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Most people's reason for attending the gym is that they want to get shredded, but the percentage of people who actually achieve this is very small.
There are many reasons why this is the case, and this article will look at some of the most important reasons why you're not shredded.
Reason #1: Your NEAT Is Too Low
NEAT stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and is a measure of all the calories you burn during the day that doesn't come from exercise. For example, walking, cleaning the house, doing the washing up, even things like brushing your teeth, or cooking a meal can burn calories.
If you lead quite a sedentary lifestyle your NEAT can be very low, which will lower your daily calorie expenditure. This means that your weight loss may be stalled.
One way to improve NEAT is to measure your step count, download an app to your phone and start walking everywhere.
Reason #2: Your Protein Levels Are Too Low
When dieting having a higher protein intake can make all the difference, high protein levels can improve satiety (feeling full) after a meal, promote body fat loss, and protect lean body mass .
It can also increase thermogenesis, which means more calories burned throughout the day when compared to a lower protein diet .
Reason #3: You Aren't Counting Calories
At its core, weight loss is a pretty simple process. To lose weight you need to stay in a calorie deficit, meaning that you expend more calories than you consume.
Unless you are counting calories it is very hard to do this effectively – It's possible, but this mostly leads to either way too many calories dropped, or conversely nowhere near enough.
Either way, you won't lose weight and keep it off.
Reason #4: You're Using Machines Instead Of Free Weights
Exercise selection can actually make quite a bit of difference, particularly when trying to get shredded.
This is because lowering body fat to <10% (for men) or <20% (for women) can take everything you have, you need that little boost. With that being said, free weights have many advantages over machine weights.
A study in 2014 by Shaner et al found that free weights resulted in more muscle activation and a greater hormonal response than machine weights .
That doesn't mean that machines are completely without merit, but it does mean that adding more free weights into your program can help you progress.
Reason #5: You Aren't Using Caffeine Correctly
When used properly caffeine can increase your metabolism, increase fat burning , and improve your gym performance . If used incorrectly it can ruin your sleep patterns leading to lower testosterone levels .
The trick with caffeine is to use it just before the gym and to limit it as much as possible outside of the gym.
If you overdo it your body will build up a tolerance, meaning your metabolism won't rise, your performances will suffer, and your sleep will be of poor quality.
If you feel that you are currently taking too much caffeine, try restricting it (but not completely eliminating it) for the next 4-6 weeks. Your tolerance will lessen and you will begin to see the benefits again.
Reason #6: You Don't Review Your Diet
If you are counting calories, but are not trying to learn from this experience then you are missing out. If you are struggling to hit your macro targets or keep going over your calories what you need to do is analyze exactly why this is happening.
Is your breakfast too low in protein? Or maybe your snacks are too high calorie? Could you try replacing the 3 tablespoons of cooking oil for a low-calorie cooking spray?
All of these changes could help you to lower your body fat, but unless you are reviewing your diet every once in a while you may never stumble across these possibilities.
Reason #7: You Stay Up Too Late
If you are staying up too late on regular intervals, you can expect your waist to expand. A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that if you stay up very late it can lead to weight gain and also a craving for unhealthy foods .
Their findings stated that people who slept for only four hours or less per night consume up to 550 additional calories than those who slept for 8 hours or more.
Reason #8: You Are A Student
Research showed that students generally pick up weight during their college years; up to 70% of students have gained weight by the time they graduated .
They studied 131 students for four years, and they found that the average student gained 12 pounds during that time. This can be due to the sleep patterns and unhealthy food habits.
So, whether you are staying up late or have unhealthy food habits, this can lead to weight gain and make it difficult for you to lose those additional pounds around the gut.
Reason #9: You Stress Too Much
Studies have shown that almost half of all people who suffer from stress deal with the issue by taking up emotional eating .
With an increase in eating, you will also have a greater production of the cortisol hormone, which in turn will also slow down your metabolism.
Reason #10: Your Medication Maybe A Problem
If you are on antidepressants, including some of the more common ones like Paxil, you will notice that you might gain additional weight too. Studies have shown that one in every 10 people in the United States are on antidepressants, which can trigger weight gain .
We are not recommending that you simply stop taking your medication, but keep in mind that it can trigger your weight gain. But you can ask your doctor about it and see if you can perhaps get a substitute in its place, to help with the possible weight gain effects.
Reason #11: You Might Be Experiencing Water Retention
Water retention is especially common with women. If you cut down on the calories, you will lose body fat.
However, this isn’t always shown on the scale. That’s because each day your body works hard to get rid of sodium and food from the past few days.
This is why when you weigh yourself every day, you’ll notice your weight goes up and down pretty frequently. What you need to remember is the scales don’t always reflect the weight you are losing; it could be simple water weight that you are seeing.
Reason #12: You May Not Realize You Are Overeating
It’s easy to mistakenly think that by switching to healthier foods you will instantly lose weight.
However, it is still possible to overeat even if you’re just sticking to lettuce and grilled chicken. The key is to count your calories. That is the only way you will know if you are truly overeating.
Reason #13: You Don’t Use Food Scales
One of the main reasons you don’t often realize you are overeating is because you aren’t using food scales.
It is surprisingly easy to underestimate how many calories you are taking in each day. For example, if you’ve switched to eating protein, you may assume that the grilled chicken you’re about to eat is three or possibly four ounces. However, without scales you could be consuming eight or even nine ounces.
Food scales ensure you get the right portions and you’ll soon start to notice weight loss if you get in the habit of weighing your food.
Reason #14: You Think You Are Burning More Calories Than You Actually Are
It’s not just food portions you can get drastically wrong.
When it comes to exercise, it is also easy to be a little too optimistic about how many calories you are burning.
A lot of fitness apps out there are partially to blame for this. You input how much exercise you have done and they inform you how many calories you have burned. If yours say that a 20-minute walk managed to burn 300 calories then it’s lying!
If you do plan on using a tracking app, make sure you choose one that seems realistic. You should also stick to just one tracker as they will all say the same thing. If you follow the same app, you will be able to track your progress and see how you are getting on with your calorie intake and exercise goals each day.
Overall the way to ensure you are losing body fat is to log everything you eat and the exercise that you do each day.
By tracking your calorie intake and having a good idea of how many calories you are realistically burning, you will be able to see exactly what you need to do to ensure you lose that additional weight. It’s simply a matter of persistence and organisation.
Reason #15: You Aren't Consistent Enough
Whilst the preceding points were all valuable, this is the most important.
If there was a list of one reason why you aren't shredded this is the only point that would be necessary. Whatever you choose to do, consistency is what will make it work.
If you have the best diet and training program of all time, it is useless if you don't follow it week in, week out for a very long time.
People don't want to hear that consistency is the most important point, because it isn't fun or exciting. They are looking for some magic bullet solution that will instantly change their physique.
“Oh I stopped eating bread and now I have a six-pack“. No, what happened was that you started to restrict your calories by depriving yourself of something that made up 200 calories of your diet, and after weeks and weeks of constantly removing 200 calories worth of bread from your diet you lost weight.
Even though your method was misguided (there's absolutely nothing wrong with bread) the fact that you had lowered calories and kept at it led to the results you wanted.
Being consistent is more important than any other factor.
If you are struggling to get ripped maybe one or more of the above reasons are to blame.
I would highly recommend you read the following article if you are serious about getting in shape. It will explain exactly what you need to do to burn fat.