We know the frustration. You’ve been sticking to a healthy diet for weeks and have been working out whenever you can but those pesky numbers on the scales just aren’t shifting. It was meant to be as easy as eat less and move more, right? So why aren’t the numbers on the scales going down?
Well, like most things, that approach simply doesn’t work for everyone and if your body is wired a certain way, there may be a lot more to weight loss than that simple rule. There are a plethora of reasons why you could be finding it hard to lose weight and it could very well be one of these…
If you’re not drinking enough, your body will hold on to every drop of water it has because it needs it to run properly. Other causes of water retention include hormone changes, certain medical conditions and eating food that contains a lot of salt. The water will be stored in your tissues and between blood vessels.
You might even notice that you’re losing fat but not weight and it will be because of this water retention. Research has shown that water levels can account for a weight fluctuation of up to 2 to 4 pounds in a day!
High carb meals
Carbohydrates’ primary function is to serve the body with energy. Any unused energy is converted into fat and stored, therefore leading to weight gain. So, it figures that if your meals are particularly carb heavy and you don’t follow a VERY active lifestyle, your weight is likely to creep up. If you eat a carb-heavy meal the night before a weigh-in, that could account for a weight increase.
Of course, you don’t want to avoid carbohydrates, they are your body’s primary source of energy. However, all carbs are not created equal, there is plenty of important fibre in wholegrain bread and wholewheat pasta and starchy carbs such as rice and potatoes offer a slow release of energy, which should leave you feeling fuller for longer. Try to opt for complex carbs over simple carbs, and aim to reduce your sugar intake.
When are you weighing yourself?
To get an accurate idea of your weight, you should weigh yourself at the same time on the same day every week. Naturally, we weigh less in the mornings before we’ve eaten anything. Naturally, we weigh more at the end of the day after we’ve finished all of our meals.
Our weight can also fluctuate wildly day to day, so once a week is often the most sensible, accurate monitor of how we’re really doing with our weight management. It will be even more accurate, if you can manage to wear the same outfit every weigh-in too!
Having a menstrual cycle definitely plays a role in weight change. As well as strong cravings for high fat, high sugar and carb-heavy foods due to declining levels of serotonin and magnesium, the female body tends to hold on to fat cells more during menstruation. The hormones estrogen and progesterone control how the body regulates fluid, so when their levels decrease (as they do in the days before a period), water retention is inevitable. Of course, there is also the issue of bloating. This isn’t real weight gain but many women will feel a lot heavier for about a week before and during their period.
Disrupted sleep pattern
If you’re not getting at least seven hours of sleep at night, you may start feeling the effects after a while. One of these effects is possible weight gain. When we’re tired, we produce more of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This can lead to overeating or eating high-carb or high-sugar foods to ‘keep us going’.
Of course, if you’re exhausted, you may also be tempted to skip your workouts. Try to make an effort to wind down at a reasonable time and ensure your body is rested enough to take on the day. It will thank you for it!
Hypothyroidism or other underlying health problems
There are certain medical conditions that make it harder to lose weight. The thyroid produces hormones that control your energy levels and help regulate how the body processes food. If your thyroid isn’t releasing enough of these hormones, it can be tough to shift extra pounds. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is another condition that causes your weight to increase, due to hormonal imbalances.
You may also have trouble losing weight if you have some kind of insulin resistance, falling under the Syndrome X umbrella of conditions. If you’re resistant to insulin, other hormones that aid the metabolic process may not work as well.
It’s important to see a doctor as soon as you can, if you suspect that there may be a medical reason for your lack of weight loss.
When you’re working so hard to lose weight and it’s not paying off at the scales, you’re in danger of packing it all in and reaching for the biscuit tin. The important thing is try to isolate where the problem may be and take measures to change it. Some conditions may not be easy to fix but if you keep in mind that any weight gain may not be anything to do with all the hard work that you’re putting in, you’re less likely to be so hard on yourself. Sometimes there’s a lot more to it than simply eating less and moving more.