If you’re struggling to lose weight and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, consider the following factors that hinder weight loss…
Not getting enough sleep
Tossing and turning all night, or staying up too late and getting up too early… whatever the case, not getting enough sleep slows down weight loss dramatically. If you don’t get enough sleep, the hormone ghrelin is activated. This hormone stimulates your appetite and lowers the hormone leptin, which tells the body when you’re full. Sleep deprivation also lowers your basal metabolic rate, which is how many calories you burn at rest. When you’re tired, the stress hormone cortisol also gets elevated, stimulating your appetite even more. So as you can see, not getting enough sleep activates all kinds of processes in the body that can hinder weight loss. Aim for 7 – 9 hours a night to start shedding pounds.
Too much alcohol
You might think a drink or two won’t effect your diet, but watch what you’re drinking! Beer, wine and sugary drinks are very high in calories. Yes, even just one or two… A pint of beer can have the same calories as a slice of pizza. And that glass of wine might equal four cookies. The lowest calorie alcohol is vodka. Alcohol is a refined carbohydrate like candy or white flour, so the calories are really empty and don’t do the body any favors if you’re dieting. Those empty calories also raise your blood sugar and insulin levels, further contributing to weight gain. Heavy drinking is always linked to weight gain and sabotages your efforts to lose weight.
Too much white food
Bad carbs are the enemy and they abound in all white foods like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cereal and crackers. Let’s not forget plain old table sugar too. Carbs are essential for life, but avoid refined carbohydrates at all costs if you’re trying to lose weight. All these bad carbs are the reason behind America’s obesity epidemic. Processed and refined foods like fries and cereals offer a fast and easy fix for hunger, but are ultimately less satisfying than good carbs. White foods are absorbed quickly by the body, meaning blood sugar and insulin rise and you’ll feel hungry again about an hour later. Try smarter carbs like whole grains, fruits or veggies to stay full longer.
Too much stress in your life
When life gets too stressful, our bodies go into survival mode, meaning the stress hormone cortisol floods the body. Cortisol makes you hungrier, so you’re more likely to reach for high calorie comfort foods. Cortisol also makes the body more likely to store fat around the waist. Stress wreaks havoc on your adrenal system which is intimately related to your thyroid, the gland that helps regulate your weight. It sounds counter intuitive, but relaxing and weight loss go hand in hand. If you’re too busy and over scheduled, it’s time you MAKE time for some yoga and meditation. At the very least, controlled breathing before a meal can reduce cortisol levels. When you sit down to eat, breathe slowly and deeply, in through your nose and out the mouth. A brisk 15 minute walk after eating helps normalize blood sugar for up to three hours after eating and reduces feelings of stress.
Not enough protein
Women need at least 50 grams of protein a day and men need about 60. Protein is absolutely the most important nutrient for weight loss. You can boost your metabolism right away if your diet is 30% protein. This ratio also reduces cravings for junk food because of protein’s effects on the appetite regulating hormone ghrelin. Studies show that those who eat a high protein breakfast are less hungry throughout the day. Including more protein in your diet applies to vegetarians and vegans too – not all protein comes from meat. Protein can come from beans, nuts, grains, eggs, cheese or soy. Fish is also loaded with protein. Salmon and tuna are good choices and have omega 4 fatty acids, which most people don’t get enough of. Getting enough protein prevents metabolic slowdown.
Get your hormones checked if you’re doing everything right but can’t seem to lose weight. Those who struggle with weight loss sometimes have an issue with their thyroid hormone, a major factor in regulating weight. Women with higher levels of estrogen can also experience weight gain. Men suffer from imbalanced hormones too. Most men are full of testosterone, but a few suffer from a deficiency, which leads to fat gain. Obesity also suppresses testosterone levels.
Too much sugar
Sugar is a real menace when it comes to losing weight. Most people are addicted to the substance and don’t even know it. Sugar is one of the most addictive substances you can put in your body. Sugary drinks are the most fattening things you can eat. Drinks like Coke and Pepsi are obvious culprits, but other sugary drinks like orange juice and so called healthy drinks like Vitamin Water are loaded with sugar. Sugar from any source, even natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey can cause you to keep on extra weight if you’re eating them frequently. Sugar found in fruits are healthy as part of a whole food diet, but all the sugar added to our packaged and processed foods are causing the problems. Cut out a good chunk of sugar from your diet by focusing on whole foods instead of packaged foods such as cookies, granola bars and cereal.
Going gluten free is more than just a weight loss trend. For people with a serious gluten sensitivity, it’s a life changer. If you have a gluten sensitivity, symptoms can include fatigue, bloating and inflammation in the body. All these factors contribute to weight gain. Inflammation creates problems that stall fat loss like increased levels of stress hormone cortisol, meaning fluid retention, digestive issues and feeling so sluggish that you’re unlikely to exercise at all. And inflammation contributes to nearly every disease imaginable, including diabetes and cancer. No matter whether you’re gluten sensitive or not, eliminating gluten helps you burn fat. As Dr. Davis says in his book Wheat Belly, “lose the wheat, lose the weight.” Going gluten-free can trigger weight loss for many people, especially those with gluten sensitivity.
It’s not only medical conditions or hormone imbalances that makes weight loss harder and causes weight gain. Some medications also cause weight gain or keep you from losing it. One of the most common side effects from antidepressants is weight gain. Medications like prednisone are notorious for causing weight gain because of fluid retention and increased appetite. Weight gain on anti inflammatory medications like prednisone cause excess fat in the face, belly and back of the neck. Other medications that cause extra weight include prescriptions for diabetes, beta blockers, antipsychotics, hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills, and corticosteroids. If you think any of these apply to you, speak to your doctor about your options. Your doctor may be able to help you find a similar drug that won’t have weight gain as a side effect.
Being stuck in a routine
If you eat the same thing everyday and exercise using the same routine day in and day out, your body gets used to the routine and weight loss is stalled. You need to surprise the body once in a while and switch things up. Change your routine by adding more protein and veggies. For exercise, you can increase the effectiveness of your routine with some high intensity interval training. These shorter cardio workouts get your heart rate up in bursts and rev up your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories and lose more weight.