Anyone who has done the work to diet and exercise and has been disappointed with the results knows the harsh truth – there’s no one-size-fits-all way to lose weight. Different bodies respond to different diets and workouts, and there’s really no way to know which works best for you until you try our a few.
Those who have tried the extra-intense and restrictive low-carb diets and failed to lose weight are among the most frustrated. Here you are, giving up entire food groups (and even some fruits and vegetables), only to be stuck in the same place you were when you started. What gives?!
There’s been a tremendous amount of research done on diets over the last few of decades, and now we have some insight into why even popular low-carb diets don’t always work for everyone.
Here are 8 things that might be harming your low-carb dieting efforts:
1) You’re not eating enough
How cruel that you can limit your calories significantly and still fail to lose weight. But the fact is that our bodies need calories to survive and maintain our bodily functions.
If you suddenly cut way back on calories, your body has no idea what’s going on and taps into primitive ways of storing fat, since it thinks you’re starving and you need to conserve energy. As a result, it slows down your metabolism to match your new calorie intake.
And that’s not all. Skipping meals can cause you to eat more later, or help you justify a snack that has more calories than you think. Sometimes, acting virtuously in the morning can lead to eating much more than you should in the evening, and your total calorie intake can go up.
Of course, our brains only remember the part where we skipped the meal, not when we made up for it later. It’s easy to mislead ourselves about how much we’re really eating in a day.
2) You’re getting too many calories
If you’re eating a diet heavy in calories, even if it’s low-carb, there’s a good chance you’ll gain weight or plateau if you’re not finding a way to burn them off. Upping your intake of cheeses and meats and sauces is going to add some bulk, even if you’re skipping the bread and cakes.
A low-carb diet works best when you only eat if you’re hungry and pay attention to how you feel during a meal. There’s no need to finish a whole steak in one sitting.
Just like any other diet, you need to take your time, sip some water, and listen to your body. Don’t stuff it full of food just because you think that the low-carb way of life entitles you to half a roasted chicken.
3) You have unrealistic expectations
Maybe you went on the diet 10 years ago and lost a ton of weight in 2 weeks, or you’ve heard stories about rapid weight loss and figure you’ll just need a month to get to your goal weight and reset your fitness. But age, body type, genetics, environment, and more all determine what diets will work for you at different points in your life.
And, really, if a low-carb diet were a guaranteed way for everyone to lose 20lbs in 2-3 weeks, more people would be walking around in baggy clothes. The truth is, while it may work for some people, or work for you when you’re 25 (as opposed to 45), you just can’t expect miracles, even when you’re putting in the hard work.
Diets work best, long-term, if people lose weight gradually – about 1-2lbs per week. That might feel like forever if you’ve got a lot to lose, but it increases your chances of keeping the weight off and reduces the risks that come with yo-yo dieting.
4) Stress is interfering with your body chemistry
We’re all stressed, and sometimes there’s no avoiding it. But serious, chronic stress can cause all kinds of upheaval in your body. It not only drives us towards comfort foods (which can release chemicals in our brain to make us feel better temporarily) but affects the way our cells perform their jobs.
Furthermore, stress can interfere with our sleep as well as the production of cortisol, a hormone that can increase appetite.
If you want to diet successfully, you might consider a deep breathing or meditation app (or incorporating whatever activities calm you – besides eating!) into your plan.
5) You’re eating junk food
High-quality food is essential to keep your body functioning properly. If you’re on a low-carb diet and fall into the sugar-free snack trap, you might be dooming yourself to failure – these snacks can contain a lot of artificial ingredients as well as more fat than you need.
So don’t be drawn in by the front of the bag or box, that’s all marketing. You need to look at the back and take note of the serving sizes, calories, and fat, as well as any ingredients that you don’t want swimming around your body. Artificial sweeteners, for example, can wreak havoc on your taste buds in the long run, making filling foods like fruits less satisfying and keeping you on the junk food bandwagon.
6) You’re not getting enough sleep
In a perfect world, we’d all have the time and the ability to sleep for 6-8 hours a night. But that’s just not the case for many of us.
However, if you’re trying to lose weight, sleep is an integral part of success. When your body is exhausted, it finds ways to make up for the lack of sleep, and these can often lead to weight gain. For example, when scientists studied the body chemistry of subjects who weren’t getting enough shut-eye, they found increased levels of a hormone called ghrelin and decreased levels of the hormone leptin – this double whammy increases hunger and decreases your ability to feel full, an obvious recipe for weight gain.
7) You’re on medication that interferes with weight loss
We don’t take medicine for fun, so this one might be unavoidable, but some medications do lead to weight gain, regardless of your diet.
Some antidepressants (such as SSRI’s), for example, have been associated with weight gain, but they also save lives.
If you’re concerned about potential weight gain from a medication, you can talk to your doctor about alternatives, but it’s also worth considering that you may need to increase your exercise as a countermeasure.
8) You’re not active enough
No matter what your diet looks like, if you lead a sedentary life, you’re more likely to hold onto weight (as well as fall victim to other health challenges, such as heart disease). There’s really no way to avoid it – you need to exercise.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to suddenly commit to treadmills and weights on a daily basis. You can take walks, clean the house, play with your kids and pets, and find other ways to get your body moving.
But if you’re really committed to losing weight more quickly, intense exercise for 30-45 minutes most days of the week is going to be your best bet. Of course, that comes with the standard warning that you need to talk to your doctor before starting an intense exercise program. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you can do real damage to your joints if you start a high-intensity exercise routine out of the blue.
In the end, we always come back to the same old lesson that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This is especially the case when it comes to weight loss. So if you’re committed to losing weight, it might take more time, effort, and patience than you had originally imagined. But the reward is worth it.
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Source: Business Insider