Log your food intake every day for at least a week, being as specific as possible: Measure your portions , read food labels , or access nutritional information if you're eating out. Analyze your diet: Online tracking websites will often give you an overview of how many calories you're eating as well as a breakdown of different nutrients.
They can also help you get an objective look at your overall eating habits so you can look for ways to cut calories. You might even consider working with a registered dietitian who can make more specific recommendations based on your data. Metabolism can slow for a number of reasons, one of which is age, particularly if you don't preserve your muscle mass. Some estimates show that muscle mass declines about 4 percent each decade from ages 25 to 50, which is important as lean muscle burns more calories than fat.
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If you're still eating the same number of calories as your metabolism drops, your weight may creep up over time. Start exercising and lifting weights now to keep your metabolism in check. Exercise is, of course, a crucial element to weight loss, but it's hard to know if you're doing the right workouts or burning enough calories. Start by looking at your overall program to get a sense of how much you're exercising and how much you really need. For weight loss, experts often recommend 60 to 90 minutes of exercise each day.
If you're not close to that, this gives you a place to start. This doesn't mean you have to start working out for almost two hours a day, however. In fact, that's a bad idea if you're not used to that level of exertion, as it could lead to injury , burnout , or overtraining.
Don't forget, it's not just about structured exercise. Working out for an hour doesn't cancel out the next eight or nine hours of sitting something many of us do. In addition to exercise, try to be as active as you can: Take regular breaks from the computer, take walks whenever possible, stretch, wear a pedometer to see how many extra steps you can get in, limit your TV time, etc.
If you spend more than 8 hours sitting, that could be one more reason you're having trouble losing weight. It's not uncommon to find yourself doing well during the week only to get a little too relaxed in your exercise and diet over the weekend. While an occasional break and treat are fine, consistently letting go on the weekend could be hurting your weight loss goals. If you only do so for five days, then overeat or skip your workout for the next two, it's akin to taking one step forward and two steps back. Weight loss is a complex process involving a variety of factors.
Some we can control, such as our diet and exercise. We can also work to manage stress and develop good sleep habits. There are some factors that influence weight loss that we can't control, such as our genes, sex differences including the influence of hormones , age -related changes, and our individual body type. If you aren't losing weight despite changes to your diet and activity level, see your doctor to rule out a medical condition as the cause.
Physical Activity Myths
Not only is this important if you aren't seeing a difference in the scale or your body despite your efforts, but even more so if you're inexplicably gaining weight. There are several health conditions and medications that have been linked to weight gain, including:. Continue to monitor changes in your weight. Tell your doctor if you gain more than five pounds in a month without any changes to your diet or exercise. Almost everyone reaches a weight loss plateau eventually. As your body adapts to your workout, it becomes more efficient.
Over time, your body will expend fewer calories performing the same exercise. Your weight loss progress will begin to slow down and may even stop. There are several ways to help break through a weight loss plateau, including varying up the exercises that you do and changing your intensity or duration. Experiment to find the ones that work for you. Just because you're not losing weight doesn't mean you're not getting positive results.
Your body may be making changes that a scale simply can't measure, so hinging the evaluation of your success on how much you weigh can sometimes be discouraging.
Seriously, Weight Loss Doesn’t Work
Consider hiring a personal trainer if you need help setting realistic personal fitness and weight loss goals. Many people have an unrealistic idea about what it means to be at a healthy weight. Ask yourself: If you take away all the reasons you want to lose weight that have anything to do with how you look, are there any other reasons you need to lose weight? Are you at risk for medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease? Is your BMI in an unhealthy range? A conversation with your doctor can help you make sure your wishes and goals are in line with what's not only healthy for your body, but possible.
For some people, losing weight may be an important component of getting and staying healthy. But if you're healthy at your current weight, it may be best to invest your efforts in figuring out how to be happy with the weight you are.
Why is belly fat dangerous?
Remember that healthy bodies don't all look the same and that negative thinking can trick you into believing things about yourself that just aren't true. Try to focus on all the things you like about your body. Appreciating all the things your body can do can help improve your body image.
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15 Common Mistakes When Trying to Lose Weight
Obesity Prevention in the Information Age. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. Am J Epidemiol. Shomon, Mary. Relationship between stress, eating behavior, and obesity. More in Weight Loss. Researchers speculate that:. Losing sleep may make you feel hungry, even when you're not. Sleep deprivation may affect the secretion of cortisol, one of the hormones that regulates your appetite. When you're tired, you may skip exercise or simply move around less, burning fewer calories. Raising cortisol: Like sleep deprivation, too much stress increases the production of cortisol.
Not only does this increase appetite, it can also cause extra abdominal fat storage. Cravings: When we're stressed or unhappy, many of us reach for "comfort foods" that are high in sugar and fat. Skipping workouts: Feeling down, fatigued, or stressed can make a workout seem too daunting. This information may help you make changes in your daily eating and physical activity habits so that you improve your well-being and reach or maintain a healthy weight. Small amounts of your favorite high-calorie foods may be part of your weight-loss plan.
Just remember to keep track of the total calories you take in. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in through food and beverages. TIP: Limiting foods that are high in calories may help you lose weight. Myth: Grain products such as bread, pasta, and rice are fattening. You should avoid them when trying to lose weight.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming grains as part of a healthy eating plan. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. Examples of whole grains include brown rice and whole-wheat bread, cereal, and pasta. Whole grains provide iron, fiber , and other important nutrients.
TIP: Try to replace refined or white bread with whole-wheat bread and refined pasta with whole-wheat pasta. Or add whole grains to mixed dishes, such as brown instead of white rice to stir fry. Check out ChooseMyPlate for more tips to help you add whole grains to your eating plan. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye grains. A health care professional is likely to prescribe a gluten-free eating plan to treat people who have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten.
A gluten-free diet is not a weight-loss diet and is not intended to help you lose weight.
TIP: Before you decide to avoid a whole food group, talk with your health care professional if you believe you have problems after you consume foods or drinks with wheat, barley, or rye. Fat provides essential nutrients and should be an important part of a healthy eating plan. If you are trying to lose weight, consider eating small amounts of food with healthy fats, such as avocados, olives, or nuts.
You also could replace whole-fat cheese or milk with lower-fat versions. Read about food portions and how much food is enough for you. TIP: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fats. Try cutting back on solid-fat foods. Use olive oil instead of butter in cooking. Fact: Dairy products are an important food group because they have protein your body needs to build muscles and help organs work well, and calcium to strengthen bones.
Dairy products made from fat-free or low-fat milk have fewer calories than dairy products made from whole milk. Learn more about the dairy group. TIP: Adults should have 3 servings a day of fat-free or low-fat dairy products, including milk or milk products such as yogurt and cheese, or fortified soy beverages, as part of a healthy eating plan. Fact: Some research shows that a healthy vegetarian eating plan, or one made up of foods that come mostly from plants , may be linked to lower levels of obesity , lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
But going vegetarian will only lead to weight loss if you reduce the total number of calories you take in. Some vegetarians may make food choices that could lead to weight gain, such as eating a lot of food high in sugar, fats, and calories. Eating small amounts of lean meats can also be part of a healthy plan to lose or maintain weight.