I’m Not Seeing Progress! What Am I Doing Wrong?

I’m Not Seeing Progress! What Am I Doing Wrong?

When You’re Stuck in Your Weight Loss or Stuck in Your Muscle Gain

Whether you’re hitting a plateau after weeks of steady progress, or you’ve been working hard from day one and have hardly seen a dent of change, something is happening when your body is seemingly stuck.

Is it something you’re doing wrong? Has your body simply adjusted to your routine? Let’s break down some of the reasons why your weight loss or muscle gain progress has hit a standstill. 

Weight Loss Plateau

1. You’re Gaining Muscle 

It’s possible that the scale isn’t moving because your body composition is changing. You may still be losing fat, but the scale may not be reflecting it because you’re gaining muscle at the same time. Author of our Body Composition article, Deanna Mercurio, explains that a more accurate way to track your progress is not with the scale but with body measurements and pictures. 

2. You’re Consuming Too Many Calories 

If you haven’t felt the need to track your calories, it might be a good time to start. Too many calories could be the culprit behind your plateau. Your body is smart, and it knows you’ve been depleting those precious fat stores. A study on weight gain found that the body’s internal protection against starvation encourages eating just so you will regain lost weight! Keeping track of what you’ve eaten can help you outsmart this natural response to weight loss. 

3. You’re Eating Too Many Processed Foods 

You might be hitting the right calorie count but turning a blind eye to the nutritional content of your food. Your body needs a variety of macro- and micro-nutrients to keep functioning at its best. Our dietitian recommends that you focus on real, whole foods and that you avoid processed food products.1  

4. Your Sugar Intake is Too High 

Sugar is the enemy in the battle with weight loss, partly because it’s easy to consume too much. The World Health Organization recommends that sugars comprise no more than 10% of your daily calories; that’s about 50 grams per day.2 A single beverage can easily contain more than that. Yes, that also means cutting back on healthier beverages like fruit juice. Our dietitian also warns against seemingly healthy smoothies that contain sherbet or fruit syrups. Those sweet additions, she explains, contain refined sugars that are easily absorbed and metabolized into fat.3 

5. Your Metabolism Has Adapted 

Switching things up can help kickstart your weight loss again. Again, we’ll lean on our dietitian’s recommendation. To switch things up, she suggests adding to or intensifying your existing fitness routine with weight training/resistance, cardio, or HIIT workouts, while adding some nutritious calories to those workout days. Those calories can take the form of vegetables, legumes, and pre-workout shakes or recovery drinks.4  

Muscle Gain Plateau 

1. You’re Not Eating Enough 

As you gain muscle, your energy needs change as well. You’ll need more nutritious calories (from lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains and healthy plant fats)5 and more protein than the average person because your body needs them to repair and build the muscles you’re working. Read our Protein article to learn how to calculate what your body needs (based on your weight and activity level) to help you bulk. 

2. Your Muscles Have Adapted 

Just like your metabolism, your muscles can adapt to your routine. This is why workout routines should be anything but “routine.” You’ll need to do things differently to break your body out of its comfort zone. Remember when you first started a certain type of workout and you really had to push yourself through your sets? If you no longer feel challenged by your workout, your body has adjusted. Try increasing your working weight or incorporating some more intense training, like drop sets, to get your muscles back into build-mode. Sticking to the same routine may help you maintain muscle, but progressive overload is crucial to building muscle. 

3. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water 

When your body doesn’t have enough water, your muscles must compete with other organs that are also demanding it. As you lose water through sweat, your blood volume is reduced. This slows oxygen delivery to and carbon dioxide removal from your muscle tissue.6 Essentially, you won’t be able to work as hard during training if you’re not giving your body enough water to cope with the physical exertion. It’s important to hydrate before, during, and after exercise.5 

4. You’re Inconsistent 

As we mentioned earlier, progressive overload and variety in your workout is very important to building muscle. Now you have to make sure you’re consistent about how you train. Your body needs to know that this type of exertion isn’t a once-in-a-while thing; that your muscles need to do this job often! Consistency, paired with progressive overload, prompts your body to build muscle because the physical tasks your body is being asked to do are not going away and they’re getting more difficult. 

