Why can’t I lose weight? 18 most common weight loss mistakes

1) You lose weight without realising it

It is possible that during weight loss, the needle of the scale stops moving towards your dream weight. Before you start worrying that you’ve hit a plateau and start changing your diet or exercising more, wait one to two weeks to see if this is actually the case. Body weight tends to fluctuate, even by 1-2 pounds from day to day.

As a rule, this is retained water. This process is influenced by the food we eat and hormones, so it is more pronounced especially in women.

It is also possible that you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. This phenomenon occurs if you have recently started exercising. The scale may not be moving, but this process is very important for weight loss. Muscle burns more calories than fat, plus a kilo of muscle is about half as bulky. Therefore, monitor weight loss by methods other than weighing. Preferably once a month, measure your body fat percentage and waist circumference. Another possible indicator is how your clothes fit.

2) Do I know what I’m eating?

Knowing how much of what you eat is essential for sustainable weight loss. Studies show that people who keep a diary in which they accurately track their food intake or take photos of every meal are more successful at losing weight. It is important to approach these practices with caution, as they can trigger or exacerbate potentially harmful habits in people with eating disorders.

3) You have a protein deficiency

Protein is a very important macronutrient that surprisingly many people do not consume enough of. The overall composition of your diet and the ratio of each macronutrient is important for weight loss. 25-30% of your calories should come from protein. This amount can kick-start the metabolism and lead to more calorie burning. A diet rich in protein prevents hunger and food cravings and helps maintain satiety. Protein has beneficial effects, for example, on ghrelin, one of the hormones that regulate appetite.

4) High calorie intake

Many people who can’t lose weight are actually just consuming too many calories. Before starting a diet, you should find out exactly how many calories you eat per day. Read how many calories each food has, the amount of macronutrients it contains, and write down exactly how much of what you eat.

Track your calorie intake for one week. Be honest with yourself and don’t hold back, eat like you normally would. You can then use this data to help you navigate. Tracking your calorie intake and possibly individual macronutrients is crucial at the beginning of your diet. There is no need to count calories and weigh your food until the end of your life, as after a few days you will have an idea of roughly how many calories each food contains. However, it’s a good idea to check about once a month to make sure this is the case.

Deadlift a great exercise for hamstrings, glutes and back muscles
Photo: Stocklib

5) You’re avoiding strength training

One of the most important things you can do to shed extra pounds is some type of resistance training. Lifting weights will help you retain muscle mass that is otherwise subject to burning along with fat during weight loss. The goal of weight loss is to get rid of sevisceral and subcutaneous fat, not muscle.

Muscles, on the other hand, help to burn fat more efficiently even at rest.

6) You suffer from binge eating or bingeeating

Binge eating is the name given to an eating disorder that manifests itself through rapid consumption of large amounts of food. As this is an outward manifestation of a possible mental disorder, the sufferer should seek professional help. Most people who suffer from binge eating usually consume large amounts of processed junk food or high-calorie products such as nuts, nut butters, chocolate and cheese.

7) Cardio doesn’t tell you anything

Aerobic exercise, or cardio, includes activities like running, cycling or swimming. For the most effective fat burning, a combination of strength training interspersed with aerobic training is great. Muscles help you burn fat even while you rest, and the combination of cardio and resistance training contributes to overall health and serves as injury prevention.

It may be surprising to learn that one of the most effective aerobic workouts is walking, an activity that, because of its minimal stress on joints, can be performed by very overweight people or complete beginners without fear of injury.

8) Drinking sugary drinks and sodas

Sugary drinks, sodas and juices should be avoided whether your goal is to lose just a few pounds or a quarter of your weight. The brain doesn’t perceive this source of calories as food and therefore it won’t fill you up.

This also applies to vitamin waters and fruit juices, which can contain as much sugar in one glass as several pieces of fruit, but unlike fruit, there is no fibre in the drinks. If you routinely drink sugary drinks, try to limit or avoid them altogether, as this will eliminate a large number of calories from your daily intake.

