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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 7 Reasons Revealed

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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 August 24, 2021

    What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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    What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

    I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

    Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

    A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Lean protein
    • Nuts
    • Water

    This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

    Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

    What Is a Whole Food Diet?

    By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

    In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

    Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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    Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

    Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

    For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

    • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
    • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
    • Berries five times a week
    • Five or more servings of nuts a week
    • Olive oil five times a week
    • Whole grains five times a week
    • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
    • Legumes and pulses five times a week
    • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
    • Vitamin D supplement
    • Minimally processed foods
    • No more than one glass of wine a day
    • One or two coffee or tea a day max
    • Two liters of water a day

    That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

    Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

    And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

    Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

    Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

    For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

    So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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    As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

    Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

    In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

    A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

    In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

    Whole Foods and the Gut

    Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

    They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

    Whole Foods and the Brain

    The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

    In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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    Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

    • Oily fish
    • Nuts
    • Eggs
    • Berries
    • Broccoli
    • Whole grains

    Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

    Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

    It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

    Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

    This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

    Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

    Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

    Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

    Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

    Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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    1. Practice Batch Cooking

    Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

    For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

    I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

    2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

    Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

    Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

    If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

    Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

    If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

    Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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