by Jason Ferruggia
When you lose weight, your body fights back. You may be able to lose quite a lot of weight at first, without much effort. However, weight loss may slow down or stop altogether after a while. This article lists 20 common reasons why you’re not losing weight. It also contains actionable tips on how to break through the plateau and get things moving again.
1.) You’re Eating Too Many Calories
This should be pretty obvious to most people, but there are still those who are claiming that you can eat all you want as long as you avoid carbs. That’s just not true. At the end of the day you need to eat less. It’s really simple. If you’re eating the right amount of healthy food it would be hard NOT to lose fat. Most people eat way more than they think they do. Eating less is challenging. That’s why most people look for another answer. Consuming just 2500 calories per day requires some discipline. But then so does anything else worthwhile that you’d want to accomplish. When you’re not losing fat the way you want to the solution is pretty simple. Eat less food.
2.) You’re Not Eating Enough Calories
This is the opposite side of the coin, #obvs. Some people diet too hard and in turn basically shut off their metabolism. When you cut calories too low your thyroid will shut down and losing fat will become very difficult. One easy way to monitor this is by taking your temperature when you wake up. If it starts dipping way below normal you’ll know you’ve royally fucked your metabolism. At that point the best thing you can do is crank your calories through the roof for a while. Nothing else will help. Unfortunately, this may be a very long process of eating your way back to a steady 98.6 degree temperature. But you’ll be a lot healthier in the long run for it.
3.) You’re Looking for the Quick Fix or Latest Celebrity Diet
How long did it take you to get fat? How much time and effort went into it? How many shitty meals did you have to eat and how many training sessions did you have to miss? Add all that up and you’ll get an estimate of how long it’s going to take you to lose that fat. There are no quick fixes. That kind of crap doesn’t work and you always rebound and gain the fat back later. The only thing that works is a complete lifestyle change. Eating healthy has to become habitual. It’s something you do every day without thinking about it or frantically counting and weighing all day some kind of neurotic lunatic. You have to accept that eating a balanced diet of protein, carbs and fat is where it’s at. No foods are solely responsible for fat gain. And there is no food that will magically make the fat fall of your body.
4.) You’re Eating Too Much Fat
Speaking of trendy diets… Some people buy into the no carb bullshit. They cut carbs and assume that they’re good to go and there’s nothing else to worry about. Unfortunately, the low/no carb diet isn’t as much fun as Dr. Atkins made it out to be. You can’t just eat pounds of bacon and mayonnaise with reckless abandon and think that you’ll magically end up ripped. Fat contains calories; nine per gram to be exact. That’s more than twice the calories of a gram of protein or carbs. At the end of the day total calories still matter, and if you’re eating more than you burn you’re never going to get ripped. Please don’t mistake this as my advocating a low fat diet. That’s just as bad as eating too much fat. About 20% of your calories (and at the most, 30%) should come from healthy fats like pastured egg yolks, wild caught salmon, grass fed beef and coconut oil to ensure optimal health. Just be careful about going overboard with it and thinking that low carbs automatically leads to single digit body-fat. You still need to keep a handle on things like total calories. And carbs are NOT evil. They help you lose fat, feel better and perform optimally.
5.) You’re Drinking Too Many Protein Shakes
When you want to get ripped it’s always better to chew as many of your calories as possible. The very act of chewing and digesting solid food burns more calories than drinking shakes does. Most physique competitors cut out shakes when getting ready for a show. Take note and learn the lesson. One small one after a workout is okay but that’s it. I wouldn’t be slugging down three a day. And if you really want to get ripped I strongly consider cutting them out completely.
6.) You’re Eating Too Many Nuts
Nuts have a lot of calories that can add up quickly. When dieting for fat loss you’re better off filling up on nutritionally dense foods that don’t pack a lot of calories, like green vegetables. Not too many people can eat ten almonds. And that’s about the most you’d be allowed per day on a fat loss diet. Most people eat ten handfuls of almonds. That can easily put you over your daily calorie and fat limit. Nuts can also be problematic/allergenic for a lot of people, especially those with digestive or auto immune issues. As Paleo Solution author Robb Wolf has noted, nuts should be used the same way you use condiments- sparingly. The last problem with nuts it that they contain a lot of polyunsaturated fat. People get into trouble when they have too much Omega 6 in their diet and not enough Omega 3. Saturated fat is usually better for improving your metabolism than unsaturated fat.