5. You’re Doing Too Much Cardio 

The right amount of cardio can help you build muscle. Too much can do the opposite. Go back to the first item on this list for a second. To build muscle, you need to eat more calories! Regular cardio can help you consume those extra calories without gaining a lot of fat.7 Cardio also increases your blood flow, which if you remember for item 3, is important for oxygen delivery to and waste removal from your muscle tissue. The increased blood flow also helps deliver fresh nutrients (which your muscles obviously need for recovery and growth)7 

Too much intense cardio, on the other hand, can pull resources away from your muscle tissue. Now instead of those resources going towards building muscle, they’re fueling your cardio. If you’re trying to bulk, keep your cardio at low intensity and low volume.8  

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve learned something new! Will you be adjusting your workout or nutrition regimen? Stay in-the-know on trending health and nutrition topics and subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the Living Healthy Blog! 

Sources  

  1. James, Debbie. “How to Handle a Weight Loss Plateau: QA.” Living Healthy, 25 Jan. 2020, http://bloglafitness.azurewebsites.net/2019/09/19/how-to-handle-a-weight-loss-plateau/ 
  2. “Daily Sugar Intake – How Many Grams of Sugar a Day?” Food Pyramid, http://www.foodpyramid.com/daily-sugar-intake/ 
  3. James, Debbie. “My Weight Loss Has Plateaued… Any Advice?” Living Healthy, 20 Apr. 2018, http://bloglafitness.azurewebsites.net/2018/03/29/weight-loss-plateaued-advice/ 
  4. James, Debbie. “What to Do When Weight Loss Stalls: QA.” Living Healthy, 25 Jan. 2020, http://bloglafitness.azurewebsites.net/2020/01/28/what-to-do-when-weight-loss-stalls/ 
  5. James, Debbie. “How Much Protein Should I Be Eating?: QA.” Living Healthy, 25 Jan. 2020, http://bloglafitness.azurewebsites.net/2020/01/09/how-much-protein-should-i-be-eating/  
  6. Muñoz, Colleen X., and Evan C. Johnson. “Hydration for Athletic Performance.” Nutrition and Enhanced Sports Performance (Second Edition), Academic Press, 12 Oct. 2018, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012813922600045X 
  7. Hitchcock, Heather. “How Much Cardio Should I Do When Bulking?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 2 Sept. 2019, https://www.livestrong.com/article/437460-how-much-cardio-should-i-do-when-bulking/  
  8. Hartman, Bill. “Will Cardio Keep Me from Gaining Muscle?” Men’s Health, Men’s Health, 25 May 2018, https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19540296/will-cardio-keep-me-from-gaining-muscle/ 

How Much Protein Does Your Body Need?

How Much Protein Does Your Body Need?

How Much Protein Do You Need Every Day?

This is a popular question that often comes from people trying to bulk or maintain muscle mass, and even from people just looking to keep their bodies healthy. In general, if you are at a healthy weight and your exercise habits are minimal, your protein intake should sit somewhere in the range of 0.36–0.6 grams per pound (0.8–1.3 grams per kilogram).1 The lower end of this range is considered the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), or the amount needed to meet a person’s basic nutritional needs. For men, this is approximately 56-91 grams per day; for women, it’s about 46-75 grams per day.1 However, you can calculate a more accurate number for your individual needs.  

Despite the fact that we have some guidelines on how to determine your protein requirements, it really isn’t an exact science. Each individual should consult with a specialist to determine what is best for their body. 

Calculating Your Protein Needs

According to the recommendations above, the math behind this is quite simple. Let’s do a quick example to demonstrate how it’s done. Again, this is using the most basic protein recommendation. 

If you are 130 pounds, if this is a healthy weight for you, and if your exercise habits are minimal, you would want to multiply by the lower end of the range we mentioned above (0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight). 

130lbs x 0.36g = 46.8g 

This quick calculation shows that your protein consumption should amount to approximately 47 grams of protein per day.  

If you like, you can go a step further. Since protein has 4 calories per gram,2 you can multiply 47 by 4 to get the total number of calories you should consume from protein. 

47g x 4 = 188  

Now you know that 188 of your daily calories should come from protein. 

Who Needs More Protein Than the Recommended Daily Amount? 

Endurance Athletes

Endurance athletes need significantly more protein than sedentary individuals, about 0.5-0.65 grams per pound of bodyweight (1.21.4 grams per kilogram).1  

The calculation here would follow the same process, only you would replace 0.36 with a number within the new range. Of course, the more intense your endurance workouts are, the greater this number will be. Generally, a number within the range of 0.5 to 0.65 helps endurance athletes meet their protein requirements.

Let’s do a quick example using kilograms instead of pounds. 

