If you’ve been calorie counting, exercising on a daily basis, and trying to eat right, losing weight might be harder than you originally thought. The American obesity epidemic continues to grow, and the National Institute of Health has declared that over two-thirds of the population is obese.
This statistic includes individuals who regularly participate in dieting programs, take vitamins, eat plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables, etc. The medical risks associated with obesity are numerous, ranging from high blood pressure, increased triglyceride levels and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and stroke.
But with more Americans becoming aware about the dangers associated with being overweight, the statistics prove that the issue continues to be one that is only on the incline.
To better understand why it might be so difficult for you to shed those extra pounds, here are some factors you should consider.
Sources Of Calories
Whether you’re planning tocut out carbs and sugar or to increase your intake of healthy fruits and vegetables, there are additional factors that you should consider.
If you’ve been switching out your full-sugar sodas with diet alternatives, you’re potentially only contributing to your weight problems.
According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Societyin March 2015, consumers of diet drinks increased their belly fat by almost 300 percent. The research compared both diet and non-diet soda drinkers over a nine-year period of time and factored how many cans each participant drank on a daily basis.
Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, describes the effects of no-calorie sweeteners in this way: “Your body is used to knowing that a sweet taste means you are ingesting energy in the form of calories that, if you don’t burn them off, is going to convert to fat.
Artificial sweeteners, however, confuse our bodies and weaken the link in our brains between sweetness and calories.” The result is that individuals who consume artificial sweeteners not only retain more abdominal fat but also end up craving more sugary substances.
In addition to causing weight gain, artificial sweeteners have also been linked to numerous health risks, such as type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation and even cancer. Researchers have also discovered that the appetite-suppressing hormone, leptin, is compromised as well.
Fat-Free Or Low-Fat Products
In order for a food to be considered fat-free, it must contain less than half of a gram of fat per serving, and low-fat foods must contain 3 grams of fat or less per serving. If you’ve replaced some of your favorite foods with the reduced or low-fat version, you might be causing more harm than good.
Foods that contain minimal amounts of fat tend to also be taste-free. In order to make up for the yummy taste that consumers are craving, manufacturers often add ingredients to improve their product’s quality, such as sugar, flour, sodium, etc.
Many dieters assume they’ll lose weight by eating low-fat foods but in reality, they pack on extra pounds because they’re consuming more calories in the end.
Read more: Sugar – It’s Not A Food
Micronutrients Vs. Macronutrients
Micronutrients are found in foods that are highly dense in vitamins and minerals, such as vegetables and fruits. Macronutrients are foods that are rich in carbohydrates, protein, fats and water.
A healthy blend of both micro- and macronutrients is necessary in order to maintain an optimum weight. However, the American diet tends to emphasize carbohydrates, sugar, and unhealthy fats, and minimize nutrient-rich, natural foods.
The lack of fiber, vitamins, and minerals causes the metabolism to slow down, resulting in decreased energy and increased weight gain.
Chemicals, Toxins, And GMOs
Dangerous chemicals and toxins are found in almost every American household, including cleaning products, cookware, plastics, baby bottles, cosmetics, mattresses, building materials, and children’s toys.
You’ve most likely heard of the term “BPA (Bisphenol A)” before — the synthetically made compound that’s found in cars, beverages, containers, etc. And you might even be familiar with the fact that BPA is thought to be a contributor to prostate cancer, hormonal imbalances, pregnancy complications, and immune disorders.
What you might not know, however, is the correlation between these common chemicals and toxins and increased weight gain. The term is referred to in the medical arena as “obesogens,” which are any foreign chemical substances that disrupt the body’s normal functions and cause weight gain.
According to Professor Philip Landrigan, who conducted a study about the effects of toxins such as phthalates and BPA at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York in August 2011, certain chemical compounds disrupt the hormonal system. He also discovered high traces of toxic substances in the obese individuals he studied.
The same is true of foods that contain GMOs, genetically modified organisms in which the genes from one species are transfused into the genes of an entirely different species, such as an animal or plant.
A long-term scientific project in Norway evaluated two sets of rats over a three-month period. One was fed a strict diet of genetically modified corn and fish, and the other was fed the non-genetically altered versions of the same. The rats that were fed the GMO diet drastically increased in weight gain.
The results, which were published in ScienceNordic, raises the question, “If the same effect applies to humans, how would it impact on people eating this type of corn over a number of years, or even eating meat from animals feeding on this corn?”
The best way to ensure that the fresh produce you’re consuming is GMO-free is to buy from local farmers’ markets or to only purchase certified-organic foods from your grocery store. For meats, look for the terms “wild-caught,” “hormone-free,” or “grass fed.”To protect yourself against chemicals and toxins, purchase BPA-free plastic products and “natural” cleaning products.
There are multiple companies that produce cleaning supplies, cosmetics and more without incorporating health-hazardous chemicals and toxins in the process. When in doubt, do some research before making a purchase.
If you lead a primarily sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to alter your caloric intake to match your exercise habits. One of the biggest reasons obese people find it difficult to work out on a consistent basis is because of the lower energy levels they experience.
If you fall into this category, try not to take on too much at once. You can easily begin to change your lifestyle by taking a 10- or 15-minute walk a few times a week then gradually building up from there.
Negativity And Stress
If you have a negative outlook on losing weight and improving your eating habits, chances are that you won’t achieve productive results. Your thoughts are much more important than you might realize.
Practice being your best advocate in your fight against obesity by beginning each morning by looking in the mirror and telling yourself, “I can do this.” It might seem funny at first, but without developing a healthy partnership with yourself, you’ll quickly lose patience and burn out.
If you lead a high-stress lifestyle because of your job or financial strain, finding the extra energy to implement a work out plan might seem like a challenging task. However, science proves that exercise greatly diminishes stress.
Don’t let your anxiety, worry or tension prevent you from becoming an improved version of yourself. Incorporate meditation into your walks, listen to calming music or practice deep breathing patterns.
Many dieters find it difficult to re-learn how to socialize with their friends and loved ones once they begin to make chances to their eating habits. Just like recovering alcoholics might have to make major adjustments to their social lives whenever they begin leading a sober lifestyle, many times, dieters must do the same.
It might be necessary to evaluate whether it’s more productive to eat at home by yourself before hanging out with your friends. You might even discover that you have a few acquaintances that are preventing you from moving forward because your relationship has primarily centered on poor eating habits
A successful diet plan is one in which you’ve taken multiple factors into account. Whenever you’re assessing where your calories should come from, which foods are safe enough to eat, and what lifestyle adjustments you need to make, try to pace yourself. Your goal should be one that’s long term so that you can reap the maximum health benefits possible. Whatever adjustments you need to make, try to remember that the result will be worth it.