Being a healthy weight is important for your health, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes as well as promoting better sleep and more energy.
Are you trying to lose weight and seem to be doing everything right, but the pounds are not coming off? What are you doing wrong? These are some of the reasons why your weight loss might not be as good as you would like.
Are you jumping on the scales every day?
Firstly, there is a big difference between weight loss and fat loss. Weight loss is a decrease of muscle, water and fat in the body whereas fat loss is weight loss from fat. Most diets are marketed for losing weight so it’s not a surprise that many people think that they need to lose weight, when what they really want to lose is fat. The scales certainly don’t give you the whole picture and should only be used as a guide. Standing on the scales too often can also leave you feeling demoralised, meaning you are more likely to give up if you don’t see the number going down, even though there is a good reason why this might not be happening. If you are exercising and gaining muscle mass, you will be losing fat and inches and gaining muscle so your actual ‘weight loss’ could be much slower, but you will be seeing results. Measuring the percentage of fat in the body and taking inch measurements is a much better and more accurate way to determine the amount of fat in the body, and to see those results.
Are you eating too much?
This may sound like an obvious reason why you’re not losing weight (fat) – if you eat too much you will put weight on. However, portion sizes have increased over the years and it’s very easy to underestimate the amount of food eaten. In order to lose fat, you need to regularly be eating a deficit of calories, which can vary from person to person. In other words, you need to burn more calories than you eat. This doesn’t just mean restricting the amount of food you eat, but rather moving and exercising more to burn those calories. Get used to checking food labels to see how many calories, and how much fat and sugar they contain. Try to track your food for a few days to see how many calories you are eating. You might be in for a shock.
Are you eating the wrong foods?
Foods that are labelled’ diet’ or ‘low fat’ are usually filled with sugar to make them taste better. Instead of filling you up, these foods are likely to leave you feeling hungrier, which only means that you will end up eating more and consuming more calories. Eating too much sugar can cause the body to produce higher levels of ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone. They will also leave you feeling sluggish and with less energy. Choose nutritious whole foods instead of highly processed foods and watch portion sizes. This is especially important for women going through the menopause as high blood sugar seems to make menopause symptoms worse.
Are you eating when you’re not hungry?
It’s easy to reach for a snack when you’re either watching tv or if you’re bored, and this leads to extra calories being consumed throughout the day. Try having a drink of water before eating a snack as the brain confuses feelings of hunger and thirst, or try to distract yourself by doing something for 20 minutes, to see if you are hungry or just bored. The chances are the feelings of hunger will have passed and, if they haven’t, then have a small snack. The same principle applies to dessert after a meal. Wait 20 minutes to see if you still really want it. Try to eat only when you are actually hungry.
Are you getting enough sleep?
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body increases your levels of ghrelin which is a hormone that increases hunger and decreases your levels of leptin which is a hormone that decreases hunger, and these combined make you hungry and wanting to eat more than you should be eating in order to maintain a healthy weight or losing weight. Who would have thought that sleep could be so important in weight loss?
Are you getting enough exercise?
When you are trying to lose weight (fat), you will unavoidably lose some muscle mass. A lack of exercise can lead to loss of muscle mass and lower metabolism. Resistance exercise/strength training is the best type of exercise to improve muscle strength and tone, as well as protecting the joints, helping with flexibility and balance, increasing bone density (very important for women going through the menopause) and also increasing muscle mass and boosting fat loss including belly fat (muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells). This is especially important as you get older as it helps with independence and being able to still do day to day tasks and activities. Resistance exercise also boosts your metabolism even after you have finished exercising. Look at how W Fitness can help you.
Do you know how many calories you are eating?
I mentioned being in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight (fat) earlier on and the only way to know if you are, is to track your food. It’s easy to think that you are staying within a healthy calorie range but guessing can add up to eating unwanted calories. it’s quite often a surprise when you add them all up. Find out how many calories you are consuming by tracking the food that you eat. You can either write this down, use of Fitbit or an app on your phone. Make sure to include everything. It’s easy to overlook that one biscuit, those few sweets that you had in the car, the remainder of your child’s tea or that can of coke! Once you know what you are eating, you can see where improvements in your diet need to be made. Aim to track your food for a couple of weeks to give you a good average of the amount of calories you’re eating, but no longer as counting calories can become obsessive – it’s more about becoming aware of the amount of calories in certain foods. Plus, remember it’s important to eat the right calories!
Are you eating enough protein?
Protein is extremely important and has been shown to help with weight loss. It makes you feel fuller and helps to reduce your appetite. It also increases your metabolic rate and is essential for repairing and building muscle after exercise. Try to incorporate some protein into every meal. Good sources include eggs, chicken/turkey, Greek yogurt, almonds, milk, broccoli, fish and lentils.
Are you too impatient?
Are you wanting results immediately or within a couple of weeks? Losing weight/fat takes time. It didn’t go on overnight and you won’t lose it overnight. Try not to set unachievable goals like losing a stone in a month. You will become demoralised and more likely to stop trying. Set yourself small achievable goals such as losing a pound a week and then treat yourself to something nice every month when you achieve it. 26 weeks (6 months) is 26 pounds which adds up to 1 stone and 12 pounds! Remember slow and steady wins the race. ‘Diets’ promising fast fixes such as juice diets, cutting out a specific food group or restrictive calorie diets do not work. You might initially lose weight but once you start to eat a little more – let’s be honest – none of these diets are sustainable long term, you will soon put the weight back on and, quite possibly, even more.
So, check what you are eating, watch those calories and eat a healthy balanced diet, with an occasional treat 😊 This is a long term sustainable healthy eating plan which will get you those results (and keep them) that you want and will stop the need for quick fix ‘diets’ which only end up in disappointment.
Caroline & Hannah xx