If you took your weight in pounds, you would first need to divide your weight by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms. Let’s use 130 pounds again to demonstrate how this works: 

130 ÷ 2.2 = 59.09 

Next, multiply your weight in kilograms by a number within the new range. Keep in mind that this range changed too. It’s 0.5-0.65 grams of protein per pound, but 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram. Let’s use the lower end of the range which is 1.2. 

59.09 x 1.2 = 70.91 

This calculation shows that, if you are an endurance athlete, your minimum protein consumption should amount to approximately 71 grams of protein per day. 

Strength Training Athletes

Athletes looking to increase muscle mass are advised to consume at least 0.55 and up to 0.91 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (1.21-2.0 grams per kilogram).3 Athletes who strength train regularly (and at an intense level) need just a little bit more. The recommendation is at least 0.68 and up to 0.91 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (1.5 to 2.0 grams per kilogram) every day.3  

Older Adults

Older adults have increased protein needs as well, about 0.45–0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight (1–1.3 grams per kilogram).1 According to our registered dietitian, the increased intake recommendation is partly to help maintain lean mass and partly to compensate for a slightly diminished ability to digest and absorb protein.2 Healthline explains that increasing protein can also help prevent osteoporosis in older adults.1  

People Recovering from Traumatic Injuries

People recovering from serious injuries may also need more protein. The assumption is that, because traumatic injury induces hypermetabolism, protein requirements increase.4 While more work needs to be done to develop accurate energy requirements, some suggest that about 0.68 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (1.5 grams per kilogram) is an appropriate amount.4 

Pregnant Women

A 2015 study found that the recommended protein intake for pregnant women is in fact lower than previously thought. Still, the overall amount is similar to the needs of a high performing endurance athlete! According to this study, these are the appropriate amounts of protein for the average pregnant woman: 

During Early Pregnancy – 0.55 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (1.22 grams per kilogram). 

During Late Pregnancy0.69 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (1.52 grams per kilogram). 

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Protein?  

The short answer is yes. According to a review from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, the maximum safe protein intake is 1.14 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, or 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram.2  

Medical News Today identifies the following symptoms associated with too much protein: 

  • intestinal discomfort and indigestion 
  • dehydration 
  • unexplained exhaustion 
  • nausea 
  • irritability 
  • headache 
  • diarrhea 

How do you reach and manage your protein intake goals? Share your ideas in the comments below! To stay in-the-know on trending health and nutrition topics, subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the Living Healthy Blog. 

This article should not replace any medical or nutritional recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor. 

Sources  

  1. Gunnars, Kris. “Protein Intake – How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 5 July 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-per-day  
  2. James, Debbie. “Protein Percentages for Seniors: Q+A.” Living Healthy, 30 Jan. 2020, http://bloglafitness.azurewebsites.net/2017/07/18/protein-percentages-for-seniors-qa/ 
  3. Coleman, Erin. “How Much Protein Do You Need When Lifting Weights?” Healthfully, 24 Dec. 2019, https://healthfully.com/393951-how-much-protein-do-you-need-when-lifting-weights.html 
  4. Frankenfield, David. “Energy Expenditure and Protein Requirements after Traumatic Injury.” Nutrition in Clinical Practice : Official Publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2006, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16998142  

4 Common Stress Responses and What You Should Do Instead

4 Common Stress Responses and What You Should Do Instead

Physical and biological responses to stress can really mess with our health. We experience varying levels of this emotion every day, so it’s good to draw some attention to some of the unconscious responses to stress that have the potential to damage our wellbeing.  

Here are 4 things you probably do when stressed, along with 4 things you can do to cope with them: 

Common Stress Responses 

TENSING YOUR MUSCLES

When you’re stressed you may unconsciously clench your jaw, tighten up your shoulders, or clench your fists. You probably won’t realize it in the moment, but this habit can lead to pain down the road.  

A tight jaw can lead to headaches or neck aches, and it can also lead to teeth grinding while sleeping. Teeth grinding can also be a source of pain as it can cause tooth sensitivity, receding gums, and headaches 

Do This Instead: Make a conscious effort to relax your muscles. When you notice you are feeling anxious or stressed, try doing a full-body scan in your mind and relaxing each group of muscles as you go. 

OVEREATING

Eating has a special connection with stress. Psychology Today explains that stress involves the release of the hormone cortisol. When you have this hormone in your system, your brain sees it and automatically stops producing more so your system isn’t overloaded with it. However, the role it plays in your body is part of the reason why you feel comforted by eating.  

Cortisol tells your body to prepare immediate energy for your muscles to either fight or flee from the stressful situation. When you “stress eat” you’re psychologically comforted by the fact that you are replenishing the energy stores your body has been demanding. 

