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Why You’re Not Losing Weight
If you've hit a weight loss plateau, it probably has nothing to do with calories, nor the food you're dieting on. In fact, it might not have anything to do with food at all! Why you’re not losing weight and other weight loss mysteries explored.
There's nothing more frustrating than hitting a weight loss plateau. Even worse is weight gain in spite of painstakingly watching what you eat. Or losing your figure while losing weight—it sounds bizarre, but it’s not uncommon.
The reason for any of these predicaments usually has nothing to do with calories, nor the food you're dieting on.
But it could have something to do with the snacks you take to satisfy your cravings, even if they're seemingly healthy snacks. And if you’re managing to lose weight, but your figure is nevertheless going to pot, it most likely has nothing to do with food at all!
Why You’re Not Losing Weight and Other Weight Loss Mysteries Explored
Cravings and the Right Snacks
You have to eat regularly to lose weight. That means three meals a day with a snack between each.
If you eat irregularly or don’t take snacks, you’ll develop hunger pangs and hard to resist cravings, which will sabotage all your weight loss efforts.
Snacking curbs hunger pangs and cravings by keeping your blood sugar level constant, but only if you eat the right snacks. Fresh fruits and raw vegetables are supposedly the most healthy, but high protein foods work better.
When you eat fruit and vegetables, you’re satisfying your cravings with fructose, which is sugar. Any sugar will trigger a sudden spike and fall in your blood sugar level, which causes more hunger pangs and cravings. That’s why some people find it difficult to stick to a diet—the persistent cravings eventually become too hard to resist.
Adding to that, feeling hungry on a regular basis encourages your body to reserve energy as fat to get through anticipated hunger periods—this is the main cause of the weight loss plateau.
Proteins deliver energy over a much longer period than fruit and vegetables, which keeps your blood sugar level constant for longer, hence fewer hunger pangs.
So save apples, oranges and carrots for your main meals, and snack on hard boiled eggs, mixed nuts and protein bars instead.
Drinks that Help You Pile on the Pounds
It might seem obvious, but do you watch what you drink? Your fluid intake can deliver many more calories than you think.
One or two latte macchiatos, a bottle of soda, and a couple of glasses of wine per day doesn't sound excessive, but it adds up to about 800 calories, which equals a third of an average adult’s daily calorific requirement, which is the equivalent of one decent meal.
Your fluid intake should be about four pints daily, at best in the form of mineral water and unsweetened herbal teas.
Green tea is ideal when dieting, especially because it wards off cravings.
You're Dieting, but Still Getting Flabby
Are you losing your figure in spite of losing weight? It’s because muscle mass is being replaced by fat—fat is lighter than muscle.
You lose five percent of muscle mass per year after the age of 30. If you lose seven pounds of muscle, you have to consume 150 calories less per day to prevent it turning to fat. To make matters worse, eating less causes you to lose more muscle.
You can rectify this plight with a weekly workout. You don’t have to go to the gym, and it doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous: lifting light weights, pilates or stretching do the trick—the sort of exercises anyone can do, even in old-age.
Apart from overeating, hormone imbalances are the most common cause of excess fat, especially when you reach middle age.
In men, what looks like a ‘beer gut’ (but often isn’t) is caused by a lower testosterone level and, comparatively speaking, a consequently higher estrogen level. It's worth noting, however, that beer contains estrogen, which is why many beer-drinking men develop a 'beer gut'.
The cause in women, funnily enough, is lower estrogen and progesterone levels.
If you’re a man, the only effective way around this is to watch what you eat—less fat and fewer carbs—but women have a much better option.
Women can raise their estrogen level with soy products. Just incorporate soy into as many meals as you can. You can include tofu in salads, for example, or replace cow’s milk with soy milk.
Japanese women are the best evidence that soy works. Because of the high soy content of Japan’s daily national diet, few women experience problems during menopause, including unwanted weight.
But if nothing seems to help, consult your doctor—perhaps a hormone replacement therapy is a more appropriate solution for you, whether you’re male or female.
Fluid retention is normal when you first go on the pill, and will obviously cause you to weigh more. You only need to worry if it persists for more than a month.
Ask your doctor to give you an alternative pill. If you still have problems after changing your prescription two or three times, it’s probably best to consider another method of birth control.
All images by Jayne Lancer.
© 2010 Jayne Lancer