Losing weight is never easy. Your body will certainly fight back. It is complicated, emotional, and quite demotivating, especially when you know you’ve done your best. Most of the time, you’ll jump on that scale and wonder, why am I not losing weight in a Calorie Deficit?
Well, breathe for a second. Next, know this, weight loss is not universal. What works for another may not work for you. Also, the fact that you’re exercising and eating well is no guarantee that you will shed off some pounds.
Many factors play a significant role in determining whether you will lose weight or not. Some of them include how much you already weigh, your age, your medical history, and your gender.
It is, therefore, important to set reasonable goals for yourself. Experts recommend that the best way to estimate how much weight you can lose by exercising and a healthy diet is to calculate 10% of your total body weight.
For instance, if you weigh 160 pounds, you can lose about 16 pounds through a diet change and an upgrade to your physical activity. More than that, your body will fight to maintain the energy stores and fat.
Young adults lose up to 20 percent of their body weight through the same process. It may take a man up to 3 months to lose 10 percent of their weight and a woman up to 6 months! Generally, progress is slower for women compared to men.
Nevertheless, dropping 10 percent of your body weight requires some hard work, and if you are failing, here are some of the reasons you are not losing weight in a calorie deficit.
1. Thinking more muscles mean lost fat
Training and gaining muscles doesn’t necessarily mean that you are burning fat. Fat has a higher density than water, so it is not an apples-to-apples substitute. In a nutshell, overestimating your muscle weight and refusing to re-evaluate your weight-loss strategies to accommodate it will result in your fat remaining the same.
Muscle weight can make your weight-loss journey seem like a marathon to tip the scale to a higher number. So, if you are adding weight or are looking the same even after exercise and a shift in diet, consider something else that isn’t muscle gain.
Making a further adjustment to your diet creates a deficit in calories, which will force your body to burn more fat.
2. Not eating enough plant-based protein
It is widely accepted that animal protein can lead to weight gain and other health complications. Of course, proteins have their benefits. They easily satiate you making you eat less over time. These nutrients also help you build muscles, skin, and healthy bones.
However, in regard to weight loss, consuming too much animal protein can lead to significant weight loss compared to plant-based proteins.
If you are not shedding the pounds as you should, consider sourcing your proteins from legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
You can consume many of these foods without worrying about any negative implications on your health.
3. You’re not eating whole foods
If you are blowing off healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet, you might want to think twice. A diet that eliminates or significantly reduces the number of processed foods is good for weight loss.
Structure your diet to fit whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. These foods yield better weight-loss results than foods such as cereal, crackers, and pre-packaged meals.
In a 2019 study by Cell Metabolism, the findings indicated that when participants consumed a diet with similar nutrients such as similar amounts of protein, fat, sugar, and fiber, those that ate processed foods increased their caloric intake and gained weight than the group those who consumed whole foods.
You should stock some whole food such as frozen produce, oats, eggs, fish, leafy greens, and whole bread around your house. Also, consider hard-boiled eggs as a quick snack when you need to rush out.
Perhaps starting every dinner with a mixed green salad is a great way to ensure that you eat more vegetables.
4. Your exercise isn’t intense enough
While exercising for weight loss, focus on quality over quantity – the same as in your caloric intake. Pay attention to intensity versus the duration of your cardio when trying to lose weight.
If your goal is to shed some pounds, walk about 10 to 12 miles a day. Walking for two kilometers a day is not in vain; it has its health benefits, but weight loss is not one of them.
To yield better results, choose activities that boost your heart rates like cycling, CrossFit sessions, boot camps, and any other high-intense workouts that maximize your cardio.
5. Too much sugar
Sugar is terrible for weight loss. Sugar makes you add weight faster when you drink it than when eaten. Even if you have only one bottle of soda a day, you won’t lose weight. If you didn’t know, now is the time to reconsider.
Experts suggest that it is better to eat a cookie when hungry, which will satiate you easily, than drink 150 calories and still feel hungry. If you drink a soda, then eat; all you have achieved is adding more calories to your daily intake.
When you crave a sweet drink, make your own by freshly squeezing fruits or blending them without adding anything else. You can also drink flavored water, but ensure that you read the label to ensure no added sugars.
