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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 7 Reasons Revealed

Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 7 Reasons Revealed

You’ve made some great changes to your diet and started a good exercise program, but you’re not dropping pounds. Or you’ve been able to lose a little bit of weight, but it seems like you always regain it back, and 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 gotten underway with working out or making changes in your diet, you’ve cleared the biggest hurdle.

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 exercise routine, and you’re getting the hang of it. It’s exciting to get in tune with your body through physical activity and get 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 has felt great, then why not five? Why not seven straight days of strength training and cardio?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, and you’re better off allowing your body to rest. When you work out too much, you can tax your central nervous system. You put your body into a situation where it’s constantly being stressed and releasing stress hormones.

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[1].

When your stress hormones are up, it’s more difficult to lose weight, as your body wants to preserve what it has. Therefore, exercise regularly, but allow yourself time to rest and recover to improve your fitness and 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.

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If you’re experiencing a lack of sleep, 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 hormone 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, these stress hormones also make weight loss very difficult, and your metabolism also starts to slow[2].

Studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain due to increased food intake. One study pointed out that “increased food intake during insufficient sleep is a physiological adaptation to provide energy needed to sustain additional wakefulness”[3].

This is fairly logical. If your body doesn’t receive energy from sleep, it will look elsewhere (food) in order to make up for the lack.

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 don’t drink alcohol or 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 fully 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, surely you should be losing weight, right? This all comes back to metabolism, and again, that stress hormone issue. If you find yourself wondering, “What am I not losing weight?” it’s time to take a look at what and how much you’re eating, as you may be experiencing a calorie deficit.

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 the number of calories you take in isn’t sufficient for your body type, your body thinks there’s another form of trauma, like a drought, happening since you’re not feeding yourself. Body fat storage can be your body’s form of a contingency plan.

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When you don’t eat enough, your metabolism slows 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 body’s priority list.

Add to this overtraining in the gym, and it can really stall your weight loss. 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 with healthy foods. Your body needs consistent fuel in order to function properly and lose weight in the long term.

4. Not Building Muscle

We’re not talking giant bodybuilder muscle here, but good, lean muscle can be part of what helps you 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 hormone-wise. Your body will be able to burn calories long after your workout is done[4]. 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.

If you want more information on how to build muscle fast, check out this article.

5. Not Eating Enough Protein

You probably hear about protein all the time, and its main goal is not just to build muscle mass.

Protein is important for so many different functions in the body, from building hormones to regulating tissues and organs in the body.

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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[5].

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.

6. Eating Too Much

If you’ve been serious about losing weight, you’re probably more aware of your food portions and calorie intake. Calorie counting is not as simple as it may seem, as not all calories are created equal. 100 calories of walnuts is going to act differently in your body than 100 calories of a soft drink.

However, it’s still important to be aware of how much you’re eating, even if you’re eating healthy, as you may be surprised by how many calories you’re taking in without knowing it.

To lose weight, it’s important to stop drinking your calories. This means cutting out soft drinks, juices, sports drinks, specialty coffees, etc. These are fast-acting calories that don’t fill you up and can make you want to eat more.

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 stick 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.

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7. Eating Too Many Carbs

You may be sick of hearing about everything to do with carbs, but if you find yourself asking, “Why am I 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, for example, are providing you no nutrition and are very high glycemic. This keeps your blood sugar elevated and makes it harder to lose weight.

Reduce bad carbs to help you lose weight.

    Keeping things lower carb can have positive effects on triglyceride levels and cholesterol, along with controlling blood sugar and losing weight.

    In one study, which measured 63 obese men and women who were randomly assigned to a specific diet, “subjects on the low-carbohydrate diet had lost more weight than subjects on the conventional diet at 3 months”[6].

    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—the more color on your plate, the better!

    The Bottom Line

    “Why am I not losing weight?” is a common question heard around gyms and health clubs everywhere. There are often specific reasons why, so it can be easy to get back on track with your fitness and weight loss goals once you identify the problem.

    Get your diet and exercise routine in check, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you start to lose weight. Get started today!

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    Featured photo credit: i yunmai via unsplash.com

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    Jamie Logie

    Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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    Published on January 14, 2021

    How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

    How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

    Meal plans are a great way to cut down waste, make shopping for food quicker and easier, and help you to stick to healthy choices. But where do you start? What makes a healthy meal plan for the week, and how do you know what to include?

    Firstly, there is no healthy meal plan that works for everyone. At different stages of your life, you will need different levels of nutrients, but there are some general principles that you can follow, and then adjust as necessary. Here’s how to create a healthy meal plan for the week.

