You’re exercising regularly and watching what you eat, but you just can’t shed the pounds.
You’re doing everything the experts advise…
…but you’re not losing weight!
The good news is…it’s not completely your fault you are overweight.
Genetic forces, subconscious cues, medical conditions and hormonal drives can derail the most well-intentioned weight loss plans.
Below are 20 of the most common hidden reasons why you can’t lose weight…
…and what you can do to avoid them.
1. You Eat Ready Meals
Ready meals are great for convenience…but at what cost?
Firstly, it’s difficult to know for sure that ready meals contain the nutrients you’d expect.
Production processes can strip vitamins and minerals, vital for a healthy metabolism and weight loss.
Whilst a long shelf life can leach any remaining nutrients still further.
And it’s not only what’s lost:
Most ready meals are notoriously high in salt.
About 70 percent of the sodium in the standard American diet (SAD) comes from ready meals.
But surely, salt can’t make you fat…can it?
Researchers from Queen Mary University discovered that every extra gram of salt increases the risk of obesity by a staggering 25 percent.
Try to prepare your meals using fresh, whole ingredients that have not been altered in any way.
And if you must indulge in the occasional ready meal, read the food labels carefully.
Check out these 14 Quick and Easy Healthy Meals – perfect for the busy lifestyle without compromising on health.
2. You are Taking Prescription Drugs
Some medicines that you might be using to treat other conditions can lead to weight gain.
In fact, reports of gains of up to 10 pounds in a month are not uncommon.
The following prescription drugs are usually to blame:
- Diabetes medications
- Oral contraceptives
- High blood pressure medications
- Anti-seizure medications
- Heartburn medications
If you think your medicine cabinet could be making you fat, don’t stop your treatment without consulting your physician.
They may be able to offer you an alternative without the waist-expanding side effects.
3. You Have an Undiagnosed Thyroid Problem
Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolism.
And an underactive thyroid gland results in a slow metabolism which means you’re more likely to gain weight.
Thyroid issues can, therefore, be the root of unexplained weight gain.
The good news is a lazy thyroid is not very common.
But if you experience other signs of an underactive thyroid, it may be time to pay a visit to your doctor’s office.
Common symptoms include:
- Dry hair and skin
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Hair loss
- Intolerance to cold
4. You Are Losing Sleep
Even sacrificing just a few hours of sleep can cost you in terms of appetite control and weight gain.
Demands of modern living have seen cases of sleep deprivation skyrocket in the past 2 -3 decades.
And restricting the amount of shut-eye can trigger weight gain along a number of pathways.
Alterations in glucose metabolism, increased appetite and decreased energy expenditure have all been linked to curtailing sleep.
Sleep loss can also send your hormones into a tailspin.
Not getting enough sleep can trigger a rise in levels of the fat-storing hormone cortisol.
It can also increase levels of your hunger hormone (ghrelin) whilst reducing your satiety hormone (leptin).
Your workouts will suffer too:
Feeling tired is one of the most cited reasons why many choose to SKIP the gym.
And those that can muster the willpower, will have an impaired recovery from their workout.
5. You’re Overeating Healthy Foods
You can’t escape the simple fact:
Consuming more calories than you expend leads to weight gain.
And it doesn’t matter where those calories come from.
Overeating healthy food is just as bad as overeating junk food when it comes to gaining weight.
Many healthy, whole foods are also calorie dense.
A medium avocado contains 250 calories and 23 grams of fat. Whilst a serving of almonds packs 162 calories and 14 grams of fat.
Don’t be discouraged from eating these foods though. They provide healthy fats and micronutrients.
Just try to limit healthy snacking and make sure you keep track of portion size by using scales to measure out weights.
6. It’s in Your Genes
Many people have obesity in their genes, which means they are genetically predisposed to gain weight through no fault of their own.
The ‘fault-free’ obesity gene causes cells to suck up glucose at a much faster rate than normal, fueling obesity.
However, recent data suggests that although the obesity gene increases the risk of obesity, it doesn’t prevent the ability to lose weight through diet and exercise.
7. You Suffer From an Undiagnosed Food Allergy
Having a food allergy is no laughing matter.
For instance, some are responsible for life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Others are more insidious in nature and can remain undetected for years causing misery, low-grade inflammation, and weight gain.
With gluten-free mania making waves over the web, it’s no surprise that roughly 20% of the population believe they suffer from food allergies.
