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Pounds Lingering? These 10 Problems May be to Blame
If you are exercising, eating healthy, and still struggling to lose weight; there may be more to the story. Find out if you are suffering from these 10 common problems that prevent healthy weight loss below.
Nothing is more frustrating than eating healthy, exercising, and not seeing any results.
There are many reasons why your weight loss may plateau, all of which can be reversed with the right tactics.
If your body has stalled at an unhealthy weight, these reasons could be the culprit.
The thyroid is a gland in the neck responsible for a variety of bodily systems, but notably, for regulating metabolism. A hormonal imbalance can cause the thyroid to work improperly, so that you are burning less energy no matter what you eat. This is one reason why someone can seemingly seem to “eat anything” and still stay slim while another person struggles to lose weight even on an optimal diet.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 4.6 percent of all individuals over the age of 12 have hypothyroidism in the United States. Women are more likely to have thyroid imbalances, although the exact causes are not known. Many women experience temporary hypothyroidism during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but some women never recover from thyroid balance issues.
You may be eating healthier, but it is possibly you’re eating the wrong kinds of food. For example, processed foods of all types, whether they are labeled “healthy” or not, still are unhealthy. Eating too much of one kind of food (fat, protein, or carbs) can also set your body’s balance off kilter and lead to slower weight loss. Even eating more fruit than vegetables can interfere with weight loss goals. For best results, eat healthy fats, eggs, fish, meat, and vegetables for the majority of your diet. Watch how many healthy treats you eat as well.
For example, breakfast cookies are full of healthy ingredients, but the high sugar content makes them something to avoid eating on a regular basis. If you restrict carbs but do not eat enough fat in exchange, you won’t feel satiated which will make your healthy eating plan harder to stick to.
There is actually a lot of variety in what is considered a healthy weight. For example, a woman who is five feet, five inches tall can weigh between 112 and 143 pounds and still have a healthy BMI. A woman who weighs 143 pounds may look a lot heavier than the woman weighing 112 pounds, but she is still healthy. Some people simply have a naturally higher body weight. If you expect to look like a model, chances are you are aiming for an unhealthy body weight.
Men can have this problem as well as women. The current fashionable look for men is lean with a lot of muscle mass. To get such defined muscles, however, it takes a lot of work and a low BMI index, which may be below the healthy range for your weight. A man who is 5 feet 11 inches tall can weigh between 144 and 179 pounds and still fall into a healthy BMI range. Rather than focusing on a specific look, it is more important to focus on your overall health.
Over-restriction of calories and energy intake can have the opposite effects of what you desire. A study from 2009 found that when individuals significantly reduced calorie intake, their metabolic rate declined. This caused the study participants to become less physically active, which slowed weight loss results. These results were most drastic in study participants who restricted calorie intake by 25 percent across the board and study participants who ate a low-calorie diet.
However, when a third group restricted calories by 12.5 percent and exercised, they did not show a slowed metabolism. This could either be due to a higher calorie intake overall, or the fact that the group exercised. Exercise has been shown to increase metabolic rate throughout the day. It is important to ensure you eat enough each day to provide enough energy to combat lethargy.
When dieting, it is common to lose a lot of weight quickly then reach a period where weight loss slows. Your weight may even creep up a few pounds before dropping again. If you are near your ideal weight, weight loss may slow even faster. There are several reasons why this may occur.
First, muscle is denser. In some cases, if you are exercising regularly, you may simply be exchanging fat for muscle. A better measurement other than scale reading alone is circumference measurement. If your circumference is actively reducing, you are losing unnecessary fat even though the weight on the scale may not read much different.
Secondly, you may expect your initial momentum to continue. You will not always lose weight at the same rate. Sometimes it may seem like your weight loss has stopped, but if you keep at it, eventually additional pounds will fall away.
Don’t expect to keep losing weight at a fast rate. In fact, this is less healthy for you and is more likely to lead to yo-yo weight loss where you quickly gain back those missing pounds if you eat something unhealthy for a few days.
