When you set out to lose weight, the beginning stage is usually the easiest and most effective. New fitness routines, a healthier diet, and improved sleeping habits can help reduce inflammation, improve your digestion, and promote other positive changes that will help you shed weight. But as you get closer to your weight-loss goal, you may find that the last 10 pounds seem to be hanging on for dear life, regardless of what you do in terms of diet and exercise.
Generally, the less weight you have to lose, the harder it is to get rid of it. So while it’s frustrating to hit a weight-loss plateau, you’re not alone. When you find yourself down to the last 10 pounds, the positive changes you’ve made thus far may not be enough to help you lose the rest of the weight. Often, those last 10 pounds stick around due to one or two minor bad habits that you haven’t given up yet. For instance, if you’ve resisted giving up your diet soda or your dairy products, now may be the time to take those final steps towards improving your health.
Take a look at these other reasons you may be struggling with losing those last 10 pounds, and see if any of these habits may be holding you back from achieving your goal weight.
You still aren’t drinking enough water
The importance of drinking enough water cannot be overstated. Water is essential for good health and weight loss as helps move nutrients throughout the body and eliminate waste. Water can act as an appetite suppressant and increase your metabolism. Drinking more water can also help remove sodium from your body to reduce bloating. Evaluate the amount and types of beverages you’re drinking throughout the day, and start replacing coffee, sodas, and sports drinks with more water. If you find it difficult to drink enough water, try adding lemon or cucumber slices for some natural flavor.
Your workouts are no longer challenging
It’s normal to reach a weight-loss plateau when you’ve been doing the same workout for an extended period of time without ramping it up. If your workouts don’t feel as challenging as they did in the beginning, it may be time to intensify or revamp your current routine. Join a new fitness class at the gym, try new strength training exercises that work different muscle groups, or modify your current routine to make it more intense. For example, if you normally run at a consistent pace, start adding 20-second sprints into your run to increase your heart rate.
You’re suffering from sleep deprivation
Insomnia and other sleep disturbances will interfere with your body’s hormone levels, which can make it difficult for you to lose any additional weight. Hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin are affected by lack of sleep, which means you may be more prone to overeat and experience cravings for junk food. If you haven’t been getting at least seven hours of quality sleep per night, make the necessary changes that will allow you to benefit from full, undisturbed nights of sleep. For instance, start wearing an eye mask and ear plugs to block out light and sound, and stop using your phone in bed to reduce your exposure to blue light that disrupts sleep patterns.
You’re losing muscle instead of fat
Overtraining, undereating, and not eating enough protein are all factors that can cause you to lose muscle tissue instead of fat. If the scale reflects a decrease in weight, but your measurements stay the same, you may be losing muscle instead of fat, since fat takes up more space on your body than muscle tissue. Combine strength training with cardio in the form of cardio circuit training to build muscle while burning calories.
You’re not eating healthy fats
Many people remain unaware that some fats are necessary for their health and can help drive weight loss. Healthy fats can optimize the function of your brain, heart, and body cells, and improve blood flow and circulation. Healthy fats also help you stay full, can boost your energy levels, and are necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Start consuming higher amounts of healthy fats like nuts, avocados, olives, olive oil, and fatty fish, and watch those last 10 pounds start melting away.
You’re not getting enough fiber
Nine out of 10 Americans are not getting the daily recommended amount of fiber in their diets, which should be between 25 to 38 grams per day. Fiber stays in your system longer than most other nutrients, so you can continue feeling full for longer periods of time. Fiber also helps regulate your blood sugar, which helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, and can help move waste through your body, promoting more regular bowel movements. If you’re just a few pounds away from your weight-loss goal, try adding more fiber to your diet in the form of beans, pears, berries, and other fruits and vegetables.
Your eating window is too wide
If you wake up early in the morning around 7 a.m. and eat every few hours until you go to bed at midnight, you may have slower metabolism due to having a wide eating window. Evidence suggests that limiting all of your food intake to a 12-hour window can help you lose weight, while eating outside of a 12-hour window can slow metabolism and trigger weight gain. Going forward, limit your meals to a 12-hour window, starting from the time you consume your first calorie in the morning. If you eat breakfast at 7 a.m., don’t eat anything else until after 7 p.m. so you can reach your weight-loss goal more quickly.
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