You’ve been working out and trying to eat healthy, but the pounds still aren’t coming off. It’s frustrating, we know!
Thankfully, there are lots of little changes you can make to get on the right track. These are a few of the most surprising things that might be holding you back.
1) You’re Skimping On Your Protein Intake!
Protein is the single most important nutrient for losing weight. Research into protein and fat loss has shown that in some cases eating protein at 25–30% of calories can boost metabolism by up to 80–100 calories per day. It can also drastically reduce cravings and desire for snacking. This is partly mediated by protein’s effects on appetite-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin and others. If you eat breakfast, be sure to load up on protein. Studies show that those who eat a high-protein breakfast are less hungry and have fewer cravings throughout the day. A high protein intake also helps prevent metabolic slowdown, a common side effect of losing weight. Additionally, it helps prevent weight regain.
Aim for eating a palm sized portion of protein with every meal, such as lean meat, tofu, fish etc.
2) You’re Eating Too Many Calories
This may sound obvious but the majority of people we see simply aren’t aware of how much they are eating each day! Unaware of how many calories are in their food, thinking one good meal cancels out a bad one, healthy food is ‘free food’ etc.
Often when we meet new clients at SPC, they are in the mindset that as long as they eat well Monday to Friday, the weekend is for them to let loose! Sadly, as much as we’d like to say this is the case, it isn’t. When looking at dieting, the week needs to be adhered too. If you go hard at the weekend your weekly maintenance and deficit could be completely undone.
Controlling your calories is still the easiest way to drop body fat. To keep an eye on them, start keeping a food journal and write down everything you eat. Alternatively seek advice from a coach and get a handle on how much you’re currently eating. From there you can start to reduce your calories based on your goal and little by little you’ll start to lose some weight. Adherence to a calorie deficit is the easiest way you can control your weight loss!
3) You Don’t Move Enough
You might think that going to the gym makes up for the 8-12 hours you spend sitting at your desk every day. You don’t have to take the stairs, or leave your house to pick up dinner rather than ordering in because you’ve already spent an hour on the treadmill. You probably don’t realise that the calories burned with the accumulation of all of those small activities would significantly outdo the calories you burned on the treadmill. According to Dr James Levine, the Mayo Clinic researcher who first described the phenomenon of NEAT, it can vary by up to 2,000 calories a day between two people of the same size. That means that just by moving around and being on your feet – like we humans were designed to be – you could burn an additional 2,000 calories without even trying. And 2,000 is a hefty number in the fat loss world. Take home message: no matter how much make it to the gym during the week, this doesn’t make up for being seated for the remainder of your waking hours.
Without being specific to any individual differences, you move more over your waking hours than you ever do in a 45-60 minute gym session. So ‘beasting’ yourself in the gym or having a trainer put you through ‘agony’ to the point where you don’t want to move or can’t walk for 3-4 days can actually be counter-productive from a fat loss standpoint (note: this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train hard!).
4) You YO-YO
You know how it goes; you hit the latest fad diet, you lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks, great! You stop the diet, return to ‘normal eating’ and before you know it you gain 12 pounds back twice as fast as you lost it. So you troll the internet looking for the next quick fix shake, pill or six pack abs and start the process again. Except this time you lose 8 pounds in 8 weeks, then 6 pounds in 12 weeks and so on and so on. Each time you crash diet it gets harder and harder to lose the weight and each time you finish, gain more weight back.
As you diet your fat loss cells shrink, but if you don’t control yourself when exiting a short-term diet, your over consumption of calories can increase the number of fat cells your body holds. Left unchecked THEY ALL want to return to their original size! This is big problem for ‘YO-YO’ dieters. Recent studies show that diets of this kind have a 95% failure rate! That’s 95% more than it needs to be. When picking a diet, chose one you can commit to 12 months or more. Be consistent and don’t be too restrictive. If you can’t see yourself doing the diet you’re on now in 6 months, then it’s the wrong one for you. Most of all, be patient, anything that’s worth having doesn’t come easy!
Check out how SPC Client Matt overcame his previous dieting failures!
5) You Don’t Sleep Enough
You may have read some of our articles on sleep and consequently know how much we value it as a method to reduce stress, improve health and increase fat-loss. Researchers have found that people who sleep fewer than 7 hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is thought that a lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep.
If you want to maintain or lose weight, don’t forget that getting adequate sleep on a regular basis is a huge part of the equation. Not only will it help you recover from training (which you should be doing to help lose weight) but it will help reduce stress which subsequently reduces cravings!
The University of Chicago completed a study which compared two groups on a calorie restriction. Group 1 had 5.5 hours of sleep and group 2 had 8.5 hours. Those with more sleep burned more fat (up to 55% more) and maintained more lean mass. Group 1 lost mostly lean mass during the study. For body composition this is massively important! Just one poor night of sleep can start to impact your body’s ability to regulate your hormones straight away. Multiply that over several weeks, months, years and you’re going to have big problems with fat loss.
So What Now?
The best tip we can give is for you to pick one good resource for your guidance and stick to it for 3-4 months. For a growing number of people, that resource is SPC.
The majority of clients we see who have the greatest fat loss success all stick to some basic principles;