Fortunately, the numbers are much smaller and closer to 1 – 2%.
If you believe yourself to be in this percentile, what are your options?
One simple solution is to try an elimination diet.
Here’s what you do:
Eliminate any potential allergens such as dairy, nuts, gluten, soy for three to four weeks.
Slowly reintroduce them, one day at a time, and monitor yourself for symptoms over the following two days.
If this creates any unpleasant symptoms, be sure to eliminate that food (or limit it) from your diet.
8. You Are Stressed Out
When we’re stressed, our body prepares for an emergency. It floods our system with cortisol, the stress (and fat-storage) hormone.
This was an important survival mechanism in our primal past when we would need abundant amounts of energy for flight or fight.
But modern living provides no such release and if left unchecked, high levels cortisol levels cause raised blood sugar levels…
…and increased fat storage.
So what’s the answer?
First, learn to recognize what pushes your stress buttons. You can then take steps to avoid these situations or develop better coping strategies.
Here are some other ways to REDUCE stress and lower cortisol levels:
- Physical activities such as sparing with a punching bag and martial arts are a great way of venting aggression and releasing stress.
- Mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises and yoga.
- Bonding with family and friends
- Watching comedies and laughing out loud.
- Listening to relaxing music or sounds of nature.
9. You Don’t Practice Mindful Eating
Chowing down when you’re distracted by TV, work assignments or social media can lead to overeating.
It’s easy to wolf down an entire pack of cookies when your attention is scattered.
Mindful eating is the complete opposite.
It encourages eating with purpose and intention whilst savoring each mouthful.
This results in eating more slowly which means you’re more likely to eat fewer calories.
To become a mindful eater, chew slowly, put your cutlery down between mouthfuls, concentrate on the food and avoid distractions.
An average-sazed meal shold take you between 15-20 minutes to eat.
Learning to connect with what’s on your fork will help you re-establish a healthier relationship with food.
What’s more, it will help you separate stress or boredom eating from actual hunger.
10. You’re Insulin Resistant
Whenever you eat, your body secretes insulin to help regulate blood sugar.
The insulin signals muscle, fat and liver cells to absorb the sugar from the blood so it can be used for energy.
However, if you’re insulin resistant, the body no longer responds to the insulin signal to convert food into energy.
As a result, the excess glucose (sugar) remains in your bloodstream and gets converted into fat.
If you think you may be insulin resistant, make sure you get tested.
Over time, and by following a low-carb diet, you can restore your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Related: 18 Low Carb Meals for Weight Loss
11. Or Leptin Resistant
Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling your brain when you’re full, making you less likely to overeat.
However, too much body fat…leads to too much leptin!
This can cause the brain to ignore leptin’s signal, causing leptin resistance.
You never feel full, can’t stop eating and pack on the pounds!
The simplest remedy is to stoke your metabolism with rigorous forms of exercise such as weight training.
Just 10 – 15 minutes a day will produce miraculous results!
12. You Watch What You Eat, But Not When You Eat
Experts have long agreed that a calorie deficit is necessary to lose weight.
But what they can’t agree on is how often we should eat to achieve this calorie deficit.
Some argue three meals a day is best. Others disagree and make the case for more frequent ‘mini-meals’.
Either way, the right approach is the one which works best for YOU.
Let me explain:
If you’re naturally a small eater, then the ‘little and often’ method may be your best bet.
But if you’re unable to control your portions and tend to have an ‘all or nothing’ personality, three meals a day may be a better option.
Still not sure?
Try eating a small handful of nuts between meals. If you can’t resist the temptation to gorge on more, you may have trouble adopting the mini-meal approach.
13. You’re Consuming Diet Drinks and Foods
Diet sodas and low-fat yogurts gave millions the false hope that they could lose weight while enjoying low-cal options of their favorite beverages and snacks.
‘All the taste; none of the calories’ certainly has appeal.
But cutting out sugar and fat and replacing it with artificial chemicals comes at a cost.
One study found that artificial sweeteners actually INCREASE cravings for sweet, sugary snacks.
Experts speculate that artificial sweeteners fail to activate the reward section of our brain.
Our craving for sweetness, therefore, remains unsatisfied until we find an alternate source…usually in the form of a cookie, doughnut or pastry.
Other studies have linked artificial sweeteners to low levels of healthy gut bacteria, which can lead to obesity and diabetes.