Do This Instead: When we have access to high-calorie foods, it’s more difficult to turn down the impulse to stress eat. Try to avoid stocking those foods or buy only a small amount. If you don’t have a lot, you’re likely to eat them less often because you’ll want to stretch your supply to last longer. The preferred solution, however, would be to address the source of the stress. That is the healthiest long-term solution.

NOT EATING ENOUGH

The opposite of stress eating can also be true. Sometimes, when your stomach is in knots, you’ll find you don’t have the desire to eat at all. The Cleveland Clinic explains that this is more about not noticing your hunger cues because you’re so focused on the stressor. It’s important to note this distinction because loss of appetite can also be a symptom of depression. 

Do This Instead: If your stomach is in knots and you can’t seem to eat, focus on relaxing to melt some of that stress away. Keep a stress ball at your desk, take a minute to step outside, try some breathing exercises, or refocus your energy by giving yourself something to do.  

GIVING UP

When things look hopeless, it’s often tempting to just stop trying. Whether you’re struggling to achieve something you’ve been working towards or have encountered an unexpected obstacle, throwing in the towel is a common stress response. The sudden rush of relief from no longer needing to work through a problem can make it easy for us to give up. This is also tied to feelings of anxiety.  

Stress and anxiety can be good for you in small doses. They are good motivators and help you move forward with things that need to get done (for example taking a test or preparing for an interview). When they start to become overwhelming and cause you to withdraw from people, situations, or tasks more than is healthy, it’s a good time to address these emotions more seriously. 

Do This Instead: Instead of throwing in the towel when you feel stressed, ask yourself some questions first. Why did your situation become the way it is? Are your worries realistic or are you blowing the problem out of proportion? Do you have feasible options you’re trying not to take because they look scary or difficult? Being honest with yourself can help you assess your situation better and help you decide if it’s really better to abandon your goal.  

What are some ways that you combat stress in your life? Share your approach with us in the comments below! For more ways to care for yourself, read these reminders of why you are worth the self-love. Stay in-the-know and subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 

Intermittent Fasting: Post-Workout Protein | QA

Intermittent Fasting: Post-Workout Protein | QA

Question:

I work out in the morning about 5am every day. I also participate in intermittent fasting. My question is about the intake of protein. They say after a workout within about 30min you’re supposed to intake the protein, but that would break my fast (I eat at 11:30am every day). Should I break my fast or just be sure to intake enough protein within the day? 

– Celeste C.

Answer:

Choosing between the benefits of intermittent fasting and refueling post workout depend on your primary goals. Losing weight would dictate adhering to your time schedule for eating, while gaining strength or lean mass would necessitate repleting muscle building blocks in a timely manner. Endurance exercise repletion generally involves carbohydrate recovery – though protein helps. Really, we may only be talking about 50-75 calories or so from approximately 15 grams protein! If you think that would damage your fasting impact, then skip it. But doing so will certainly mean resistance workouts won’t have the maximum intended outcome. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Corporate Fitness Challenge – Podcast Ep. 39

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Welcome to the 39th episode of the Living Healthy podcast, presented by LA Fitness.  

Today we’re talking about an awesome challenge that we do every year at the LA Fitness corporate office. It’s become a way to get active during the workday and to meet people throughout the company we otherwise would never have known!  

Our hope is that, in sharing a bit about our corporate culture, we can shed some light on our passion for what we do and help you find new ways to add more activity to your workplace as well!  

Tune in now to hear how we get up, get moving, and get acquainted at the office.

How Are We Doing? 


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Timecard Markers – Corporate Fitness Challenge – Podcast Ep. 39

Intro 

 0:01 

Sneak Peek into the Corporate Volleyball Tournament 

1:33 

Introduction of Today’s Guest: Deanna Mercurio 

2:27 

Deanna’s Fitness Background 

6:08 

What is the Corporate Fitness Challenge? 

8:37 

What are Some of the Events That Make Up the Challenge? 

10:37 

Which are the Crowd Favorites? 

18:09  

What Kind of Issues Does Sedentary Living Cause? 

20:44 

What are Some Examples of Week-Long Challenges? 

25:46 

What are a Few Exercises That People Can Do at Their Desk? 

28:10 

Are People Competitive with the Challenge? 

32:25 

How the Challenge Helps Develop Friendships 

34:42 

Actionable Advice – How to Start a Fitness Challenge at Your Workplace 

39:35 

Outro 

42:38 


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