Wondering why you’re not losing weight even though you’re exercising more than ever and revamping your diet? This could be due to some of the common diet and exercise mistakes people make when trying to lose weight.
It’s important to keep in mind that a weight loss plan is different for every individual, so what works for some may not work for you, Roxana Ehsani, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and National Spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Told Newsweek.
“Each person has a unique lifestyle, with different abilities, needs and goals. Therefore, exercise programs should be designed specifically for each individual,” said Roger Franco, assistant director of fitness at Crunch Fitness. Fort Greene in New York. Newsweek.
The experts below explain some of the common mistakes in exercise and diet for weight loss.
Why am I working out but not losing weight?
Overeating after exercise
Dr. Keri Denay, Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and U.S. Figure Skating Team Physician, said Newsweek that one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is assuming they can eat more because they exercise more.
“If a person’s goal is to lose weight by incorporating more physical activity, the individual’s calorie intake should remain the same as before beginning the increase in exercise or decrease in quantity,” she said.
Skip resistance training
Macklin Guzmán, scientific director of the Medi-Weightloss program, also an epidemiologist and clinician, said Newsweek that doing hours of cardiovascular exercise but skipping resistance training is one of the most common mistakes.
Strength training can help you retain lean muscle mass which has a higher energy expenditure than fat, helping you not only lose weight, but keep it off. Although cardio exercises burn more calories than strength training, your metabolism stays active longer after lifting weights than after cardio training.
“Getting it right means doing a combination of cardio (high intensity) and resistance training to get the cardiac benefits of cardio and the positive metabolic effects of strength training. A combination of the two is the exercise program great for improving health and body composition,” he said.
Why am I losing inches but not weight?
When this scenario occurs, you’re likely to lose body water (initially) and body fat (eventually), while also building muscle,” Denay explained.
“These changes may cause some degree of change in body shape,” such as a smaller waistline, even if your weight on a scale hasn’t changed much, she said.
Ehsani agreed. If you are struggling to lose weight despite diet adjustments and exercise, “it may be that your body weight has not changed but your body composition has changed in a more positive direction, such as less body fat , but more lean muscle mass,” she says.
Do a DEXA (dual energy x-ray) scan to check your overall weight, body fat percentage, lean muscle mass percentage as well as bone health, the RDN advised.
Why am I not losing weight with a calorie deficit?
Sports nutritionist and dietician (RD) Nancy Clark said Newsweek in many cases, people “regiment too hard”, causing them to be hungry and overeat, which is “a physiological response to being too hungry”.
They’re “expecting” to have a good dinner, but “it’s against circadian rhythms, plus it sets the stage for being too hungry and overeating,” she said.
When we drastically reduce calories, our body adapts to such food shortages by conserving energy. This means that our metabolism slows down and our movements are reduced, while our appetite increases.
Instead of reducing calorie intake, you’ll want to “pre-load your calories,” Clark said, noting “as one customer put it [to me] “When I ate breakfast for breakfast and ate breakfast for dinner, I was losing weight so easily…it felt like my fat had melted away.”
Although reducing calorie intake is the most common weight loss strategy, to change body composition and reduce body weight, you need to analyze the nutritional value of each food, according to Franco.
“For example, foods can have the same calorie index but very different nutritional values,” he said.
Foods with good nutritional value (such as vegetables as well as lean meat) and a low glycemic index can help “increase lean muscle mass, improve overall strength and increase
caloric expenditure through exercise,” Franco explained.
Research has shown that when offered larger portions, “people tend to consistently eat more food than they normally would,” Guzmán said. Portion size therefore plays an important role in weight loss.
There are several strategies that can help with portion control, ranging from using smaller plates for meals at home, “since smaller dishes hold less food and you’ll be less likely to over-portion in a bigger plate,” asking for a smaller portion at the restaurant and asking them to pack up the rest for you to take home, he explained.
Not tracking your calories accurately or at all
Keeping a food diary is another key tool that is overlooked by dieters, noted Guzmán, which can track your calorie intake, types of food eaten as well as portion sizes. Journaling allows people to “become more aware of eating habits that may have caused them to gain weight in the first place,” he said.
There are many apps that allow you to scan your food and provide nutritional values such as calories and macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats). Weigh your food when first entering to ensure the data is accurate. You may find that you are consuming more than the recommended serving and are therefore no longer in a calorie deficit.
Other reasons why you are not losing weight
Avoid fruits and vegetables
Guzmán said the number of calories you eat is just as important as the type of calories you eat, because there are a lot of hidden calories in certain types of food, for example, “two hundred calories of spinach don’t are not necessarily the same as two hundred calories from cookies,” he explained.
Often what most Americans lack in their diets are fruits and vegetables. “Fruits and vegetables are our lowest calorie foods, so if your goal is to shed a few pounds, adding more fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks can help you achieve that,” Ehsani says.
Fruits and vegetables are also packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients we need to promote overall health.
Not eating enough carbs
Carbohydrates tend to be among the first foods people cut out when trying to lose weight. But if you exercise and don’t eat enough carbs, you’ll notice a decrease in energy and performance. “That’s because carbs are the preferred fuel source that your brain and muscles need every day to function,” Ehsani said.
“Being properly fueled with enough carbs will give you the energy to train longer and harder and ultimately lose weight,” she explained.
Often people eat a lot of protein instead of carbs in an effort to gain muscle. But eating too much of it won’t help you lose weight because it will be stored as fat. Protein overload will also be taxing on your kidneys and can cause constipation, Ehsani warned.
Don’t Cut Down on Processed Foods
The rise in obesity in America “correlated well” with increased consumption of ultra-processed foods, Clark warned. So you need to “worry less about sugar/carbs and more about processing” and find the time to cook great meals instead.
Ehsani explained that research has found that those who are sleep deprived are more likely to choose unhealthy food choices than when properly rested.
“Lack of sleep can alter our stress, hunger and appetite hormones,” the RDN said. During the day, you are more likely to eat more in general to help you stay awake, snack more often, and consume more sugary or caffeinated beverages.
Not managing stress
Your stress level could be sabotaging your weight loss goals. “When our stress hormone cortisol is constantly activated and elevated, it can also cause you to gain weight,” Ehsani said. Stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, can help calm these stress hormones.