Before we go into the possible reasons why you’re not losing weight, let’s try to understand how our body works. Think of the body as something that stores energy with two components: One is fat mass; and the rest of the body made up of fat-free mass.
The body is mostly made up of water, but it also includes bone and muscle protein. Take note that fat contains more energy and that it needs more energy to burn.
To lose weight, your body has to go into energy deficit. This means your energy output must be greater than your energy input, and the amount of weight you lose will depend on whether you are shedding fat mass or fat-free mass.
For example, to lose a kilogram of fat, you will need a bigger energy deficit compared to when a kilogram of fat-free mass.
But if you’re exercising daily, why aren’t you losing weight?
Reasons why you’re not losing weight
Pretend you’re an average adult who weighs 70 kilograms (kg) with 30 percent body fat. The average person will need an energy deficit of at least 27 to 32 kilojoules (kJ) to lose one gram of body weight. A kilojoule is equivalent to 1,000 calories.
If you run for 35 minutes at 10 kilometers per hour (km/h) on the treadmill, you’ll have a deficit of about 1,500 kJ and you will lose about 50 grams in one session. But doing this five times a week for a year means you’ll lose more than 12 kg.
However, if you don’t lose weight after a year, does this mean you’re doing something wrong?
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(1) Are you eating more?
According to analysis, some people often resort to food “rewards” after they exercise. While it’s not bad to treat yourself every now and then, you need to make sure you don’t overeat so your hard work doesn’t go to waste.
(2) Are you being less physically active?
Once you’re done with your gym routine, do you turn into a couch potato at home? Also called the “activitystat” hypothesis, inactivity is linked to “the idea that we have a setpoint for energy expenditure like the setpoint on a thermostat.” When we “increase physical activity in one domain, then there is an automatic compensation in another.”
(3) Has your resting metabolic rate decreased?
When you lose weight, your resting metabolic rate, or the rate at which you use energy when you’re not doing anything, also decreases. This simply means you burn less energy.
One effective way to resolve this is by losing weight through regular exercise. Unlike dieting, when you lose weight by exercising you can generally maintain your resting metabolic rate. (Related: 10 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Naturally.)
(4) Are you gaining muscle?
This might escape your notice, but even if you haven’t lost weight, you could be gaining muscle. Meaning, you’ve lost body fat and it has been replaced by fat-free mass.
Consider this: One kilogram of fat takes up more space in your body, like 1.1 liters, than one kilogram of fat-free mass, or 0.9 liters. You could weigh the same, but you would be leaner and smaller.
If you want to get technical, if fat mass is completely replaced by fat-free mass, in about 12 you can lose at least 2.6 kg of body fat and at the same time gain about 2.6 kg of fat-free mass.
While this isn’t always the case, at least 75 percent of the weight you lose will be made up of fat while the rest will consist of fat-free mass. You can achieve better results if you include weight training in your fitness regimen.
The science of losing weight
Based on data from one analysis of previous studies, strength training, which involves weights or your own body weight, can increase fat-free mass by at least two kilograms in overweight men and around one kilogram in women. However, their weights remained the same.
One way to test if you’re losing fat mass and gaining fat-free mass is to simply measure your waist girth. If your waist is smaller even if your weight stays the same, you could be losing fat and gaining fat-free mass.
The next time you’re worried that you’ve stopped losing weight, consider the four factors listed above. Eat healthily and stay active so you can be one step closer to reaching your ideal weight.
You can read more articles about tips on how to lose weight and stay healthy at Slender.news.