Welcome to the diet plateau. It gets crowded because just about everyone gets stuck here at one time or another. There are many reasons weight loss can stall. Sometimes you lose motivation, bad habits creep back or you underestimate the calories, carbs or portions you’re eating.
Take a look at some of the most commonly overlooked causes of weight loss plateaus.
Not Enough Water
Why is water so important for weight loss? Water is a natural appetite suppressant. When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys and liver become stressed. In addition, water is essential for digestion and regular bowel movements.
How much water should you be drinking? WeightWise recommends at least 96 ounces of zero calorie, caffeine free, non-carbonated fluid. Water fits the bill for all three characteristics. While 96 ounces is the minimum, the ideal amount for you may be more. If you exercise, have a physically demanding job, or perspire heavily, you’ll need more water.
The challenge for bariatric patients is not only to drink enough water, but to time the consumption so it doesn’t interfere with meals. If you’re having trouble drinking enough, you may need to devise a strategy. Perhaps you can fill a container with the amount of water you need to drink each day. When it’s empty, you’re golden. Or, since timing is crucial, make a drinking schedule. Once drinking becomes a habit, you won’t have to think about it as much.
Too Much Stress
Too much stress puts the brakes on weight loss. How? Stress can lead to food cravings. When you’re anxious, your resistance to the lure of comfort foods decreases. Stress is associated with the release of hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol sends signals to your body to eat.
Cortisol also causes fat to settle in your belly. Belly fat is stubborn. But cortisol does more. It slows metabolism in an effort to maintain supplies of glucose. While it’s tempting to curse cortisol, humankind’s efficiency at storing fat was a necessary adaptation when feast and famine threatened our ancestors’ lives.
Not Enough Sleep
Worry, distractions, Netflix and crazy-busy schedules. It can all add up to inadequate sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain. Like stress, a lack of sleep releases cortisol and lowers resistance to overeating. Some studies have linked sleep disruptions to ghrelin and leptin, two chemicals that affect hunger.
Successful weight loss is dependent mostly on what and how much we eat. Exercise, however, is key to maintaining loss. The calories expended is negligible during 30 minutes of moderate activity. But many studies confirm that those who exercise are more successful at keeping excess pounds off. Why? Moderate exercise suppresses appetite, improves blood sugar levels and builds muscle.
Exercise is also one of the best cures for stress and insomnia. Beyond weight loss, exercise has a host of health benefits. From a stronger heart, to a better brain and lower cholesterol, exercising is non-negotiable when it comes to staying on track with weight loss.