Do you ever feel like you’re on a treadmill? Well, we mean a metaphorical treadmill—one where you just can’t seem to shed those pesky pounds, despite all your hard efforts.
You may be dieting and exercising diligently but losing the battle nonetheless. You may be asking yourself, “Why am I not losing weight?”
The answer is often found in unconscious behaviors and habits that can lead us down the path to slip-ups and setbacks. These small lapses add up in the long run, keeping us from reaching our goal. We’ve put together a list of five bad habits that prevent weight loss.
1. Not getting enough sleep
Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity. Sleep is important for several reasons. It makes us feel happier, and more alert—but it also plays an important role in regulating our hormones.
For example, ghrelin is a hormone responsible for making us feel hungry. When we are sleep deprived, our bodies produce more ghrelin in order to encourage us to seek out energy-rich food in an attempt to compensate for our lack of sleep. We may eat larger portions than normal, drink an extra latte (or two), or seek out sugary or fatty foods to get through the day.
Sleep deprivation also reduces the body’s production of leptin, a hormone that helps us feel full after we eat. This lack of leptin is why we continue to feel sluggish and “snackish” even after eating a full meal.
Sleep plays a huge role in regulating our metabolism. When we sleep, our body actually burns fat while it repairs and preserves muscle. By getting adequate rest, you’re helping your body maintain healthy weight loss.
Lack of adequate sleep affects our brain’s reward pathways and ability to make decisions, too. In one study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, researchers discovered that participants were more willing to pay for food after being sleep deprived. This explains why we’re all too willing to break down and order a pizza or high-calorie meals when we’ve been up late.
Lastly, being awake longer each day also means that our bodies naturally demand more calories. You may end up eating an extra meal or more if you’re up longer, adding more calories to your daily intake.
2. Drinking alcohol
While alcohol is a way for us to spend time with friends, relax, and let loose, it’s also affecting our weight loss progress in more ways than one. It’s no secret that most delicious boozy drinks come packed with empty calories. Mixed drinks, beer, and wine all usually contain carbs or sugar.
However, the sugars and carbs found in alcohol aren’t even the main factor that prevent you from losing weight. Alcohol actually impairs the regulation of blood sugar levels and disrupts key hormones like insulin and glucagon. Once the balance is upset, we enter a spiral of hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic reactions.
These imbalances are why you tend to crave fatty, high carb foods when you’re out drinking. Combine that with lowered inhibitions and poor decision-making, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for overeating—or finding yourself at a fast food drive-through at 2 a.m.
3. Skipping meals
It might seem like skipping meals would be a surefire to lose weight. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who skip meals are over 4 times as likely to be overweight. When we skip meals, we’re actually setting ourselves up for failure for several reasons.
First, skipping a meal guarantees that we’re going to be even hungrier for the next meal. It upsets our blood sugar and cortisol levels, making us feel “hangry” and foggy. This often leads to poor decision-making when it comes time to eat—we may opt for a larger portion of rich food to compensate for the meal we skipped.
Additionally, our metabolism slows down when we skip a meal. Why? Our body’s natural reaction to food deprivation is to enter “survival mode” and store our last meal’s energy as fat instead of burning it right away.
The best course of action is to eat smaller, healthier meals throughout the day. This will keep your body burning calories and help you regulate your eating habits.
4. Not drinking enough water
Drinking water is a great way of staying trim, as it increases resting energy expenditure, i.e. burning calories. Research indicates that drinking 500mL of water increases metabolic rate by 30%.
Studies also show that drinking a glass of water before a meal can also prevent overeating by making us feel satiated and therefore reducing the amount of food we eat each meal.
We recommend purchasing a water bottle and keeping it filled. That way, you’ll be able to monitor your daily water intake, reduce hunger cravings, and stay properly hydrated throughout the day.
5. Not meal planning
We’ve all been there—wandering around the grocery store without a list or a plan, hungry, pulling our favorite snacks off the shelves on a whim. And when we get home it feels like there’s still nothing to eat!
Doing a bit of regular meal planning can go a long way. We’ll be less tempted to toss in unhealthy snacks along the way if we hit the grocery store with a list of healthy meals and ingredients for the week.
Planning out meals and healthy snacks also allows you to control portions and track your caloric intake. Eating out for breakfast or lunch is convenient, but restaurant food is often packed with extra sugar, butter, and salt. Preparing healthy meals ahead of time will keep you from eating out too often. For more meal planning tips, check out our weight loss meal prep ideas.
Losing weight and keeping it off is a full-time job that requires practice and patience. You may be doing a great job at avoiding one or more of these bad habits already, but it’s important to be aware of all the small behaviors that add up and derail your weight loss progress. At Blue Sky MD, we’re here to help you feel healthier and happier. Contact us today or schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can help you reach your weight loss goals.
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