Your 2015 New Year’s Resolution was to eat better, exercise more and finally lose the extra weight you’ve been dragging around. You cleaned up your diet, became a regular at the gym and yet, after some initial success the number on the scale stopped going down. The fact is, you can’t lose weight with diet and exercise alone unless you really know what constitutes a healthy diet for weight loss and how to exercise for weight loss.
You think you are eating a very healthy diet with lots of vegetables and fruit and skipping dessert, but your weight loss efforts don’t reflect it. So what gives?
There are a lot of reasons you can’t seem to shed the weight. The most common reason is you are actually eating more than you think, and over-eating anything, healthy or not, will result in weight gain.
You may also not be eating the most essential nutrients like:
One key to weight loss is eating enough protein. This essential nutrient is what repairs and builds muscle, keeps you feeling full for longer and provides fuel for sustained energy. Fatty hamburgers and bacon-wrapped sausages should not be on the menu, though. High quality protein from fish, chicken, eggs, nut butters and plants sources are the kinds of protein you should be including with every meal.
Another sinister diet disaster is carbs. Our cells need it for fuel and it is the first nutrient converted to energy. However, not all carbohydrates are created equally and that prepackaged 100-calorie snack you have been noshing on may be the reason you are not losing weight. If you are consuming nutrient poor white flour based foods like pretzels and crackers, you’re doing more harm than good. High quality carbohydrates like whole grains, brown rice, and steel cut oats will fuel your body without jacking up your blood sugar levels. Low quality carbs will leave you feeling hungry again much sooner and you could be eating a lot more than you realize.
You must eat some fat. Your body needs it. Your brain is made out of it. Just like carbohydrates and proteins there are good fats to eat and bad fats that will keep you fat. Olive oil, nut butters, and avocados are healthy unsaturated fats that will keep your hunger at bay and your body strong. Bacon, anything with hydrogenated oils and lard, will undermine your weight loss efforts no matter how many carrots you eat or jumping jacks you do.
Many people mistake thirst for hunger. Americans tend to be chronically dehydrated and over-weight. Adequate fluid intake is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. You can’t lose weight with diet and exercise if you are dehydrated.
You don’t have to rely solely on H2O to stay hydrated, though. A glass of skim milk (protein), a half of a grapefruit (dieter’s staple), tea or coffee is good sources of fluid that will also help with weight loss.
In clinical studies, drinking green tea has shown to help boost metabolism to aid in weight loss. Swap out a few sodas a week for cups of green tea and you could jumpstart your weight loss.
Most people grossly underestimate how many calories they are burning at the gym. A single M&M candy requires you to briskly walk the length of a football field to burn the calories in the candy. If you scarfed down a cheesesteak for lunch (around 800 to 1,000 calories!) then figured you would burn it off walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes, you figured wrong. It would take at least an hour of intense cardio to burn off that many calories for most people.
You are only making fitness gains and pushing your body to burn fat if you are really breaking a sweat and laboring to breathe throughout most of your workout. Beads of sweat are like little bubbles of fat melting away.
The other reason you can’t lose weight with diet and exercise is that you are only doing cardiovascular workouts. Yes, you need to get your heart rate up, but strength training keeps your metabolism active long after you have left the gym and muscle burns more calories than fat. Sign up with a trainer at your gym and learn how to use the free weights and machines properly to boost your weight loss efforts.
Be a Loser
With a few simple tweaks to your daily diet and fitness routine you can get the number on the scale to start dropping. Being more mindful of the quality of food you consume, staying properly hydrated and really breaking a sweat at the gym will have you fit and fabulous if you stick with your new healthy lifestyle.