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If you are trying to lose weight and you are still not losing weight, you are not properly keeping track of calories in vs. calories out. Try logging your food for a month so you get an idea of how many calories you are actually consuming. There are also calorie-tracking devices that you can purchase to help you get an idea of how many calories you are burning. If you are still not losing weight after doing those things, you may have a medical condition causing the weight gain and may want to consider seeing your physician.
Obesity is a very complicated medical problem. There are physical, medical, and psychological issues that contribute to this problem. That being said, may people continue to gain weight because of misinformation about the nutritional quality of the foods they eat, the balance of proteins/carbs/fats they consume, and the timing of their meals.
By doing a body composition and diet analysis we can often identify the challenges that prevent appropriate weight loss and help a person get on track.
In the beginning of a weight loss program it can be common to gain some weight because you are building muscle mass through exercise. Muscle weighs more than fat, and although building muscle will help you lose more weight in the long run, during the first few weeks of your program your weight may go up on the scale. Do not get discouraged, as this means you are on the right track with your program, and soon the weight on the scale will begin to decrease. If, over time, you find you are still gaining weight despite your weight loss efforts then it is important to start tracking and measuring your food to be sure you aren’t eating hidden calories you were unaware of that may be causing weight gain. You also want to be sure you are exercising at a high enough intensity level to create the calorie deficit you desire. Burning an extra 500 calories per day will enable you to lose 1 pound of body fat per week.
There are many variables that affect individuals in the quest for weight loss. It is important to understand there are three sciences at work in regards to weight loss - Physical/Biological/Behavioral. There are factors in each science that can contribute to weight gain. I will focus on the physical sciences and potential hurdles that can arise.
Physical science indicates that in order to lose weight an individual must be in an energy deficit (consume less energy then they expend). The first hurdle that occurs for individuals is under reporting caloric intake. Various studies have reported that normal weight individuals under-report by 20%, and the obese population upwards to 40%. This under reporting can be a conscious or unconscious behavior. An example of unconscious would be a lack of education in nutritional values of food, and a misunderstanding of serving sizes. This example would lead to potential weight gain.
Another hurdle is the weight scale as the only litmus test in regards to weight loss. If you asked any individual if body fat is what they want their weight loss to come from, they would answer yes immediately. Unfortunately, the weight scale does not assess what type of weight you are losing or gaining (muscle, fat, water). It is quite possible an individual shows a net gain on the scale, but the fact is the individual lost 5 lbs. of fat and gained 6 lbs. of muscle. In this example the individual is doing a great job, but the scale incorrectly states otherwise.
I have discussed just a few factors that would contribute to weight gain despite weight loss efforts. I cannot understate the importance of looking at all sciences for potential weight gain.
Weight loss through cutting calories results have often been less than expected. People have been told that reducing caloric intake by 500 calories a day will cause them to lose a pound a week; researchers at the National institute of Diabetes say that a more realistic formula provided you stick to the caloric reduction would be a 50 lb. weight loss over three or more years. The weight loss rule of 3500 calorie per pound rule ignores the body's adaptation to altered body weight and the basal metabolism rate[ which is the body's resting metabolism or burning of calories and the need for calories. This basal metabolism rate actually decreases or slows down so as you lose weight your need for baseline calories decreases as the basal metabolic rate decreases.
To lose weight many of us give up unhealthy foods and replace them with healthy choices, which is good, but we often neglect to pay attention to portion sizes. Even healthy foods can cause weight gain if they are eaten in excess. Anytime you are eating more calories than you are burning, you will gain weight. To help understand how many calories you are consuming, it is important to keep a food log. If you've never logged your food before, it might be a wake up call. I have personally struggled in this area; eating a healthy, low fat diet was not helping me lose weight and I would get discouraged. So I started logging my calories. To my shock I was still eating well over 2500 calories a day in healthy food! My problem was portion control and excess snacking. As you begin to log your food, you start to recognize serving sizes and understand the calories in each portion.
Weight-loss will also be much slower if you have only changed your diet, but neglect fitness. Fitness is essential to weight loss and good health. Fitness doesn't have to be anything complicated; just start moving. Start walking every day, get up every hour to move around, or do laps up and down the stairs in your home. The key is move your body, because your body is 'made to move.'
Be patient and don't give up. Don't expect quick results because quick results are rare and often are caused by extreme, and unhealthy measures. Slow and steady results - a pound or two a week - are healthy and sustainable. During the process you are creating healthy habits to last your life.