Five Reasons Your Fat Loss is Stalling
Even if we feel we’re on top of our diet and exercise, it’s common to reach plateaus. For instance, a new regime might initially result in fat loss, but then, despite your efforts, that extra bit of fat just refuses to budge. This can be frustrating, but there are reasons this happens and, therefore, there are things you can do. Let’s take a look at five…
1. You’re not consuming enough calories
One of the biggest mistakes I see with people trying to lose weight is that they’re actually not consuming enough calories! I know this sounds crazy, but give me a second to explain.
We all know that to lose weight and to burn fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit. But creating too big of a calorie deficit can cause you to lose the wrong type of weight and potentially make it harder to lose weight in the future. This is because your body doesn’t like to be in a calorie deficit. Realistically, if you were in a calorie deficit indefinitely, you would die!
This is also known as starvation. When you’re in a large calorie deficit, your body will make certain adaptions such as using muscle for energy and decreasing your metabolism to reduce the number of calories you burn throughout the day. This, in turn, will be a problem when your calories return to normal but your muscle mass is lower and your metabolism is slower than before, making it hard to lose weight the next time around.
As you know, calories are what give us energy. If your calorie intake is low, your training performance will also severely decrease, resulting in fewer calories burnt per session and a higher risk of injury. Another problem with calorie restriction is that it’s not sustainable and you will have to relapse at some point. We can’t help it, we all love food!
Low-calorie diets can be very harmful to your health and long-term fat loss. Ideally, create a calorie deficit by burning more calories rather than by eating less.
2. You’re not counting liquid calories
Juices, smoothies, sodas, and energy drinks. Could they be the single thing stalling your fat loss? When people are on a diet, they cut back on their food intake and often start calorie counting. The problem is, they forget to count the calories from drinks! Just take a look at what’s in some popular drinks:
Orange Juice from concentrate (1 cup) – 110 kcal
Lucozade Sport (500 ml bottle) – 140 kcal
Average juice smoothie (1 cup) – 300 kcal
Coke (1 can) – 140 kcal
Beer (1 pint) – 220 kcal
White wine (medium glass) – 120 kcal
As you can imagine, these can easily tally up throughout the week. In fact, one study showed that women who increased their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, including sodas or fruit smoothies, from one per week to one or more per day added 358 calories daily and gained significant weight.
If you are on a diet with the aim to lose weight, make sure you include your calories from drinks as well as food. Ideally, I would suggest water or sugar-free alternatives.
3. You’re taking on more than you can handle
I see this problem over and over again, and I’m sure many of you are guilty of this too. You wake up one morning and have an epiphany; you need to get back to the gym and burn some fat. You have a holiday/wedding/birthday approaching and you’re going to be in the best shape of your life! This is it this time, no excuses! You decide you will train 6 times per week and never eat carbs again. Chocolate is out of your life for good.
The first week goes well, good start! Week two, you miss a workout because it’s raining. Week three, one chocolate bar won’t hurt will it? By week four you’ve given up!
Before you start any fitness regime or change your nutrition, ask yourself if you can really still see yourself doing it in 6 months or a year. If the answer is no, then you’re setting yourself up to fail.
You know yourself better than anyone else! Try to find a way to fit your training into your lifestyle, even if it’s only 1–2 times per week. The same goes for the diet. If you love chocolate and need it in your life, find a way to fit it in. Think about it: Training 1–2 times per week with a balanced diet for 2 years is far better than training 5–6 times per week with a faultless diet for 3 weeks and failing.
4. You’re not eating enough protein
Usually, when looking at clients’ diets, they’re super high in carbs and fat but low in protein. Increasing your protein can make a big difference. A high-protein diet has been shown to help fat loss in many ways, such as by decreasing appetite, protecting muscle mass in a calorie deficit, and increasing metabolism. In fact, in a 12-day study in which people ate a diet containing 30% of calories from protein, they ended up consuming an average 575 fewer calories per day than when they ate 15% of calories from protein.
High protein intake helps with weight loss by reducing appetite, preserving muscle mass, and boosting metabolic rate.
5. You’re not lifting weights
There’s been a myth in the fitness industry for some time now that lifting weights will make you ‘gain’ weight and look ‘bulky’, and if you are going to lift weights to ‘tone up’, then you need to lift really light and complete a high number of reps. Both of these statements are false!
Muscle plays a big role in our metabolism. With fat loss, muscle is a precious commodity and we need to keep as much of it as possible, and adding resistance training into your programme will help you maintain muscle whilst burning fat. Lifting weights can also help burn fat during your session. In fact, a study of 741 participants showed that combining cardiovascular training and resistance training is one of the best strategies for weight loss.
Lifting weights should be a staple in your training programme, whether you’re aiming for fat loss, muscle tone, or anything else. It can help increase your metabolism and energy expenditure, increase the efficiency of your workouts, and reduce the risk of weight gain in the future.