10 Things That May Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts
Firstly, if you are making a conscious effort to shift your diet and lifestyle to live healthier and feel better, good for you! Those numbers on the scale are a very small part of your health. You should measure your progress with how you feel. Has your energy level increased since you started eating better and exercising? Has your complexion improved? Do your clothes fit better? Has your sleep improved? Can you lift heavier weights, walk further, run faster!?! It is important to acknowledge ALL of the progress you have made before you even look at the scale.
Do you struggle to lose weight despite your best efforts? Are you eating well, exercising, and still not seeing the numbers on the scale budge? Below is a list of things that may be interfering with your weight loss efforts.
Remember, muscle weighs more than fat. The more muscle a person has, the more calories they will burn, therefore increasing their metabolic rate and speeding up fat loss.
Water is required for the majority of the processes that occur within your body. It counteracts stress by circulating nutrients, lubricating joints, breaking down food for digestion, helping deliver oxygen throughout the body, flushing body waste, and regulating body temperature, to name a few.
The less water you drink the more likely it is for your body to retain water. Being properly hydrated is actually one of the best ways to get rid of water retention.
Water naturally suppresses your appetite and helps your body metabolize stored fat!
Sleep plays an important role in hormone production, blood sugar levels, sodium/potassium levels, body temperature, immune function, and metabolic rate.
A lack of good quality sleep interferes with your metabolism and hunger hormones. Being sleep deprived often causes you to overeat and reach for refined/processed food.
High psychological stress is linked to:
High cortisol levels, suppressed immune function, decreased sleep, increased consumption of comfort foods, high blood pressure, and even a large waist to hip ratio.
Stress causes us to reach for food rewards. High-sugar, high-fat, calorie rich food suppresses the stress response and helps to calm you. This turns into a vicious cycle of experiencing stress and reaching for food to suppress it.
Stress causes a rise in cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight” response. Elevated cortisol levels activate enzymes to store fat. The central fat cells located behind abdominal muscles have 4 times as many cortisol receptors, causing increased fat storage in the abdominal area. This creates the ‘apple’ body shape. Increased fat storage around the middle puts you at risk for heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
Refined carbohydrates cause a rise in blood sugar levels which, in turn, triggers the hormone insulin to move sugar out of the blood and into cells to be used as energy. This often turns into a vicious rollercoaster of blood sugar levels, with spikes and crashes.
Once the blood glucose has been moved to your body’s cells, blood sugar levels decrease, appetite increases, and carb cravings are heightened. These cravings prompt to reach for sugar filled snacks, and the cycle repeats itself. Excess body fat is accumulated, decreasing insulin efficiency and potentially leading to insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance causes higher-than-normal insulin levels and increased fat storage, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
The Canadian Physical Activity guidelines recommend adults between the ages of 18-64 to engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise each week. This should be spread out throughout the week. Exercise should last longer than10 minutes at a time. Find something you truly love to do!
Physical activity increases your metabolic rate, increases the use of fat as an energy source, promotes repair/development of muscles, raises your basal metabolic rate, and strengthens bone density. It also helps to keep cellular waste moving, aids in the digestion, absorption and assimilation of foods, helps curb cravings tied to stress, anxiety and depression, benefits mood, prevents insulin-related fat storage, and improves memory function.
Remember to include body weight training in your routine. This can be through lifting weights, yoga, pilates, and a variety of sports. As we age, our muscle mass decreases and so to does our metabolism. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case! Include body weight training 2-3 times a week to increase bone density and keep your muscles nice and strong.
To better track your progress, try taking bi-weekly body measurements instead of strictly using the scale to measure success.
Alcohol, sugar, refined carbohydrates, poor quality fats, lack of fibre, and inadequate hydration can drastically impede your weight loss efforts.
