If you have been working out and eating healthy but you aren’t losing fat, it is highly likely that one or more of the reasons I’ll list below is/are to blame.
Let’s start with the obvious.
- You are eating too much!
This is a no brainer. If you eat more calories than those you burn you’ll not only hold on to fat but you might see the scale go up too, despite your regularly exercising. There are quite a few ways one ends up overeating… some very sneaky.
– You might be overlooking calories altogether (in which case I suggest using an app like MyFitnessPal to track your daily intake). If you don’t know how much you’re eating, you don’t know how much you are overeating (although the scale and mirror should be pretty good indicators).
– You might have overestimated your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Maybe, just maybe, your metabolism doesn’t burn calories as fast as you thought and maybe that estimated calorie intake you got off the internet isn’t quite right for you. Trial and error is your best friend. Adjust your calories accordingly.
– You might have fallen victim of calorie dense foods (nuts, nut butters, avocado, etc), which, albeit healthy, will definitely put you into a caloric surplus. Moral of the story, don’t go to town with that peanut butter – check the nutritional values before you scarf down 600 calories as “a snack”.
– You are not eating enough protein. Foods/meals that are high in protein provide more satiety (on top of feeding your muscles and helping them grow). Plan balanced meals that include a good amount of protein. Also, add a good side of veggies – which are physically filling at the cost of a ridiculously small caloric intake.
- You aren’t eating enough!
I can hear you…
“Wait, what? But you just said I’m eating too much. Now I’m not eating enough? This makes no sense!”
Except, it does.
Obviously the two cannot coexist. It is one or the other but as odd as that may sound, if you don’t eat enough, you risk getting skinny fat.
The human body will ADAPT to any conditions it has to live in. And it will do anything to survive. So, if you starve yourself, you will end up slowing your metabolism down and forcing your body to go into “power save” mode (I just made that term up). Think of your body as a town preparing for war and knowing it will have no food supply available for who knows how long. What do they do? They start saving what they have. And they use it up little by little. They can’t feast but they can eat a little so they don’t starve to death.
That is what your body will do if it thinks it is going to starve to death – it will hold on to fat for dear life. Because body fat actually means survival.
The worst part of not eating enough is the huge damage binge eating does when one’s body finally rebels and clears out the pantry one night. You have a slow metabolism and an unexpected(ly high) food intake. Recipe for disaster.
- You aren’t training hard enough.
If you get comfortable with your exercise regimen, you will hit a wall, aka a plateau. In order to grow and see physical changes, you have to keep challenging your body. They say, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
If your goal is fat-loss, you have to create a demand for your body to provide energy. By stimulating the muscle with heavier weights, your body will tap into the fat deposits in order to keep going, and that is when change happens.
I can’t tell you how many people do the same thing (with the same weight load) over and over again… and they keep looking the same, no matter how many months (or years) go by.
The human body is amazing. It will adapt quickly, making whatever you are doing the new normal, so unless outside stimulus is different it will see absolutely no reason to change.
- You are doing too much cardio.
Can’t tell you how many people assume that they can just walk their fat off on the treadmills for 2 hours. Little do they know that after a short while the body is no longer tapping into the fat storage for energy, it is actually eating up your lean mass. Oh, skinny fat.
You might lose weight and slim down but you won’t be “toned”. Just a smaller fat person. Or a very skinny one, if you take it too far. Keep your cardio short and sweet and do some resistance training instead.
- You are stressed.
Say hello to cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol levels are responsible for extra fat storage. That pouch or muffin top? Yeah, that’s probably cortisol’s doing.
Even if you kill it in the gym and your diet is on point, you will still hold on to that fat.
This is my worst enemy too.
Make sure to include in your day whatever helps you with stress relief. It is not an easy task because life has become increasingly stressful for everyone, but make your health a priority. As if your life depended on it. Oh wait… it does.
- You don’t get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation is another reason for elevated cortisol levels. Prioritize sleep because it has major benefits when it comes to your health. Sleep regulates hormone levels. It also speeds up your metabolism.
During restful sleep you actually burn fat. So hit the sheets instead of that party.
(I believe this is probably the reason why many 30 and 40 year old women look better than the 20 year old girls these days)
Hope this was helpful!