Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
As anyone who has ever tried to lose weight can attest, shedding unwanted pounds is HARD. Even if you’re eating “right” and exercising daily, you may still find it difficult to lose weight. Or perhaps you started off strong, and quickly hit a plateau. So what gives? Why are you having so much trouble losing weight? If you’ve recently been asking yourself, “Why can’t I lose weight?” this blog post is for you.
The reality is that there are a number of factors that influence your ability to lose weight. You might be eating too much, not drinking enough water, or eating the wrong kinds of foods. Any weight loss plan that doesn’t take a holistic approach is almost guaranteed to fail.
The Ideal You program offers a unique approach to weight management. We don’t just focus on what you eat (although that’s important) or the number of calories you take in each day. Instead, we utilize a comprehensive strategy that is designed to help shift your metabolism from fat-storing to fat-burning – allowing you to achieve your weight loss goals.
You Aren’t Tracking Your Food Intake
One of the most important aspects of any weight loss program is being aware of what you are eating. If you don’t keep track of your food intake, your weight loss plan will probably fail.
Studies show that tracking what you eat and drink throughout the day aids weight loss. People who either use food diaries or who photograph their meals lose more weight than people who don’t track their food.
With the Ideal You program, you will get a food diary to help you keep track of what you are eating. Along with a structured food list, this diary will aid in your weight loss efforts by making you aware of what you are eating each day.
You’re Eating Too Many Calories
It is far too easy to overeat – even if you are mostly consuming healthy, whole foods. Even if you are eating the types of foods that are good for your body, if you eat too much of them, you won’t lose weight.
For example, almonds are a good source of protein and heart-healthy fats, and are often recommended as a snack while you are trying to lose weight. Yet they are also calorie-dense, with a single serving of approximately 23 almonds containing 162 calories. If you eat more than a small handful of nuts, you are adding a lot more calories to your diet than you may realize.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of overeating is to keep a food diary for calorie counting. As mentioned above, a food journal will help make you aware of what you are eating – and can help you spot bad habits (like mindless snacking) and address them. This technique can keep you from consuming more calories than you need, because most people tend to underestimate the number of calories that they consume.
You’re Skipping Meals
When you hear that reducing caloric intake helps with weight loss, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that skipping meals would be a great way to lose more weight faster. This isn’t the case and it can hurt your weight loss efforts in the long-run. Skipping meals can slow down your metabolism, which will cause you to burn fewer calories in a day. A slower metabolism can make it harder to lose body fat and keep the weight off.
You’re Eating Right Before Bed
What you eat matters, but when you eat also matters. Researchers have found that our bodies are very closely linked to our circadian rhythms. Our digestive system is signaled to turn on in response to light when we wake up and shut down when it gets dark.
Your body is supposed to burn through fat and stored energy while you’re sleeping. When you eat too close to bed time, you can keep your body in the “fed” state longer where you’ll build fat instead of burning it. Research has found that the ideal times to eat meals are between 9am and 7pm. Therefore, it’s best to eat dinner before 7pm. If this isn’t possible, it’s still best to eat dinner at least 3 hours before going to bed.
You’ve Been Dieting For Too Long
Diets are often bound for failure and we have a separate blog post covering the topic of why diets don’t work for weight loss. It’s possible you were able to use a diet to lose weight, but you’ve now plateaued. It could be that you’ve been dieting for too long.
The reason diets are initially successful is because a drastic change in diet can shock the body and create a need for the body to adjust. If you continue to eat the same diet and the same foods week after week, your body will no longer react to the diet and you’ll hit a weight loss plateau. Stability is definitely better than having a yo-yo weight, but a lack of results could mean that you’ve been dieting for too long. It may be time to shake up your weight loss efforts with a new approach.
You May Have A Medical Condition Making Things More Challenging
Certain chronic diseases and medical conditions can make it more challenging to burn fat and burn calories. Conditions such as sleep apnea, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome, and Syndrome X can all make losing body weight more challenging.
It’s important to remember that challenging does not mean impossible. You can still lose body weight with these conditions and you should speak with your doctor about your options if you’re trying to lose weight with a chronic disease or medical condition known to cause weight gain.
You Aren’t Eating Enough of the Right Kind of Food
When it comes to weight loss, protein is king. Making sure that between 25 and 30% of your daily calorie intake consists of protein can actually boost your metabolism, reduce cravings, and decrease the amount of calories that you eat each day. If you aren’t eating enough protein, you may find yourself consuming more calories throughout the day – which can stall out your weight loss efforts.
Be sure to load up on protein throughout the day, particularly at breakfast. Studies show that people who eat a breakfast high in protein are less hungry and have fewer cravings during the day. Lean proteins like eggs, poultry, and seafood are often a great choice for your weight loss efforts.
In addition to eating a high protein diet, focus on whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Processed foods are dense in calories and fat, and low on nutrition. By mostly eating whole foods – the items that are typically found around the perimeter of the grocery store – you may be able to lose more body weight.