Stress causes us to cling to excess fat. The stress hormone, cortisol, is responsible for raising a person’s hunger and craving for unhealthy foods. A study published in Obesity Reviews in 2008 confirmed these findings. Researchers theorize that stress puts the body in a “flight or fight” response.
During fight or flight, your body would need to conserve as much energy as possible to take care of the danger. Of course, in today’s world, being stressed does not mean that you will burn more energy, which means that chronic stress just leads to unhealthy weight gain. If you are under a lot of stress, focused stress relief can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your health plan. Activities like yoga, focused breathing, meditation, massage, and unplugging from the digital world can do a lot to relieve stress.
Everyone knows sleep is important, but still, too many people sacrifice sleep for work or fun. Numerous studies have shown that a lack of sleep is associated with a higher overall weight and weight gain. A study from 2005 published in the Journal of Sleep found that individuals who consistently slept for fewer than 7 hours a night for several years were more likely to be obese.
A study published in 2013 in the journal Psy Neuroendocrinology found that individuals who do not sleep enough feel hungrier. Researchers theorize that this is due to the body’s need to run off of some form of energy. If it can’t sleep, it must use food energy. A lack of sleep also makes you less motivated to eat healthy or exercise simply because you are tired. Being tired may also make you want to look for quick sources of energy to stay awake (like sugar).
Exercise does not burn nearly as many calories as most people believe. Some fitness experts have estimated that exercise can have-at most- 20 percent influence on body weight. Of course, the more you exercise the more energy you do use, so a person who has a physically demanding job (a fitness instructor, for example), is naturally going to burn more calories from exercise.
However, for the rest of the world, exercising even an hour a day is not enough influence to negate an unhealthy diet. So, why bother exercising at all? Exercise does actually provide health benefits and even weight loss benefits. Exercise improves mood, muscle mass, improves metabolic health, improves your heart and body’s systems, and is just all-around good for you.
So, you eat healthy, exercise regularly, sleep well, and still aren’t losing weight. What could be the problem? If you are on medication, this could be one of your problems. Numerous medications are linked to an increase in weight gain, including steroid medications, antidepressants, hormone treatments, and many others.
Check the side effects of any medications you take regularly to see if weight gain is a side effect. If it is, ask your doctor if there is another medication that you can take instead.
You’ve probably heard that the ideal eating plan to maintain a healthy weight is to eat numerous small meals throughout the day. This is actually not true, and is not supported by science.
In fact, a strict scheduled eating window has a much bigger influence on positive weight loss results than access to food at all times. A 2014 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that animals who eat on a consistent schedule are less likely to develop numerous health problems, like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
"Intermittent fasting helps the body to rejuvenate and repair, thereby promoting overall health," the study authors said. A study from 2014 published in Cell Metabolism found that when mice were restricted to a nine or 12 hour window of eating each day, they were more likely to maintain a healthy weigh regardless of calorie intake.
The same results also remained when the mice ate on a strict schedule for 5 days, then without a schedule for 2 days. You may have better weight loss results if you restrict your eating to a 12 or 9 hour window each day.
If you fix all other areas on this list, but still struggle to lose weight, your thyroid may be to blame. You can as your doctor to give you a thyroid test to see if you are lacking in thyroid hormones. Resetting a sluggish thyroid does not require the use of medication in many cases.
By eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding hormone-based medication, you can do a lot to reset your natural thyroid hormone levels. In many cases, you simply may be nutrient deficient. By adding in extra nutrients, it can help regulate your hormone levels. As a bonus, these nutrients also have beneficial effects elsewhere in the body.
If you are overweight and struggling to lose weight, it can be a frustrating process if you feel you are doing everything “right.” Examining the above common problems can help you determine where you might be going wrong and how to fix it. With a little motivation and attention to detail, you can easily set your weight loss back on track while improving your body’s systems at the same time. Within a few months, your weight loss will be right back on track!
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