you’ve struggled with exercise and weight loss you’ve probably figured out something frustrating: It’s hard to burn enough calories with exercise to make a serious dent in your weight.
In fact, the workouts that are most effective for weight loss are the hardest ones. These workouts usually involve high impact exercises like those in high-intensity interval training, Tabata training, and metabolic conditioning.
If you’re a veteran exerciser, you might enjoy these workouts on a regular basis. If you’re not, you may find any amount of exercise hard to accomplish and, eventually, that will impact how much weight you lose.
Yes, it’s hard to lose weight with exercise, but there are other issues that may stand in your way without you even realizing it.
Maybe You Are Losing Without Realizing it
If you think you are experiencing a weight loss plateau, then you may not need to freak out just yet.
It is incredibly common for the scale not to budge for a few days (or weeks) at a time. This does NOT mean that you are not losing fat.
Body weight tends to fluctuate by a few pounds. It depends on the foods you are eating, and hormones can also have a major effect on how much water your body holds on to (especially in women).
Also, it is possible to gain muscle at the same time as you lose fat. This is particularly common if you just recently started exercising.
This is a good thing, as what you really want to lose is body fat, not just weight.
It is a good idea to use something other than the scale to gauge your progress. For example, measure your waist circumference and get your body fat percentage measured once per month.
Also, how well your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror can be very telling.
Unless your weight has been stuck at the same point for at least 1-2 weeks, then you probably don’t need to worry about anything.
You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain. One research study found that women who slept 5 hours a night were more likely to gain weight than women who slept 7 hours a night, for example.
The reasons? Experts speculate that:
- Losing sleep may make you feel hungry, even when you’re not.
- Sleep deprivation may affect the secretion of cortisol, one of the hormones that regulate appetite.
- When you’re tired, you may skip exercise or simply move around less, which means burning fewer calories.
Getting enough sleep is crucial if you’re trying to lose weight, not just because of how it affects you physically, but mentally as well. Sleep deprivation makes you cranky, confused, and can even make you feel depressed or angry.
Tips for Better Sleep
Getting a better night’s sleep may involve changing some of your habits. Some ideas:
- Get up and go to bed at the same time each day, even on the weekends.
- Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable and quiet.
- Try the same bedtime rituals such as a hot bath or time writing down your worries.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine or nicotine for several hours before bed.
Make getting better quality sleep a priority and you may just see some weight loss.
You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
Protein is the single most important nutrient for losing weight.
Eating protein at 25-30% of calories can boost metabolism by 80-100 calories per day and make you automatically eat several hundred fewer calories per day. It can also drastically reduce cravings and desire for snacking.
This is partly mediated by protein’s effects on appetite-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin and others .
If you eat breakfast, then this is the most important meal to load up on the protein. Studies show that those who eat a high-protein breakfast are less hungry and have fewer cravings throughout the day.
A high protein intake also helps prevent metabolic slowdown, a common side effect of losing weight. It also helps to prevent weight regain.
You’re Still Drinking Sugar
Sugary beverages are the most fattening items in the food supply. Our brains don’t compensate for the calories in them by making us eat less of other foods .
This isn’t only true of sugary drinks like Coke and Pepsi; it also applies to “healthier” beverages like Vitaminwater – which are also loaded with sugar.
Even fruit juices are problematic, and should not be consumed in large amounts. A single glass can contain a similar amount of sugar as several pieces of whole fruit.
You’re Not Drinking Water
Drinking water can have benefits for weight loss.
In one 12-week weight loss study, people who drank half a liter (17 oz) of water 30 minutes before meals lost 44% more weight.
Drinking water has also been shown to boost the amount of calories burned by 24-30% over a period of 1.5 hours.