According to experts there are 6 common issues that prevent people from losing unwanted pounds. According to an article in U.S. News, they note that many are filling up on healthy foods, exercising daily and still, the scale isn’t budging. It’s mind-numbingly frustrating. Luckily, it’s also fixable. Here are six common things that could be standing between you and your weight-loss goals – plus easy ways to bust through each.
1. You Aren’t Tracking What You Eat
“Most of the time, when someone comes into my office saying they aren’t losing weight, the problem is that they are eating a lot more than they think they are,” says Holly Herrington, a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist with the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation. “Almost every single person underestimates how much they are eating.” You can blame oversized restaurant portions, mindless munching and “health halos” for that, she says.
After all, French fries and ice cream aren’t the only things that are calorie-packed. So are healthy foods, including olive oil, avocado and nuts. For instance, 1 cup of almonds contains about 750 calories. If you’re snacking on them (a great idea), but without measuring and tracking those calories (a bad idea), you could easily end up gaining weight, Herrington says.
She recommends tracking everything you eat, at least for a couple months, with apps like My FitnessPal, which will help you learn proper portion sizes and how your favorite health foods measure up calorie-wise. In one American Journal of Preventive Medicine study, people who kept daily food records lost double the weight of those who didn’t track their food intake.
2. You’re Not Sleeping Enough
A bad night’s sleep can wreck your weight-loss efforts through a two-pronged approach. For one, it makes you hungry and likely to overeat. “When you don’t get enough sleep, your levels of cortisol and also ghrelin, a hormone that increases the sensation of hunger, rise,” explains board-certified internist Dr. Patricia Salber.
For example, in one University of Chicago study, healthy young men who got just four hours of sleep two nights in a row (compared to their usual seven to nine hours) reported a 24 percent increase in appetite, along with cravings for candy, cookies, chips, bread and pasta. They also experienced an 18 percent decrease in leptin, which promotes fullness, and a 28 percent increase in the hunger-hormone ghrelin.
Second of all, not getting enough sleep could make your body store what you do eat as fat. For instance, a 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that just one night’s bad sleep caused healthy men’s resting energy expenditure – the number of calories they burned by simply being alive – to drop by 5 percent. The number of calories they burned after each meal also dropped by 20 percent.
“Sleep deprivation and sleep apnea may affect blood sugar levels and increase insulin resistance,” says endocrinologist Dr. Michael Bergman, clinical professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center. “Sleep disorders, namely obstructive sleep apnea, [have] been associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes.”
If clean-sleep habits – such as keeping your bedtimes consistent and not playing on electric devices in the hour before bed – don’t help you get eight solid hours a night, talk to your doctor about how you can sleep better and longer, he says.
3. You’re Eating the Same Numer of Calories You Did on Day One of Your Diet
Oh, the weight-loss plateau: At the beginning of your diet, you were losing weight and feeling great. But now, you’re doing the exact same thing, but with zero results. That might be the problem. “As you lose weight, your caloric needs will change,” Herrington says. “The smaller you get, the fewer calories your body needs, so the fewer calories you’ll need to eat to continue losing weight.”
If your weight-loss results have plateaued for one to two months, she recommends gradually cutting back on calories. Start by eating 100 fewer calories a day and see how the scale shifts in a couple weeks’ time. Don’t cut back too much, though. Most women shouldn’t eat any fewer than 1,200 calories a day and men shouldn’t eat any fewer that 1,700 a day. Meanwhile, you should never feel famished or low on energy, she says.