You may think you are following your diet carefully and incorporating the best strategies for losing weight, but for some reason, your weight loss has plateaued. It seems like no matter what you do, you cannot lose another pound. Here are a few explanations for why this has happened and some suggestions for changes you can make to help solve your problem and get you back on the path to weight loss.
1. You are not eating enough.
This may seem crazy to you but not eating enough is a common problem found in almost all weight loss programs. You assume that the fewer calories you take in the more weight you will lose. This is true up to a certain extent. But, when the intake of food is substantially reduced, the body adapts by reducing the basic metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR identifies the number of calories you need just to survive while your body is in a resting state. As you reduce your calorie intake, your BMR adjusts itself so that your body burns fewer calories for the same activity. One solution is to increase the time or intensity of your exercise program. Another solution is to adjust your calorie intake. For example, alternate days of eating more calories with days of eating fewer calories.
2. You have too much stress in your life.
Your body normally releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is important in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats and the maintenance of proper blood pressure. When you are under any stress, your body releases an excess amount of cortisol which increases the metabolism and storage of carbohydrates and fats and stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. All of these actions stimulate your appetite.
You may think you are dealing with the normal stressors of life, such as paying your bills, working at a less than ideal job, or driving daily in traffic. But, there are hidden stressors you may not have even thought about. The literature on stress indicates that you need a certain amount of time to unwind in a peaceful outdoor setting. This is especially important for urban dwellers. Try spending some time weekly out-of-doors at a nice park, at the beach, or a short walk in the mountains. If this is not possible, try listening to a CD with nature sounds or using your computer to view peaceful nature scenes to distract your mind from stress.
3. You are over-exercising.
A low-carbohydrate diet combined with daily exercise is a great recipe for weight loss. But, if you are an avid exerciser, you may be overdoing it. If you run in the morning, hit the gym in the evening, and play sports on the weekend, you may need more carbohydrates in order to lose weight. More carbohydrates are necessary to replenish the glycogen used for the exercise. If you do not restore your loss of glycogen, your body goes into the stress state already discussed, excessive cortisol is released and weight loss plateaus.
Instead of increasing your carbohydrate intake, you can simply cut back on your exercise program. Give up the over-exercising and go back to regular walks or jogs or routine visits to the gym.
4. You are not concentrating on your actual eating processes.
You may get to the end of the day and believe you ate responsibly. Reconstruct your eating patterns for the day and you may be surprised to realize all the snacks you had without even thinking about it. You may have sampled the food while you were cooking. Maybe you had some popcorn at the movies or ate dinner while watching television. Eating becomes automatic, almost like breathing. When you don’t think about what you are eating when you are actually eating, it is incredibly easy to overeat.
Experts recommend that in order to promote weight loss, you should concentrate on your eating process. Don’t eat on the run. Sit down to enjoy your meal. Concentrate on your food and don’t combine eating dinner watching television. Pay attention to each and every bite you take. Put your fork down while you chew and don’t take another bite until you have swallowed. Savor the taste and focus your mind on the food you are eating.
5. You need to adjust your eating schedule.
Although one approach to successful weight loss encourages people to only eat when they are hungry, this can lead to an unorthodox, random eating schedule. A few missed meals may not matter, but some people require a regular eating schedule in order to maintain an optimum metabolism rate for weight loss. A study of obese women showed postprandial thermogenesis was increased for those on a regular eating schedule over those who ate at random times. This means the rate at which their food was broken down immediately after their meal and used by their bodies was greater for those on a regular eating schedule.
6. Overeating foods with known health benefits can retard weight loss.
Too much of a good thing can be detrimental to your weight loss program. Studies have shown that the eating of all nuts in general can promote weight loss. They contain necessary nutrients like vitamin E and selenium as well as magnesium. They taste good and it is easy to munch on the calorie-laden nuts to excess.
The same is true of honey, which is a preferred sweetener and better for the metabolism than any other sweetener, such as sugar or even maple syrup. Honey contains antioxidants necessary for good health and is thought to be a stress reducer. But, even though there are health benefits to consuming honey, one teaspoon of honey has 22 calories. Adding teaspoons throughout the day as a sweetener in coffee, tea, or any other product can add up quickly and put a damper on your weight loss plan.
Another culprit that may be interfering with your weight loss is eating too much dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants, called polyphenols, which are essential to the prevention of certain diseases. Eaten in moderation, dark chocolate is good for you. Over-eating it results in weight gain due to its high-calorie content.