When you’re on top of your meals and have your training program set to a tee, you expect to see results. Lean meats, fresh fruits, complex carbs and loads of green veggies, paired with a good sweat session, should show a drop in the scale over time.
But if your weight loss has plateaued or you’ve hit a snag, it’s time to reassess. Check out these 6 unexpected reasons you’re not losing weight.
6 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight
1. You’re Skimping on Sleep
You might be happy with just a few hours each night, but your body isn’t. As it turns out, sleep isn’t optional. Poor sleep has been shown to be one of the biggest risk factors for obesity. Not only does sleep deprivation alter the hormones that control hunger, but one research study in New Zealand followed 1,037 children from birth to age 32 and found that each one-hour reduction in childhood sleep was associated with a 50 percent higher risk of obesity.
2. You Aren’t Eating Whole Foods
This is one of the best reasons that you are not losing weight. You might think that grabbing 100-calorie packs and “healthy” prepackaged products is aiding your weight loss journey, but it could be hindering it. Eating whole, single-ingredient foods—those that don’t need a nutrition label on the package—can help improve health and regulate appetite. Vitamins, minerals and fiber also help you stay fuller longer.
3. You’re Eating Too Much Healthy Food
Weight loss is all about calories in versus calories out. If you’re eating too much food—even healthy food—you’re liable to pack on unwanted calories. Portion control is key. While recommended calorie intake differs from person to person (and varies based on weight, height and activity level), you can use the following as a meal guide: lean protein should be the size of your fist, complex carbs the size of your palm and veggies two times that.
Also be aware of the nutrition behind even the whole foods you’re consuming. While filled with vitamins and minerals, fruit, for example, is also rich in calories, carbs and the simple sugar fructose. Feel free to nosh on nature’s candy, but do so in moderation.
4. You Aren’t Eating Enough Calories
If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s likely you’ve cut back on calories. But dropping your intake too low can hinder weight loss. Not eating enough can send your body into starvation mode and slow your metabolism. Calorie deficits much higher than 400 calories a day can reduce the activity of your thyroid hormone. Shut down sex hormone production and raise stress levels. This is one of the best reasons that you are not losing weight.
5. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
While the 8×8 rule (drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day) is somewhat dated, it’s still important to stay hydrated. The human body is 50 to 65 percent water, and all vital life processes—from your heart pumping to nutrients reaching your cells—need water to function.
Aside from helping your body maintain a happy homeostasis, filling up on water can also help with weight loss and portion control. There are even signs it may help with the rate at which calories are burned. A small study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking more water may increase metabolism, with 500 milliliters of water increasing subjects metabolic rate by 30 percent.
6. You’re Overwhelmed
Overhelmed is one of the best reasons that you are not losing weight.. An appointment here, an obligation there, and before you know it, all your free time is booked. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stress could be sabotaging your weight loss.
Cortisol, the stress hormone your body releases on days when you feel like you’re drowning, directly effects fat storage and weight gain. In fact, being stressed out could be a long-term problem for your physique. A study from researchers at the University College London found that people with higher cortisol levels tended to have a larger weight circumference and a higher BMI.