If your goal is to lose fat and improve your body shape, you must be prepared to put in consistent hard work over a long period of time. However, this does not always mean you will succeed.
There are a number of factors that go into an improved body shape other than just hard work, and it can be incredibly frustrating when you do not get rewarded for your efforts. So much so, that this is when people give up on the process altogether. Without any progress, there is very little motivation to keep going.
So, why is this? What are the most common reasons why you may be struggling to lose body fat? How can you turn it around?
Not Tracking Food
One of the most common reasons why people fail to see results is that they are not tracking what they consume on a day-to-day basis. You will often be consuming more calories than you think, and that is due to low volume, high-calorie foods or liquids that drastically increase your intake.
These are usually those that are high in fats, such as oils, fatty meats, and nuts. While these foods and liquids are good for your health, they are not advantageous for your goal of fat loss, as one gram of fat has nine calories, compared to four calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates. So, make sure you are tracking everything you consume, including liquid calories – this will ensure you either that you are in control or need to make changes.
Too Much Cardio, Not Enough Resistance Training
A trap that many people fall into is thinking is that to lose fat, you need to ramp up your cardio output and use that as your sole source of exercise. Although cardio does indeed burn plenty of calories, the more efficient you become at cardio, the fewer calories you are going to burn from it. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, too much cardio will lead to a ‘skinny fat’ physique, where you do not have a proper structure and shape to your body and you instead have a much smaller frame, with some fat still hanging on.
By consistently doing resistance training as your primary source of exercise, you are going to build muscle (tone up), which will not only add a better overall look to your body, but also increase your fat-burning process because the body requires lots of energy (calories) to maintain lean muscle tissue. Also, resistance training sessions burn a lot of calories themselves but do not make the mistake of thinking that you have to do as many reps as possible with light weights to burn fat.
When trying to get in shape, many people are disciplined during the week but struggle to maintain control on weekends. You train hard, eat clean, get your cardio in, and perform well in other areas, such as sleep, stress and digestion. This gives you great confidence that you can achieve your fitness goals.
However, the weekend arrives and the plan can suddenly fall apart. You go out drinking with friends, binge on takeaway food, do very little exercise and then all of your hard work during the week can be undone. It is a problem for many people, especially those who live active social lives. To lose fat consistently, you must learn how to have balance and control on the weekends. Otherwise, it will be a road full of frustration.
During your journey, there will be times when you will have to adjust your training and nutrition plan. By not doing this and sticking to the same plan, you could be hindering your progress. When it comes to training, your sessions will have to be advanced in line with your progress. For example, increasing the weight lifted, adding in more advanced exercises or training systems, putting in an extra session during the week, limiting rest periods. These are all ways to step up your training, which will increase your calorie output and provide the perfect stimulus for muscle growth.
The same goes for nutrition. At some point, you will likely have to adjust your calorie intake, whether that be an increase or decrease, based on a number of variables that will change as you go along. For example, if your calorie deficit is too aggressive, your fat loss will stagnate due to a slow metabolism. So, ensure that you are making the right adjustments during your journey to maximise results.
Low Activity Levels
Although training and diet are both vital, they are not the only things that will help you create that crucial calorie deficit to help you lose fat and change your body shape. Adding in a sustainable form of cardio to your routine is going to help you burn those extra calories that will place you in a deficit of 400-500 calories.
This does not mean you have to jump on the treadmill every day. It means finding a form of cardio that is low intensity, enjoyable, and easy on your body. The most popular form is walking a minimum of 9-10k steps per day, which can burn anywhere between 300-400 calories, depending on the individual. Aside from the fat loss benefits, going out for a walk is great for your mental health and allows you time to de-stress from certain situations. Make this part of your daily routine and it will hugely benefit your progress.
So, there could be a number of reasons why you are struggling to lose body fat. The most common include not tracking your nutrition, doing too much cardio instead of resistance training, having no control on the weekend, not making adjustments, and having low activity levels. Have a look at these areas and see where you could make improvements so that you make the best progress possible with your fat loss.
Photo Credit: Envato Elements