupt sleep and avoid alcohol and caffeine later in the day.
Keep your room as dark as possible and a touch on the cool side to promote better rest and rejuvenation. With your body full rested and repaired you set the stage for better weight loss and improved fitness.
3. Not Eating Enough
This may seem confusing as if you’re eating less, surly you should be losing weight? This all comes back to metabolism and again, that stress hormone issue.
Think of your body fat as a back up fuel source. When times of stress or trauma hit, it can be broken down and used as energy by your body.
When you restrict too many calories, your body thinks there’s another form of trauma, or maybe a drought, happening since you’re not feeding yourself. Body fat storage can be your bodies way of contingency plan.
When you don’t eat enough, your metabolism slows right down as your body doesn’t want to waste what it has. Everything becomes about conservation at this point and losing weight is not going to be top on your bodies priority list.
Add to this overtraining in the gym and it can really stall your weight loss. Your body will be fighting against you to hold on to what it has. This is where injuries and sickness can also happen as your body may be trying to slow things down as much as possible.
Allow yourself to be fed and nourished. Your body needs consistent fuel in order to function properly and lose weight.
4. Not Building Muscle
We’re not talking giant bodybuilder muscle here, but good lean muscle as this can be part of what helps you to lose weight.
First off, just the act of having to build the muscle through strength training is going to take a full body effort. This burns a lot of calories which will help in weight loss.
Also, the style of training that helps to build muscle — a high-intensity style — is going to put your body into a better state hormonally. Your body will be able to burn calories long after your workout is done.((J Sports Sci.: Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.)) Your metabolism will now be higher and losing weight will be more achievable.
Along with this, just having more muscle increases your ability to burn calories. Lean muscle is metabolically active even at rest so when you have more muscle you’ll be burning more calories even if you’re sitting still.
5. Not Eating Enough Protein
You probably hear about protein all the time and its main goal is not just to build muscle.
Protein is important for so many different functions in the body; from building hormones and the structure, function, and regulation of tissues and organs in the body.
Protein also has a thermogenic effect, meaning that it takes calories just to eat and digest it.
Have you heard of the “meat sweats”? This is that thermogenic function in action as it takes a lot of energy for the body to digest and absorb protein. This act of muscle protein synthesis can be a big calorie burner in the body.((J Am Coll Nutr.: Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women.))
The next benefit it provides is that just eating protein through the day can also boost your metabolism by 80 to 100 calories a day. This has another good effect as it makes you eat several hundred calories less a day from other food sources.
Protein helps to fill you up and keep you full. You’ll be less hungry at various points in the day and can take in less overall calories helping you to lose more weight.
Protein can also be good at holding off cravings and can keep blood sugar more stable. This way, you won’t get those big peaks and drops that can lead you to craving more carbs and possibly gaining more weight.
It’s a good idea to get a good serving of protein at breakfast as this can help you lose weight. You’ll stay full through the morning and less likely to turn to that mid-morning snack or cravings for sugar.
6. Eating Too Much
If you’ve been serious about losing weight, you’re probably more aware of your food portions and calorie intake. The whole calorie counting issue is a bit of complicated area and it’s not as simple as calories in calories out and not all calories are created equal. 100 calories of walnuts is going to act different in your body than 100 calories of a Coke.
But it’s still important to be aware of how much you’re eating as it may surprise you the amount of calories you’re taking in and not knowing.
The first big thing, for losing weight, is to stop drinking your calories. This means cutting soft drinks, juices, sports drinks, specialty coffees etc. This are fast acting calories that don’t fill you up and can make you hungrier. You’ve taken in hundred of calories without really knowing as there’s no solid structure of protein and fiber to help keep you full.
Since these drinks are all sugar, they can spike your blood sugar leading to a crash. This crash phase is where you tend to crave more of those fast-acting carbs in the form of simple sugars or refined carbs. This is going to make weight loss difficult so do yourself a favor and switch those drinks to water.
You can try to track your calories for a few days just to get an idea of where you stand. From here, you’ll know how you need to restructure things.
Take almonds for example, they are a great healthy snack and having a small handful can be great. But say you do this multiple times over the day. Just one cup of almonds has around 530 calories which may be more than you were planning to take in.
You don’t have to be a slave to tracking food and calories but get a general idea where you’re at and adjust as needed.
7. Eating Too Many Carbs
You may be sick of hearing about everything to do with carbs but when it comes to you not losing weight, you need to be aware of them.
If you’ve been having issues losing weight, or have blood sugar issues such as type 2 diabetes, you may want to go lower carb.
This is something you want to talk over with your doctor, but the majority of the carbohydrates we’re exposed to are not needed at all.
Things like white bread, white rice, white flour and white sugar etc. are providing you no nutrition and are very high glycemic. This keeps your blood sugar elevated and makes it harder to lose weight.
Keeping things lower carb can have positive effects on triglyceride levels and cholesterol along with controlling blood sugar and losing weight.((N Engl J Med.: A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity.))
Carbs based around your workout can still be great for energy but look to the best choices. Aim for things like steel cut oats, wild rice, sweet potatoes and quinoa.
Summing It Up
“Why am I not losing weight?” is a common question heard around gyms and health clubs everywhere. There may be some reasons why as shared here but it’s easy to get back on track with your fitness and weight loss goals.
You may need to just start sleeping more, watch the liquid calories, add in more rest days and watch the carbs. Either way, there should be some solutions to why you aren’t losing weight.