7.) You’re Not Training With Enough Resistance
When you want to lose body-fat the first inclination is often to crank up the reps and cut the rest periods. I actually have no problem with fairly low rest periods. But not if you’re used to resting two minutes between sets and all of the sudden cut them down to thirty seconds because you decided it was time to get shredded you’ll be in trouble. That never works. All that happens is your weights start plummeting on every exercise and you get weaker and smaller. When dieting, the primary role of strength training is to maintain muscle mass. That is the single most important thing. If you’re trying to lose 10-20 pounds of body-fat without losing all your muscle mass in the process you should use strength training as a way to maintain size and strength. So the same principles that helped you get big and strong apply when dieting.
8.) You’re Overdoing Cardio
Traditional forms of cardio are largely useless for fat loss. But useless is even okay, it’s when it starts to be counterproductive that we have a real problem. Excessive amounts of cardio lead to an overproduction of cortisol which leads to more abdominal fat and numerous health problems. If you want to do cardio that won’t actually hurt you and could do you some good, go for a long walk. Sled work builds muscle, burns fat and is irreplaceable.
9.) You’re Not Running Sprints or Doing Sled Work
Dieting is the most important thing for fat loss. After that you should be doing some form of strength training to maintain your muscle mass. When you have those to things dialed in you’ll want to add in some type of sprinting or sled work. There is nothing more effective for fat loss. See all wide receivers, defensive backs, sprinters, soccer players, etc. for proof. Two 12-20 minute sprint or sled sessions per week will be enough for most people to get ripped.
10.) You’re Not Managing Stress Properly
When you get stressed out your body produces a hormone known as cortisol. This increases bodyfat storage if it’s not controlled. Most people are stressed out all day long which means their cortisol levels are always high. That leads to an increase in bodyfat even if your diet and training are perfect. So make sure to take the time for stress management every single day. It HAS to be built into your routine the same way that brushing your teeth or eating is. It’s that important. In the hierarchy of fat loss stress management may actually be the single most important factor.
Here are some good ways to manage your stress:
-Keep a g-ratitude journal
-Get a pet
-Learn to say no
-Don’t feel the need to reply to every text, email, phone call, tweet or comment you receive
-Cut out the negative people in your life
-Get rid of your to-do list
-Spend more time outside
-Make time for laughter every day
-Schedule more fun stuff with friends
-Stop watching the evening news
-Listen to relaxing music
-Get regular massages
-Stress management is an essential key to fat loss
11.) You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases and your cortisol goes up. Both things lead to less than optimal fat loss. In fact, sleep deprivation can actually lead to fat gain. You also miss out on the critically important Growth Hormone boost that comes each night during deep sleep. If you want to lose more fat you have to get more sleep. Most people will ignore this and some of you are probably reading this at 2am. Unfortunately this just might be the most important thing on the whole list.
Some tips to improve your sleep are:
-Get outside in natural light for 15-30 minutes first thing in the morning.
-Work out earlier in the day.
-Don’t have caffeine after 12pm.
-Turn the lights down in your house after dark.
-Don’t look at phone or computer screens two hours before bed.
-Remove electronics from the bedroom.
-Use the bed only for sleep and sex.
-Make your bedroom as dark as possible.
-Invest in a really good bed. You spend 1/3 of your life in bed. So it’s worth investing in the best bed you can afford.
-Keep the bedroom cool. 68 degrees seems to be about right for most people.
-More sleep improves EVERYTHING. Make it a priority.
12.) You’re Not Sticking to the Plan
In the age of information overload the biggest roadblock to fat loss is program ADD. One week you’re doing high fat, the next week you’re doing high carbs, then no cardio, followed by cardio every day, and on and on. Fat loss is a simple science. There is a proven path that works. You just have to stick with it long enough to see results. The most you can lose is about two pounds of fat per week. Unless you’re over 300 pounds. In that case you’ll lose more. If you’re leaner you’ll be able to lose less. Nothing you can do will change that. It’s human physiology.
Bodybuilders and field athletes are the leanest people on earth. What do they do each week:
-Eat protein, vegetables, fruit and starch every day
-Never go too low on carbs
-Strength train 3-4 times
-Sprint or do some kind of high intensity interval training 1-3 times
-Expend more calories than they consume
-The last thing I’d add is to simply walk more. Get a FitBit or use the Health app on your iPhone and shoot for 10,000 steps per day.
Don’t sit when you can stand, and build movement into your daily routine. A sedentary life equals death. It’s a simple plan, easy to follow, and it works. Forget the quick fixes and make it a lifestyle. Good luck!