You start your day with a low-sugar, plant-based protein shake. You diligently eat lean protein, leafy green veggies, high-fiber starches, and good fats at every meal. You’ve pinpointed and eliminated food intolerances. You even hired a coach to hold you accountable for everything you’re writing in your food journal.
Yet for the past week you’ve cursed the scales because you’ve hit a seemingly insurmountable plateau even though you’re doing everything correctly.
Over my many years working with people who struggle with weight loss resistance, I’ve pinpointed 5 frequent (and frequently overlooked) culprits that stall fat loss and fast metabolism:
Too little sleep. One miserable night of tossing and turning can sabotage fat loss, drown your energy levels, and leave you sheepishly ordering a low-fat banana apple muffin with your morning latte. In 17 of the 23 studies analyzed, a meta-analysis in the journal Obesity found getting too little sleep contributed to weight gain. Aim for 7 – 9 hours of high-quality sleep every night to optimize hunger hormones and boost your fat-burning human growth hormone (HGH).
Drinking water with your meals: Gulping a large glass of sparkling water with your almond-encrusted chicken dilutes stomach acid and impairs digestion. When clients complain of post-meal bloating and other digestive problems, I ask them to limit water intake during meals to about 8 ounces and take a digestive enzyme before they eat. When you’re not eating, drink up! Start with 16 ounces of water when you wake up and end with a glass before bedtime to stave off hunger. Aim for half your body weight in water ounces. That means if you weigh, say, 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces a day.
Skipping breakfast: You’re not really hungry, so skipping breakfast for a “lite” coffee drink saves calories, right? Nope. What it does do is set you up for a blood sugar crash around 10:30 a.m. Breakfast sets your day’s metabolic tone, gives you steady sustained energy, and promotes fat loss. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed protein keeps you full and focused far better than a blood sugar crashing English muffin. Time isn’t an excuse with a protein shake. Blend plant-based (but not soy) protein powder with frozen berries, kale or other leafy greens, flax or chia seeds, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk for a fast, filling shake that keeps you focused and burning fat for hours.
Snacking throughout the day: You hear your coworker (who’s always on Weight Watchers) crunching one of those Nabisco 100 Calorie packs, so you decide it’s snack time too. But every time you nosh, you raise insulin, which stores fat. Do your meals correctly and you shouldn’t have an urge for snacking. Many people mistake thirst for hunger, so before you reach for the raw almonds, see if a glass of water curbs your cravings.
Overdoing endurance training: Ever notice those people breathlessly pacing on treadmills don’t look particularly lean, muscular, or healthy? That’s because an hour or more of moderately high-intensity exercise multiple like cycling or jogging can lower testosterone, increase aging, and depress your immune system. Skip the time-killing elliptical machines and aerobics classes for burst training, which raises growth hormone and improves fast fat loss. Go all out for 30 – 60 seconds (any longer and you’re not doing it hard enough) followed by 1 – 2 minutes’ recovery, and then repeat. You don’t need any special equipment: a hill or staircase makes an ideal place to burst .