You may not sleep well
Photo: Freepik

9) You are sleep deprived

Since we sleep for almost a third of our lives, it’s not surprising that the quantity, and especially the quality, of our sleep has a big effect on various aspects of our lives, including weight loss. Sleep deprivation and its various disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea have a negative effect on hormones and our judgment, thus negatively affecting the weight loss process and metabolism.

During sleep, for example, muscle regeneration occurs and the production of a hormone called leptin, which regulates appetite and calorie intake and expenditure. Moreover, a sleepy brain cannot make the right decisions, which is why you often break your diet in the evening.

10) You don’t restrict carbohydrates

If you need to lose more than a few pounds and/or if you suffer from type 2 diabetes, then you might want to consider one of the low-carbohydrate diets. Compared to low-carb diets, these diets boast quick results that may better motivate you to stick to the diet long-term. Low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

For people who are very overweight, it’s a good idea to reduce carbohydrate intake, avoid refined sugar and choose whole grain foods instead.

11) Eating too much

Among the myths in weight loss is the one about eating many small portions per day. Frequency of eating has little to no effect on fat burning and weight loss. In contrast, one of the most popular and seemingly most effective eating habits is intermittent fasting, which in turn involves deliberately and strategically skipping meals for extended periods of time (15+ hours).

You may be dehydrated
Photo: Freepik

12) Not drinking enough water

There’s something to the saying that hunger is just thirst in disguise. There are studies that prove that people who drink half a litre of water before meals were able to lose 44% more weight than those who didn’t. Another study shows that drinking water can increase the amount of calories burned by 24-30%.

13) Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol

Who wouldn’t want to have a glass of beer or wine in the evening after a long day at work, or have a drink with friends they haven’t seen in a while? Of the alcohols, spirits such as vodka are the least calorific. Beer, wine and sweet alcoholic drinks are high in calories. However, even alcohol itself contains about 7 calories per gram, which is a lot. An egg, by comparison, contains only one calorie per gram.

14) Not focusing on what you eat

The technique of “mindful” eating, or mindful or focused eating, can be an extremely effective weight loss aid. It involves eating slowly without any distractions, savoring every bite and being aware of your body’s signals. Mindful eating shows a significant reduction in body weight and frequency of binge eating.

Types for mindful eating:

  1. Avoid any distractions, sit down at the table with only food, no Netflix or books.
  2. Eat slowly and chew properly. Be aware of the colour, smell, taste and texture of your food.
  3. The moment you start to feel full, take a sip of water and stop eating.

15) Your health condition makes it difficult to progress

There are some health complications that make weight loss difficult. These include hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and sleep apnoea. Similarly, some medications can contribute to weight gain, such as some types of hormonal contraceptives or migraine medications.

It is for these reasons that it is a good idea to consult your doctor about lifestyle changes, to get a full medical history and to work with a specialist when these and other complications occur.

Healthy diet
Photo: Pixabay

16) You’ve been dieting for too long

If you’ve been dieting for too long, chances are you’ve hit a plateau. It’s then a good idea to take a break from dieting for a while. Increase your calorie intake by about 100-200 calories, or try to consume so many calories that you neither lose weight nor gain weight, in English “calorie maintenance”.

Concentrate more on strength training and build muscle mass, which will help you during the next “round” of the diet. Try to maintain your weight and body fat percentage for one to two months before trying to lose weight again.

17) You have unrealistic expectations

Weight loss is generally a very long process. While it is possible to lose up to two kilos a week in the beginning, losing weight at a rate of 1kg a month is sustainable in the long term. Conversely, it is common for people to put on weight within the first week if they change their diet and exercise regime. But this weight represents the muscle mass that is needed for effective fat burning.

Plus, even if you reach your dream weight, you’re pretty likely not going to look like an instagram model or bodybuilder, at least not without Photoshop. Set realistic goals and don’t compare yourself to unrealistic ideals.

18) Focusing too much on weight loss

Diets almost never work long term. Studies show that people who stick to a diet gain more weight as a result than those who don’t focus on weight loss. Instead of focusing on following different diets, it’s better to adopt healthy habits.

These include: eating a balanced diet consisting mostly of foods that are full of nutrients and not empty calories, moving as often as possible, and focusing on doing things you enjoy. The main role of food is to nourish our bodies so that they function as we need them to.

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