Feel like you’ve given your all and worked hard to lose weight but not seeing any results? You might be making some crucial mistakes.
Reader´s Digest listed nine reasons why your diet might be failing.
1. You aren’t taking in enough calories
When losing weight and getting in shape, not everything is about cutting calories. Erin Palinski-Wade, registered dietitian and author of Belly Fat for Dummies says, “A calorie is not just a calorie.”
She explains that calories from nutrients such as protein and unsaturated fat keep a stomach full for an extended period. Calories from simple sugars should be avoided since they digest rapidly.
A study from Japan found that restricting calories led to a slower metabolic rate. By not getting enough calories your body goes into survival mode, which means metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy. This prevents weight loss.
“Focus on improving the nutritional quality of your diet rather than your calorie intake for improved body weight and health,” Palinski-Wade recommends.
2. You are skipping meals
Talking about cutting calories, cutting meals is also counterproductive when dieting. Being overly hungry is not healthy since it throws off the balance in your body.
“Energy intake, or what´s consumed, and expenditure, or what´s burned, is coordinated by signals from several systems, including the endocrine, adipose tissue, neurologic and gastrointestinal systems,” Laura Moore, RD, director of the dietetic internship program at the University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health, explains.
Chemical signals are sent to the brain and increase or decrease appetite. “This weight regulation system helps maintain a healthy weight for most people by modifying hunger, activity and metabolism to keep the body weight within a target,” she says, adding that moving below this target by skipping meals makes the brain´s energy-balance system goes into action. As a consequence, the weight is pushed back to its set point or even above.
To put it simply, you are fighting with your body over where your weight should be. Therefore, you should listen to its signals, which means eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.
3. You are not mindful when you eat
In case you still want to eat less but also satisfy your body´s hunger signals you should not only change what you eat but especially how you eat. “Mindful eating” is about being aware of everything you put into your mouth.
“Take small bites of food and chew slowly, stopping two or three times during a meal to determine if you are hungry or if you feel satisfied,” Moore recommends.
A research from US university Cornell suggests rechecking your portions on the size of your plates. Using bigger ones influence how much you consume.
Noshing directly from a package, buffet meals and food advertisements are further factors leading to overeating.
Moore´s advice is to avoid any distractions while eating. “Are you watching television, working through lunch, eating at your desk, or while driving in your car? It is important to disengage and focus on the meal, which will allow a person to experience hunger and satiety.”
4. You are not drinking enough water
Being on a healthy diet also means considering drinking enough water. It is good for the workings of your body and also helps filling your stomach up, so you eat less.
“The body is composed of 50 to 60 percent water, so it´s a necessary nutrient to maintain body fluids,” Moore says. Consider that other liquids like juice or soda are not as healthy as water.
Moore admits that water is not the key for weight loss but can decrease calories when being substituted for sugar-sweetened beverages.
According to a study from the University of Illinois, people having an increased water consumption by one to three cups were able to reduce their caloric intake by 68 to 205 calories daily. Saturated fat, sugar, sodium, and cholesterol have been lowered also.
Eating fruits and vegetables with a higher water content are also a healthy way to increase your daily intake of fluids. Watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cucumber, lettuce, celery, radish and tomato work well for supplying extra liquids to your body.
5. You are not exercising
Sure, eating healthy should be an important part of your diet. But exercise on a regular basis also plays a huge role.
“If you have been adjusting your food intake without seeing the scale move, it may be because diet is just one part of the weight loss puzzle,” Palinski-Wade mentions.
Taking in fewer calories but moving less will lead to burning fewer calories. “That cancels out your overall calorie deficit, which leads to limited weight loss.” Therefore, do not cut calories too drastically – you will need energy to exercise.
Studies have shown that only exercising more is not enough to achieve weight loss. Still, it is important for overall health and speeding up a slow metabolism.
Do your body a favor and don´t use going to gym as an excuse to have some junk food afterwards.
6. You think genetics do not matter
According to scientists there is no one-size-fits-all diet plan. One might help you lose weight, while making someone else gain weight. You have two options: trial and error or doing an over-the-counter genetic testing.
“Although the majority of your weight status is influenced by your environment and lifestyle choices, some of the way your boy stores fat, as well as your body weight, is determined by genes,” says registered dietitian Ginger Hultin from Seattle, RDN.
Being aware of your body and its needs is essential. In case you are sensitive to dietary fat, a fat-heavy diet plan like keto or Paleo could be a disaster for you.
7. You ignore other health issues
There is no way around seeing a doctor. Medical conditions like slow thyroid (hypothyroidism) or side effects of medication can cause weight gain.
“Medications, thyroid labs, and other testing should be assessed by your physician if you have concerns,” Hultin points out.
Other factors having an impact on body weight are stress, mental health and sleep. That´s why all aspects of lifestyle should be addressed for optimal results.
“Looking at weight loss holistically, from all angles, creates a more well-rounded and balanced program that truly impacts long-term health positively,” Hultin says.
8. You are yo-yo dieting
So-called yo-yo dieting or weight cycling can be really frustrating. After losing weight quickly, you will gain it back repeatedly.
According to research all this back and forth confuses your body, which makes it harder to lose weight in subsequent attempts.
“Crash diets that cause you to lose weight rapidly due to excessive dietary restriction can lead to a loss of both body fat and muscle mass,” Palinski-Wade explains.
Losing muscles slows down your metabolism. This way, you gain the weight back easily and it gets harder to lose it again.
9. You do not have a “squad”
Friends and loved ones can be very supportive in our private lives. Ditto for staying motivated for your diet.
A study revealed that 95 percent of people realizing a weight loss program supported by their friends, completed it. In comparison, only 76 percent of those who went it alone, finished it.
Due to research people are being affected by their friend’s health habits. For example, a study has shown that the more time obese people spent with their fit friends, the more weight they lost.
“Accountability and support are two main ingredients to long-term weight management success,” Palinski-Wade says.
By surrounding yourself with encouraging and supporting people can increase your own motivation and grit. (sop/kes)