Trying to lose weight is a grind. You’ve probably cut back on your favorite foods and begun incorporating daily workouts into your routine. When these changes don’t yield results, it can feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle.
Don’t let an apparent standstill derail your goals. It could be nothing more than a few sneaky habits that are to blame. Outlined below are six things that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
1. Poor Sleep
A bad night’s rest does more than leave you feeling groggy. It can also undermine your weight loss efforts. That’s because lack of sleep increases the hunger hormone ghrelin and lowers the satiety hormone leptin. This leaves you craving high-calorie, carb-dense foods.
For many people, this is easily fixed by hitting the sheets a few hours earlier each night. However, others may be dealing with health conditions that impact their sleep.
Individuals suffering from sleep apnea often wake up throughout the night because they stop breathing. The good news is that a continuous positive airway pressure machine can help. Through CPAP masks, these devices deliver a steady stream of oxidized air into your mouth. This keeps your airways open and your breathing — and sleep — uninterrupted.
2. Eating Too Little
When you’re trying to lose weight, you may be tempted to cut your caloric intake to as low a level as possible. Counterintuitively, this strategy could cause your body to hold onto fat instead of shedding it.
When you’re not eating enough food, your metabolism slows down, reducing the amount of fat your body uses as fuel. This results in a lower amount of calories needed to maintain your weight and an even lower amount needed to lose fat.
To help keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders, ditch the extreme diets for a more sustainable approach. A massive calorie deficit isn’t needed to lose weight. Simply cutting out your bedtime snack and adding a walk into your day will put you in a slight deficit. This will result in healthy, gradual weight loss over time.
3. Eating Out Too Often
Checking out your local restaurant scene is fun from time to time. But eating out multiple nights a week may stall your fitness journey.
When you eat at a restaurant, the portions are much larger than those you eat at home. This can tempt you to overeat. Additionally, many foods prepared at restaurants are cooked using butter, cream, and other high-fat ingredients. This can add hundreds of extra calories to your meal.
So do you need to stop eating at your favorite restaurant? Definitely not. Just try to keep your visits to once weekly. If you happen to eat out more than that one week, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, try adding a little extra movement into your day to compensate for the extra calories at dinner.
4. Only Caring About the Scale
You’ve been eating healthy and haven’t missed a single workout — only to see that the number on the scale went up. What happened? You’ve likely gained some muscle, which is a good thing. Having more muscle improves your body composition, giving you a leaner appearance. It’s also extremely helpful for protecting your body as you age.
To get a better idea of how you’re progressing, ditch the scale and try taking progress photos. Space progress photos out a month apart. It takes time for your body to visibly change, so you likely won’t see much difference week to week. You’ll also want to make sure you’re wearing the same outfit for each photo. That way you know your body is changing, and it’s not just tighter or looser clothing.
5. Skipping Strength Training
If you’re like many people, you may be hesitant to hit the squat rack while trying to lose weight. After all, wouldn’t cardio be better since it burns more calories per session? Not exactly. Strength training helps you build muscles, revving up your metabolism. This helps you burn more calories at rest, making it easier to increase your caloric intake and still lose weight.
If you’ve never done strength training before, you may not know where to start. Working with a personal trainer can help ensure you’re executing movements with proper form and take the guesswork out of programming. Can’t afford a personal trainer? There are plenty of low-cost programs online.
6. Rewarding Exercise With Junk Food
In order to build muscle and stay energized, it’s important to fuel your body with a healthy snack or meal after exercise. But it’s equally important that you don’t overeat. Many people overestimate how many calories they burn during a workout and treat themselves for the effort. This can undo many of the benefits exercise provides and makes it challenging to lose weight.
Instead of having a massive burger with a side of fries after working out, have a regular-sized snack or meal. To help repair and grow your muscles, it’s important that you eat at least 10 to 20 grams of protein after a good sweat session.
Change Your Habits, Change Your Body
If you’ve been trying to lose weight and haven’t seen the changes you hoped for, lifestyle factors could be to blame. The good news is a few simple tweaks to your approach can get you back on the right track.