Do you struggle to maintain a healthy weight despite eating nutritious foods? Learn What You Should Do If You’re Gaining Weight Despite A Healthy Diet!
When you’re trying to lose weight, the process can be frustrating. You eat healthily, exercise regularly, and the pounds aren’t coming off as quickly as you’d like them to. Even worse, the scales may tell you that you’re gaining weight despite a healthy diet and exercise! If this sounds familiar, read on to find out what might be going on and how to fix it.
Ask yourself if you are eating enough calories
As a general rule, if you’re doing everything right and still gaining weight, it might be because you’re eating too few calories. If that sounds like you, don’t stress: we can help. Calorie calculators can help you figure out how many calories to eat depending on your goals, but for most people looking to lose weight without having to obsessively count calories or weigh their food all day long, 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week is perfect.
As we mentioned, eating too few calories can cause you to gain weight. That’s because when you eat fewer calories than your body needs to function properly, it will start to store fat cells in preparation for a future energy deficit.
One of our goals is to reduce body fat percentage as much as possible, but you may need to maintain a certain body fat percentage if your goal is weight loss. For instance, in order to be classified as healthy (rather than overweight or obese), men should have a body fat percentage between 12-17%, and women should fall between 20-24%.
Body fat percentage
So, if you’re aiming for weight loss, your body fat percentage should be less than what it is now. Here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage: Measure yourself at home using one of these three methods and then plug that into a calculator.
For instance, let’s say you weigh 190 pounds, and you have a body fat percentage of 22%. First, take your weight in pounds and multiply it by 0.45. Then multiply that number by 2.2 (0.45 x 2.2 = 1). 190 x 0.45 = 80, then 80 x 2.2 = 176! Now subtract your final answer from 190 to get your body fat percentage: 176 – 190 = -14. Subtract 14 from 100 to get 86%! Your current body fat percentage is about to 86%.
Let’s use another example: Let’s say you weigh 160 pounds and your body fat percentage is 30% 30 x 0.45 = 13 + 13 x 2.2 = 31. You would be considered obese with a body fat percentage of over 25%. We suggest losing weight until you are between 15-25%. After all, no one wants to be overweight or obese!
According to research from Ohio State University, even having a small amount of belly fat (aka visceral fat) can raise your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The good news? Losing abdominal weight is easier than it sounds, especially when you have a specific goal in mind.
Eat more nutrient-rich food
While a healthy diet is essential for weight loss, it’s possible to be consuming all of your required nutrients without losing any weight. If you are gaining weight, despite eating healthy and exercising regularly, try upping your intake of nutrient-rich foods that could be causing you to gain weight from their high-calorie density.
Fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. They have very few calories per serving, which means they won’t cause weight gain when consumed in reasonable amounts. Your intake should be between 2-3 servings per day, depending on your calorie needs.
Protein-rich foods like lean meats, nuts, and eggs also contribute to weight loss because they take more energy to digest than carbohydrates or fats. Add these nutrient-dense protein sources to your diet as you increase your intake.
Create Daily Healthy Habits
The only way to lose weight is to create a caloric deficit. This means you have to burn more calories than you eat every day. So if you’re serious about losing weight, focus on creating healthy habits that will make it easier for you to burn off these extra calories.
This is why it’s so essential to build daily healthy habits in your life. These healthy habits will help you burn off extra calories to lose weight and keep it off. The best part is these are all habits that anyone can incorporate into their lives regardless of their current level of health.
The more healthy habits you incorporate into your life, the easier it will be to lose weight. That’s why it’s essential to focus on creating as many healthy habits as possible.
Measure your body composition
When you’re trying to lose weight, body composition (i.e., fat vs. muscle mass) is a good measure of your progress. Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, and you may not see a change on the scale, but your clothes might start feeling looser.
You’ll need to get a body fat analysis to measure your body composition. This method isn’t as accurate as underwater weighing, but it’s better than just BMI or scales weight. To get an idea of how much body fat you have, follow these simple steps:
Pick up a few skinfold calipers and use them to measure skinfolds at different areas of your body.
The two most common areas for measurement are:
- Abdomen: For women, take a measurement halfway between your navel and bottom rib. For men, measure at your umbilicus (belly button).
- Thighs: Measure at a 45-degree angle using what’s called a 3-site technique that includes one measurement on each side of your thigh and a third in front of your thigh where it meets your pelvis.
Once you’ve collected your measurements, plug them into an online calculator. These calculators use height, weight, and gender to estimate body fat percentage. Measurements from different areas of your body will be combined to give you a more accurate idea of how much body fat you have and where it is located in your body.
Getting enough sleep can be a challenge, but it’s essential for maintaining a healthy weight. When you’re well-rested, your hunger levels are much more stable, and you will have an easier time controlling your portion sizes. On average, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health; keep an eye on your sleeping habits if you feel like your weight is creeping up.
Steps to follow to improve your sleep quality
- Commit to getting a good night’s sleep every night. Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time each day. Exercise can help with sleep, but don’t push it too late in your day, as that can make it harder to fall asleep when you are ready for bed.