It is important to think ahead and plan out your meals. During the week write down what you (and your household) would like to eat throughout the following week. Think about breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks options, and remember to write them down! Put together a grocery list and shop for everything all at once. This minimizes trips to the grocery store, saves you money, and helps to ensure you are eating healthy. When you get home, wash and correctly store all of your produce for easy use. Don’t forget to chop up vegetables for quick and easy snacks.
Portion sizes - large portions are not the enemy, especially if you are filling your plate with the correct kind of food! Aim to make the majority of your plate low-energy, high-volume, and fibre full. This pretty much means to focus a large part of your plate on non-starchy vegetables that are rich in water and fibre. They will provide bulk and help to satiate you without the high calorie count.
Control your food environment - what is in your fridge and pantry? Do you have chips, chocolate, soda-pop, and sugary treats? If you do, they are most likely what you will reach for when your hunger hormones strike. When blood sugar levels dip we are quick to reach for whatever is available or easiest to prepare. Make sure the food you have is going to support your health, not hinder it!
Remember, it is okay to indulge every once in a while. Don’t associate enjoying food, or wine with the people you love, with guilt. A big part of our culture is based around the history of food. Completely restricting your favourite foods can lead to binge eating. The enjoyment of food is essential to sustainable weight loss and maintenance. There are dozens of ways to alter your old favourite recipes to make them Safely Sweet Nutrition approved!
When looking to lose weight, people often restrict their food intake drastically. This severe caloric reduction causes headaches, fatigue, increased cravings, performance decline, and irritability. Such a shock to the system will often lead to binge eating and an increase in caloric consumption. The safe rate of which to lose weight is between 1 - 2 pounds a week. To accomplish this, calories should be reduced by15%-30%.
a very active person should reduce by no more than 15% - 20%.
relatively active people should lean towards the 20% reduction rate.
where as a more sedentary person should reduce by 30%.
Our aim is to lose fat, not muscle. It is important to listen to your body and its queues. If you are feeling hungry, don’t restrict yourself. Eat low-energy, high-volume, fibre rich foods to help satiate and provide your body with a variety of nutrients, and don’t forget to drink water.
Below is a comparison of the amount of calories per gram in the 3 macronutrients and alcohol.
Fat = 9 calories per gram.
Alcohol = 7 calories per gram (second only to fat). The regular consumption of alcoholic drinks can significantly increase your total daily caloric intake.
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram.
Protein = 4 calories per gram.
Alcohol is processed as a toxin in the liver and cannot be stored in the body. While alcohol is being metabolized, the oxidation of fat and carbohydrates are suppressed. Rather, these are channeled into fat storage (primarily abdominally) increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
How much do you drink? What do you drink? What do you mix your drinks with? Don’t forget about the added sugar and calories that regularly drinking alcohol can bring to the table.
Are you setting short and long-term goals for yourself? Are you writing them down and placing them somewhere where you will see them? Do you talk about your health and weight loss goals with family and friends? If you aren’t, you should be! People that write down their goals are 60% more likely to complete them.
Setting goals and tracking your progress helps motivate you and hold you accountable. Instead of strictly measuring your success with the weight on a scale, remember to recognize any and all improvements in your health! Count those milestones; increases in flexibility, energy, ability to climb stairs, running time, or anything!
Make your goals S.pecific M.easurable A.ttainable R.elevant T.imed E.xciting R.ecordable. This will help to track you progress to a happier and healthier you!
A Health Condition
Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are one of the components responsible for regulating metabolism. Symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, constipation, muscle weakness, cold extremities, and dry or brittle hair.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome has been known to make it more difficult for your body to use the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. This can cause insulin resistance. High insulin levels boost the production of hormones called androgens. High androgen levels can lead to weight gain. Other symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, acne, infertility, cysts, and irregular hair growth.
An illness or injury may be preventing you from being as physically active as you would like. Make sure to adjust your food consumption accordingly. If your activity levels have changed but your caloric consumption hasn’t, there is a good chance that you will gain weight.