Losing weight can be a challenge, especially as we get older. Losing weight can be a little more complicated than just diet and exercise. Sleeping habits, heart rate, and water intake can all play a role in your weight loss journey. Keep reading for common things that may be preventing the scale from going down.
Your Body Composition Is Changing
Losing body fat doesn’t always translate to a lower number on the scale. If you’re doing more vigorous workouts, odds are you’re also putting on muscle. This can cause the number on the scale to stay flat, or even go up a little.
A more reliable way of measuring progress is to take photos to note changes in your body’s progression. An even simpler option is to take notice of how your clothes are fitting.
You’re Focused On The Quantity Of Calories, Not The Quality
Cutting calories can only get you so far on your weight loss journey. Bariatric surgeon Matthew Weiner told Women’s Health that only about 10% of your overall weight can be lost through cutting calories alone.
After that, it’s all about focusing on the quality of the calories that you are consuming. That’s because the body will start holding onto fat for preservation. Changing what you eat, not just how much, can have a greater impact on your overall metabolism.
You’re Sleeping Too Little… Or Too Much
Not sleeping enough can have a pretty straightforward impact on weight gain since it’s more challenging to exert energy when fatigued. However, it can also impact the scale by throwing off the hormones that control hunger.
It may be surprising to hear that the same is true for sleeping too much. WebMD warns that sleeping less than 5 hours or more than 9 hours per night can impact hunger hormones in a way that negatively impacts weight loss.
You’re Not Getting Enough Protein
Protein is known for helping the body build muscle, but did you know that it also can boost the metabolism? This is because of the way protein affects appetite-regulating hormones like ghrelin.
A study by the University of Missouri found that those who eat a high protein breakfast have fewer cravings throughout the day. Plus, protein’s impact on muscle growth can lead to more calories burned overall since muscle tissue has a higher metabolic rate than fat tissue.
You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
It may seem counterintuitive to drink more water when trying to lose weight because of water weight. Since sodium and refined carbs are causes of water retention, you’ll likely lose some water weight by adapting a healthier diet.
Additionally, drinking enough water helps decrease the urge to consume sugary beverages since you’re fully hydrated. It can also lead to eating less by sending full signals to the brain. A 2015 study found that participants ate 22% less when they drank two glasses of water before a meal.
You Don’t Eat Frequently Enough Throughout The Day
Spacing out meals can cause your metabolism to slow down so that the calories aren’t burned as efficiently. Alternatively, eating throughout the day helps keep the metabolism going strong. Plus, the body can more efficiently burn off small meals.
Additionally, waiting too long can lead to intense hunger that causes you to overeat. It’s easier to exercise portion control when you’re only moderately hungry. You’re also less likely to give into a craving or to grab something unhealthy because it’s quick.
You’re Not Resistance Training
While cardio is often thought of as the ultimate calorie-burning form of exercise, not building enough strength can impact weight loss, too. Resistance training can be hugely beneficial to weight loss because it increases muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism.
Without exercise, muscle mass can be lost alongside body fat, slowing down weight loss over time. Strength training techniques such as plyometrics, isometrics, and weight lifting can help tone the body and maintain long-term fat loss.
You’re Eating Too Much Of A Good Thing
Eating healthy whole foods is a great way to lose weight, but only if you’re paying attention to how much you’re consuming. Appeasing a sweet tooth with fruit is helpful, but it’s still sugar that will impact your insulin levels and can affect weight loss when eaten in excess.
Similarly, munching on nuts instead of chips is great, but eating them in excess can lead to overconsumption. Be sure to stick to healthy servings as well as foods.
You’re Not Eating Enough Whole Foods
Some labels can be deceiving by suggested processed foods are healthy or diet food. While not all processed food is created equally, they still don’t hold a candle to whole foods.
Whole foods can help expedite weight loss since they are often more filling than processed foods. A 2019 study found that participants who ate whole foods consumed fewer calories than those who relied on processed foods, even when their nutrient intake was similar.
You’re Distracted While Eating
Eating while watching television, scrolling through a phone, or doing another distracting activity keeps your focus away from the food you’re consuming. This can make it easy to overindulge without even realizing it.
