Most of us would love to lose a few pounds. And whether it’s for reasons related to health or appearances (or both), we often go all-out in search of weight loss solutions. Sometimes we lose several pounds right away, but why do they always seem to come right back? And what about that weight “threshold” that you just can’t seem to push past no matter what you do?
If you find weight loss to be a thorn in your side, you’re not alone. But while most people settle for poor results, you can (and should) fight on. Once you understand weight loss and some of the culprits that hold people back, you can make smarter decisions that drive better results.
The Science of Weight Loss
In the most basic sense, weight loss occurs when you consume fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis. Consistently operating at a caloric deficiency is what catalyzes weight loss.
Conversely, consistently consuming more calories than you burn on a daily basis leads to weight gain. We all have a pretty intuitive understanding of this equation. However, figuring out how to burn the optimal number of calories each day is a bit more difficult to calculate.
According to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, calorie expenditure is made up of three primary components:
- Resting metabolic rate (RMR). This measurement refers to the number of calories your body needs to maintain normal bodily functions like circulating blood and breathing. You can’t go below your RMR. (In fact, it’s not healthy to go anywhere close to this number.)
- Thermic effect of food (TEF). This term refers to the calories needed to digest, absorb and then metabolize the food you eat.
- Thermic effect of activity (TEA). This is the term for the number of calories you burn during exercise. It can also refer to non-exercise related activities (like mowing the lawn, walking around the house, etc.).
If the number of calories you consume is greater than the number of calories you burn, you gain weight. If the number of calories you consume is equal to the number of calories you burn, you maintain your current body weight. And if the number of calories you consume is less than the number of calories you burn, you lose weight.
5 Possible Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight
When it comes to losing weight, the basic rules of thumb are to eat less and exercise more. But this simple advice doesn’t always work for people. If you’re struggling to lose weight and/or keep weight off, here are some possible reasons why:
1. Your Brain Isn’t Bought In
Your brain plays a key role in your ability to lose weight. In fact, you could say that your brain is wholly responsible for when and why you eat. Your nervous system (which includes your brain) collects feedback about your appetite from different hormones related to different parts of the body (like intestines, stomach, fat tissue, etc.).
The biggest problem is that your brain often thinks it needs to eat when it doesn’t. The brain is relatively bad at determining when it needs to eat for energy and when the desire to eat is simply a pleasure craving. Eating dessert after a big dinner is the perfect example. You might be stuffed, but you’re still going to order dessert simply because your tastebuds know it’ll be delicious.
This problem is made even trickier when you’ve already lost weight. That’s because, following weight loss, your body’s metabolism slows down and the appetite hormones evolve. Your body’s “hunger hormone” – known as the ghrelin hormone – suddenly kicks into high gear and attempts to get you to eat more calories. At the same time, the hormones that are supposed to signal to your brain that you’re full start to decrease.
2. You Don’t Have a Y Chromosome
Your body’s fat-to-muscle ratio has an impact on your ability to lose weight. The problem is that women have a much greater fat-to-muscle ratio than their male counterparts. This causes women to have a 5 to 10 percent lower RMR than men who are the same height. As a result, they burn 5 to 10 percent fewer calories and lose weight at a much slower pace.
3. You’re Getting Older
Not that you need the reminder, but let’s reiterate the fact that your body changes as you age. One of these changes happens on a body composition level. Your fat mass increases and your muscle mass diminishes. Likewise, your major organs (heart, lungs, intestines, etc.) need fewer calories to function properly. This decrease in RMR combines with a slow-down in metabolism to make keeping weight off a difficult proposition.
4. Your Diet is Out of Whack
It’s not just about eating fewer calories. You also need to make sure you’re consuming the right calories. For example, your problem might be that you’re not eating enough protein.
By consuming roughly 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories in protein, you can boost your metabolism by an impressive 80 to 100 calories per day. This can lead you to eat several hundred fewer calories by reducing cravings for unhealthy snacks.
Another issue is that most people eat way too many of the wrong calories. For example, it’s possible that your diet is high in carbs and processed foods, as opposed to whole foods and fresh ingredients. If this is the case, you’re going to have trouble losing weight regardless of the caloric deficiency.
5. Your Sleep Schedule is Off
You may be surprised to learn that your sleep schedule has an impact on your weight loss/gain. If you’re getting less than five hours of sleep per night, your body doesn’t have a chance to properly replenish and recuperate. This impacts your ability to lose weight. On the opposite end of the spectrum, getting more than nine hours of sleep limits your ability to burn calories and may contribute to sluggishness. This also negatively impacts your ability to lose weight. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is ideal.
Hire an Online Personal Trainer
Most online personal trainers set aside 10 or 15 minutes per week to find a pre-canned workout template and generic nutrition plan for their clients. But at DeMetz Online Personal Training, we believe you’re more than just a number. You’re a living, breathing person with unique exercise and weight loss goals.
That’s why we offer unlimited changes to your training plan, unlimited changes to your nutrition plan, and unlimited contact and messaging to ensure you lose weight (and keep the pounds off).
Absolutely everything is tailored to you. Contact us today to learn more!
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!