If you’re trying to get fit and lose weight, you’re in good company: nearly half of Americans say they’re trying to drop a few pounds. Many people manage to shed pounds in no time, but it’s not so easy for everyone.
Diet not working? There could be a number of issues to blame.
Whether you’ve hit a weight-loss plateau, or you’re not able to lose even a single pound, don’t fret. Read on for the top 8 reasons your diet isn’t working. That scale will start moving in no time!
1. You’re Not Building Lean Muscle Mass
Here’s something to remember: muscle is active tissue, meaning it burns fat even when you sleep. Use this to your advantage and ensure that you’re doing some resistance exercises to improve muscle tone and build lean muscle mass.
Ladies, this doesn’t mean you need to “bulk up” or start chugging protein shakes. Yoga and body weight exercises, like pilates, can do wonders to build lean muscle. Body composition is a big deal when it comes to healthy living, and it’s important that you have a healthy ratio of lean muscle to fat.
2. Diet Not Working? You’re Not Reading Labels
Food marketers are pros at putting “low fat” and “low carb” on food items that just aren’t all that good for you. Get familiar with reading the labels and making the decision yourself. Read closely the amount of sugar in packaged goods (recommended intake is lower than you might think) and try to avoid refined, hydrogenated oils.
Similarly, try to “eat clean” and avoid packaged foods with more than a handful of ingredients listed. The best part of clean eating? By sticking to whole foods, you don’t even need to read ingredient labels, because there aren’t any!
3. While We’re On the Topic of Sugar…
Remember, sugars hide in plenty of fruit juices, granola bars, dried fruit, and Greek yogurts. Though all of these seem like healthy options, this could very well be the issue if you’re not losing weight. As we mentioned above, learn to check labels and ensure the ingredients list does not state “sugar” or any kind of syrup, even “brown rice syrup” which might seem healthy.
Stick to absolutely NO added sugar. Make your own salad dressings and sauces, and fix that sweet together with only natural sugar sources like whole fruits. These contain fiber which will slow your body’s absorption of the sugar.
4. You’re Not Eating Enough Fiber
Fiber is so underrated! For one, it suppresses your appetite so that you consume fewer calories. If you’re eating less in order to lose weight, ensure you’re eating fiber-rich foods like vegetables and whole grains.
But that’s not all. Fiber feeds the bacteria in your gut that assists in healthy digestion, nutrient absorption, and weight management. For all of these reasons, adequate fiber is key in a low-calorie diet and a healthy lifestyle.
5. You’re Stressed Out & Sleep-Deprived
Cortisol is a chemical released by our body when we’re stressed, sleep-deprived, or both. It wouldn’t be a huge deal, except that cortisol is proven to result in weight gain and increased appetite.
Diet not working? Take a step back and look at your lifestyle as a whole. If you’ve got low energy and too much on your mind, consider getting more sleep or stress-relief tactics.
Meditation may be a good practice if you’re aiming to lose weight. This teaches you to be mindful about your goals, what you’re eating and why, and it also reduces stress (and therefore cortisol levels!)
6. You’re Eating Too Much, Too Fast
Even if you’re on a low-calorie diet, the timing of those meals (and how quickly you scarf them down) can impact your metabolism and, therefore, your weight-loss (or lack thereof). Ensure you’re not getting all of your calories in a single meal, and aim for 6-8 small meals throughout the day.
A hot trend right now is intermittent fasting. Some people swear that this has been a successful weight-loss tactic for them, but this might result in unhealthy binges and fatigue, both of which can cause weight gain. If you’re on a fasting diet but not seeing results, consider nixing it.
Also, eat “mindfully” (one bite at a time, fully chewing before you swallow). Consider waiting five minutes before getting a second helping of food, and you’ll find that more often than not, you don’t even want it once the five minutes are up.
7. You’re Not Seeing Reality
We’re humans, and we’re imperfect. We tend to underestimate our calorie intake during meals and overestimate our calorie burn during exercise. If you’re not seeing weight-loss results, the issue might be that you think you’re doing better than you really are.
So how to fix this? Start a food and exercise log in a journal or an app on your phone. Bonus points if the app calculates estimated calories for you.
And be sure to write down everything. Even that half-granola bar or small piece of candy you snagged. You might be surprised that you’re consuming many more calories than you previously thought.
8. You’re Eating Inflammatory Foods
What you eat is as important as what you don’t eat when it comes to losing weight. Many foods cause inflammation throughout the body, and this often settles in our fat cells, particularly around our midsection (think belly fat!).
Foods that cause inflammation include sugar, trans fats, alcohol, and foods high in saturated fat, like meats and anything fried. Foods that reduce inflammation include green veggies, whole fruits, and nuts such as almonds and cashews.
Consider excluding certain food groups, like dairy or legumes, to see if you experience any weight loss. It’s possible that you have a bad reaction (allergy) to a certain food group, and this may very well be the culprit behind your weight loss issues.
Your Health & Wellness is Important to Us!
Diet not working? We’re confident that by following the steps above, you’ll finally start to see that scale move.
For more resources on living your healthiest lifestyle, check out the rest of our site. We want to help you be your best version yet!