5 common reasons why people struggle to stay in shape

5 common reasons why people struggle to stay in shape

Author -  Good Health

1. Energy Balance

Your body is a machine and it needs the appropriate fuel to function. The problem is, many of us haven’t got the balance right. Too little and it won’t run as far, too much and the excess will start to spill out. Whatever you consume gets converted in to energy, which is then used up by physical activity, digestion and even breathing. Lifestyle, gender and age all impact your energy consumption as well. 

The general rule of thumb is this:
  • Energy in = energy out = consistent body weight
    When you consume the same amount of energy that you use, you will maintain a consistent body weight. 
  • Energy in > energy out = weight gain
    When you consume more energy than you use, you will gain weight.
  • Energy in < energy out = weight loss
    When you use more energy than you consume, you will lose weight. 

5 common reasons why people struggle to stay in shape 

2. Sleep Deprivation

It might not feel like your body is doing much when you’re asleep, but research shows that sleep has a lot to answer for when it comes to your overall health, particularly body weight. Studies have shown that shorter durations of sleep are strongly linked to risk factors for obesity, with an 89% increased risk in children and a 55% increase in adults. This is because your body starts craving sugars and carbs, looking for an energy boost when you’re tired. Your body’s main energy source is carbohydrates and your body fat is a secondary source. When you eat too many carbs, your body has no need to burn the secondary source, resulting in weight gain.

The other thing sleep does is regulate your hormones. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes you feel hungry and leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full. When you don’t get enough sleep, your leptin levels drop and your ghrenlin levels rise, making you feel unnecessarily hungry. This throws out your energy in vs. energy out balance.

5 common reasons why people struggle to stay in shape

3. Pre-existing Health Conditions

Sometimes certain health conditions can actually increase your weight…

  • Hypothyroidism: This is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroids, slowing down the body’s metabolism leading to weight gain, constipation, dry skin and hair, fatigue and an increased sensitivity to the cold. Hypothyroidism can be caused by an autoimmune disease, a nutritional deficiency or even genetics. 
  • Cushing’s Syndrome: This is a condition where the adrenal glands make too much cortisol, resulting in weight gain, particularly around the abdominal area. 
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): Many women are affected by this condition, which can result in weight gain as well as excess hair growth, infertility and blood sugar imbalances. 
  • Type 2 Diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs when the body’s cells are unable to use insulin to process blood sugar. The body then starts to store fat, rather than burn it. 

5 common reasons why people struggle to stay in shape

4. Stress

Long-term stress can wreak havoc on your body in many ways, with weight gain being one. Cortisol is produced in response to stressful situations (this is when our body kicks into “fight or flight” mode). The problem is that cortisol increases your appetite and tells your body to store glucose as fat.

Living a fast-paced, stressful lifestyle means that your body is constantly creating cortisol, essentially making you eat more and storing more body fat. So what’s the key to kicking this cortisol surge? Find a way to manage your stress. Everyone is different, so find something that works for you and do it often. Get some stress-busting ideas here.

5 common reasons why people struggle to stay in shape


You would have heard about it in the media – sugar is now diet enemy number one. When we eat or drink sugar, it alters our hormone levels, resulting in weight gain. Unfortunately, sugar is hidden in so many foods! So before buying anything – read the label. Anything containing 5g or less total sugar (per 100g) is considered to be ‘low sugar content’. Anything containing 22.5g or higher (per 100g) is considered ‘high sugar content’.

5 common reasons why people struggle to stay in shape

Weight gain and weight loss is something a lot of people struggle with. First of all - don’t beat yourself up. As a society, we often create unhealthy or idealised body perceptions, so it’s important to focus on being healthy, not being a certain weight or shape. If you do believe that you could lead a healthier, more fulfilling life by dropping a few kilos, keep in mind the different reasons as to why you may be gaining weight. Getting on top of your sleep routine, or sugar intake could make all the difference.

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