It happens to most of us. What started out as incredible progress on our journey to a better health seems to have come to a halt. If that number on the scale hasn’t budged in weeks (or months), there may be a number of reasons weight loss has stopped. Don’t fret, because the top body transformation specialists are here to help with their top 10 overlooked reasons you aren’t losing the weight (and what you can do about it).
1. You May Have Gained Muscle
A halt in your weight loss might not be a bad thing. If lifting weights is a dominant part of your fitness program, you may have gained lean muscle mass, which weighs more than fat.
Chat with your local gym owner and ask for a body fat-to-muscle test, which is quick and easy. It requires a small device that is based on bioelectrical impedance, or harmless electrical waves that measure how much fat is in your body. Using body fat percentage, as opposed to the scale alone, is a much better way to measure your progress.
2. You’ve Hit a Plateau
Variety in your fitness program and diet is key if you want to keep seeing results and avoid boredom. If you’re still performing the same workout from months ago (or even years ago), or if you haven’t evaluated your dietary choices in some time, you’ve probably hit a weight loss plateau.
Use different exercises, intensity levels, and acute variables (change up your sets, reps, rest breaks) to kickstart your weight loss. You may also want to adjust your caloric intake, and try eating different seasonal foods.
3. Portion Control
It’s not the most glamorous part of weight loss, but if you’re counting calories, portion control is a big part of that to avoid overeating and stalling your progress. The two complement each other since you’ll be able to easily count your calories by controlling the portions you eat at every meal.
Begin by downloading a calorie-counting app such as MyFitnessPal, which provides one of the most comprehensive food and portion control libraries in the industry. Next, learn how to eyeball common portion sizes. For example, a deck of cards is the equivalent of three ounces of meat. The more you practice, the more you’ll get used to recognizing the right portions without time consuming measuring. Finally, make it a daily habit to enter your meals into the app, which only takes a few seconds.
4. Too Many Liquid Calories
We tend to associate calories with solid food meals, forgetting that beverages can contain as many calories as an entire meal! Sugar-loaded coffees, alcoholic drinks, and carb-heavy “health” juices all contribute to pushing your caloric goal past where it should be.
While an occasional cheat drink is okay, stick to calorie-free beverages such as water, plain tea, and black coffee.
5. Too Much Exercise, Not Enough Calories
It seems contradictory, but if you exercise too much and you aren’t eating enough, you can stunt your weight loss progress. Since the workload is heavy and you aren’t getting enough nutrients, your body will hold on to calories and fat in order to support basic processes, including muscle repair.
Using an online calorie calculator, you can determine whether you’re doing too much and eating too little. We recommend doing this once every few months as activity levels can change based on a number of factors including different seasons (people exercise less in the winter) and work schedule.
6. You’re Skimping on Water
Think about how many glasses of water you drink each day. If you’re constantly feeling thirsty and indulging in every beverage except plain water, you could be sabotaging your efforts.
Studies show that adequate water consumption supports a healthy weight loss. While there is no universal number for how many glasses of water you should drink each day, you can rely on thirst and the basic rule that says the more active you are, the more water you need!
7. You Aren’t Sleeping Enough
There are two hunger hormones that are in charge of increasing or decreasing how hungry you feel. Leptin tells your body that you’ve eaten and it no longer needs to feel hungry. Ghrelin, on the other hand, revs up your appetite to get you to eat.
If you aren’t sleeping enough, you are increasing your appetite hormone (ghrelin) and your chances for temptation-based eating. Try to get no less than seven hours of sleep each night. To promote sleep, power down electronics an hour before bed, take a warm shower, and keep the room cool and dark. Also pay attention towhat you eat before you go to bed.
8. You Have a Medical Condition
Certain medical conditions such ashypothyroidism can stall weight loss. If you suspect you may have such a condition, visit your doctor to discuss your family history of medical conditions, and requesting a comprehensive blood test with a full metabolic panel. Your doctor will be able to see if something is awry and discuss potential treatment options with you.
9. Check Inches, Not the Scale
As you get closer to your health goal, your body will lose pounds on the scale or inches, but often not both at the same time (especially if you are gaining lean muscle). Instead of focusing on that number on the scale, get a measuring tape and keep track of your inches. Also, take note of how your clothes are fitting. If you are losing weight on a healthy and consistent basis, your clothes will continually feel loose in the right places.
10. Reconsider Your Expectations
Finally, be sure to evaluate what you are expecting as far as how much weight you should be losing per week and per month. In reality, you might be losing a healthy amount of weight, but if your expectations are unrealistic, then you’ll think otherwise. In fact, it’s possible to drastically improve your health without losing a significant amount of weight, depending on multiple factors. Since keeping your body functioning properly and avoiding the risk of disease should be your goal, you may want to put less stock in what the scale says.
The numbers will vary based on a number of factors including sex, age, activity level, and how much weight you had to lose when you started, how your metabolism works, and the effects previous diets and habits could have had on it, but health experts state that you can safely lose half a pound to two pounds per week. Remember that your first week of weight loss will often see the greatest loss, but then it will taper off, sometimes significantly.
Not being able to see the results on the scale can be frustrating. However you now have some tools to think about and adjust to help you move past your “stuck” point. Focus on these 10 items, and make sure you have healthy expectations, and you should be on track to a healthier you in no time. Have patience, stick with it, and you will see results!