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Exercising but not losing weight? Reasons for your weight loss plateau

When people imagine what working out will be like, they often picture instant results and to achieve their goals within weeks. However, it often does not work like this. If you have been working out for a few months and you are still not achieving the weight loss that you were hoping for, there are several factors that may be at play.

Gaining muscle

You may not be aware, but muscle is more dense than fat. So, if you’re exercising a lot but not losing weight, it is likely that you are losing fat but gaining muscle at the same time. This is particularly likely if you have only recently begun exercising. You may even see your weight increase. This is nothing to worry about though because you should soon start noticing positive changes in your physical appearance and start to feel stronger. Building muscle is a great way to maintain a healthier weight long term. Since muscle burns more calories than fat as it is more metabolically active, having more muscle can contribute to weight maintenance.

Dehydration and water retention

When we do not drink enough water, our body retains more water because it is trying to avoid dehydration. This water retention can cause temporary weight gain. Although it is not weight gain caused by an increase in fat, it can make tracking your results more challenging. So, make sure you are drinking at least the recommended 2 litres of water a day to help avoid water retention. Drinking more water has also been found to boost metabolism, which may also support weight loss.

There are many other causes of water retention, so do visit your GP if the problem persists.

Eating more than usual

Now that you are exercising, you may find yourself eating more than usual. This could be because you feel that you can eat more as you exercise more, or  maybe you are feeling hungrier than usual because your metabolism is speeding up. Either way, an easy way to discover whether food may be the issue is to keep a food log for a week or so. There are plenty of free apps that allow you to monitor your food intake. This will highlight whether you are consuming a balanced diet and achieving the recommended daily calorie intake. Another simple way to help control calorie intake is by ensuring that each plate of food is roughly made up of 50% fruit and vegetables, 25% protein and 25% starchy carbohydrate.

Not doing the right exercises

To lose weight you need to create a calorie deficit. An easy way to do this is by doing cardio to burn calories. Try to undertake a variety of cardio exercises, rather than just sticking with your favourite. This will help to avoid a weight loss plateau.

High calorie burning exercises to try:

  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Cycling

It is also recommended that we all undertake at least 2 days of strength building per week to help build muscle. It can be tempting to focus more on cardio and avoid strength training altogether when trying to lose weight. However, strength training is great for increasing your metabolism and building muscle.

Better ways to track your progress

Weighing yourself can often be disheartening and misleading. So instead try taking your waist measurement or measuring your body fat percentage (body fat analysis scales can be found in many pharmacies if you don’t have access). This can be a more accurate way of measuring whether you are losing fat.

Sign up

Do you need some help to lose weight?  You can sign up to our free 12 week lose weight course which will help you to achieve and maintain a healthier weight through learning about nutrition, eating habits and how to be more active.