Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 6 Reasons You Haven't Lost Weight

We've all heard it....
Losing weight equates to simply monitoring "calories in vs. calories out".  Or, increasing your workout duration and frequency.  Right?
Unfortunately, it's not that simple.  There are many misconceptions about losing weight and some of the information below may surprise you.

1.  Sleep
Probably the most misunderstood cause and effect when dealing with weight loss.  Lack of sleep will mess you up in terms of hormones.  Specifically cortisol (fat-storing hormone), leptin (the hormone that tells us when to stop eating) and ghrelin (hormone that stimulates appetite).  Not enough sleep will cause your body to wake up in a stressed state, leptin and ghrelin receptors will be elevated, triggering an increase in appetite.  You will be hungrier, have an increase in cravings and end up snacking needlessly or eating more frequently than necessary.

2.  Stress
We're not just talking mental stress; physical stress can be damaging to your health in ways you may not even realize.  Chronic levels of stress elevates cortisol (yep - again) which, in turn, creates havoc within our bodies - causing muscle breakdown, insulin resistance and increases in fat deposits.  Add on to this the unfortunate fact that many try to fight off stress by increasing exercise, and you set yourself up for a wreaked, broken down system that will, eventually, lead to more serious health issues.  We all have stress, learning to manage that stress will produce amazing results in your life.

3.  Emotional Eating
Just about everyone has been there, done that.  You're bored, you're in front of the computer screen or TV, you're stressed, tired, frustrated, upset....I could go on, but the fact is, during most of those times, you really aren't hungry (can you recognize real hunger?), you are simply reacting to a circumstance.  When that reaction is a regular part of your life, weight loss is elusive and, as a matter of fact, weight gain is on the doorstep. 
Make sure you are getting enough protein and healthy fats in your meals in order to avoid the reaction to circumstance.  Keeping those nutrients on the list of priorities in your meals/snacks will balance your hormones and enable you to handle those stresses more efficiently

4.  Dairy
For a good number of people, dairy stalls fat loss.  Just because you're not "officially" diagnosed as being lactose intolerant or having a dairy allergy, doesn't mean dairy does NOT do your body good.  Dairy is insulinogenic, meaning it stimulates insulin secretion in a BIG way.  Although many think lactose is the problem, it's not.  It's both the protein and carbs combined that cause the insulin load.  We're talking milk of all kinds, yogurt, cheese (uh-huh...cottage cheese also), including anything with whey and casein (yep, powders too).  Just how bad of an insulin load?  Worse than a piece of white bread! In the end, you will have to experiment yourself to see if dairy is causing you problems.  Eliminate it for 2-3 weeks and see. 

5.  You Think You're Eating Healthy, but....
The majority of your food comes from a box, can, bag, and package or contains more than 5 ingredients.  Your plate is full of carb-loaded, gut irritating noodles, your fridge is full of sugar-ladened yogurts, your cupboards contain processed, 20-ingredient cereals and you eat whole wheat bread because you think it's healthy.  Is this you?  This is not real food and it certainly isn't going to get you any closer to optimal health, as a matter of fact, with each bite of said foods, you are taking steps further from weight loss and taking steps closer to annual weight gain, metabolic syndrome and autoimmune disorders.
Disregard the claims on those packages and boxes - take control of your health and commit yourself to better health.

6.  Liquid Calories
Ahhh...the smoothies that are either purchased or made at home, the protein shakes that are consumed every morning because it's the most convenient way to get some protein on the way to work - easy breakfast (right?), or the bottle/mega-jug of soda/fruit juice that sits on your desk at work. All delicious to sip on and, aside from the soda, seemingly healthy. Or is it?
If we're talking weight loss and body composition, I have to give a resounding "NO!".
Think about the amount of fruit that goes into a smoothie - some have up to 5-6 servings! Let's say you make a smoothie at home and put in 1 banana, 1 c berries, 1/2 strawberries and perhaps some juice - would you eat all that fruit in one sitting?? That amount of liquid calories will create a greater insulin load when consumed. It makes it a heck of a lot easier to over-indulge in fruit when processed into a smoothie.
Protein shakes are essentially a dairy-based liquid protein substitute (remember the talk about dairy??). Now, that's not to say that protein shakes do not have a place in an athlete's diet - it can be very useful - but for most people (especially those that have weight/body composition issues), relying on a daily protein shake in place of real food/real protein will only hinder the weight loss process.
If you have a choice, choose to eat your food rather than drink it.

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