Reasons why you aren't losing body fat

Ladies and Gents, have you tried everything to lose weight and feel like you have exhausted all options? It can be frustrating to see little results after putting in effort to transform your body.

Don't worry, you are not alone.

Many people struggle with losing fat, and there are some common reasons why.

1 - You’re eating too much

Sounds simple right? If you are eating in a surplus of calories (you are eating more food than you are expending) creating a positive energy balance this will result in weight gain. I have seen this with clients in the past, they start replacing sugary snacks with healthier options like nuts, fruit, trail mix, granola, muesli, and dried fruit. However, as these foods are calorie dense it ended up putting her in surplus of calories = weight gain.

2 - You’re not eating enough

More often than not this is the most common reason I see for people not losing weight. I know it is counter intuitive and goes against everything you thought you knew about losing weight. But let me ask you, how long have you been eating your yoghurt for breakfast, chicken and salad for lunch, and meat and veg for dinner and not losing weight? The definition of insanity ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result’.

Yes, we need to be in a calorie deficit (eating less food than we are expending) to lose weight.

Therefore creating a negative energy balance. However, if you have been eating in a calorie deficit for too long the body starts down regulate your metabolism (which will put a massive halt on fat loss as what was previously your ‘deficit’ is now your bodies new maintenance) this can then down regulates several hormones needed for fat loss; thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and leptin, and begins to upregulate hormones that can inhibit fat loss; cortisol.

3 - Your stressed out

When we are stressed, we release a hormone called cortisol. Acute increases in cortisol are good, they help as cope with stress and can help us build muscle and burn body fat. 

High cortisol will also cause the body to breakdown muscle tissue and preserve fat. In fact, prolonged cortisol elevation encourages fat storage around the mid-section. High cortisol levels can also increase cravings for sugary and salty foods (comfort foods) in conjunction with this cortisol can also increase appetite. Stress can do weird things to people’s bodies. You can be doing everything right nutrition and training wise but if you are stressed you will not see the results you want.

4 - You don’t get enough sleep

There is a correlation between less sleep time and higher levels of body fat.

That is not to say that if you don’t get enough sleep, you will gain fat. However, it can be a major contributor to why you are not losing weight. Whilst sleeping we produce growth hormone; this hormone plays a big role in building muscle and losing body fat. A lack of sleep means you aren’t getting optimal production of this hormone which may contribute to inhibiting your fat loss goals. Lack of sleep also increases cortisol which as we learnt previously, can put a major halt on fat loss.

5 - You binge on the weekend

You cannot be healthy 5 days a week and then go ‘it will be fine’ on food on the weekend and expect to get the body of your dreams. Not only does this create an unhealthy and dangerous relationship with food but it will completely sabotage your results.

If you’re eating in a calorie deficit 5 days a week, then blow out on the weekend eating in a large excess of calories your total weekly calories will probably be in excess (calorie surplus = weight gain).

6 - You’re not eating enough Protein

A lot of females avoid protein through fear of it making them gain weight or make them bulky. 

Protein isn’t just important for weight and fat loss but it is vital for every cell in our body to function properly. It plays a role in maintaining our immune system, hormone production, gut health, and improving our detoxification pathways.

Protein should be part of every meal you eat throughout the day, specifically breakfast. This will keep you fuller for longer and keep you from snacking throughout the day.

7 - You’re avoiding carbs

Carbohydrates are our brains preferred fuel source for energy. Most people believe carbohydrates are the enemy when it comes to fat loss and as a result either cut them out all together or reduce them to dangerously low levels.

When we eat too low carbohydrates for too long it has a similar effect to eating too little calories for too long. It places our body under a lot of stress and as a result we see big increases in cortisol.

8 - You’re only doing cardio

I don’t really prescribe cardio for any of my clients. I am not saying there isn’t a time and place for it, there definitely is. But, most women that come to me wanting to lose fat and ‘tone’ their body are doing 45 minutes on the cardio machines 3-5 days per week.

Long duration cardio (especially when eating in a calorie deficit) is going to ramp up stress and cause inflammation in the body. Causing you to store body fat and burn muscle.

When someone tells me they have lost weight doing only cardio, they have generally lost muscle mass. The more muscle mass we have the better our metabolism will fire, so the goal is never to lose muscle mass.

Women that already have cortisol issues due to a stressful job, poor diet, busy lifestyle, and emotional stress definitely do not want to be doing long duration cardio all the time as this is only going to make matters worse. High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be a much more effective conditioning method to burn fat whilst preserving muscle and can be done in less than half the time of typical aerobic training.

9 - You’re not being consistent enough

Constant commitment and consistency are the keys to long term lasting results. This is probably the biggest limiting factor in you achieving your fat loss goals. Most women will try a diet or training plan for a certain period then fall of the wagon for a few weeks, then get back on, then something happens, and they get off again, and this cycle continues.

If you fall off for one meal, get straight back on track for the next meal. Don’t wait to start again the next day or the next week. And don’t beat yourself up over it either. Commit to training a certain number of times per week and lock it into your schedule like you would you job. Small consistent changes over time yield long term results.

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