6 barriers to weight loss

You do the best to lose weight only to find that your goal is eluding you. Now you begin to wonder what's keeping you from shedding those excess kilos? Take a look at these six factors that might be playing the culprit

weighing machine

1. Irregular body clock

Also known as the circadian rhythm, the body clock coordinates the metabolic demands of the body's daily wake/sleep cycle. When we are awake, our body's metabolism ability is at its peak. Hence, food is digested faster and energy [in the form of calories] is released and utilised efficiently. When we are asleep, our digestion slows down, body temperature drops and we are not as mentally alert as when awake.

A disruption in this sleep pattern leads to loss of muscle mass and weight gain—one of the reasons why globe trotters and those working in shifts struggle with weight.

2. Fasting

It may appear to be a 2-in-1 option—to lose weight and please the almighty—but in reality, fasting does more harm than aid in your attempt to lose weight. In the initial phase of fasting, a person loses fluid, followed by lean muscle and very little fat.

Fasting also causes a reduction in basal metabolic rate [BMR] and causes the body to conserve energy. The end result is weight gain even when a person makes sure s/he doesn't overeat.

3. Lack of family support

Does your family consider your attempt to lose weight a fad or are they genuinely supportive of your cause? The success or failure of a weight management programme will greatly depends on the family's stand.

Encouragement, support and motivation from the immediate family goes a long way in helping the person cope with the challenges of weight management. Lapses and re-lapses are common to all those trying to control their weight, but the response of those within the family determines whether or not the lapse is permanent or temporary.

4. Unreal expectations

Most people aim at achieving their goal within 2 – 4 months. The number of kg may vary anywhere from 4 – 40kg, but the time limit is almost always the same.

Expecting a weight loss of about 2 – 4kg in a month is realistic, but not more than that. It is possible for a person to lose as much as 4 – 6 kg in the first month or so but most of this initial loss is fluid and not fat. Failure to get to that dream number in record time often results in disappointment, which causes the person to give up or relapse.

5. Lack of sleep

Yes, its true.lack of sleep can cause ineffective weight loss and/or weight gain. This happens due to the interplay of the hormones, leptin [a hormone produced in the fat cells whose job is to send a signal to the brain when you are full] and ghrelin [a hormone produced in the gastrointestinal tract responsible for stimulating appetite].

Lack of sleep causes leptin levels to drop, which causes a person to feel less satisfied in spite of a full meal. Sleeplessness also causes ghrelin levels to rise causing an increase in appetite. Besides, less sleep means less energy when exercising, which can affect performance and therefore the adverse outcome.

6. Stress

Consistent high levels of stress causes the body to produce high levels of the hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol slows metabolism, causing weight gain or failure to lose weight.

Additionally, high levels of stress also leads to emotional eating where one binges on salty, fatty and sugary foods—none of which aid in weight loss.

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Venu Hirani
Venu Hirani is a Mumbai-based nutritionist and fitness consultant who specialises in weight management, antenatal and postnatal fitness. She is also the proprietor of Bodyworks: Weight Management Specialist

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