Here’s Why You Might Be Struggling to Lose Weight
For some people, it looks so easy doesn’t it? They graze all day, always have seconds and eat crisps for dinner, but never seem to put on weight. For others, just thinking about anything other than an undressed salad makes us gain a few pounds.
We’re all different heights, have different coloured eyes and like and dislike different things. Our weight is just as unique to us. But finding it hard to lose weight could be down to many reasons including our genes and our metabolism.
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism is the process of converting the food we eat into the fuel we need to get us through each day. We need energy to power everything from our breathing and digestion to the things we don’t even think about, such as cellular repair.
These processes can account for as much as 70% of our total energy needs in one day. How much we need on a personal level is called our basal metabolic rate, or BMR. Each one of us has a different BMR, depending on our age, gender and size.
Our activity level can also significantly affect our BMR. Lean muscle mass has a higher energy requirement than fat. If we’re lean and muscly, our BMR will be higher and we’ll be burning more calories just to stay alive.
This means that exercise to replace fat with muscle mass not only burns calories at the time. It also helps us burn calories when we’re at rest.
So, exercise and keeping active will help us to lose weight, but it isn’t as simple as that alone…
Thanks, Mum and Dad
What our parents pass down to us in our genes dictate everything from how curly our hair is and whether we can roll our tongue. But our genes also dictate our body shape. This means that our body weight and how hard or easy we find losing weight is, in part, under the control of our genetic makeup.
If one or both of our parents struggle to keep within a healthy weight range, then the chances are, we will too. When we say struggle, we mean trying our best to diet and exercise and still seeing no change on the scales. Some of us are genetically programmed to have to work harder.
This is proved with science. A 2014 study of over 5,000 people found that a particular gene, called MMP2, which is present in a third of women, is responsible for fatty tissue accumulation and weight gain. Another gene, called FTO, is responsible for a similar accumulation of fatty tissue and subsequent weight gain in men.
We’re not all going to rush out and test our genes. But we can be safe in the knowledge that struggling to lose weight could be down to the random selection of genes we’re given at conception.
This isn’t to say that the cards we’re dealt with means we’re destined for a lifetime of feeling scared of the scales. Or resigning ourselves to the fact we’re overweight and we’ll always be creeping up a dress size.
It means that we have less control over our size, but not no control.
The genetic aspect of weight loss and gain was backed up by a more recent, larger study. It confirmed a link between our genes and our ability to lose weight.
So this also means that we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others. If you find it hard to lose weight, looking at a thinner person with envy with a potentially different genetic makeup to you is pointless. It’s as pointless as comparing yourself with a giraffe. You have a different genetic makeup.
It also means that in the future, scientists may be able to tailor diet and exercise plans specifically to our genes.
We’re all beautifully different. So we all need to find our own groove. This means finding a diet that we like, activity that we love, and most importantly, motivation!
Our Dietary Choices
Obviously, what we choose to eat also impacts on our weight. Snacking, eating the kid’s leftovers, even what we choose to drink can significantly increase our daily calorie intake.
Cutting out these empty calories can be a relatively simple way of losing a few pounds. Try keeping a food diary. No one has to see it, but keeping a note of all that you eat and being completely honest with it, will help you identify areas that may need work.
At Aptitude Fit, we have regular articles and tips on healthy eating. We’ll help you identify nutrient rich but low calorie foods that will keep you full and provide all the nutrients you need to sustain you throughout the day.
Other Reasons Why You May Be Gaining Weight
Everything else aside, if you’re dieting and exercising, yet you’re gaining weight or you’re not losing weight, might be an indicator that something else going on.
It’s uncommon, but according to the NHS it could be a sign of stress, an underactive thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or fluid retention. If you’re concerned, make an appointment to speak to your GP.
Certain drugs, such as steroids used to help treat asthma or arthritis, or certain diabetes drugs can also cause weight gain.
Age also plays a part, especially in women. As women reach the menopause, their levels of oestrogen begin to fall. This can lead to increased fat storage and a loss of muscle mass. This redistribution of body tissues can lead to slow and progressive weight gain. This can begin a decade before the menopause, when a woman is said to be in her perimenopause.
The Importance of Diet and Exercise
We know, we’ve all heard it a million times before. To lose weight, we need to be keeping active and burning more calories than we’re consuming.
There isn’t a one size fits all answer to diet and exercise. But we know that adding a social element to keeping fit helps with motivation and a shared sense of encouragement.
Yes, we all may have different needs, but exercising and being social at the same time is a common human need. One that we think is worth celebrating!