Your metabolism declines when you lose weight. This results in burning fewer calories that you did with your heavier weight. The slower metabolism, further slows down your weight loss, even if you consume lesser calories. I know this is very frustrating, especially when you are very close to achieve your weight loss goal, and it is taking longer than you expected. However, it is important for you to understand that as long as you stick to your regular workout regime and healthy eating, you will typically start losing weight again after about three weeks. Also, remember that while you may not be losing weight, you would be observing positive changes in your body like a smaller waist, more toned stomach, stronger arms and more.
Question #1: Are you keeping track of your daily calories?
If you are not losing weight or fat, it means your calorie intake is way higher than it ideally should be. The absence of calorie deficit is one of the most common diet mistakes we usually tend to make. Cultivate healthy eating habits in order to track your calories.
Question #2: Do you treat yourself at weekends?
Well, if you think it's okay to be liberal towards yourself in terms of diet during the weekend, just because you had a week long healthy diet, you may be wrong. Even after five days of ‘good’ eating, two days of ‘bad’ eating will make you gain weight. Know the names of restaurants that serve healthy food or learn how to choose healthy food from the restaurant menu. It is possible to eat out and still lose weight if you know how and what to order.
Question #3: Are you 'overeating' healthy foods?
Again, it is important to eat the right proportion, even though the food is healthy. Overeating healthy food can make you fat. Just because the food is healthy doesn’t mean you can eat a heaps of it. Portion control is the key.
Question #4: Are you skipping breakfast?
Skipping breakfast leads to overeating later in the day as blood sugar drops mid-morning. And you will only end up eating unhealthy food during the day.
Question #5: Are you eating foods that are high in fat?
Gorging on butter and mayonnaise, and thinking that you will end up losing weight is simply being unfair to your body. So, watch what you eat; healthy eating habits can go a long way.
Question #6: Are you skipping meals?
Skipping meals will do more harm to your body than good. If you starve yourself by skipping meals, you’ll be more inclined to stuff yourself later, and you’ll be more likely to choose high-calorie foods when you finally eat. You might find that you eat MORE when you skip meals. So avoid skipping meals. This is a big diet mistake that will make you fat.
Instead, go for small meals at regular intervals. The biggest benefit of having 5-6 small meals a day is that your metabolism will work more efficiently (faster) when you eat small meals throughout the day, and will help deal with the weight loss plateau.
Question #7: Are you drinking too many sugary drinks / alcoholic drinks?
Alcohol becomes your body’s choice of fuel when ingested, even in the presence of sugar. Be sure to limit your alcohol intake or completely avoid it if you are serious about fat loss. You should also consider the calories in fruit juice, smoothies, soft drinks and many hot drinks.
Question #8: Do you drink enough water?
We all know how important H2O is when it comes to losing fat. It helps to suppress appetite, so you are less likely to overeat. However, when you are dehydrated, your kidneys do not function properly. Hence, the body turns to liver for additional support. Here, the liver tends to work hard, and more of the fat you consume is stored rather than burned off. You can also refer to how to know if you are NOT drinking enough water for more information.
Question #9: Are you controlling portion size?
Portions are spinning out of control. We consume drink soft drinks from 600ml bottle; eat foot-long sandwiches and hog popcorn from tubs. A typical restaurant bowl of pasta can feed a small family. Try to choose small serving bowls and smaller portion sizes.
Question #10: Are you getting enough sleep?
Appropriate sleep improves EVERYTHING, so make it a priority. Sleeplessness decreases insulin sensitivity and ups your cortisol, which eventually leads to fat gain. If you wish to lose more fat, you need to improve your sleep patter. Period.
Question #11: Are you overdoing cardio?
Overdoing cardio burns fat and muscle both. Since you are losing muscle mass, you are hurting your metabolism. Low muscle mass equals to slow metabolism. If your metabolism is slow, you will gain body fat very fast. A better way to boost metabolism through exercise is to start a strength-training routine along with cardio.
Question #12: Is your workout challenging enough?
To banish stubborn belly fat, you have to go for high-intensity workouts. Exercising in this way will take you closer to your goal of burning more calories.
Question #13: Are you managing stress properly?
When you are stressed out your body produces a hormone known as cortisol. This increases body fat storage if it is not controlled. More stress means higher cortisol levels, which eventually leads to increase in body fat even though you control your diet and exercise regularly. So make sure you take some time out to de-stress, mediate, laugh, do something fun and try not to take things so seriously.
Question #14: Do you sit at a desk all day?
Even a dedicated workout cannot compensate for being sedentary the rest of the time. Sitting for a few hours may stop making a fat-inhibiting enzyme called lipase in your body. So, take the stairs instead of the elevator; park your car far away from the office. In short, keep moving.
Question #15: Are you working out right?
Doing 200 crunches won’t help you lose fat; you can't spot reduce. Do compound
exercises like deadlift, squats, pull-ups, barbell chest press, barbell row and walking lunge.
These compound exercises works on the muscles in your core — abdominals, back, legs, butt, hamstrings, shoulders, biceps, triceps as well as other body parts. These exercises use more muscles, so there is a higher rate of calorie burn while you are doing them.
Question #16: Do you have a hormone imbalance?
If you have tried everything, yet something seems to be lacking, there’s one last thing that might be causing your plateau: a hormonal imbalance. A thyroid disorder, insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome — they could all be making your body hold onto pounds.
Don't overreact to the situation; it might be worth going to an endocrinologist and exploring this issue with a medical professional who can evaluate you personally.