There’s nothing more frustrating than putting in the work at the gym and not seeing the scale drop. If this is happening to you don’t get down on yourself – it happens to even the most seasoned fitness professionals. What you’re experiencing is the dreaded plateau.
Weight loss plateaus are caused by a variety of internal and external factors. An external factor may be the foods you choose to eat. An example of an internal factor may be menstruation or illness. Either way, anyone can get through a weight loss plateau as long as you’re willing to do some investigating. Below we discuss the most common reasons why you are exercising and not losing weight.
1. Not Exercising Enough
Many people simply don’t put forth the effort it takes to change the composition of their body. Weight loss boils down to calories in versus calories out – and if you aren’t burning enough calories to lose weight the scale will reflect it.
To lose weight you need to put in about five cardiovascular workouts a week for at least 30 minutes a session. Your effort level needs to consistently be a 5/10. That means what used to be a medium effort two weeks ago may not be now.
2. Lack of Sleep
It’s not that sleep helps you lose weight; it’s what happens when you don’t get enough of it. Americans seem to take pride in operating on very little sleep. This may be a badge of honor, but it causes serious problems with weight loss. The reason lack of sleep inhibits weight loss is because your body’s hormones get thrown off balance. Studies have shown that the hormones that signal when your body is hungry and when it’s full are disturbed by sleep deprivation. That means you are prone to overeating. Sleep experts say you need 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep per night.
3. Stressed out
Stress causes the hormone cortisol to be released in the system. This is a natural response to stress in the human body so it cannot be stopped, but it needs to be regulated. The only way to regulate it is to decrease stress. Cortisol causes an increase in appetite as well as extra fat storage around the abdomen. The effects of cortisol can be deadly. Too much cortisol released into the body causes the immune system to break down making the body vulnerable to sickness and disease.
4. Eating too much
This seems pretty obvious, but even when you are on a diet it can be easy to over eat – especially if you’re not working hard in the gym or counting your calories. Studies show that people who count their calories lose twice the weight. That’s because people who do not count calories have a tendency to underestimate the calories they eat and overestimate the calories they burn. This creates a calorie surplus, which means you won’t lose weight.
Losing weight takes consistent effort. Most people do the whole yo-yo diet thing that causes weight gain over time. Consistently creating a calorie deficit to lose weight is what it takes to see the scale drop.
6. Weekend weight gain
It’s okay to have one cheat meal on the weekends if you’ve been consistent Monday – Friday. Some people let their guard down all weekend and end up eating away their calorie deficit in just two days. To lose one pound you have to burn 3,500 calories. Eating just two fast food meals over the weekend can be that many calories or more.
7. Medical condition
Sometimes a lack of weight loss goes beyond effort and nutrition. If you’re consistently working out hard and eating the right foods, but not seeing results you may need to see a doctor. There are several medical conditions that inhibit weight loss such as thyroid disease.
8. Prescription medication
There are several prescription and over the counter medications that inhibit weight loss. Some medications like birth control pills are known to cause weight gain. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the possible side effects of medication.
9. Lack of variety
The human body adapts to the same workout quickly. To lose weight you have to mix up the types of exercises and workouts you’re doing every couple of weeks. Body confusion will keep you from hitting the dreaded weight loss plateau.
Working out too hard can actually inhibit weight loss believe it or not. What happens is the body tries to conserve energy and calories when it’s being pushed too hard.
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