Losing weight can feel like an uphill battle for many individuals. Despite following diets and exercise routines, some people struggle to see significant results. As an experienced Accredited Practising Dietitian, I have worked with numerous clients facing this challenge and have discovered that there are often underlying reasons hindering weight loss progress, some more obvious than others. In this blog, we will delve into the real reasons why you might be struggling to lose weight, helping you understand and overcome these obstacles.
1. Underestimating Energy Intake:
One common reason for weight loss plateaus is underestimating calorie or kilojoule intake. Many people are unaware of the number of calories or kilojoules they consume daily, often overlooking hidden sources such as beverages, dressings, or condiments. Keeping a food diary or using a calorie tracking app can help you gain a better understanding of your true calorie intake and make adjustments accordingly. We generally don’t require our clients to count calories on a regular basis as we know this to be tedious and short-lived, however, even a couple of days can provide valuable insight from time to time.
2. Lack of Physical Activity:
While diet plays a crucial role in weight loss, physical activity is equally important. Not engaging in regular exercise can slow down your metabolism and impede weight loss progress. As exercise stimulates a chain of metabolic reactions in your body to help with the uptake of fuel into the muscles, incorporating both cardiovascular exercises and strength training into your routine can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories during exercise and for hours afterwards. I hear many people tell me they are active chasing their kids around or walk down every aisle of the supermarket but it’s still not enough!
3. Inconsistent Meal Planning:
Without a well-planned meal structure, it's easy to make impulsive food choices that may hinder weight loss efforts. Skipping meals or relying on processed and convenient foods can lead to overeating and poor nutrient intake. Developing a meal plan and sticking to regular eating times can help control portion sizes and ensure a balanced diet. As a dietitian, I find many clients asking for personalised meal plans. I love to provide this service as a means of helping them to stay on track and keep to the goals we have set, without having to think too hard or calculate anything.
4. Emotional Eating:
Emotional eating is a common barrier to weight loss. Many individuals turn to food as a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, or other emotional triggers. Recognizing and addressing emotional eating patterns through stress management techniques, therapy, or seeking support from a professional can help break this cycle and promote healthier habits. This is where is can be helpful checking in with a health professional for accountability too. Dietitians are often seen as the ‘food police’ however this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are trained in nutrition counseling which incorporates a high level of understanding about why we eat and how we can change our eating behaviours. Our sessions with clients act as a forum for discussion around what went well, what didn’t go well and setting goals moving forward.
5. Lack of Sleep:
Poor sleep habits can negatively impact weight loss efforts. Inadequate sleep can disrupt hormones including insulin, leptin and ghrelin that regulate hunger and satiety, leading to increased cravings and overeating. Prioritizing quality sleep by establishing a consistent sleep routine and creating a conducive sleep environment can support weight loss goals. Planning the night time meal effectively can also play a part in the quality of sleep that is achieved.
6. Hormone imbalance, Medical Conditions and Medications:
Certain medical conditions and medications can affect weight loss. Conditions like hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or hormonal imbalances relating to stress or menopause can make it more challenging to shed excess weight. Consulting with a healthcare professional to address any underlying medical issues and apply or adjust medications or supplements, if necessary, can help optimize weight loss efforts.
Weight loss is a complex journey, and there can be various underlying reasons why your progress may have stalled. By understanding and addressing these real reasons, you can overcome the barriers and achieve your weight loss goals. Remember, seeking guidance from an Accredited Practising Dietitian or healthcare professional is always beneficial to tailor a plan that suits your unique needs. Stay committed, persistent, and patient, and you will be on your way to a healthier and happier you.