If you eat right, exercise daily and constantly monitor your weight it can be infuriating to step up to the scales only to discover the ticker hasn’t budged an inch. In fact, you may have even gained weight. Rest assured this is completely normal and just a sign that an element of your routine needs a slight adjustment.
The best approach to achieving weight loss results is holistic, meaning the food we eat, the sleep we get and the exercise we do, all contribute to pounds lost. If one element is off balance, it can set the entire process backwards and quickly lead to feelings of failure and a higher chance of you throwing in the towel.
If you’ve reached a plateau with your training and not seeing the results you desire, these are some things to consider.
Keeping our workouts balanced is super important for a steady decrease in weight. If we only do cardio and focus all our attention on longer and harder sessions on the ellipticals, our bodies naturally transition to ‘survival mode’, storing more fat for energy to aid in endurance. Excess cardio sessions also eat into our lean muscle mass which is essential for increasing our base metabolic rate (BMR).
In addition to our cardio sessions, it’s important to strike a balance with our strength training. By building muscle tone and strength, we can increase our BMR. This is because lean muscle mass requires a great deal of energy from the body to maintain, even while at rest.
Try adding strength training to your cardio sessions for maximum fat burning potential. With a weighted workout, we’re already increasing our metabolic rate, so adding cardio into the mix will increase the difficulty and add more resistance, making us stronger in the process. The amount of energy required to take 10,000 steps, for example, is compounded with the addition of weights, meaning we use more energy and burn more calories. While this will be slightly harder than a standard walk, the benefits are worthwhile.
Combining strength training with cardio will also help offset mass muscle growth by promoting lean mass and strength rather than size.
They say abs are made in the kitchen and it’s not far from the truth. The food we eat is fuel for our bodies to thrive and putting in low quality food will lead to less-than-optimal results. Aim to feed your body whole foods rich in nutrients and a serving of protein (30g) with every meal. This could be chicken, salmon, tofu or a protein shake.
Protein has been linked to a greater increase in calories burned due to its high thermic effect (requires more energy to burn) and negates feelings of hunger by increasing several hormones responsible for regulating feelings of fullness.
It’s not so much about calories in vs. calories burned, but more to do with the quality of food. It’s also a trap to fall into when exercising to overcompensate with food i.e. I just went for a mile run; therefore, I can eat whatever I want. Be careful to not overdo it.
This may sound counterintuitive and contravene what you may have heard about carbs but keeping a balanced diet inclusive of carbs can assist in your fitness journey.
Healthy carbs will help you feel fuller for longer, signalling to your brain not to overdo it and keep you satisfied and ‘fuelled up’ throughout the day.
Keep in mind that not all carbs are the same, a bowl of oats for breakfast (a ‘whole food’) will provide fibre, nutrients and antioxidants to fuel your body and help you power through your workouts while a Big Mac (processed carbohydrate void of any fibre or nutrients) will satisfy in the short term, but you’ll be left feeling hungry and lethargic within the hour.
Getting adequate sleep, stretching and taking it easy after a heavy workout give your body the chance to recover, and it’s in these rest periods that your body does a lot of the fat burning.
Sleep quality has also recently been linked to our weight. Lack of sleep has been shown to lead to an increase in appetite and metabolic problems. Make sure you are getting at least seven hours a night, especially if you are training hard during the day.
- Turn your screen off 2 hours before you go to bed
- Play some gentle sleep enhancing music 1 hour before bed
- Turn off the TV at the switch
- Stop eating 3 hours before bed (I know it seems hard…But it really helps!)
- Write down on a piece of paper your intention for a deep, sound, and rejuvenating sleep just before you lie down
- Take a magnesium supplement or take a bath with Epsom salts
Keeping all elements of your fitness in balance, from food to exercise and even sleep and recovery, will help see you achieve all the weight loss results you set out for. Eat foods that nourish, combine cardio and strength training for boosted BMR and make sure you take proper rest.