You Might Have A Junk Food Addiction
Food addiction is more prevalent than you may think. Approximately 19.9% of Americans fit the criteria for possessing a food addiction according to a systematic review conducted by Yale. An addiction to food can make it almost impossible to lose weight. Signs of a food addiction include:
- Continuing to eat even when you’re no longer hungry
- Eating more than you planned to when you started to eat
- Eating to the point of feeling sick
- Going out of your way to obtain certain foods that aren’t readily available
If you believe you have a food addiction, seeking professional help can be very useful in curbing the addiction. Programs like Overeaters Anonymous, Food Addicts Anonymous, and Food Addicts In Recovery Anonymous can provide a welcoming, nonjudgmental space to work through your addiction. If you’d prefer to avoid a group setting, you could also seek help from a psychiatrist or therapist.
You’re Eating Too Many Restaurant Meals
It is possible to occasionally eat out at restaurants without sabotaging your weight loss efforts. However, accomplishing this feat is no easy task. Many restaurant meals are loaded with fat, salt, and processed sugar. Actively trying to avoid high amounts of these things can be difficult when most local restaurants don’t disclose nutritional information for their menu items. Moreover, it’s easy to overeat or order unhealthy food choices in a social setting.
While you can eat out and still lose weight, it’s better to limit how often you’re eating out at restaurants. Even eating out for just one meal a day could be too frequent. Studies show that people who eat lunch at restaurants each day during the work week tended to weigh an average of five pounds more than those who prepared their lunches at home. Eating out too often could be making it more difficult for you to lose weight.
You’re Rewarding Exercise With Food
While some people naturally have a passion for working out, finding motivation for regular exercise can be challenging for many of us. You may try to reinforce good exercise habits with food rewards, but this usually isn’t a good idea.
We often overestimate the amount of calories we burn in a workout. Your workout won’t negate a slice of cake or a burger with fries. Rewarding exercise with food is dangerous, because certain foods can take several weeks to be burned off with exercise. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is far more important than exercise for weight loss.
You’re Taking Drugs That Can Cause Weight Gain
Certain prescription drugs can make it harder to lose weight. Nearly all antidepressants list weight gain as a possible side effect. Steroids can interfere with your metabolism and cause you to eat more. Studies have also found that antihistamines can increase appetite as well.
If you’re taking prescription medications while trying to lose weight and you’re struggling to shed pounds, you may want to talk to your doctor to ask about side effects for the drugs your taking and suggestions for alternatives if a drug your taking may be causing weight gain.
You Have A Baby On The Way
It’s very natural and healthy to put on weight if you’re pregnant. Most women are expected to gain anywhere between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy (the amount you gain should be lower if you’re overweight or obese).
If you find yourself gaining more than 35 pounds during pregnancy, there are things you could do to maintain a healthy weight. You could eat fresh, whole foods and go for a walk after each meal. There are exercises that are safe for pregnant mothers. However, you should consult your doctor before engaging in a new exercise routine if you are pregnant.
You’re Drinking Your Calories
Sugary beverages – from pop to juice to alcohol – make it way too easy to consume lots of calories quickly. Studies show that these types of drinks lead to weight gain because you don’t experience a sense of satiety with them. In other words, even though you are consuming lots of calories when you crack open a Coke, your brain does not signal your body to eat less food to compensate.
Even “healthy” beverages, like Vitamin water or fruit juices, can be problematic. While they may taste good and have less refined sugar than a bottle of Sprite, it’s still empty calories.
Similarly, alcoholic beverages tend to be calorie dense, particularly if they are high in sugar (like a margarita or beer). That being said, it may be possible to enjoy a drink from time to time, but stick to spirits mixed with a zero calorie beverage. Heavier drinking and drinking sugary drinks is associated with weight gain. It’s better to reach for a glass of water over a soda, juice, or alcoholic beverage to consume fewer calories.
You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
It may seem strange, but sleepless nights can sabotage your weight loss efforts. According to research, poor sleep is a major risk factor for obesity. If you are trying to lose weight, it is vital that you work on your sleep habits to get enough sleep each night.
Our bodies are complex, and the various systems are interconnected. If we neglect an area of health, it can cause other issues – like weight gain. For this reason, it is important to develop healthy sleep habits and get sufficient shuteye each night. If you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, consider adding a melatonin supplement to help.
You’re Eating Too Often
The idea that eating frequent, small meals will help with weight loss has been found to be a myth. Research has shown that eating frequent small meals doesn’t increase the number of calories burned, or help you lose weight. In fact, eating frequent meals could actually cause you to gain weight.
Once we start eating it can be hard to stop. Thus, the more frequently you eat, the more likely you are to eat more food than your body needs. It’s very easy to overeat when you’re eating frequent meals. Switching back to the traditional three meals a day could help you eat fewer calories and reduce your food intake back to a healthy level.
You Aren’t Staying Hydrated
If you find yourself struggling to lose weight, you may need to add some water to your diet. Drinking water can actually help you lose weight. Not only will drinking a glass of water before a meal help you eat fewer calories, it may even boost your metabolism.
