Unusual reasons your diet isn’t working

Frustration of seeing extra pounds on the scale is understandable, especially if you think you’re on a ‘diet’


UMNIA SHAHID February 15, 2015
Frustration of seeing extra pounds on the scale is understandable, especially if you think you’re on a ‘diet’. STOCK IMAGE

The frustration of seeing extra pounds on the scale is understandable, especially if you think you’re on a ‘diet’. Logging in extra couch time and skipping exercise — these are obvious reasons you aren’t losing weight. But what if you’re doing everything ‘right’ — keeping your metabolism sturdy with regular cardio, eating clean and drinking gallons of water — and the pounds still won’t budge?  As compiled by marksdailyapple.com, Huffington Post, ABC News, Prevention and Men’s Health Magazine, get the facts and get back on track.

You’re not browning your white fat

Just as there’s bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL), our bodies also harbour bad fat (white) and good fat (brown). White fat ups your risk for heart disease and diabetes while brown fat actually helps burn calories. When you drastically cut calories on a diet, you’re damaging the body’s ability to convert white fat to brown fat. According to researchers at Yale School of Medicine, the hungrier the person, the less white fat is converted to brown fat, resulting in weight gain. However, consuming just enough food to take the edge off hunger encouraged the browning of white fat. “It’s actually eating that encourages white fat to turn brown. Pay attention to your hunger and eat just enough to quell it,” suggests Dr Xiaoyong Yang, PhD of Yale School of Medicine.

You’re indulging in late-night Facebook time

Avoid the laptop and other electronic devices at least one hour prior to going off to bed. The blue lights these gadgets emit disrupt sleep-inducing hormones and make you more likely to stay awake and alert. One of the easiest things you can do to lose weight is get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Anything less than that sets off a gush of problems that include sluggish metabolism, higher stress-hormone levels, elevated blood sugar, and increased insulin resistance. All these conditions promote hunger and fat storage, says nutrition expert JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet. Going to bed early but can’t fall asleep? Grab a cuppa of chamomile tea or warm milk to snooze the night away.

You’re taking the wrong meds

We’re usually aware of side effects of medications we take but weight gain isn’t so obvious. If you’re taking birth control pills, beta-blockers for heart disease and blood pressure, anti-seizure or diabetes meds, anti-cancer pills, some treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and even some migraine and heartburn medications, you may notice pounds creeping on declining your ability to lose weight. “When I see patients who are helplessly trying to lose pounds, I start looking at their medications,” says Steven D Wittlin, MD clinical director of the endocrine-metabolism division at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in NY. “That’s a biggie. Some may affect appetite; some may affect metabolism.” If you suspect your prescription is affecting your waistline, your doctor may be able to find an alternative treatment that won’t have that particular side effect.

Your friends are heavy

A recent study from Harvard finds that your chances of being overweight or obese increase half a per cent with every friend in your network who is obese. Your chances of obesity double for every four obese friends you have, say researchers. Even if that friend lives thousands of miles away, your chances of gaining weight still go up, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study. That may be because your sensitivity of being overweight changes — living larger seems acceptable since the heavy person is a friend. Experts also think that a person’s lifestyle and behaviours can subconsciously rub off on those in the individual’s inner circle. You don’t have to ditch overweight friends to lose weight. In fact, if you embark together on an exercise plan, you can increase your fun and calorie burn: Research from Oxford finds that exercising with friends as a team can actually make the agony of exertion less intense. Also, once a friend starts to lose weight, you have a greater chance of losing as well (the mechanisms work both ways).

You’re obsessed with ‘thin’

Having a healthy role model or an ideal weight can be super beneficial for weight loss motivation but studies from Tilsburg University in the Netherlands found that surrounding yourself with photos of super fit celebrities can actually deter you from achieving your health and fitness goals. What our eyes and minds don’t register is that all those photos we idolise have been heavily retouched and photoshopped to produce images of unreal bodies. The more you admire a model’s super thin waist that has actually been retouched, the less attainable it will seem and the more likely you are to eat unhealthy foods out of despair. Upon seeing her recent ads for Christian Dior, Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence proudly revealed, “That doesn’t look like me at all,” adding that Photoshop was certainly to blame. “The world has this idea that if you don’t look like an airbrushed perfect model, you don’t look good. But we have to see past it. You must be comfortable in your skin. Being hungry every single day to make other people happy is just dumb.”

You’ve reached a healthy homeostasis

It may be that your body has reached its “ideal” weight —  its effective, genetic set point. Reaching this level is generally painless and effortless, but it won’t necessarily correspond to your desired level of leanness. Women, especially, tend to achieve healthy homeostasis at higher body fat levels. Breaking through plateaus can be hard enough but plateaus ordained by the body itself can be nearly impossible. It’s probably going to take some serious tinkering with carbs, calories, activity levels, sleep, and stress. If everything else is on point and accounted for, you may be looking at healthy homeostasis. Then, the question becomes: do you want to mess with a good thing?

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th,  2015.

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COMMENTS (2)

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