Eating right, working out regularly and staying consistent with your training and diet but STILL not losing weight? Here’s what you could be doing wrong, and how to fix it:
Portion size and overeating
The number one mistake most people make when it comes to their diets is underestimating their portion sizes. Over the years, many of the suggested serving sizes on food packaging has increased as manufacturers aim to increase sales. Westernised diets have also adopted larger plates, which means most of us have lost touch with what a recommended serving size actually looks like. So even if you follow a healthy diet, you can still overeat and pack on the kilos. Your diet needs to be both healthful and calorie-controlled to be effective.
Understanding and practising portion control are fundamentally important to weight loss. Following a balanced eating plan – one with the right macronutrient ratios (carbohydrates vs fat vs protein) and nutrient-dense foods – is not only important to your general health and well-being, it is vital for successful weight loss.
How to fix it
One of the easiest ways to cut back on portion sizes is to eat off a smaller plate. In addition to this, having your macronutrient requirements worked out by a professional nutritionist and following a diet consisting of the exact amounts needed for you to reach your goals will ultimately lead to successful weight loss. Your macronutrient requirements depend on your age, physical activity level and your goal: whether you want to lose, gain or maintain your weight.
A sluggish metabolism
There are many factors that affect your metabolism. Your age, gender, weight, level and type of activity and the amount of fat and/or muscle on your body all play a role in how fast or slow your metabolism is. While you can’t change the factors determined by your genes you can rev up your body’s inner furnace with a few simple practices.
How to fix it
- Get enough (quality) sleep. You need a minimum of seven to eight hours a night. One night without any sleep or poor sleep quality can slow your metabolism by up to 5% the next day.
- High-intensity weight training and cardio are great ways to boost your metabolism, often up to 48 hours after a really tough session. The greater the metabolic disturbance, the greater the recovery requirements will be, which means you’ll burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest.
- Weight training is a great way to boost your metabolism. As muscle is metabolically active it requires more energy throughout the day to simply sustain it. As such, more muscle will raise your basal or resting metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories during the course of a day.
Lastly, in contrast to the overconsumption of calories mentioned earlier, someone dieting on a severely calorie-restricted diet will force their body into survival mode as your body requires a certain number of calories to maintain basic biological functions. This is made worse when a dieter exercises intensely. In survival mode, your metabolism will slow as your body tries to conserve as much energy as possible. In this state, it is more likely that your body will preferentially store fat to try and counteract the effects of the severe calorie restriction. So ensuring you consume enough calories is essential.
Hormones play an important role in weight loss. Ghrelin and leptin are two important hormones that hold the key as they control your appetite and therefore affect weight loss. Ghrelin signals hunger while leptin gives the feeling of fullness. If these hormones are out of balance losing weight is nearly impossible because it is very difficult to fight a strong urge to eat, or deal with not ever feeling full and satisfied.
How to fix it
This hormonal imbalance cannot be cured through biology, but rather through the correct diet. Anyone trying to lose weight must stick to diet and lifestyle habits that optimise the production and balance of these hormones. If you don’t your appetite will spiral out of control and you’ll gain weight or experience weight loss resistance.
Not enough protein
Several studies show that higher protein diets may aid weight loss. Protein enhances the feeling of satiety and prevents us from losing muscle as we’re losing fat. Your body also expends more energy metabolising protein than it does carbs or fat. As such, a higher protein diet could help your body burn a few more calories.
How to fix it
The amount of protein you should consume each day depends on your weight. The recommended average intake is about 40-80 grams a day for women. 10-35% of our calories should come from protein so most people get plenty of protein, and easily meet this need by consuming a balanced diet. However, it is important to keep in mind that many animal protein sources are also rich in fat, which can add excess calories to a diet. Also, try to include these fat-loss foods into your diet.
So next time you step on the scale and are disappointed with what you see consider that it may be your metabolism, poor portion control or the incorrect macronutrient ratios that may be the problem, not your exercise regimen or diet plan. First address these areas and, where necessary, seek professional advice to get back on track and achieve your weight loss goals. By addressing these potential pitfalls you’ll also be better equipped to keep the weight off once you achieve your goal.
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Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.