It is the worst feeling in the world.
You have replaced your taste bud-appeasing crispy fries, onion rings, sugary sodas and hamburgers with leafy greens and gallons of water. Yet, when you step on the scale, it hardly budges.
Try as you may, you are unable to put your finger on exactly what is keeping you from shedding those pounds.
Like many people, you might think eating less would help. However, it does not. It ends up zapping your energy and your weight stays exactly where it was.
Eventually, most people become highly demotivated and decide to give up. If you can’t lose weight, might as well eat whatever you want, right?
Alternatively, you could persevere in your cause and try to find out why this is happening, so you can address the problem and move toward reaching your goal.
Here are 10 reasons you might not be losing weight.
1. Eating “Diet Foods”
Many popular “diet foods” contain abundant fats and hidden calories. Furthermore, they cause sugar cravings, reduce your energy level and lead to weight gain over time.
Foods like breakfast cereals (made from refined grains), low-fat yogurt, gluten-free foods, agave nectar and fat-free salad dressings are often loaded with added sugar and fructose. These cause a sugar overload in your body that is stored on your hips, thighs and abdomen as fat for later use.
Diet sodas don’t have sugar, but they contain artificial sweeteners that your body does not digest well. Such sweeteners travel to the intestine and alter the behavior of intestinal bacteria.
This causes glucose intolerance and a rise in blood sugar. This blood sugar, too, converts to fat.
While granola bars are extremely fibrous, most are now mass-produced with puffed rice and added sugar.
So, choose your “diet foods” wisely after reading the product labels.
2. Skipping Meals
It may seem logical that eating less by skipping a meal would help you lose weight. However, skipping meals often proves counterproductive for a few reasons.
Your body’s metabolism works better with a regular supply of food. Your body burns calories during digestion. When it stops receiving adequate food, its metabolic rate slows down. This, in turn, slows down the calorie-burning process when you do eat.
Furthermore, when you do not eat enough, your body responds by conserving food as fat for energy.
In addition, if you skip breakfast, for instance, you will be even hungrier by lunch and may overeat.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health studied 9,919 adolescents up until adulthood and noticed that the trend of skipping breakfast increased as the adolescents grew older, and caused an increase in weight gain.
3. Not Drinking Enough Water
Water constitutes approximately 60 percent of your body and has a significant bearing on your weight.
Water metabolizes body fat into energy. Drinking a moderate amount of water before meals effectively suppresses the appetite and reduces calorie intake.
A 2005 study published in Obesity Research notes that out of 4,755 adults whose food and beverage consumption was studied from 1999 to 2001, 87 percent consumed 51.9 ounces of water every day.
Results showed that water consumers drank fewer sodas and fruit drinks, and consumed 194 fewer calories every day.
Another study, published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research in 2013, looked at the effect of drinking 500 ml of water 3 times per day (30 minutes before breakfast, lunch and dinner) on 50 overweight girls over eight weeks. Results showed highly significant weight loss in all the subjects.
4. Not Getting Adequate Sleep
Studies have shown that not sleeping enough at night stimulates hunger hormones and increases appetite, resulting in weight gain over time.
A 2004 study published in the Annals of Medicine notes that when 12 healthy young men were put on a sleep restriction for two days, they experienced reduced levels of leptin (a hunger-inhibiting hormone), increased levels of ghrelin (a hunger-inducing hormone) and an overall increase in appetite.
A population-based study published in PLoS Medicine in 2004 substantiates the previous study, reporting that low levels of sleep cause reduced leptin and increased ghrelin, causing a consequent increase in weight.
In today’s fast-paced world, chronic sleep disorders are common and food is easily available. Alterations in appetite-regulating hormones due to sleep deprivation may cause long-term obesity.
It is also one of the major causes of childhood obesity.
To support your weight loss efforts, get at least 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep daily.
5. Not Eating Enough Protein
A high-protein diet aids weight loss by keeping sugar cravings at bay and preventing excess fat deposits due to sugar overloads.
A 2014 study published in the Nutrition Journal reports that 20 female participants who alternated between consuming 13 grams of protein, 35 grams of protein and skipping breakfast altogether for six consecutive days reported reduced post-meal sugar cravings.
Thermogenesis, a metabolic process in which the body produces heat to burn calories, is boosted by eating protein. A 2002 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports that a high-protein diet increases thermogenesis in the body.
Another study, published in Obesity in 2011, notes that a high-protein diet induces satiety and controls appetite during weight loss.
6. Side Effects of Prescription Medications
Some prescription drugs used to treat depression, diabetes, seizures, migraines and high blood pressure can cause weight gain. So if you are trying to lose weight while on prescription drugs, that might be the reason nothing’s working.
While some medications interfere with your appetite and induce hunger pangs, others slow down metabolism or cause water retention.
A 2010 research paper published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry notes that certain antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, mirtazapine and paroxetine, were associated with a risk of weight gain.
Note: Do NOT stop taking medication without consulting your doctor. Ask your doctor if you can take a lower dose of the same medicine or an alternate medication.