When 2016 came around, you made your resolution to lose weight. And it was going great—until a few weeks in, when you stopped losing weight.
If you’re in a slump and you can’t figure out why, here are three reasons your weight loss could be stuck.
1. Burn more
You have a right to know: Your treadmill is lying to you. Although walking or running on a treadmill is a great cardiovascular exercise, the estimated caloric expenditure it gives you is grossly inaccurate.
Commercial equipment uses a default equation to estimate calorie burn, without taking into account a person’s basal metabolic rate, causing overinflation of the number.
Many factors determine the number of calories you burn during exercise, including the type of exercise, duration, and level and variance of intensity, to name just a few.
To determine calories expended during an activity, researchers have come up with a mathematical calculation taking into account MET (metabolic equivalent) values—energy expended at rest and during a particular exercise—bodyweight, BMR and dietary thermogenesis. To get an accurate reading, you should consult with an exercise physiologist or nutritionist.
2. Eat more
Are you guilty of starving yourself? While it’s no secret that creating a caloric deficit will result in weight loss, consuming too few is not healthy.
Dramatically restricting calories not only leaves you miserable and hungry, but it also sends your body into starvation mode. When your body starves for nutrients, it reaches out to muscle and begins to break it down to use it for energy, as muscle mass is much more expansive in nutrients than fat.
During extreme caloric restrictions, the weight you lose is mostly muscle mass, which slows your metabolism. When coming off a starvation diet, many people suffer a “rebound effect.” The muscle is replaced by fat on the rebound, slowing the metabolism even more.
So what do you do to get back on track? First, focus on lifestyle changes. Start by making a food journal, listing current food intake and eliminating obvious “wrongs” in your diet. Then, begin weight training and doing interval workouts that allow you to build muscle and speed metabolism.
3. Sleep more
We have all been there—lying in bed trying to sleep, but your brain just won’t turn off. What do we do? For many of us, the answer is to get up and have a snack and watch TV until you can fall back asleep. But this only causes you to lose out on precious sleep time.
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on the waistline, as we tend to eat more to keep ourselves awake. It may start out innocently as you’re heading to work feeling groggy and pass the local coffee shop for a cup of coffee and a doughnut. You get revived, but the unwanted pounds, lack of exercise and further sleep debt are setting you up for some serious risk factors.
Closing the sleep debt gap could be as easy as avoiding caffeine after 2 p.m. or beginning an exercise routine. For some, lack of sleep is a serious issue and may require help from a physician. Receiving the correct treatment plan will not only help you get more quality sleep, but also trim you down.
Stephanie Verdecchia is an exercise specialist at the Westinghouse Wellness Center in Cranberry, Pa.