What’s more frustrating than making big, positive changes to your diet and not seeing or feeling the results? Probably nothing!
Perhaps you’ve decided to go gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free. You say no the extra glass of wine at dinner and don’t even so much as glance at the cupcakes, cookies or muffins you once loved. You’ve reduced your meat consumption and you’re devouring leafy greens like they’re going out of style. Yet after a few months of diligently sticking to a healthier diet, you’re not seeing a difference in your weight or measurements as you’d hoped for.
While each person will lose weight in different areas and at different paces, there are a few general reasons that can explain why your weight loss journey has been successful or unsuccessful thus far. _
Here are three potential reasons you’re not losing weight despite eating healthy - and what to do about it.
You’re Stressed Out
Relax, max! If you’re stressed out most of the time, your weight is unlikely to budge regardless of how clean your diet is. Ironically, so many of us stress over our weight loss progress which only worsens our results. Stress is the ultimate weight loss inhibitor because of the negative impact of the chemical reactions it causes in the body. Whenever we’re stressed out- regardless of whether it’s physical or emotional stress- our body releases stress hormones to help us cope with the situation, such as cortisol or adrenaline. Cortisol and adrenaline are meant to be helpful by giving us the stamina to run away from a dangerous, life-threatening situation. For this reason, stress hormones are only meant to be released in such cases. However, our bodies can’t tell the difference between someone chasing us and the need to run for our lives or stressing over our taxes and the traffic on our way to work. The more stressed you are, the more cortisol your body will release, which is intended to help you survive the situation your body is perceiving as dangerous. But over time, excess cortisol in your system can trigger belly fat storage (as a protective shield against danger, no joke) and sabotage your weight loss goals. It also doesn’t help that the more stressed you are, the less energy you have and the more sugar and caffeine you’re likely to crave which further leads to weight gain. To clarify, not all stress is bad stress. In fact, stress in short bursts can have a positive impact on your body by sharpening your focus and helping you achieve new fitness goals in the gym. It’s the on-going, chronic stress that does harm to you and will prevent you from being able to lose weight despite having a healthy diet. Dealing with stress efficiently will look different for everyone, but you may find it helpful to adopt a daily meditation practice, take up a restorative yoga class or write in a journal. Maintaining a healthy diet during periods of stress is also important to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs to support your nervous system. On a nutritional level, an adaptogenic herb such as Organika’s Ashwagandha can also your body cope with and adapt to stressful situations without having such a negative impact on your weight loss goals.
You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Being sleep deprived is a form of stress that causes hormonal chaos (hormones need rest to help your body repair and regenerate) and can impair your body’s ability to uptake glucose into your cells. Without proper glucose uptake, your body is unable to efficiently produce energy. In this instance, your body will receive signals that you’re still hungry due to the lack of proper glucose absorption, leaving you more likely to experience sugar cravings and a stronger appetite. Unfortunately, when your glucose uptake is impaired, your body will store the calories from the food you eat as fat instead as they cannot be properly used and stored for energy. As you can see, sleep is crucial to keeping your hormones balanced, energy levels stable and your appetite in check. To promote healthy and sustainable weight loss, be sure to get a minimum of 7 hours of restful sleep each night by making it a non-negotiable “event” in your schedule - just as you’d schedule a meeting or a barre class. A few tips for restful sleep include putting away your phone half an hour before bed, meditating or incorporating a nighttime relaxation ritual with a bubble bath, a good book and maybe some essential oils. Practicing good sleep hygiene is also important, reserving your bedroom for sleep only (not as an office, living room, etc.). To get the most out of your sleep, be sure to eat your last meal two hours before heading to bed, ideally with a good source of protein. The amino acids in protein help produce melatonin, which is needed for a restful sleep.
3. You Don’t Have Enough Protein in Your Diet
Speaking of protein, one of the reasons you’re not losing weight despite eating healthy could be linked to inadequate protein intake. Protein is a macronutrient that helps keep your blood sugar levels stabilized, which in turn helps your body burn fat more efficiently and promotes weight loss- especially around your mid-section.As a general guideline (keep in mind this number will change based on age, current state of health, stress levels and activity level) women require 46 grams of protein each day while men require 56 grams. All foods have protein in them, including fruits and vegetables. Quinoa, hemp hearts, beans, legumes and nuts and seeds are great sources of vegan protein, although very few contain all 8 essential amino acids. Since vegan sources of protein are usually incomplete (meaning they only contain 4 or 5 essential amino acids), it’s also helpful to incorporate a high-quality organic whey protein and small amounts of organic grass-fed meat into your diet. This way, you’re sure to receive the full spectrum of amino acids and reach your daily recommended intake of protein. If you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan, not to worry. You can still get all 8 essential amino acids by following protein complementing guidelines instead. These guidelines recommend which plant-based foods to eat together in order to receive a complete source of protein at one meal, such as beans and rice.