Many people blame weight gain completely on food, or a particular nutrient e.g. fat or carbohydrates. However, weight gain tends to be impacted by a number of factors and no one nutrient can be blamed. If you have altered your diet and are still complexed about your lack of weight loss, perhaps it is time to consider some other potential causes.
Physical activity VS inactivity
Diet plays the most significant role in weight gain/ loss but physical activity certainly cannot be overlooked – particularly if you only have a small amount of weight to lose. Physical activity assists in burning energy which helps to balance energy intake with energy output. Additionally, muscle burns more energy even when we are at rest. This means that the more muscle we have, the more energy we burn at all times. Regardless of weight, exercise is vitally important to maintain good health.
Office or other sedentary work
This one ties in to the point above. Unfortunately if we spend 8+ hours a day sitting at a desk or driving a truck, we find it harder to burn off the energy we consume during the day. This is why physical activity is so important. It is also crucial to be mindful of what you are eating during the day. Ironically, the jobs where people are most inactive tend to be the ones that encourage over eating due to grazing. The people who are on their feet most of the day do not have time to think about snacking or are not in the position where they can. One hour of activity per day is recommended for weight loss and ½ an hour to maintain good health. It is ideal to get that heart pumping! Even getting up and down from your desk during the day is a positive thing e.g. going to the bathroom, filling up a water bottle.
Too much of a good thing
So you’re eating really healthy but still not losing those kilos? Perhaps you need to re-assess your portion sizes. Unfortunately it is possible to each too much of healthy foods as well. For instance; nuts, oats, avocado and legumes are all extremely healthy options and great to include as part of a balanced diet, yet they are very energy dense. They therefore need to be eaten in moderation to avoid excess energy consumption.
This is becoming far more common. People are spending too much time watching TV, playing video games, on their phones or on their computer. This displaces time that we spend being active – even our incidental activity such as time spent cooking, doing simple chores or playing with the dog or kids (these add up too). How can you counteract this? Set a limit on your daily screen time and avoid having your phone glued to your hand. Use the extra time to be productive and get on your feet and moving. Walk to and from work or go for a run. This change will benefit your physical and mental health.
Driving instead of walking
There are normally many places we could walk to instead of driving. A 30-60 minute walk to work would not be asking too much and it would be an excellent way to fit your daily activity in! Particularly if you struggle to find the motivation to exercise once home. Perhaps your local shops are within walking distance? It is shocking the short distances we will sometimes drive to save us from exercise.
Taking the escalator/ lift
Do you regularly take the escalators over using the stairs? In areas where I have seen an escalator right next to a set of stairs, I always see the stairs nearly empty yet a full escalator of perfectly mobile individuals just standing there for the slow journey to the top. Opting to take the stairs each time can make a big difference to energy expenditure over the matter of a year. It can also help to build muscle.
Juices and smoothies
Juices are all the rage but people often don’t consider their energy content and rather think of them as a free food. However, juices and smoothies come in large servings and therefore contain a considerable amount of fruit. Fruit has natural sugar which is healthy but if you are having it in juice form (and a large serving) then you can drink down a lot of calories! Just ½ a cup of juice is one serving – 125ml.
Many people have the “all or nothing” mentality. This means that one chocolate bar or one dinner out will throw out their whole day or week. Remember though that one bad choice or day will not make you gain a significant amount of weight, just like one good choice will not make you lose weight. Stay strong and use the rest of the day as an opportunity to eat well.
- Take any opportunity to be active
- Limit screen time
- Be careful of portion sizes
- Don’t graze a lot at your desk
- Don’t drink your calories – stick to water and a piece of fruit
- Be mindful of your eating and do not get discouraged
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about diet and weight loss, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.