I’m a nutritionist – here’s the 6 surprising reasons you are not losing weight
When weight loss is one of your health goals, you might think you know exactly what you need to do to shed those extra pounds.
But despite your best efforts to change your diet and boost your workouts, sometimes you feel like you're doing everything right, only to find out the results aren't there when you stand on the scale.
We asked weight-loss expert, nutritionist and diet coach Sarah Bockhart to reveal where you might be going wrong—and how to make sure your weight-loss efforts aren't in vain…
1. You're not eating enough protein
Sarah said: “When people start a new diet, they think about eating less.
“If you're reducing portion sizes, that might be a good place to start, but a common mistake people make is not eating certain foods.
“Many people also start a new exercise routine when they are trying to lose weight but fail to make nutritional changes to support their increased activity.
“Protein is key to supporting our muscles when we exercise, and it's also filling, which means it supports our energy levels for longer periods of time, preventing us from wanting to eat more.
“Unprocessed high-protein foods include chicken breast, turkey, steak, eggs, nuts, cheese, cottage cheese and tofu.
“Instead of reducing these, increasing the amount of protein you eat should keep you from feeling hungry while also supporting your body to lose weight and build muscle.”
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2. You fall into the diet “trap”
Atkins, low-fat, vegan, 5:2, or just “I'm on a diet” – whatever the diet plan, you're likely to focus on removing food from your daily diet rather than adding it.
Sarah says: “Achieving a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than you burn in a day) is key to losing weight, but how we achieve it makes a difference, if we can maintain it.
“Eating plenty of nutritious food is key to keeping us full because it keeps our bodies satisfied.
“If you're counting calories but trying to lose weight, chances are you're choosing to get your calories from low-quality foods that have little to no nutrition in them.
“Takeout and processed foods (chips, granola/diet bars, processed meats) may fit your calorie count, but they won't make your body happy.
“When we eat a balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, and a variety of these foods, we improve our gut bacteria and improve our overall health and mental health.
“Studies have shown that achieving a calorie deficit by eating nutrient-dense foods versus eating ultra-processed foods not only helps us lose weight more effectively, but also helps us maintain it over the long term.
“Not sure where to start? Follow a meal plan or try cooking from scratch more often.”
3. Your workout is “all or nothing”
Sarah said: “Adding exercise to your week is a great way to help you lose weight and improve your health.
“Exercising not only improves your chances of achieving a calorie deficit—because you burn more calories in 24 hours—but it also boosts feel-good hormones, reduces stress levels, and makes you more likely to be motivated to make healthier food choices.
“That said, one of the big mistakes you can make is that you're in ‘all or nothing' mode when it comes to exercising.
“If your new exercise program sees you exercising for an hour or more and working out as fast as you can during those 60 minutes, only to have you do nothing for the next few days, your Exercising for a long time may be doing you more harm than good.
“Long, hard workouts leave us starved and more likely to eat more food later in the day.
“They also make our bodies extremely tired and require rest, which means we move a lot less over the next few days.
“While you may burn a lot of calories during a long, high-intensity workout, if you're inactive for two days afterward, you're less likely to experience the positive, encouraging weight loss effects of more regular exercise .
“Choose shorter workouts — more frequent, and try to incorporate more general movement into your day, like walking, or simply not sitting for long periods of time.”
4. You don’t get enough sleep
Sarah said: “Yes, not getting enough rest can hinder your weight loss.
“If we don't get enough sleep, it can wreak havoc on our health and make it harder for us to lose weight.
“Fatigue can have a huge negative impact on the decisions we make, such as: increasing our urges to snack; increasing our cravings for high-calorie foods, reducing our motivation to exercise/exercise, increasing our stress levels (which reduces our ability to burn fat), affects our mood (making us less likely to make healthy choices).
“Want to lose weight? Make sleep a priority. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, but aim for eight if you can.”
5. You're losing muscle
Sarah said: “It's probably something you haven't considered, but losing muscle mass stops us from losing weight.
“When we have healthy muscles, our bodies expend more energy throughout the day to keep those muscles well nourished and cared for – which burns more calories.
“If we don't work hard to maintain our muscle mass, we lose 3 to 8 percent of our muscle mass every 10 years we age.
“That may not sound like a lot, but losing muscle strength and mass can prevent us from reaching our calorie deficit goals.
“Prevent this loss of muscle mass by incorporating strength training into your exercise program.
“Regular strength training (using weights while exercising) helps keep your muscles strong, and researchers have found that people who do resistance training regularly lose more fat than those who don't.”
6. You don’t actually know why you do what you do
Sarah said: “You want to lose weight…why?
“If you can't answer that right away, then that's probably why you didn't.
“We're constantly bombarded with messages convincing us we need to lose weight, ‘lose weight for the new year', ‘lose weight for summer', ‘loosen your clothes size'.”
“We see these messages so often that we convince ourselves we need to lose weight — even though we may not know why.
“Take a moment to ask yourself why, and write it down.
“Is it to improve your health? To boost your confidence? To make it easier for you to play with your kids?
“Whatever it is, remind yourself and use it to motivate you.
“If you don't have a reason, then maybe you should reconsider whether you really need to start this weight loss journey.”