You have watched your diet for weeks, exercised and saw a steady weight loss. Then suddenly it all ends. No matter what you do the scales will not budge. What to you do? Is it normal? Are you making mistakes?
Why Can’t I Lose Weight Even though I am Exercising 4 Days a Week?
The scales will not budge because you have reached a set point, or plateau. Why is this inevitable?
- Our body works hard to keep energy intake and output in balance
- We all like weight loss but our body interprets the weight loss as starvation
- It shuts down our metabolism
- The more effort you make to burn more calories the more it slows down
It takes fewer calories to maintain your weight because you simply weigh less. To lose one pound a week, you’ll need to create a deficit of approximately 500 calories per day. This plateauing effect is one of the biggest motivation killers there is. There are many other reasons for weight loss to slow down as well. Some of it has to do with exercise. If you believe the energy equation: Weight Gain or Loss = Energy In – Energy Out, modified by genetic factors, age, gender, etc. then it should be easy to maintain the weight loss. However, lots of problems get in the way.
Causes of Weight Loss Plateaus
- Normal physiologic resistance to weight loss
- Mistakes in food intake
- Genetic predispositions
- Unrealistic expectations
- Mistakes in food selection, portions, and preparations
- Bored or fatigued
Mistakes in food intake:
80% of overweight individuals and more than 50% of normal weight people make serious mistakes with their food intake. They underestimate what they eat by as much as 30 to 50%.
Exercise Increases Hunger and Provides Compensatory Eating:
Exercise is important for health, both cardiovascular and mental. However, it may not be all of the answer for overweight people trying to lose weight. Exercise may make them much more hungry, and at the same time provide a “reward” to eat more food. “I exercised in the gym for an hour, so I can eat those 3 pieces of pizza.”
Are expectations unrealistic?
If you are comparing yourself to the bone-thin celebrity on television or what you weighed in high school, perhaps your expectations are unrealistic based on gender, height, occupation and most important age. Sadly to say it’s normal to gain weight as we age.
Genetic Predispositions Cause Weight Ranges for Many People:
70% of the variation in people’s weight may be accounted for by inheritance, which means that a tendency toward a certain weight is more strongly inherited than nearly any other tendency except height. With a single parent overweight your chances of being overweight are 50%. With two overweight parents it rises to 80% or more. That does not mean you have to give up, you just need to work a little harder and make some smarter choices.
Weight Loss is Proportional to Starting Weight:
For an individual who weighs 200 pounds, it will be easier to lose five pounds than for the person weighing 150 pounds. This is normal and expected since weight loss is always a percentage of the remaining weight.
It’s Normal for Weight Loss to Slow Down:
Weight loss slows over time because your metabolism slows to prevent what the body interprets as starvation. Although the possibility of starvation is not entirely relevant in the U.S. today, this bodily mechanism did help our ancestors survive during lean times.
Personal Set point:
Each person has his or her own set point, or the level at which one naturally starts to resist weight change and becomes “comfortable” with his or her new weight. There are low set points and high set points; think of them as preset weight zones. Your plateau might be your low set point. Many times the cause of this may be those genes you inherited, other times just from making a few mistakes. Set points often occur at weight points of previous diet attempts.
Depletion of Vitamins and Minerals:
Weight loss is associated not only with reductions in body fat, but also some loss of muscle mass. Invariably numerous vitamins and chemicals as vitamins and co-enzymes needed to breakdown fat are also depleted.
See Dr. Lipman in his South Miami office and you will discover all of the reasons for your slow weight loss in a single visit.