Sneaky Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight

 

You are exercising regularly; you try to eat right and your weight loss stalled or you just can’t seem to lose any weight. You think something is wrong with your metabolism. This scenario can be very frustrating. You are putting in effort but are not seeing the results.  There are many reasons why you may not be losing weight that you may not realize.  Below are the top 5 reasons you may have stalled:

Skimping on protein: Protein aids in weight loss in several ways. Protein helps to get you full and keep you full longer. Eating protein at each meal can help with appetite control. Protein also burns calories just to process it – this is called the thermic effect of food or TEF. Protein has a high TEF -so when we eat adequate protein it burns calories. People who skimp on protein may get hungry sooner after eating a meal or snack (which may lead to more snacking) and will not burn as many calories from the TEF.

Try to choose lean forms of protein most often such as skinless poultry, eggs, reduced-fat milk/dairy, fish, seafood, and plant protein (beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, edamame, seitan, etc.).  Cooking methods matter. Grilling, baking, broiling, air frying, roasting, or steaming foods most often helps keep calories down. 

Underestimating your food intake: Many of us track or log what we eat when we are trying to lose weight. There are many websites and apps people use for this purpose.  Food logging is an effective way to stay on track, keep people accountable and aware of their eating habits, and see the nutritional impact of their food choices. However, we may not be logging as accurately as we think. If you are estimating your portion sizes, you may be underestimating the amount you are eating. You may be surprised that the 3 ounces of grilled chicken you estimated you ate at lunch maybe 6 oz or the cup of rice you had for dinner was 1.5 cups. 

I suggest weighing all animal protein with a food scale once it is cooked to get an accurate portion size. For all other foods, you should use measuring cups and spoons to measure. 

In addition, sometimes people forget to log condiments such as salad dressing, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, oils, or the cream/milk and sugar added to coffee/tea. These foods are very calorie-dense – 1 teaspoon of oil, butter, margarine or mayo has about 50 calories.  Two tablespoons of regular salad dressing can have over 100 calories. If you are drinking multiple cups of coffee and/or tea daily and adding sugar or creamer – this can add up.  When we do not track these details, we could be consuming hundreds more calories per day than we think. Your calorie totals for the day will not be very accurate. You may be thinking you are in a calorie deficit and should be losing weight, when in fact you are not. 

Lack of sleep: Poor sleep increases the stress hormones in our bodies, which can increase weight gain. Also, when we do not sleep, we are awake for more hours and have more time to eat and drink potentially consuming more calories. Less sleep also means less energy and that could cut into your exercise. Sleep deprivation, especially for people who work the night shift – can encourage people to eat more to “stay awake.”  It is important to make sure you are getting adequate sleep – about 8 hours per night. If you have trouble falling asleep – try to set up a consistent bedtime routine: go to sleep about the same time each night, avoid caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime, avoid electronic devices at least 2 hours before bed, and keep the room dark and cool. If these tips do not help and/or you have issues staying asleep or have sleep apnea – speak to your doctor about strategies to help with these issues.  

Chronic, High Stress Levels: When we are stressed, we release cortisol which is a hormone that may increase hunger and lead people to overeat.  Some people use food as a coping mechanism when they are stressed.  This can lead to weight gain or no weight loss. It is important to learn how to manage stress in a healthy way such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, journaling, talking to a trusted friend, using an app, exercising, or getting therapy. When we manage stress in a healthy, nurturing way, we decrease the stress hormones and minimize stress eating.

Not Moving Enough: You may go to the gym 5 days a week and work out for an hour or go for a long, brisk walk almost daily.  While it is extremely important to exercise regularly, you may still not be moving enough.  The activity we do outside of regular exercise is called NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) – this includes housework, yard work, walking to catch the bus, fidgeting, etc.  If you are sitting in front of a computer at your desk at work, and then sit in the car (train or bus) on your commute and then sit more after dinner, you are not moving enough. It important to increase the NEAT so you are burning more calories, which allows you to lose weight.  In addition to your regular workouts, how do you increase NEAT?  

  • take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator
  • avoid drive-thru service and park your car and go into the bank, pharmacy, etc.,
  • make a point of getting up to walk around your office or home every hour to get more steps in, get a standing desk so you can stand while you are working, 
  • get a walking pad or under-the-desk elliptical to keep your legs moving. 

 

If you are not losing weight, evaluate your current habits and see if one or more of the above might be sabotaging your efforts.  Often small changes in diet and exercise can help you break through and reach your weight loss goals.