Why am I cutting calories but not losing weight?

  1. “I have a slower metabolism.”

Women especially tend to have lower muscle mass. The average woman has 46lb of muscle and the average man has 72 lbs of muscle. Since muscles consume 7 calories at rest1, men lose weight much more easily compared to women. The way around this for women is to increase their physical activity. Going to the gym, walking, running, forming and joining health groups, etc…

 

  1. “I don’t eat breakfast.”

Breakfast tells your body and your brain it is awake and you should start consuming energy. When you don’t eat breakfast the body is still in conservation mode so it holds on to water and puts the whole body under slow metabolism. With breakfast your entire system wakes up to consuming energy which ultimately leads to weight loss. Avoid high sugar breakfasts though.  Fruit, oats, whole wheat cereal and the like are much better options.

3. “I eat too late”

Eating too late at night has multiple effects on your health including weight gain, increase in acid reflux (Heart Burn), and increase nightly urination. The weight effects follows the same principles eating to meet your caloric needs. At night the body obviously slows down its metabolism. As a result all the extra energy in the food will be stored as fat. Eating during the day  allows most of the energy to be used during a higher metabolic state. The rule of thumb is eat 2-3 hours before sleeping. Other tricks include; 1. Eat before going to evening service. This way you burn most of the calories at church rather than coming home to eat rice and stew then go to sleep. 2. Eat supper before the night shift. This way you avoid eating Kenkey at 2 am or coming home to eat Banku and okra soup in the morning before sleeping. And finally on those nights when you absolutely have to eat something choose wisely. An apple, one banana and peanuts, a cup of strawberries, a salad or egg whites are all smart choices.

4. “I am stressed.”

Stress is a major contributor to weight gain. Under stress our body secretes a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, tells the body to hold on to energy and water as an adaptation to the stress. This leads to weight gain and difficulty to lose weight.

 

Stress can come from any source; marital problems, family issues, work and school related problems, and church issues.

 

The solution is improved stress management. In America or the Western world, stress is part of everyday life. We cannot avoid it. The goal is to learn how to deal with it. Here are some coping mechanisms:

 

  1. Let things go.
  2. Enjoy the things you love most: Family and friends.
  3. Take a break: Take a vacation somewhere. Africans for some reason consider that vacations are for white people or for people who don’t have much to do. Vacationing is actually very therapeutic and powerful at helping you de-stress.
  4. Exercise: Working out releases hormones called endorphins. These are known as “feel-good hormones” which can counteract the harmful effects of stress. Besides, you reap all the benefits of increasing physical activity.
  5. Connect with God: Having a meaningful relationship with God is another powerful way of avoiding stress and de-stressing. I find prayer, worship and meditation as potent liberator of my inner being, releasing one of all the entanglements of life.

 

 

  1. “I have a medical condition.”

Certain medical conditions make one vulnerable to weight gain. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are notorious for causing weight gain. Again medications such as steroids (Prednisone, Methylprednisolone, Dexamethasone) lead to water retention which results in weight gain. The solution:  If you have done all the right things such as eating well, increasing physical activity and you are still not losing weight, speak to your doctor.

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