You’ve pushed through grueling sweat sessions, tracked your calories religiously, and gave up your favorite cheat meal—yet those last few pesky pounds can’t seem to whittle away. What gives?
Unbeknownst to many, certain seemingly-effective habits may be to blame when you’re looking to lean out. Discover and ditch the nutrition and fitness faux pas you may be committing and finally shed those seemingly impossible-to-lose five pounds!
1. You Down Diet Sodas
Cutting sugar and calories may seem like a surefire way to achieve your body goals faster, but diet sodas aren’t the solution. A Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine study found that artificial sweeteners found in diet beverages and other “sugar-free” or “light” foods may result in weight gain and a nearly-insatiable sweet tooth.
2. You’re Not Challenging Yourself at the Gym
When you’re trying to lean out, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts are your best friend. Steady-state cardio may be your go-to at the gym, but if you trade the treadmill for a Tabata class, the results will shift in your favor. Following short bouts of intense exercises with a short recovery period can aid in calorie burn, weight loss, and even help control your appetite.
3. You Snack After Dinner
A study published in Cell Metabolism found that mice who had access to food for only eight hours stayed slim, while those who ate the same number of calories over a 16-hour period gained more weight, especially around their midsection. If you’re usually hungry after your p.m. meal, avoid loading up on empty-carb-filled grub by ensuring your dinner is loaded with fiber-filled veggies and lean protein to promote satiety.
4. You Don’t Catch Enough Zzzs
According to an International Journal of Obesity study, folks who don’t get enough shut-eye hours have higher BMIs and wider waistlines. What gives? Lack of sleep tends to result in an increase in your body’s stress and fat-storing hormone, cortisol, as well as interferes with your workout recovery. Aim for the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night to keep up with your weight loss efforts.
5. You Forget to Refill Your Water Bottle
Not only is water essential for performing vital life functions, it can also help you shed the muffin top by boosting your metabolism and curbing cravings. In fact, a study in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that after drinking about two full glasses of water (17 ounces), folks’ metabolic rates increased by 30 percent. What’s more, the researchers estimate that increasing H2O intake by about six cups per day can torch an extra 17,400 calories over the course of the year—resulting in just about five pounds lost!
6. You Let Stress Get to You
Getting stuck in one too many hair-pulling situations causes a rise in cortisol, which stores food as belly fat. Instead of spooning your way through a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, try a new spin class, do pilates, or hit the weight rack to increase levels of happiness-inducing endorphins.
7. You’re Not Eating Enough
You may think that skipping lunch or replacing dinner with a snack may help you drop those last few persistent pounds, but depriving your body of necessary macros can actually do the opposite by setting the ideal foundation for nutritional deficiencies and a late-night binge.
8. You Eat Three Square Meals a Day
Bored of sticking to three timed meals per day? Personal trainer Sean M. Wells actually recommends “eating two 200-calorie snacks between meals that have at least 10 grams of protein and five grams of fiber,” such as a 5-ounce container of plain Greek yogurt with a pear. “This type of snack will provide the nutrients you need and stave off cravings that can slow your weight loss efforts.”
9. You Engage In Distracted Dining
A study in the journal Appetite found that eating while distracted can cause you to consume more calories. Next time you sit down to dinner, focus on munching mindfully rather than catching up on work-related emails. Shifting your focus to your food can help your brain register when you’re full rather than encouraging you to overeat.
10. You Fuel Up Wrong
Exercisers often overestimate the number of calories they burn during their workouts, leading them to consume specialty snacks and drinks before, during, and after their sweat sesh—which all rack up the calories. If you’re not hungry prior to lacing up your sneakers, skip the snack and opt for a cup of energizing black coffee.