Let’s get down to the point: you workout regularly and you watch your food. It’s been a couple of months since you’ve seen any “positive change” in your body shape or composition. Maybe you’ve even put on a couple of pinch-able inches. Here are 5 reasons why this could be happening to good, conscientious people like you. Why you aren’t losing fat and/or gaining muscle like you used to. These 5 points are in order of relevance: 1. You’re already surpassed your natural body fat%. We are genetically diverse. While body fat % in people vary greatly, there is a minimum body fat % each individual needs to stay healthy. This can vary a little between people. We also have different “body types”. In broad terms these are characterised as ectomorphs, endomorphs and mesomorphs. Each type naturally hold on to a certain minimum body fat% in a healthy state. Am I an Endomorph, Ectomorph or Mesomorph? Not sure? Take this quiz. If you have been over-weight for a number of years, the initial fat loss will seem quick. This progress tapers off until it seems to stop. When the body experiences loss of fat, a natural protective mechanism takes over to slow down that loss.
One can imagine rate of fat loss being fastest from obese –> average, and then slowing down. Quick fat loss grinds to almost a halt at the “fitness” level. If you’re almost at your “fitness” zone which is 14-17% in men and about 21-24% for women, you are actually doing fine. losing more may not mean getting healthier or stronger. It could be that your body is still improving, but that improvement is not visually observable. If you are already lean and have that last bit of fat on the belly or thigh or back… and if you diet is clean and consistent, really, there’s nothing much to do but keep up the good work.
2. Your diet Diet is more important for excess fat loss than exercise because what goes into your body affects your hormones. Different types of foods trigger different hormone production. Read more about diet in these articles: Forever Young Forever Fit Diet Tips Articles Check if you’re eating whole foods. These are unprocessed meat / meat products/ vegetables / nuts and seeds and some cheese, butter and good oils. If you’re consuming refined carbohydrates, cutting it out immediately may kick start fat loss. Increase your protein intake. If you aren’t getting enough protein, eating more protein from fresh foods can enhance muscle growth as you exercise. Increase your fat intake. If you’re in the habit of going low fat, your body may be weak because of fatty acid / fat soluble vitamin deficiency. Eating more fat may improve your overall condition, like pumping up an engine with lubricants. Increase your carbohydrate intake. If you are one of those extreme “low carb” eaters, it’s time to get more into your system. Get your carbs only from whole foods, which are mainly vegetables, nuts and seeds. Do not eat refined carbs. Carbohydrate poor dieters sometimes lose muscle mass or stop gaining muscles.
The insulin paradox: Insulin, a hormone which the body produces in response to food intake (especially carbohydrate), is actually an anabolic hormone which helps build muscle and bone. Therefore, while an overload of insulin makes us fat, we still need some insulin to stimulate lean tissue growth.
3. Your exercise I met up with an ex-client the other day, and was a little disappointed to see that she had visibly put on fat weight. “I’ve been going to the gym.” she says, 3 times a week. That was a disappointment to me. I coached her in her home, and she showed progress then. She joined the gym when her son and husband took on memberships, and I thought then that it was a good idea. The treadmill. Fascination with the electronics. Doing cardio, eyes pealed tv screens, and stopping only when “I hit the calorie mark.” — and that had been her workout for the last 3 months. If you have been eating well and exercising regularly, but still see fat weight creeping up, it may be time to think about what you’re doing while working out. Are you exercising mindfully, paying close attention to your form, and what you are doing? or have you been working out with your mind somewhere else (tv/magazine/or zoned out)? Mindful workouts brings progress, mindless workouts bring diminishing returns. Next time you head for the gym, tune in to your body and focus on what you’re doing. Are you varying your workouts? When we repeat workout routines, these routines get easier to do. When our workouts get easy, we think it’s because we’re getting fit. That is only partly true. True fitness encompasses stamina, strength, balance, flexibility and agility. Getting good at one type of exercise does not make you fit. It simply makes you good at doing one type of exercise. Your body gets accustomed to this exercise, and it no longer makes any improvement. If you want change, do something different. Do something that challenges you. Are your workouts intense enough? This is the problem most people who do HIIT (high intensity interval training) face. They think HIIT is a miracle answer to people who do not like to exercise for long periods of time. They think it is some kind of a weight loss “get rich quick” scheme. No way. There is a big hitch to this scheme, and it’s in the words “high intensity”. Doing a HIIT workout properly feels like you’re going to faint, you just want to lie on the floor, and be left alone. If you’re still standing around, laughing and chatting — you were simply doing interval training, a little better than cardio.
Don’t be misled by fitness people on youtube doing live HIIT workouts and can still talk and count while at it– most of them aren’t really doing HIIT, because what they’re doing is not intense enough for their level of fitness.
Are you muscle building? Muscle building is the best reason for doing exercise. Muscles burn fat. If you want to keep losing fat, keep building muscle.
4. Stress and sleep. How are you in this area? Are you getting any rest? Life is stressful, and sometimes things get very trying. This is a difficult one to solve, because there are many factors that cause us stress — some things we can do about and some things we can’t. If you are putting on fat weight due to stress, the best advice I can give to you is not to stress over that. Keep up you workout routines and maintain a good diet. Try to get a good night’s sleep every night. If you’re interested in meditation, you may want to join a local meditation group or get a hypnosis download (see right side of this blog). My best solution to meditation is to go to a dark quiet room (can be an empty church), and just sit there. Think nothing. Ask nothing.
5. Hormonal Issues. If you’re putting on serious amounts of weight, or if something’s seems not right. Get help from a medical professional. It could be your hormones. Hormones in our body can cause us to gain weight or lose weight.
Final words on losing fat
The body is in constant flux. Every tissue replenishes itself. Consistency is the key to staying fit and lean. My focus with this blog and book is to discuss the best ideas for sustaining good health. Hence everything that we encourage here has everything to do with balance. Losing fat is a good thing only if your body is storing too much fat. This means that you may have to make some kind of lifestyle change. If you have healthy levels of fat, the best thing you can do is to maintain it, and enjoy your good health. Trying to lose all that good fat does not make you healthy. Trying to look like a fitness celebrity is a good motivational tool, but actually looking like them may not necessarily make you healthy. They may look photo-perfect, but healthy? Many aren’t. Olga Kotelko, an amazing 94 yr old athlete once told a Crossfit trainer “I don’t have to prove anything.” In her 90s, she’s won many track and field medals. That which has kept her going on is a strong self-preservation instinct. She knew how to allow ambitions to push her close to her limits, but she also knew when not to go to the extreme.
We can benefit very much from this kind of thinking. Learn to tune in to your body. Do everything mindfully. Think in the longer term.