If you’ve been trying to lose weight and the scale isn’t budging, there could be some easy explanations. Researchers at the Loyola University Health System in Melrose Park, Ill., found that when people fail to lose weight, the same four factors are often the reasons. Losing weight sounds simple — just exercise more and eat less. But remember one kilo of fat is 7000 calories, so to lose one kilo, you have to cut 500 calories through diet and exercise every day for two weeks. It sounds simple enough, but here are the top reasons why it’s not working.
1. Underestimating calories consumed. Simply — you are eating too much. In India we just don’t know that vada-pav has about 300 calories or that one thali meal with 2 rotis, sabji, rice, dal and dahi has about 700 calories. We are not in the habit of counting calories and we have no idea how many calories are in our food. Jessica Bartfield, MD, an internist who specializes in nutrition and weight management at Loyola University Health System’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, suggests writing down everything you eat, including drinks and even small bites of food, to increase awareness around how much you’re really eating. She also recommends being weary of the portion sizes that we eat.
2. Overestimating activity and calories burned. People think that a walk around the park for an hour is enough exercise. It is certainly good but it really does not burn a lot of calories. Cardio machines at your gym are not very accurate — several studies have found that treadmill and elliptical machine calorie counts overestimate your burn by as much as 10 percent. And if you are sitting the rest of the day, a one hour workout isn’t enough to help you lose weight. Instead, eat healthy foods that fill you up and be active through the day.
3. Not eating often enough. If you wait hours between meals or snacks, you could be slowing your metabolism, Bartfield says. It’s best to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up, and to eat a small meal or snack every three to four hours throughout the day.
4. Poor sleeping habits. Numerous studies have linked proper sleeping habits to weight management. “Studies have shown that people who get fewer than six hours of sleep have higher levels of ghrelin, which is a hormone that stimulates appetite, particularly for high- carbohydrate and high-calorie foods,” Bartfield says. “In addition, less sleep raises levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can lead to weight gain.” If you have problems sleeping, try exercising in the morning to minimize exercise’s effect on your sleep cycle.