You exercise, you eat right but when you get on the scale — it’s not budging. Sometimes, we diet and work out and track calories and do everything right—but still can’t seem to lose weight. And worse – the answer is often not easy to come by. For starters, everybody is different so what may work for you may not work for your sister or your friend at work.
Let’s explore some of the possible reasons why you may not be getting any results:
You should not use exercise as an excuse to overeat, over drink alcohol or sugary drinks or overindulge in general. For exercise to help you lose, you can’t re-eat all those extra calories you burned. And in most cases, we overestimate how many calories we actually burned and underestimate how many calories we’re actually eating. A 3-mile walk (240 calories burned) can’t justify a 1000+ calorie restaurant meal. You’ll have to reduce the calorie surplus by eating fewer calories to increase the body’s ability to burn off that excess.
And what kind of exercise is best? Some say cardio and some say strength training. Doing only cardio may burn more calories but can result in muscle loss. And strength training helps build muscle, effectively increasing the metabolic rate because bigger muscles burn more calories but then joint health can be compromised. So in reality, a counterbalance of both is necessary for both weight loss and a toned, trim body in general.
Research shows that a vast majority of people who eat a Western-style or Standard American Diet (SAD) have weight problems along with a lot of health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Research also shows that the vast majority of people also think they eat healthfully. Whether that’s actually so or not, the truth is that the vast majority of people could (and probably should) improve their diets. Reading labels, avoiding or limiting processed foods, eating more vegetables, while consuming less meat, saturated fats and high carbohydrate/high sugar foods – may be a key to real health changes including achieving weight loss goals.
And while an occasional glass of wine may have a place in a healthy diet, for the most part alcohol and weight loss are not compatible. Alcohol is full of empty calories and because your body can’t store alcohol and must metabolize it right away, other metabolic processes suffer. Your body won’t metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently during the metabolism of alcohol, and drinking heavily can cause your metabolism to slow which leads to weight gain.
Eating after 7pm does make weight loss more difficult. Ideally, you should have a 12 hour window between dinner and breakfast to make sure your body works optimally to process what you eat and keep blood sugar levels balanced. Another problem related to this is that research suggests many of us take in nearly half of our daily calories at—or even after—dinner. One study found that a third of people consume 15 percent of their calories after 11pm. This can not only cause restless sleep but also constipation and other digestive issues. So best to avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime and if you must have something to snack on in the evening, consider choosing fruits, vegetables or other foods which are low in fat and calories.
Lose weight while you sleep? Well not quite but substantial medical evidence does suggest that there are some credible links between sleep and weight. How much you sleep and the quality of that sleep may help hormonal activity tied to appetite. The production of those particular hormones, specifically leptin and ghrelin, are responsible working in a kind of “checks and balances” system to control feelings of hunger and fullness. When you don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels go down, leaving you less satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, stimulating appetite so you want more food. The two combined may set the stage for overeating, which in turn may lead to weight gain.
When all else fails and you’ve truly adhered to your program—but still not losing weight, you may want to check with your doctor to see if you may have some kind of underlying medical problem. That could include heavy metal toxicity, a slow thyroid or a hormonal disorder.