According to scientific research, drinking 17 ounces of water 30 minutes before a meal can help you lose as much as 44% more weight. It can also help to increase the number of calories that you burn by as much as 30% over a period of 1.5 hours. The bottom line? Be sure to sip on plenty of water throughout the day – not only will it help you avoid sugary drinks, it may even improve your ability to lose weight.
You’ve Been Too Stressed
Many of us consider stress to be a normal part of our everyday lives. Not all stress is bad, but prolonged periods of stress can be hard on our bodies. When we’re stressed the body releases two hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol stimulates appetite, increases cravings for high-calorie foods, slows down the metabolism, and sends triglycerides from storage to visceral fat cells. The term stress eating comes from cortisol’s effect on the body, which drives us to eat. Studies show that chronic stress can lead to weight gain and can make losing weight difficult.
If you struggle with chronic stress and anxiety, finding ways to reduce stress will be imperative for your weight loss efforts. You could try taking up stress reduction activities such as yoga or meditation. You could also consider seeking counseling or trying a stress reduction app like Headspace.
You Aren’t Eating Mindfully
In our jam-packed lives, it is easy to grab food that you can eat on the run. You may even find yourself wolfing down a meal to get out of the door on time. While eating quickly may be necessary sometimes, it can often lead to overeating – and weight gain.
Mindful eating is a technique that involves slowing down, savoring each bite, and eating without distractions (like the tv or your phone). Studies have shown that mindful eating can actually lead to weight loss, in part because it reduces overeating and binge eating. If you’re interested in burning fat and losing weight, consider mindful eating.
You Haven’t Set Realistic Expectations
We regularly advertise the lifechanging weight loss you can experience with the Ideal You program. It’s true that you could lose up to 40lbs in 40 days on our program. However, our program has been refined based on years of research and program participants work with weight loss experts. If you’re trying to lose weight on your own without any help, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see those kinds of results.
Without professional guidance, weight loss can be a slow process. Most people do not lose more than 1 to 2 pounds a week while trying to lose weight. At this rate, it may not seem like you’re losing weight even though you are. Keeping realist expectations is important for maintaining motivation and sticking with your efforts. If you want to speed up the process and lose more than a few pounds a week, then programs like Ideal You could help.
You’ve Been Tricked By Fake Health Foods
There are many packaged foods that claim to be healthy that simply are not. As an example, there are some good protein and granola bars out there. However, the average protein and granola bars contain as much processed sugar as a candy bar.
Many processed vegan foods also aren’t much healthier than their regular alternatives. Impossible burgers actually contain more saturated fat and more sodium than a regular ground beef patty. Non-dairy yogurts can also have almost double the amount of sugar of dairy yogurts.
These fake health foods can sabotage your weight loss efforts and often aren’t great for your overall health. It’s important to read ingredient labels before putting an item in your cart. As a general rule, it’s better to avoid processed foods and buy as many fresh, whole foods as you can when you’re trying to lose weight.
You Could Actually Be Losing Weight Without Knowing It
If you’re exclusively measuring results based on scale weight, it can appear like you’re not losing weight, when you really are. This is certainly a possibility if you’re frequently checking your weight or you just started trying to lose weight. It’s very common for the scale to remain unchanged for a few days or a week at a time.
Hormones can impact the amount of water that your body retains, which can increase your scale weight. Additionally, you could be gaining muscle while losing body fat. As we all know, muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue and building muscle could also be keeping your body at the same scale weight.
You might have better luck measuring results with multiple methods. You could measure your waist circumference and body fat percentage in addition to measuring your weight to track progress. A plateau in weight loss results is no cause for concern unless you’ve remained at the same weight for more than 1-2 weeks.
You’re Exclusively Relying On Exercise
When we think about ways to lose weight, our minds often go to exercising regularly first. While exercise has many health benefits, it’s actually one of the least efficient ways to lose weight. In fact, we have a whole blog post dedicated to how to lose weight without ever working out. It’s far more effective to focus on your diet instead of your exercise habits. Something you eat in a matter of minutes could take weeks to burn off with exercise. If you’re exclusively relying on physical activity to lose weight and not monitoring what you’re eating, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.
Healthy Weight Loss Made Simple with Ideal You
No matter how many times someone might tell you that you just need to eat less and move more, we all know that weight loss isn’t quite so easy. If you find yourself having difficulty losing weight, know that there is help. Ideal You can help you achieve your goal weight with our proven process for weight management.
Our approach to weight loss is different; we won’t ever ask you to drink chalky shakes, exercise for hours a day, or cut calories to an unhealthy level. Instead, we focus on developing healthy habits that will reset your metabolism and keep it functioning at a fast pace. We offer a structured food list, a food diary, all-natural supplements, and access to a team of weight loss professionals to coach you. With our sustainable weight loss program, you’ll be able to lose a life-changing amount of weight quickly and sustainably.