Almost three-quarters of Americans are overweight. A sedentary lifestyle, refined carbohydrate-dense diet, and ultra-busy schedules can lead to a lifelong struggle with weight. The thing about weight loss is that it’s a little more than counting calories or swapping fries for a salad. There are dozens of individual factors that affect metabolism.
Let’s take a look at five reasons why counting calories alone might not be enough to lose weight.
1. Not All Calories Are Equal
The problem with the American diet is that it’s naturally high in refined carbohydrates. These macros break down into simple sugars, compounding the harmful effects of elevated glucose levels surging through the body.
Bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes are all staples in American dishes. We begin our day with carbohydrate-rich pancakes and pastries topped with sugar-filled jellies and syrups. For lunch, we’re too busy to stop and prepare food so we grab something filled with carbs and saturated fats from a drive thru. And then, we come home and make heat-and-eat processed dinners that are heavy in carbohydrates and high in sodium.
When we go on a diet–and restrict these ‘easy energy’ sources, cravings threaten our commitment to healthier eating habits and we quickly fall back into old patterns. To lose weight, it takes more than counting calories. It takes a commitment to fixing our nutrition.
2. There’s a Mental Health Component
For some, past trauma is a roadblock to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Emotional eating, eating disorders, and poor coping mechanisms resulting in high cortisol levels all derail effective weight loss efforts.
Working through therapy to correct unhealthy food and nutritive habits can be a good first step. Additional support is available using targeted supplementation with B12 shots or other dietary supplements proven to support a balanced mental state.
3. Your Lifestyle Holds Clues
How you spend your free time might be one of the biggest indicators in your ability to achieve a healthy weight. The modern American lifestyle is much more sedentary than that of generations past. This means that we all have to find ways to be intentionally active just to burn a sufficient amount of calories.
A desk job paired with low-key leisure time in front of a screen is your worst enemy. And while going to the gym (or exercising in general) consistently should be striven for by all, it is nonetheless a commitment that many cannot maintain. As such, the key to becoming more active is to find a mix of activities that bring you joy, providing opportunities for movement without feeling like a workout.
This could mean spending forty-five minutes per day working in a garden or volunteering to clean up your neighborhood on the weekends. Or, it could mean adopting a new hobby like riding bikes or walking trails with a friend. Whatever you choose, the key is to enjoy spending a little more time on your feet.