You were overweight, but you did your best to lose some pounds and you did! You’re pretty happy with yourself, but you can’t quite get down to your ‘ideal’ weight, even though you think you’ve tried everything. Sound familiar? Here we look at some reasons why your weight loss has reached a plateau.
- You’re working night shifts or long hours
Walford explains: “Many more people these days work through the night. Think nurses, factory workers, delivery drivers, office cleaners. Your body wants to be asleep, but if you’re awake and working then your cortisol production kicks in. This is the same bad cycle we see in people who are stressed or anxious: cortisol frees up sugar which, if it isn’t burnt off, gets converted to fatty acids and laid down as fat.” Scientists from Brazil and Sweden write: “The production of goods and provision of services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, have risen dramatically over the last decade.” This means more people are working nights, generally with negative consequences for their weight and health. “Over 50% of the total energy consumed by shift or night workers is consumed during the evening or night. Both the quality and quantity of foods consumed might be influenced by shift or night work and traditional meals at home discontinued.” In other words: when you work nights, you tend to eat unhealthily and mainly eat at night. This is bad for your health, but also tends to make you put on weight because your body can’t digest food as efficiently at night as during the day. If you do work nights, try regular small snacks which are high in protein or fibre: some grilled meat or fish, a salad and plenty of water can help get you through your shift.
- You’re skipping meals or ‘yo-yo’ dieting
You’re going out for dinner with friends later, so what do you do for lunch? Skip it? This technique is unlikely to lead to weight loss. “Skipping meals puts your body into self-defence mode: low food intake slows your metabolism down”, explains Walford. “So then when you go back to eating normally you’re putting food into your body but not burning it off as quickly as before. You end up putting the weight back on and sometimes put even more on than before.” Of course, Walford’s talking about the unhealthy technique of skipping meals followed by binge-eating, rather than ‘intermittent fasting’ (made famous by the 5:2 diet) for weight loss. Intermittent fasting certainly works for some people and the evidence is out there to back it up. But it’s a tougher regime for most people to maintain than merely eating a bit less. And it’s not a good idea if you’ve suffered from an eating disorder in the past.
Come back tomorrow for more reasons.