So you’ve been working towards a weight loss or body composition goal, but you’re not seeing results. Perhaps your pants still fit the same, the scale isn’t budging, or you’re just not happy with your body overall. So what gives? Before giving up or hopping onto another program, consider the following 5 factors that may be inhibiting you from seeing results:
- You aren’t in a calorie deficit. This is the bottom line to any weight loss goal, period. In order to lose weight or reach a lower body composition, you must burn more calories than you consume. The Law of Thermodynamics holds true: Energy out > energy in. Wondering how many calories that is? Precision Nutrition has an intelligent weight loss calculator to help you figure that out.
- You’re not tracking your food. Weight loss involves paying attention to the quantity of your food; changing body composition involves focusing on the quality of your food. Knowing what you’re putting into your body is critical not only for your body composition, but also for your health. According to a comprehensive study from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, keeping a food log is suggested to double a person’s weight loss. It doesn’t have to be a detailed app or involve weighing your food and counting every macro – it’s more about being aware of what you’re consuming and paying attention to hunger signals.
- You’re not lifting weights, doing higher intensity cardio or you’re only doing one of these. All have their place in an exercise program. Strength training increases your metabolic rate at rest (more benefit after the workout), while high intensity cardio challenges you aerobically while burning more calories overall during the workout. I recommend both, 2-4 times per week.
- You’ve become too efficient at exercise. Yes, too efficient! Our body burns the most calories when we’re performing inefficient exercise, simply because it has to work harder and expend more energy to keep up the same pace. Your body adapts to the stresses you place it under, and rather quickly. In order to see results, you need to continually find ways to challenge it and undergo the process of progressive overload.
- You’re either under too much stress, little sleep, or a combination of the two. If you’re getting too little sleep (less than 7-8 hours per night) and/or you’re under a higher amount of stress, your body reacts with an uptake of cortisol, a stress hormone that when spiked, leads to decreased appetite regulation, increased hunger and often wacked up hormone levels which all play into metabolism. With the fast pace of today’s society, many of us have left little time for rest and recovery. Meditation, yoga, or another mindful practice might be something to consider.
One more question to ask yourself: is your HEC in check? (Hunger, Energy and Cravings). This is a concept from Dr. Jade Teta of Metabolic Effect that can have a tremendous impact on your eating habits, exercise and metabolism, which ultimately can help or hinder your ability to lose fat.
If your weight loss stalls, make sure to address the factors above before jumping to conclusions. Wondering what to prioritize? This handy dandy Body Composition Pyramid highlights the importance of each factor: