You know when it comes to your exercise you're doing everything right. You're getting cardio, you're crushing intervals and killing it in the weight room but still your weight isn't changing. So what exactly is happening, aside from rising frustration levels? Ask yourself the following 5 questions, you are likely to find your culprit there!
1. Are you cutting calories?
The math is relatively simple: to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. But there is such a thing as going too far. If you cut too many calories your body will not have the fuel it needs to sustain your workouts. Besides, people who start their day by restricting calories are likely to abandon that practice by dinnertime. "If you don't have enough food, you're likely to encounter sugar cravings later in the day," says Washington D.C.-based registered dietitian Anne Mauney, MPH, RD.
The amount of calories your body needs is tied to the amount you are spending at the gym. But, in general, your calorie deficit shouldn't be more than 500 calories a day. Try to eat the majority of your calories in the first half of the day and around your workout.
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2. Do you follow up your workouts with a store bought smoothie?
"Many smoothies are loaded with sugar and calories, and can completely counteract any calorie-burn you got from your workout," says registered dietitian and strength coach Marie Spano, RD, CSSD, CSCS. Those loaded up with fruit, yogurt and sherbet are the worst.
Instead of buying a pre-made one, mix one up at home. Try something simple like a cup of milk, 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder and half of a frozen banana. And don't drink your smoothie on the move. Sit down and enjoy it like you would any other meal. Studies have found that those who sit down to eat, feel fuller and eat less during the day.
3. Do you constantly crave food?
Don't assume this is a bad thing. While the research goes back and forth on the topic of exercise and its effects on appetite, you shouldn't consider it to be a big deal. "People eat for a variety of reasons, and hunger is often the last reason," Spano says. But be careful with it. You don't want to be eating more calories than you are burning.
Take a moment and think about it: are you actually hungry? Or might you be bored, tired, stressed or sad? If the answer is, 'yes, I'm hungry,' then eat. Just eat fiber and protein rich foods like vegetables, low-fat dairy, healthy fats and lean meats. For some healthy, balanced meal ideas, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan
4. Do you read your cardio machine's calorie counter display?
Your cardio equipment is probably lying to you. According to the American Council on Exercise, your cardio machine may overestimate calories burned by as much as 30%! So, if you are using that number as your guide, you could very easily wind up consuming more calories than you are putting out.
Don't pay attention to the machine's display. While you shouldn't be entirely preoccupied with counting calories, if you are determined to know exactly what you're burning (or at least get a closer estimate), invest in a fitness tracker.
5. Are you sleep deprived?
To lose weight you have to do three things: eat properly, exercise AND get enough sleep. If you don't get enough sleep, your hunger controlling hormones, leptin and ghrelin, are thrown out of balance. This can result in some intense cravings that can work against you in the calorie department. Recent studies have found that sleep deprivation can cause your body to store fat.
Stop skipping sleep. While we each have different sleep requirements, the Sleep Foundation recommends adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. If you can manage that, your workout is more likely to start yielding results.
Did you find the possible solution to your weight loss struggles in these 5 questions? Tell us about it.