Why the scales may not be budging
You may be exercising regularly, eating well, doing all the right things, but still your scales resolutely refuse to show any weight loss. It can be frustrating to know that you’re working hard but aren’t actually losing any weight, even if your measurements are getting smaller. Here are some of the reasons why you may be losing inches rather than weight:
Muscle weighs more than fat
Muscle tissue is about 18% denser than body fat. Regular exercise increases lean muscle tissue and as this weighs more than fat, people sometimes lose body fat and drastically change their body shape, while their weight stays the same! This is why it is often better to use clothing as an indicator to weight reduction and not just the scales.
Remember that weight loss is a simple science of calories in versus calories out. With intensive training you need to be careful that you aren’t over-consuming calories to refuel post-workout, as this will undo all the good calorie-deficit work of your exercise. It is very easy to justify carbohydrate loading when exercising regularly.
Be aware of your calorie intake on non-training days and make sure you don’t ‘recovery eat’, as it can impact on you optimising your body fat loss on rest days. This is something I see an awful lot from people who regularly workout but still have issues with losing weight – in their mind, because they exercise, it gives them a ‘hall-pass’ to eat what they want!
Look at your portions and reduce down slightly the size of your meals. Also, consider when you are eating – try to avoid consuming a large percentage of your calories late in the evening. Even making small changes to your current nutritional habits will encourage that weight loss to come. It’s a delicate juggling process between consuming enough to recover from exercise while managing to create a calorie deficit, so keep listening to your body. Simple changes like using your main meals as recovery food rather than having a meal, doing a workout and eating again when you get back because you are full of energy and hungry – you will just be doubling up on calories and wasting all the handwork you did working out.
If you have had an exercise routine for more than 6 weeks, try something different. The body adapts so effectively to regular exercise that calories burned from one session will reduce quite rapidly. A change might be just what you need to tip the calorie deficit scale far enough in the right direction to see some weight loss.
Taking time to adapt
The body takes time to convert into a long-term ‘fat-burning machine’. Focus on how good you feel, the emotional release you get from workouts and the power it gives you to be strong over what you consume on a daily basis.
Don’t get demotivated by watching pounds; remember that it’s body fat you want to lose and effective exercise that provides toning and strengthening benefits will do just that – so keep it up!
Why should I take my time over meals?
It takes on average 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it is full and doesn’t need any more food. If you are gulping down food too quickly, your ‘I’m full’ sensors may be kicking in too late to stop you from unnecessary overeating – something you definitely don’t want to do when you are slimming.
You’re then left with that horrible ‘over-full’ feeling and pangs of guilt that can overshadow any enjoyment you got from the meal. If you train yourself to take your time over meals, you’ll learn to know when you’re full.
Does not chewing properly make any difference?
Not chewing thoroughly could lead to indigestion, but though your system might have to work a little harder, ultimately, you won’t be missing out nutritionally. Unfortunately, chewing doesn’t use up more calories, or magically make any calories disappear from what you are eating!
How to avoid over-eating
- Start treating mealtimes as an event – that means no more gulping down dinners in front of the TV! Lay the table properly, make conversation with whoever you are eating with, chew properly, and lay your cutlery down in between bites. A meal isn’t just about the food on your plate – it’s about creating an ambiance and interacting with other people.
- Give yourself a small portion to start with rather than a massive helping. Serve food on smaller plates so that you trick yourself into believing there is plenty on there. You’ll soon find you need smaller portions than you think.
- Ideally each meal should be in the proportion of ½ vegetables to ¼ protein to ¼ carbohydrates. Fill up on vegetables if you are still hungry at the end of a meal.
- Eat more slowly so that you savour the flavour of what you have made, and your stomach has plenty of time to tell your stomach when it’s had enough. Stop eating when you feel satisfied rather than full.
Eating on the move
If you really don’t have time to linger over meals, and often have to gulp down food on the move, just make sure you are careful about portion sizes. If after finishing your meal you still feel hungry, wait at least 20 minutes before eating again. You may just find you’re full!
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