We all know that any fat loss plan should involve eating well and exercising regularly. However, even the most determined attempt to follow such a plan can be derailed by a few simple, and often overlooked, factors. Below are three mistakes that might undermine your efforts.
- Lack of sleep
- Poor hydration
- Poor stress management
Lack of sleep
It is generally understood that we need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at our best. Consistently failing to meet this requirement negatively affects everything that happens within your body. From a physiological point of view, sleep deprivation can thrown off the balance of two hormones that regulate your appetite: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin tells your brain when you are full, while ghrelin tells your brain when to eat. During sleep, leptin levels increase and ghrelin decreases because sleep requires a lot less energy than being awake. However, if you don’t sleep enough, you can end up with leptin deficiency and too much ghrelin. The effect is an increase in your appetite, which can make it that much harder to stick to your healthy eating plan.
Lack of sleep can also negatively affect your mental health. It saps your motivation and drains your will power and self-discipline. We all know how hard it can be to function during the day after only a few hours sleep: skipping the gym and reaching for some fast food becomes a much higher probability. Not to mention the tendency to want to prop ourselves up with sugar and excessive caffeine.
Poor hydration can also derail your fat loss plan as hydration affects a range of factors in the body such as cell function and the distribution of nutrients in the blood. Even mild levels of dehydration also decrease athletic performance, which will prevent you from getting the most out of your workouts. The amount of fluids that we should be drinking will vary from person to person, but the recommendation for adults is usually around 2 to 3 litres per day.
Poor stress management
It is well established that excessive stress is not good for our health. From a fat loss perspective, too much stress can lead to difficulty sleeping, poor digestion and one of the key culprits derailing a fat loss plan: overeating. Although some people lose their appetite when they feel stressed, for many others, stress can lead to mindless eating as we try to numb uncomfortable feelings. Total elimination of stress from our lives is not a feasible solution, so we need to arm ourselves with strategies to manage it and prevent it from accumulating.
Techniques such as deep breathing before meals to calm our nervous system can help by making us more mindful of what we are eating. As an aside, eating mindfully is also a useful technique to beat bloating. Carving out adequate time to sit and eat our meals is similarly important so that we can taste and enjoy our food, increasing feelings of satiety and reducing the risk of overeating.