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Have you ever made healthy changes to your diet and started following a decent exercise program, but you were just not losing weight after several weeks? If so, there may be a few reasons to explain why this happens.
Remember, achieving long-term weight loss is a slow process and learning how to properly navigate through the challenging times of your journey is crucial.
While there is no easy fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthier relationship with food, curb emotional triggers to overeating, and achieve a healthy weight.
If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Sounds easy, right? Then why is losing weight so hard?
Because 3,500 calories equals approximately 1 pound of fat, it’s estimated that you need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound.
Generally speaking, if you cut 500 to 1,000 calories a day from your diet, you would lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Yes, it sounds quite simple? So why are you not losing weight? It is way more complex because when you lose weight, you usually lose a combination of fat, lean tissue and water. Also, because of changes that occur in the body as a result of weight loss, you may need to decrease calories further to continue losing weight.
Cut High-Calorie, Low-Nutrition Items
By removing just one or two high-calorie items from your daily life is a great place to start when cutting calories. For example, you could skip your morning latte, soda at lunch or that bowl of ice cream you always have after dinner.
You may be not losing weight because you aren’t thinking about what you eat and drink each day and identifying items you could cut out. If you think that skipping your indulgence will leave you with a craving, try a low-calorie substitution.
Swap High-Calorie Items for Lower Calorie Options
Choosing simple substitutions can make a huge difference when it comes to cutting calories and getting over the problem of not losing weight. For example, you can swap ground turkey instead of ground beef. Instead of having a second slice of pizza, reach for some vegetables. Or snack on fresh fruit instead of a cookie
Reduce Your Portion Sizes
Most people severely underestimate portion sizes, which affects how many calories they are consuming. Therefore, if you think you are only eating 1 serving, but in reality, you are consuming closer to 3, you could be adding an extra 200-300 calories and not even realize it. However, measuring and controlling your portion sizes is an excellent way to take control of your calories and keep you from not losing weight.
Here are a few additional tips for you:
- Start with small changes. Place a slightly less amount of food on your plate at each meal than what you normally would eat. If you’re still hungry, eat more vegetables and fruit.
- Place your food onto a dish and do not eat it straight from the package. Eating directly from a package gives you no sense of how much you are actually eating, especially if you are watching a show or looking at something on your phone. Seeing food on a plate or in a bowl creates awareness of how much you’re eating.
- Learn how to read and understand nutrition labels. Knowing what a serving size looks like and the nutrition facts is beneficial. You may discover that the small bag of nuts you eat every day is 2 servings and not 1, which means you are eating twice as many calories than you thought.
- Use a calorie counter. Make it easier on yourself by using a reputable app that allows you to scan the barcodes of the food items that you eat.
Calories cycling allows you to cycle between low-calorie and higher-calorie periods. It also can play an important role in protecting your metabolism and hormones, which can often plummet during typical low-calorie diets.
There are many ways you can structure calorie cycling. For example, one way can allow you to have days throughout the week where you eat more calories, and days where you eat less calories. This type of structure provides more flexibility by giving you a mental break and supporting a balanced lifestyle.
However, in order for this to successfully work, you need to track your calories properly so that you can appropriately follow the cycling.
For example, if you need 1,800 calories per day on your current fat loss diet, that’s 12,600 calories a week that you get to spend. Knowing this, you now have the option to be more flexible with eating more on 2 days and less on the other 5 days of the week. You can select whichever days you want for the high and the low, just make sure your overall weekly caloric intake equals that 12,600 total.
Increase Your N.E.A.T.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) includes the calories expended outside of exercise, eating and sleeping. There are many N.E.A.T. activities that we already do but may not realize its caloric output effect. Simple tasks such as cleaning, physical labor, climbing stairs and even fidgeting help us expend additional calories. In essence, N.E.A.T. increases your metabolic rate and results in a substantial energy cost overtime.
