September 18, 2013

Not Losing Weight But You're Doing Everything Right? Three Weight Loss Road Blocks

You think you are doing everything right... You are going for daily runs, eating salads and steamed vegetables and saying no to sabotages and temptations. The problem is you aren't losing weight. You are stuck and you are pretty frustrated. I hear so many confused dieters say they've hit a wall in losing weight and can't figure out why. Here are three main reasons why you might not be reaching your goal weight. Read about these road blocks and how to turn your weight loss around in the right direction by making a few simple tweaks to your routine.

1. Not Enough Protein

Many women do simply not eat enough protein. The word 'protein' is synonymous with 'muscle' as it is a crucial component in creating a lean figure. Despite how many weights you may be lifting or pilates and yoga you are performing, without protein your body will struggle to support its own muscles. Protein actually triggers muscle growth alone; every time you eat protein (10 - 15 grams, which is a small serve of yoghurt or tinned tuna), you fire up your body's protein synthesis. When you increase your protein intake to 30 grams (one large chicken breast or a few eggs), this protein synthesis will continue for over three hours. 

Make sure you are eating protein at every meal, especially breakfast. Eat the amount of protein relative to your goal body weight. There are several different methods to calculate your protein needs, but as a guide, multiply your body weight in kilograms (to convert pounds to kilograms divide by 2.2) by 1.8 for a moderately active lifestyle. For example, if your goal weight is 55 kilograms, your average daily protein intake is 80 - 110 grams. Just adjust this based on your gym routine, as in if you are doing a heavier weights day, eat at the upper range, if it is a rest day, eat at the lower end of the spectrum. 

2. Skipping Breakfast

I've blogged about this one before, but I can't reiterate enough how important it is to eat breakfast! Skipping breakfast is a sure-fire way to slow down your metabolism and stop weight loss in its tracks. When you wake up in the morning, your body is fuel deprived, your protein stores are running on empty and your insulin levels are low. Your muscles will be desperate for nutrition in the morning and it is important to restore your energy levels to get the most out of your day and to prevent any morning tea sugar binges or late night grease feasts. 

The key to eating a good breakfast is making sure you get a good balance of protein and healthy fats. Think poached eggs and avocado with rye bread, oats with Greek yoghurt and raw nuts, or a protein shake made with almond milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a scoop of protein powder. Many people shed kilos from making this lifestyle change alone.

3. Not Eating Before or After Exercise

So you are about to slog it out at boot camp or race into a body pump class but you haven't had time to eat. Maybe you have just finished a 5k run or a session on the cross trainer and figure if you don't eat now, you will burn more fat. Wrong... these times are the most crucial to fuel up. 

Timing is everything when it comes to food and exercise. If you eat protein (yes you will notice protein is a key theme here!) before and after working out, you block the negative effects of cortisol, which is a hormone that tells your body to store fat. This way, your body can sculpt muscles more effectively and burn fat. You will also have more energy to perform your workout and to get on with your day afterwards, and you will have a shorter recovery time. 

Just watch your portion size. Eat a small tub of low-fat Greek yoghurt with berries and a few raw nuts before your workout and to refuel afterwards, have a protein shaker with you on the go, with 1 scoop of good quality protein powder (try Sunwarrior vegan protein powder or whey protein isolate) with cold water or coconut water. Carbs are good for energy before a workout (wholegrain rice or banana) but avoid it after working out, and focus more on protein to restore muscle growth. 

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