6. You’re not getting enough sleep
A weight loss 2019 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that of the nearly 2,000 participants, those with less sleep variability patterns lost the most weight.
This means that a constant disruption to an otherwise healthy, regular sleep-wake pattern may negatively impact your journey to achieving better weight loss results.
It is even worse for those working and switching between day and night shifts. Of course, you may not have the luxury of choosing your work schedule, but if you can find a way to break this inconsistency, then you should.
7. You’re eating regularly
Long ago, it was widely promoted that eating small portions of food regularly throughout the day helps one lose weight. Lately, researchers have proven that intermittent leads to better weight loss results.
Getting the right amounts of calories in a short period followed by a long period with little to no calories is beneficial to your health compared to having a bite now and then.
Take note that intermittent fasting is not ideal for everyone. It is important to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before trying it. They’ll help you make a plan that is more effective and sustainable. This type of fasting is not ideal for those with diseases such as diabetes and pregnant women.
8. You’re drinking too much alcohol
Not to burst your bubble, but your weekly sessions of a happy hour could be interfering with your weight loss efforts. Alcohol is associated with weight gain for some reasons.
It contains empty calories — which incidentally spike when you start drinking cocktails. Alcohol also changes your relationship with food.
When you drink alcohol, your appetite increases, thus eating more. You stop paying attention to your caloric intake and, in turn, pack a few more pounds. Alcohol is also known to affect how your body burns fat.
Instead of alcohol, drink water. Drinking plenty of water can complement your weight-loss strategies. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics established many links between weight-loss outcomes and drinking water.
9. You have a medical condition
If you have a medical history, it could be the culprit preventing you from losing weight. Any condition such as hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome, which affects your hormones, or one that affects your insulin levels, such as diabetes, will make it difficult for you to lose weight. Heart disease has also been known to have the same effect.
Consequently, an injury that results in limited mobility can make you throw on some pounds, partly due to the resultant muscle loss. Fewer muscles mean your body is burning less fat when at rest. Part of the reason is that being immobile reduces your ability to exercise regularly.
10. You’re getting older
Losing weight when you are older is a little more complicated than you think. It is easier to achieve effortless results when you are in your 20s.
During this period, you can take a break from booze and ignore cake for a while when you want to lose five pounds, and it works, but if you are in your 40s, it will take more than just exercise and a diet plan.
It is better to focus on resistance training to enhance your muscle mass. This will eventually help you shed fat by burning more when resting and jumpstart your weight loss journey.
11. You’re stressed or depressed
There is simply a lot that can happen in life that will force you into stress or being depressed. Divorce, death, and being fired from a job you love, among others, can trigger weight gain. Some people, while stressed, tend to have an eating disorder and then there are those who ignore what they are eating because making it through the day is as frustrating as it can get. Others don’t exercise at all.
If you are one of those people, you must find holistic ways to manage your state, even if it is something simple such as low-impact cardio. Most importantly, seek help from a medical professional.
It is also worth noting that some stress can be associated with unresolved trauma. For example, a history of sexual abuse is often linked to weight gain. There are many resources and specialists who can help victims get through the mental turmoil of such victims.
12. You are addicted to food
It is easy to get emotionally attached to food. When you find yourself craving food, sabotaging your weight loss plan, or cheating a lot on your diet, you are probably addicted to food.
However, this does not mean you are not strong enough to break this food addiction and lose weight. If you are used to bingeing or gorging, are always thinking about food, cannot concentrate at work, are depressed, are not sleeping well, and is always anxious, reach out to a professional for food addiction.
13. You’re distracted when you eat
The downside to constantly being distracted while eating is that you consume more food than you would in a sitting.
When you find yourself in this situation, it is recommended that you try as much to commit to taking a lunch break or sitting away from such distractions.
It is not surprising to exercise and not realize any progress in your weight-loss journey. So many factors can influence how and when you lose weight. If you lose sight of the big picture, become more over-ambitious, or neglect how you have been losing and adding weight over the years, you might keep on maintaining the same scale.
It is important to set realistic goals and see your efforts through. If you have a medical history, consult with your doctor first.