    The Backbone of Your Healthy Meal Plan

    For the vast majority of adults, these practical tips should be the backbone of your meal plan:

    • A range of fruits and vegetables
    • Whole grain carbohydrates (brown rice, brown bread, millet, bulgar wheat, etc)
    • Fermented food such as kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut
    • Unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, and nuts
    • Two portions of oily fish such as salmon per week (or nuts and seeds if you don’t eat fish)
    • A handful of nuts and seeds a day
    • Aim for 30g of fiber a day
    • Eat a range of beans and pulses (such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils)
    • Drink approximately 8 glasses of water a day[1]

    Calorie Counting

    A calorie is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1g water from 14.5 to 15.5°Celsius. This is calculated in a laboratory, by burning the food. However, the food is not “burnt” in our bodies, and people’s metabolism and energy expenditure vary, so it’s a very rough estimate.

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    The absorption and, therefore, how much energy is available for you to use, is also affected by how the food is processed. An example of this is sweetcorn. If you grind it down into a powder and make a tortilla, you will absorb far more calories than if you eat whole sweetcorn kernels. Instead, you will see most of the kernels untouched, in the toilet!

    Another concern with calories is that instead of thinking about nutrient quality, it promotes prioritizing quantity. For example, there is a huge difference in the number of nutrients you could consume in 500 calories of fruit and vegetables, versus 500 calories of ice cream.

    Also the number of calories you need varies according to so many factors, such as age, gender, lifestyle, and activity level, that it is hard to accurately predict exactly how many you need. Instead, I prefer to recommend a general principle of how to balance your plate and a reminder to eat mindfully when you are physically hungry, not because of an emotional trigger.

    How to Balance Your Plate

    When thinking of your healthy meal plan, for each meal your plate should contain approximately:

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    • Fruit and vegetables (1/2 plate)
    • Whole grains (1/4 plate)
    • Lean protein (1/4 plate)
    • A spoon of unsaturated oil

    This will help you when you think of each meal to work out what to include and approximate portion sizes.

    An Example Day

    Breakfast

    • Overnight oats, with chia seeds, quinoa and milk or fortified plant based milk
    • A piece of fruit

    Snack

    • A handful of mixed nuts

    Lunch

    • Grilled tofu with a mixed salad and bulgar wheat
    • A piece of fruit

    Snack

    • Apple slices with nut butter

    Dinner

    • Chicken / tofu / salmon with miso brown rice and spring greens
    • OR vegetable curry, daal, and brown rice
    • OR stuffed aubergine with mixed vegetables and millet or quinoa
    • A piece of fruit

    How to Adjust Your Meal Plan

    There are certain phases when more or less nutrients are needed, so it is important to consider your changing needs.

    When You’re Pregnant

    During your pregnancy, you should limit oily fish to once a week, and only 2 tuna steaks or 4 medium sized cans of tuna per week, because of the risk of pollution.

    You should also avoid the following food groups:

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    • Raw or undercooked eggs
    • Unpasteurized cheese
    • Raw or undercooked meat
    • Pâté
    • Swordfish, shark, and marlin
    • Homemade ice-cream with raw egg
    • Soft-serve ice cream from vans or kiosks
    • Vitamin A supplements
    • Liquorice root
    • Alcohol

    When You’re Breastfeeding

    While you are breastfeeding, your body needs more calcium (1250mg), selenium (70mcg), and iodine (200mcg). Ensure that you include these in your meal plan.

    When Going Through Menopause

    Menopause

    changes your long-term risk of disease, so it is important to focus on items that help support bone and heart health. The framework above already sets out a diet to support long term heart health, but for bone health aim for:

    • 1200mg calcium per day
    • High-quality protein at every meal
    • Foods rich in vitamin K
    • Foods rich in phosphorus
    • Foods rich in magnesium

    Organizing Your Shopping

    Once you have completed your healthy meal plan for the week, you can save the ingredients that you regularly need to an online shopping list, in order to make repeat ordering simpler. Some recipe books also now have a QR code so that you can easily synchronize the ingredients needed with your online shopping.

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    Try to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible, but canned beans, frozen, dried, and freeze dried fruit make great substitutes for fresh, retaining most of the nutrients.

    Final Thoughts

    Creating a healthy meal plan for the week may be daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll become a fun addition to your weekly planning, and one that will ultimately improve your overall lifestyle. Try to use the general feedback above and adapt it to your own specific needs. Enjoy looking for new and exciting recipes to include in your plan!

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    Featured photo credit: Ello via unsplash.com

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