Mindful eating has grown in popularity not just for weight loss, but for overall health and wellbeing. It involves eating without distraction, chewing slowly, and paying more attention to flavors and textures. These practices help the brain realize when it’s full, increasing satisfaction.
You’re Eating Out Too Often
Eating out can be convenient, but it can also add more calories than you realize. Even healthier menu items can be challenging to factor into a diet with all of the ingredients and sauces used.
According to WebMD, people who eat lunch out every day weigh an average of five more pounds compared to those who make their lunch. Keeping restaurant meals to a minimum may be the key to shedding some of that stubborn weight.
Your Heart Rate Is Too Low During Cardio
Cardio workouts can aid weight loss by blasting through calories. They also help increase endurance for better resistance workouts, leading to more muscle and a higher metabolism. However, it’s important to pay attention to heart rate to maximize these effects.
Instead of doing a slow form of exercise for a long time, opt for shorter bursts of high intensity cardio. Sprinting, cycling, Zumba, and other upbeat forms of cardio can get your heart rate up for a more efficient workout.
You Reward Workouts With Treats
It can be tough finding the motivation to get to the gym, especially when you’re just starting out and it hasn’t become a habit yet. However, be careful about creating a reward system based on food.
If the only thing getting you through a workout is imagining the treat you’re going to indulge in after, then you may be consuming more calories than you’re burning. Opt for a healthy smoothie or protein bar and be sure to check the ingredients.
You Have A Sedentary Lifestyle
While getting regular exercise is a vital part of weight loss, it may not be enough to compensate for an overly sedentary lifestyle. Those who work a desk job and then spend their freetime sitting down may not be burning enough extra calories throughout the day.
There are small habits that can make a huge difference in terms of everyday movement. Taking regular breaks to go for a walk, taking the stairs, and parking farther away are some examples.
As the body ages, it starts to function differently than it did before. Metabolism naturally slows down with age as the body stops retaining as much muscle and instead stores fat. That’s why it’s especially important to perform resistance training at an older age.
It may also require more effort in terms of diet and calorie burning to lose weight. If you’re eating and working out the way you did in your 20s and not seeing results, age may be the culprit.
You Have A Medical Condition
Certain medical conditions can make it especially challenging to lose weight. For instance, hypothyroidism affects your hormones in such a way that weight gain is common. Heart disease and other conditions can also impact your blood pressure, making exercise difficult.
Medications can also contribute to weight gain by increasing water retention, impacting hormones, or creating side effects that make it difficult to work out. A doctor may be able to help create a weight loss plan or change your medication.
Stress eating isn’t a myth. According to Harvard Health Publishing, high levels of cortisol and insulin may be the reason distress leads to eating. And it’s not just any food that people who are stressed crave.
It’s particularly items that are high in fat and sugar. These foods actually impact the brain in a way that lowers the body’s response to stress. If you’re going through a stressful time or have a stress-inducing job, it may be impacting your diet and weight loss.
You Are Recovering From An Injury
Injuries can make it extra challenging to lose weight since it can limit mobility, making it harder to exercise. Exercise is not only important for losing weight, but also for maintaining it.
In addition to possibly gaining weight from lack of exercise, not having your full range of motion can lead to muscle loss. If you’re eating the same amount but losing muscle, then less of the calories will be burned, which can result in weight gain.
You Don’t Plan Out Meals Ahead Of Time
Planning your next meal ahead of time or even meal prepping can be a huge advantage when trying to lose weight. When you plan a meal while not hungry, you have more patience to think everything through.
If you wait until the last minute then you’ll want to instinctively grab the closest and easiest thing possible to eat. Especially if you have a busy schedule, not planning ahead can result in sugary, processed snacks and fast food meals.
You’re Too Fixating On Dieting
A study review by Frontiers in Psychology found that those who diet actually gain more weight over time. The stress of dieting can cause you to put on more pounds when the diet is finally over.
It’s better to adopt a more gradual approach and think of it as a lifestyle shift rather than a temporary restraint. Instead of fixating on dieting, aim to become healthier over time. Set attainable goals to develop healthier habits that last.