It can be extremely frustrating when you think you’re doing everything you can to drop fat and transform your body yet you are seeing little result. There is SO much information on the internet about what to do to lose weight and you have researched it all. You have spoken to everyone you know and they have all given you different opinions. However, you have come out more confused than ever, you have tried everything and nothing seems to work. You need someone to cut through the bullshit and tell you exactly what is going on.
95% of the clients I work with are females who have been in your exact position. Confused and hungry for answers. The following are the top 9 reasons I see in my practice as to why females are struggling to lose fat.
- You’re Eating TOO Much
Sounds simple right? If you are eating in a surplus of calories (you are eating MORE food than you are expending) creating a positive energy balance this will result in weight gain. I have seen this with a client in the past, she started replacing her sugary snacks with healthier options like nuts, fruit, trail mix, granola, muesli and dried fruit. However, she found she started gaining weight! When I calculated her calories she was eating in a huge excess of calories from overeating on these ‘healthy foods’.
- You’re Not Eating Enough
More often than not this is the most common reason I see for women not losing weight. I know it is counter intuitive and goes against EVERYTHING you thought you knew about losing weight. But let me ask you, how long have you been eating your yoghurt for breakfast, chicken and salad for lunch, and meat and veg for dinner and NOT losing weight? The definition of insanity ‘doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result’.
Yes, we need to be in a calorie deficit (eating LESS food then we are expending) to lose weight. Therefore creating a negative energy balance. However, if you have been eating in a calorie deficit for TOO long the body starts to see this as starvation and begins to down regulate your metabolism (which will put a massive halt on fat loss) it also down regulates several hormones needed for fat loss; testosterone and leptin, and begins to upregulate hormones that can inhibit fat loss; cortisol and ghrelin.
- Your Stressed AF
When we are stressed we release a hormone called cortisol. Acute increases in cortisol are good, they help as cope with stress and can help us build muscle and burn body fat. The issue becomes when we have prolonged cortisol elevation. This can be from physical stress, emotional stress, dehydration, anxiety, sleep deprivation, starvation or training stress. High cortisol will also cause the body to breakdown muscle tissue and preserve fat. In fact, prolonged cortisol elevation actually encourages fat storage around the mid-section. Overtime, this can have a negative effect on our thyroid function causing our metabolism to slow down. Not only will this make you feel even more tired and lethargic it is bad news if you are trying to lose weight!
High cortisol levels can also increase cravings for sugary and salty foods (comfort foods) in conjunction with this cortisol can also increase appetite. Encouraging you to eat more! Which may result in a calorie surplus = weight gain. Stress can do weird things to people’s bodies! You can be doing everything right nutrition and training wise but if you are stressed you will not see the results you want.
- You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
There is a correlation between less sleep time and higher levels of body fat. That is not to say that if you don’t get enough sleep you will gain fat. However, it can be a major contributor to why you are not losing weight. There is a link between sleep and insulin secretion with people not getting enough sleep more likely to become resistant to insulin (increasing fat around the hips and midsection) and also increasing their chance of developing metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.
Whilst sleeping we produce growth hormone, this hormone plays a big role in building muscle and losing body fat. A lack of sleep means you aren’t getting optimal production of this hormone which may contribute to inhibiting your fat loss goals. Lack of sleep also increases cortisol which as we learnt previously, can put a major halt on fat loss.
- You Binge On The Weekend
You cannot be healthy 5 days a week and then go YOLO on food on the weekend and expect to get the body of your dreams. Not only does this create an unhealthy and dangerous relationship with food but it will completely sabotage your results. If you’re eating in a calorie deficit 5 days a week, then blow out on the weekend eating in a large excess of calories your total weekly calories will probably be in excess (calorie surplus = weight gain).
This way of eating can cause big issues with your blood glucose levels which can not only lead to more body fat around the hips and mid-section and halt fat loss, but lead to insulin resistance and even type 2 diabetes. Not only that, it can cause big problems with your gut bacteria. If your gut bacteria is out of whack you will also have a hard time losing fat.
- You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
A lot of girls avoid protein through fear of it making them gain weight or make them bulky. However, protein plays a major role in weight loss with studies showing higher protein diets (25-30% of total energy intake) facilitating weight and fat loss. Protein isn’t just important for weight and fat loss but it is vital for every cell in our body to function properly. It plays a role in maintaining our immune system, hormone production and improving our detoxification pathways. All essential components in dropping body fat. Protein should be part of every meal you eat throughout the day, specifically breakfast. This will keep you fuller for longer and keep you from snacking throughout the day.
- You’re Avoiding Carbs
Carbohydrates are our brains preferred fuel source for energy. Most women believe carbohydrates are the enemy when it comes to fat loss and as a result either cut them out all together or reduce them to dangerously low levels. When we eat too low carbohydrates for too long it has a similar effect to eating too little calories for too long. It places our body under a lot of stress and as a result we see big increases in cortisol. As we talked about before prologued cortisol elevation can cause weight gain and muscle loss, and negatively affect our thyroid hormones. Additionally, this can also negatively affect insulin. Creating the perfect storm for fat gain.
- You’re JUST Doing Cardio
I don’t really prescribe cardio for any of my clients. I am not saying there isn’t a time and place for it, there definitely is. But, most women that come to me wanting to lose fat and ‘tone’ their body are doing 45 minutes on the cardio machines 3-5 days per week. Long duration cardio (especially when eating in a calorie deficit) is going to ramp up cortisol and cause inflammation in the body. Causing you to store body fat and burn muscle. When someone tells me they have lost weight doing only cardio, they have generally lost muscle mass. The more muscle mass we have the better our metabolism will fire, so the goal is never to lose muscle mass.
Women that already have cortisol issues due to a stressful job, poor diet, busy lifestyle and emotional stress definitely do not want to be doing long duration cardio all the time as this is only going to make matters worse. High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be a much more effective conditioning method to burn fat whilst preserving muscle, and can be done in less than half the time of typical aerobic training. Even so, I will only prescribe this type of training when someone has hit a plateau in their training. The focus should be on strength training first to burn body fat.
- You’re NOT Being Consistent Enough
Constant commitment and consistency are the keys to long term lasting results. This is probably the biggest limiting factor in you achieving your fat loss goals. Most women will try a diet or training plan for a certain period of time then fall of the wagon for a few weeks, then get back on, then something happens and they get off again, and this cycle continues. If you fall off for one meal, get straight back on track for the next meal. Don’t wait to start again the next day or the next week. And don’t beat yourself up over it either. Commit to training a certain amount of times per week and lock it into your schedule like you would you job. Small consistent changes over time yield long term results.
I hope this has shed some light on why you may not be getting the results you want. These are just the most common reasons I have seen. There are many, many more. If you want to know more or how any of these apply to you specifically, feel free to email me on [email protected]