If you’re reading this, then you know how hard it is to lose weight and excess body fat. You feel like you’re doing everything right; you’re eating the right foods, you’re working out every day, but you’re just not seeing the results that you’d hoped for. It’s no secret that with the right nutrition plan and exercise program, you can lose body fat and gain lean muscle mass. But, sometimes other factors play a bigger role into your weight loss that you may have never even thought about. For those of you that may feel like you can't lose weight, no matter what you do, here are some reasons why you can't lose weight, that you've never even thought about.
1. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
It’s proven that decreased sleep duration and poor sleep quality is directly linked to obesity and increased body fat. Sleep is a restorative process of the brain, and without getting enough quality sleep you make poor decisions. 1
When you’re tired, you skip workouts; you get takeout for dinner, or you have an extra cookie before bed to satisfy your late-night cravings. Eating is directly correlated with synchronizing circadian clocks, and when you eat late because the kids we’re kicking and screaming when it was time for bed, well you’ve just desynchronized your central and peripheral circadian clock, which leads to increased body fat. 2 Nice work.
To date, there have been over 50 epidemiological studies that have examined the association between sleep duration and obesity. The majority found a direct relation between shorter sleep duration and increased body fat. Here is a whole list of the most recent cross-sectional and prospective studies if you want to read it for yourself.
So what do you do? It can be hard to get a full eight hours of sleep every night, when you have a million things to do, and so many distractions! Here are some basics that should help you get the sleep you need, so you can turn start seeing more results from all your hard work.
- Turn off all your electronics at least an hour before bed. If you’re like me, that can be extremely hard! Just make it a habit, and put your cell phone to rest.
- Save the bedroom for it’s best for, sleep and having a good time, if you know what I mean.
- Create a bedtime ritual. Wash your face, brush your teeth, read a book, so you wake up refreshed and ready for your day.
- Stop eating at least two hours before, bed.
- Take a natural herbal supplement like a ZMA (zinc, magnesium, Vitamin B6). ZMAs help with attaining more restful sleep. I suggest using ZMT since it provides ZMA as well as muscle building ingredients to help build lean muscle mass and help improve overall health and vitality.
2. You Have Higher Than Normal Stress Levels
Stress sucks! And even worse, stress does not care about how clean you eat or how hard you workout. When you’re severely stressed out your body naturally releases cortisol, or what most people call “the stress hormone.” Increased levels of cortisol is directly associated with increased insulin levels, causing your blood sugar to drop, and forming you into a carb craving monster. (They’re called comfort foods for a reason). Increased stress levels, could definitely be another reason why you can’t lose body fat.
The bottom line is that when you have added stress levels, your body produces more insulin. More insulin leads to more cravings, which causes you to eat more sugar or carb infused foods, adding more body fat.
If you have a hard time getting your stress under control then get back to the basics. The most important thing to remember is to make time for yourself every day, to exercise, or meditate.
(READ more on how to control your cortisol levels)
3. You Don’t Eat Enough Food
Often times, people think that restricting calories is the answer to losing weight. But what most people don’t realize is that cutting too many calories can actually put a halt to your weight loss and be another reason why you can’t lose body fat. Food is fuel, and you need calories to burn calories in order to spark your metabolism. If you don’t eat enough food during the day, your metabolism will actually slow down. Without food your body will go into starvation mode, creating more body fat, as it breaks down lean muscle mass to reserve energy stores. Plus who wants to starve themselves, when there are so many good foods to eat? Don’t be a dummy! Eat good food, it’s good for you and will actually help you lose more body fat.
Not eating enough food will also cause you to overeat when you are hungry. Skipping meals throughout the day, will build your hunger and instead cause you to overeat or make poor food choices. Instead eat smaller meals throughout the day, to keep you satiated. Keep a food diary, to find out where you’re falling short and when, so you can adjust the type of foods you eat, and when you eat them. Learn your perfect food journal here. Try and aim for a healthy calorie intake. If you’re getting less than 1500 calories a day, and your working out hard, you’re not eating enough. A nutritious meal plan, whether for weight loss or health maintenance, should include lean proteins, healthy fats, and quality carbohydrates. If you need more advice on creating a great nutrition plan, read more here.
4.You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
You could be eating all the right foods, and you may have the perfect diet, but if you’re not getting enough water throughout the day, you’re not going to lose body fat. 3 Water helps increase metabolism, and if you’re dehydrated, your metabolism will naturally slow down, leading to increased weight gain and added body fat.4
(READ more on the importance of hydration)
5. You May Be Overtraining
Too much of anything can be bad, and that also includes too much training. Without the proper nutrition, overtraining can cause your body to use lean muscle mass for fuel and store more body fat, resulting in excess weight gain. If you’re training hard each and every week, then you need to be eating enough food, to help replenish the fuel your body needs to build lean muscle mass, not lose it.
Let's face it, losing weight is hard. But, if you've found yourself at a standstill and you feel like you're doing everything right, analyze what you're doing a bit further. Write down your activities and track what you eat. With more information, you'll get a better understanding of what your baseline is and what you've done and how you can better improve yourself. From there, incorporate some of the practices above to lose more body fat and reach your fitness goals.
- Beccuti, Guglielmo, and Silvana Pannain. “Sleep and Obesity.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 14.4 (2011): 402–412. PMC. Web. 5 Apr. 2018.
- Bass J, Takahashi JS. Circadian integration of metabolism and energetics. Science. 2010;330:1349–1354.
- Muckelbauer R, Sarganas G, Grüneis A, Müller-nordhorn J. Association between water consumption and body weight outcomes: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(2):282-99.
- Thornton, Simon N. “Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss.” Frontiers in Nutrition3 (2016): 18. PMC. Web. 5 Apr. 2018.