Why can’t I lose weight? This is the most common question that I’ve encountered from my readers. Often, when they ask the same questions to their friends or family, they are simply told to try harder. For those who have went through the process of losing weight like myself, we know that the reason is not for the lack of trying.
To understand why we get stuck in the process of losing weight, it is important to udnerstand the process of weight loss. In general, when the energy intake is lower than the energy output, weight will be lost over a period of time. This sounds simple. However, because our body is made to conserve fats rather than to lose fat, our body often “outsmarts” us in out weight loss attempts. I shall explain how this occurs below.
Initial weight loss: Loss of Lean Mass
In general, most people in the world are in a stable state of weight. Whether they are obese, fat or normal weight, the weight itself seldom change much as the energy intake and output are balanced. When a person starts to diet, the energy intake decreases. This then causes a loss of weight. The problem lies in the fact that lean weight (muscle) is lost first in preference to fats. This is because proteins are more easily broken down to produce energy for our body. When this happens, the overall lean mass in our body decreases. While we will see a loss of weight at this time, our loss is mainly muscle and not fats.
Most people will ask, so what if I lose some lean mass. After-all, most people are seeking weight loss and not gain in muscle. The problem lies in the loss of lean mass also causes a decreasing in metabolism. This is because our muscles are the most active users of our energy. A decrease in lean mass therefore means our body starts to expend less energy. So the body comes to a new equilibrium. The overall energy intake has decreased, but the energy usage has also decreased. This means the weight will be “stagnant” and stable once again despite dieting.
Increasing Energy Usage
It is therefore very hard to lose weight purely based on dieting alone. In fact, to lose weight based on dieting alone often requires an unhealthy level of diet. The next step is therefore to increase energy usage. This will once again cause the equation to shift such that energy usage is more than energy intake and thus losing weight. The best way is by exercise. What kind of exercises are best is another huge topic on it’s own. But the key is that it should consist of both aerobic and toning exercises to ensure the building of muscle mass.
When exercises are persistent for more than 2-4 weeks, the body has to build up more muscle mass in order to cope with the exercises. This not only increases the energy usage, but also allow the body to start burning fats in order to supply energy. Over a period of time, the fats will slowly be used and fats cells will shrink, causing a loss of weight and slimming of the body.
So if you are stuck in the stage where you are asking, why can’t I lose weight? My advice is, you can. Add some exercises, at least 45 minutes a day. Keep going at it and like myself last time, you will start to see the magical effects of weight loss the natural way.
Filed under: Weight Loss Basics