- Sleeping well will help keep your hormones healthy. Adequate sleep is essential for maintaining healthy leptin levels, a hormone that helps you feel full, and ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry.
- To get a good night’s sleep, avoid electronics right before bed. The blue light that your devices emit can disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol right before bed. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can keep you awake, while alcohol is a depressant that may make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Stick to a schedule, whether you’re getting enough sleep at night or taking a power nap during your day. Waking up and going to bed at approximately the same time every day helps keep your body in sync with its natural circadian rhythm.
- Spend some time outside each day. Exposure to sunlight helps control your internal clock, which affects your levels of melatonin—the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle—making it easier for you to stay awake when it’s time to be active and helping you fall asleep faster night.
- Be sure to avoid eating for several hours before bed. When you’re hungry, your body produces more of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry and causes your body to slow down leptin production, a hormone that tells your brain that you’re full.
Increase your intake of healthy fats
In addition to regulating blood sugar, certain types of healthy fats can also encourage fat burning. Coconut oil, for example, contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that help kick your body into ketosis so you can start burning fat for fuel. Olive oil and nuts are other sources of healthy fats that will keep you feeling full longer.
Meanwhile, avocados are rich in a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which can also help you feel full for longer. Fatty fish like salmon and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation and reduce appetite. They’re especially helpful if you’re prone to cravings in between meals or have trouble managing your weight due to IBS or PCOS.
Know what to eat
Don’t skimp on protein, either. Not only does it help you feel full, but it also boosts your metabolism to help you burn more calories even while resting. Lean meat, eggs, and seafood are all excellent sources of protein. Whichever sources of healthy fats and protein you choose, remember to include fiber-rich whole grains in your diet as well.
Now that you know what to eat, here’s how much of it to consume. The general rule includes healthy fats in every meal and snack—about 30-40 grams per day, depending on your gender, age, and activity level. Your protein intake should also be between 20-30% of your total calorie intake. That means if you’re eating a 2000-calorie diet, then 200-300 calories should come from protein. For fiber, aim for 25-35 grams per day. Finally, try to get 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit each day.
Be more active during the day
Yes, we’re talking about exercise. The more active you are during your day, the less likely you will overeat later on. Movement gives your body energy and makes you feel alive and alert. Try moving around at work if possible—stand up or take breaks from sitting every 30 minutes or so; walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email or making a phone call; go for a 10-minute walk with a friend outside during your lunch break.
We know that sitting for long periods is linked to obesity, but did you know that people who sit for longer than 6 hours per day are 45% more likely to be overweight? We’re not just talking about watching TV. Think about how much time you spend at work, driving in your car, or watching your favorite shows on Netflix.
Maybe you’re thinking. I can’t do anything about that; I have to sit at my desk all day! Luckily, there are several things you can do throughout your day to make it easier on your body and burn more calories. Look for opportunities to stand up (or move around) when you feel like taking a break—check out our tips below.
While you’re at it, consider cutting down on how much time you spend sitting at home as well. Turning off your TV and limiting your screen time can help encourage you to move more during your day, which will likely help keep your weight under control.
Need a little extra help? Try using an app like Moves or Fitbit to track your activity throughout your day. This can be an excellent way to ensure you’re being active enough, primarily if you work at a desk all day. And speaking of sitting… remember to get up and stretch often!
Track your progress
As you lose weight, you’ll likely notice your clothes fitting differently. This is a clear indicator that your body is changing, but track it if you want to know exactly how much weight you lost! There are several tools out there that help you do just that.
Tracking your progress will help keep you motivated and give you data that helps show friends and family why a healthy diet and exercise are so important!
Body fat percentage
Your body fat percentage can also tell you how much weight loss progress you’ve made.
When you have a clear goal in mind, like losing 20 pounds, you’ll have an easier time keeping yourself motivated to meet it. Tracking your progress helps show that you’re getting closer to that goal, and achieving it can keep you going until you reach it!
Calculate your body fat percentage.
While you may want to know exactly how much body fat you have, your doctor will likely only want to see whether or not you’re at a healthy range for your gender and age.
The first step for most people who are gaining weight despite a healthy diet and exercise should be to consult their doctor. They will help you determine if there is an underlying issue. There may be several reasons that explain why you’re not losing weight. For example, some individuals naturally have a slower metabolism and burn calories slower than others. Other medical conditions, such as thyroid issues or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), could also be slowing down your metabolism or preventing you from losing weight.
Additionally, if you have gained weight despite a healthy diet and exercise program, it’s essential to watch your overall health. Certain medical conditions could be causing weight gain in an otherwise healthy individual. The most common of these conditions is hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland.
In hypothyroidism, your thyroid produces less than average amounts of a hormone called thyroxine (T4). The result is an underactive metabolism and a slow rate of weight loss. Other common medical conditions causing weight gain include polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes, and Cushing’s syndrome. If you suspect that you may have one of these conditions, talk to your doctor about what tests they can run to determine an underlying issue.