"I got on the scales, and … nothing," a frustrated client will occasionally tell me. When you fully commit to something, you expect consistent results. Unfortunately, fat loss isn't so linear. Your body is a chemistry lab, not a bank account, and the calories-in-calories-out model is woefully outdated because it doesn't account for hormonal fluctuations and other variables that can affect fat loss.
During almost three decades as a nutrition and fitness expert, I've encountered plenty of folks struggling with what I call "weight loss resistance." I coined this term to describe people who, despite their best efforts, can't consistently lose weight each week, despite doing everything "right."
If you're eating clean and doing everything else correctly but aren't getting the fat loss results you want or need, consider these five often-overlooked obstacles that often create weight loss resistance.
1. Lack of sleep
Ever doubted how important sleep was to your general health? A study at the University of Chicago found that even with a perfect diet and exercise, not getting eight hours of quality sleep each night could stall your fat loss efforts. Being rested not only keeps you from yawning all day, it also balances fat-regulating hormones, reduces cravings and leaves you feeling — and looking — your best.
Sleep doesn't just happen; you need to prepare for it. About an hour before bed, turn off electronics (yes, even your iPhone), take a hot bath with some camomile tea and use melatonin or other natural sleep aids if you need them.
Is it me or are we almost competing to see who has the most on our plates these days? That "do more, faster" mentality can quickly become stressful, elevating your hormone cortisol that breaks down muscle and stores fat.
Limit your obligations, say no politely when necessary and create restorative down time. That might entail meditation, yoga, a coffee date with your bestie or a walk around the block with your puppy. Whatever works for you, schedule, prioritize and make it happen.
3. Food intolerances
Gluten and other highly reactive foods can trigger leaky gut, an immune response and inflammation. An elimination diet can help you pinpoint food intolerances that could create weight loss resistance.
Gluten is a biggie that could hold your weight hostage, and many clients find they feel and look better almost immediately upon eliminating it. One study found a gluten-free diet reduced fat gain, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
4. Overdoing cardio
More-is-better doesn't work for exercise. If you're spending an hour or longer on elliptical machines or aerobics classes, those efforts could become counterproductive as you elevate cortisol levels. Besides, who has that kind of time for the gym?
You can blast fat and overcome weight loss resistance with a quick 20-minutes workout that combines burst training and weight resistance (the two best types of exercise), three times a week. That's less time than you would spend driving to the gym! You can try one of my free 4 x 4 workouts here.
Every time you eat you raise your levels of insulin, a hormone that stores fat. That's why snacking can stall fat loss. And let's face it, you're probably not noshing on celery sticks with almond butter.
Eat your meals correctly every four-to-six hours and you shouldn't feel the snacking urge. Combine lean protein, healthy fats, loads of leafy and cruciferous veggies and slow-release, high-fiber starches like quinoa to balance blood sugar, burn fat and reduce hunger and cravings.
Plateaus can be frustrating, especially when you're doing everything correctly. What one strategy would you add to this list to overcome weight loss resistance and attain fast, lasting fat loss?