Research suggests that individuals who move throughout the day are more likely to reach or maintain weight-loss goals versus those who are sedentary throughout the day and vigorously move during one exercise session and consequently are not losing weight. Therefore, a greater caloric output occurs throughout the day rather than during one vigorous exercise session. A researcher named James Levine, M.D., who has published several journal articles on the positive effects of N.E.A.T., found that incorporating N.E.A.T. behaviors can increase daily caloric expenditure by as much as 350 calories per day.
The majority of people spend most of their day at work. One way to increase caloric burn is to implement non-exercise movement throughout the workday. Landscapers, construction workers and doctors/nurses are excellent examples of high N.E.A.T. jobs because they require a high demand for continuous movement throughout their workday. On the other hand, desk jobs are primarily sedentary and do not expend much energy cost. If you have a desk job, here are a few ways to integrate movement into your day:
- Implement walking meetings. Walking is an effective way to burn calories, stimulate the brain and promotes healthy habits to your co-workers.
- Make it a goal to drink 32 oz. of water in the morning and another 32 oz. of water in the afternoon. This will help to get you up from your desk not only to fill your water, but also use the restroom several times during the day.
- Take the stairs. This is an oldie, but a goodie. Skip the shortcuts and elevator rides to take the stairs to keep your body in motion throughout the day.
- Stand instead of sit. Adjustable and treadmill desks can be pricey, but well worth the investment since your heart rate is higher while standing than sitting, which increases your caloric output.
Rather than spending several hours at the gym to rev up your calorie burn, choose the N.E.A.T. way instead. N.E.A.T. is a great addition to your exercise regimen that does not take time away from home or family.
Focus on Protein Intake
Truth be told, if you’re not losing weight, you may need to understand that protein is the most satiating macronutrient. When compared to carbs and fat, protein makes you feel fuller (per calorie) for a longer period of time. If you struggle with always feeling hungry during a calorie deficit, you should focus on hitting your protein goal to help keep you feeling full.
Another advantage of protein is that it will help you to maintain and gain muscle while losing fat. A lot of people say they want a “toned” look, which ultimately means you want to have muscle definition and therefore, protein is how you will successfully achieve this desired look.
Lastly, protein has the highest thermic effect of food. What this means is that your body burns calories when it’s digesting food and your body expends the most energy digesting protein. Long story short, the more protein you eat, the more calories you will burn while digesting it.
Strength Training Is Key
You want to only lose fat when you are in a fat loss phase, right? In order to only lose fat, you need to incorporate strength training into your workout regimen 2-5 times per week. Despite popular belief, you will not get “bulky” from strength training because you are in a calorie deficit. Increasing muscle size not only requires a calorie surplus, but it also takes a LONG time.
The Truth About Cardio
Is cardio required to achieve fat loss? No, a calorie deficit is required to lose fat. Cardio varies from person-to-person and is ultimately up to you. If you enjoy and have the time to do it, then keep doing it. If you have a busy schedule and absolutely hate doing it, then there are other options.
Sleep Is Essential
If you’re not losing weight and your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like trying to fill up a kid sized pool that has 4 large holes in it with water. Similar to the kiddie pool example, you might lose some fat, but you will never hit your goal without getting adequate sleep. You should pay attention to how much you are sleeping and make it a priority to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet whereas not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects.
Drink Your Water
Science suggests that water can help when you’re not losing weight in a variety of ways. It may suppress your appetite, boost your metabolism, and make exercise easier and more efficient, all of which could contribute to results on the scale.
Reasons drinking more water may help you to lose weight:
- Can naturally suppress your appetite.
- Might stimulate your metabolism.
- Could help reduce your overall liquid calorie intake.
- Helps during exercise.
- Helps the body remove waste.
- The body needs water to burn fat.
- May improve motivation and reduce stress.
When it comes to losing weight, there are many variables to consider and it is anything but black and white. It is a challenging, confusing, frustrating, and long process that you don’t have to go through alone. Choosing to with a certified Nutrition Coach can be highly beneficial in guiding you throughout your journey by eliminating all of the guess work while helping you to better understand the what’s, why’s, and how’s. With a Nutrition Coach by your side, you will not only crush your goals, but you will also learn valuable knowledge that will not only benefit you now, but also in the future.