Instead of diet sodas opt for herbal teas, detox waters and natural spring water.
And you can easily satisfy a sweet tooth with healthy whole foods such as melons, kiwis and berries.
14. You’re Not Eating Enough Fat
Here’s the deal:
Make sure that you’re eating the right type of fats.
HEALTHY fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and those found in oily fish and eggs will actually boost your weight loss.
It seems that many people who were casualties of the low-fat movement of the 80’s and 90’s, were brainwashed into thinking that eating fat would make them fat.
Healthy fats are vital to weight loss, because they help lower insulin levels, keep you feeling fuller for longer and banishing cravings.
The takeaway is clear:
Make sure you include healthy fats with every meal.
(Note: if I ever feel a bit peckish in the pm, I simply have a teaspoon of coconut oil with a handful of walnuts…does the trick every time)
15. You’re Relying on Exercise
Exercise burns calories right?
Sure…but nowhere near as many calories as you may think!
For example, the average person will burn a measly 300 calories during a 30-minute run.
What’s more, many people overeat before and after a workout.
The assumption is that any gym time will easily burn off these extra calories.
Unfortunately, getting your sweat on just won’t make up for all those cheat meals and sneaky snacks.
We make poor judgments when it comes to exercise and vastly overestimate the number of calories burned.
Like it or not, exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as we’d like it to.
See also: 13 Exercises That Burn the Most Calories
16. You’re Losing Muscle
Muscle is your BFF when it comes to maintaining a healthy body weight.
That’s because muscle burns calories. Even at REST!
Sadly, for each decade after the age of 30, we can expect to lose around 3 – 5% of our muscle mass.
This results in our metabolism burning fewer calories and leads to unwanted weight gain.
Increase your muscle mass with strength training and weight lifting and regain a more youthful, efficient metabolism.
17. You’re Not Eating Enough
Eating too few calories will only slow down your metabolism making weight loss even more unlikely.
Your body quickly recognizes a low-calorie environment.
How does it respond?
By cleverly adjusting to burn fewer calories – a survival mechanism from our primal past in times of famine.
Worse still, you end up depriving your body of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
18. You’re Eating Hidden Sugar
It’s easy to spot white, granulated table sugar.
But what about the sugar you can’t see?
Sugar can hide in the most unlikely of places.
Even if you think you’re eating healthy, you may be ingesting hidden sugar…
…without even realizing it.
For instance, the average adult ingests a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar each day.
Even if the label doesn’t specify “sugar,” it can be added to foods in many different forms.
Condiments, salad dressings, and sauces can be sneaky sources of sugar and may surprise you.
Ketchup, for instance, usually lists ‘sugar’ as its second or third ingredient!
A single serving can, therefore, contain as much as a teaspoon of sugar.
Look at the labels for the following terms, particularly if they’re listed within the first few ingredients of the food product:
- Cane sugar
- Agave syrup
- Corn sugar
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Golden syrup
- Glucose solids
- Turbinado sugar
- Brown sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Corn sweetener
Keep reading those labels. If it’s not a whole food, assume there’s some form of hidden sugar.
Even something as harmless as a slice of bread contains as much as ¾ teaspoon of added sugar!
19. You Haven’t Switched Up Your Workout
If you’ve been performing the same old workout for the past few months, you may have noticed that you’ve hit a plateau.
Why? Because your body learns how to adapt to any physical demands by becoming more energy efficient.
In other words, the same workout you performed three months ago will burn LESS calories today.
Try switching up your workouts regularly.
This will provide a fresh stimulus by introducing a new challenge to ‘shock’ your body and boost the calorie burn.
Use the FITT principle: Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.
Simply change one or all of the FITT elements to reignite your metabolism. It’s also a great boredom buster!
20. You Have a Nutritional Deficiency
Most of us eat 10% of the foods, 90% of the time.
And whilst we may obtain all our proteins, fats and carbs in this manner, we may be lacking in other things.
Contrary to what you may think, vitamin and mineral deficiencies are not confined to third world countries.
Modern farming methods have leached much of the goodness from the topsoil.
This has led to many foods exhibiting much lower amounts of trace nutrients, vital for good health.
Taking a good quality multi-vitamin supplement can help plug any nutritional gaps.
‘Eating the rainbow’ (colorful veggies) will also help to ensure you get all the micronutrients your body needs.
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