Going to the gym but not losing much weight? You may have been going for a while but are finding you have reached a weight loss plateau. This can be disappointing. You may be following a training program that promises great results. The number of testimonials may have persuaded you to try it. But, for you it hasn’t worked out as well. Your expectations of weight loss may have been high but are not met. So, despite exercising, why are you not losing much weight?
- You are only doing cardio
Running, bike riding or doing some spinning classes is a great start to your fitness journey. Aerobic activity burns more calories per minute than resistance training. It may also lead to quicker results in the short-term. Yet, too much focus on cardio can cause the body to burn muscle rather than fat. This can slow down a person’s metabolism over time.
A 1999 study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared resistance training to cardio. The group that had a resistance based workout regime lost more fat, and didn’t lose any muscle. At the end of the study the resistance training group had faster metabolisms. They burned more calories daily than the aerobic group.
Many women believe lifting weights will add unnecessary bulk. They focus on cardio for weight loss instead. This is not the case. Women do not have the testosterone levels to bulk up like men when they weight train. Instead, weight training will help shape your body and give you beautiful curves. It will also add nice, lean muscle.
The more lean muscle you have the faster your metabolism will be, and the more body fat you will burn. It is a must that you pair weight training with a healthy diet or you will not achieve results.
- You are only active at the gym
Studies show that those who lead an active lifestyle remain healthy overall. But, if the only physical activity you do is going to the gym for an hour, you may not be as active as you think. This particularly applies to those who sit behind a desk all day for work.
In fact, the human body is not designed to be sitting down for hours every day. Even if you exercise daily, sitting for the rest of the day could negate the benefits. Researchers at the American Cancer Society found this to be the case. And, according to the University of Missouri; sitting shuts off the circulation of lipase, a fat-absorbing enzyme. So sitting down for hours a day hinders weight loss, despite going to the gym or exercising for a limited period.
Some companies have introduced standing desks for their employees. They recognize the severity of this issue. You can buy your own standing desk or treadmill desk here. Don’t let going to the gym be an excuse to not take the stairs, walk to the shops instead of driving, or take the dog for a walk. Be active daily outside of the gym as well as inside.
- You allow yourself too many treats
In a diet that is too strict, you are unable to enjoy yourself. There is nothing wrong with the occasional treat. Plus, regular exercise does give you room for more calories. Yet too many treats will sabotage your weight loss goals. Long term weight loss is only achieved through a disciplined diet and yes, denying yourself treats most of the time. It was sugary treats and processed food that caused weight gain to begin with. If you go back to old bad habits you will find yourself in the same place.
Exercise does not compensate for a bad diet. Disease prevention, more energy and mental well-being are also benefits of clean eating. To burn fat, your body needs to be at a calorie deficit, expending more calories than you consume. If you train hard, you must be mindful of what you eat and your general calorie intake too.
- You’re not eating enough food
Consuming an insufficient number of calories is a bad idea for weight loss. It will cause your metabolism to slow down. The human body is very resourceful and will hold onto the calories needed to fuel vital organs. If you are eating frequently your metabolism will remain active. Skipping meals will signal a need to conserve energy and hinder fat loss.
Eat three healthy meals daily with healthy snacks to sustain you until the next meal. Or have six smaller meals a day, eaten roughly every three hours. Is it better to eat six small meals a day instead of three larger ones? Well, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition considered this. In this 8-week study, obese individuals had three or six meals a day (same number of calories). Both groups lost significant and equal amounts of weight.
Eat in whatever way is convenient for you. It is the number of calories consumed that makes the real difference. You can eat anything from six small meals to two larger meals. A healthy diet consists of: high fiber, complex carbohydrates, protein, vegetables and good fats.
Stress triggers the hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol can affect the body’s ability to burn fat. It can also cause the body to use lean muscle as fuel, losing valuable muscle mass. This can cause an increase of fat in the abdominal area as well as an increase of appetite.
To deal with stress, aim for eight hours of sleep. Reduce your caffeine and engage in relaxing activities that you enjoy. Exercise also releases endorphins which work to reduce stress. You may find you depend on exercise to keep you stress free as well as for weight loss.
- You’re looking for quick results
Instead of aiming to lose twenty pounds by summer. Aim to improve and maintain your health and fitness for life. When you begin working out you will feel the health benefits from as early as the first week.
Even if you don’t see a dramatic difference on the scales, you may still lose inches. Your clothes will begin to fit better. So, don’t be too focused on scales, especially if you are doing regular weight training. If the scale is not moving, it doesn’t mean you are not on the right track. Be consistent with your workout and do a variety of exercises to stay challenged.
If you are struggling to lose weight, try addressing these six issues. Be honest with yourself and identify the source of the problem. Only then will you truly begin to see results and no longer be disappointed.
Schmitz K et al; Strength training and adiposity in premenopausal women: Strong, Healthy, and Empowered study 1,2,3,4
Watson S; health.harvard.edu