26/05/2016 05:02 BST | Updated 26/05/2017 06:12 BST

Why Am I Not Losing Fat?

Training and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be an all-encompassing way to live. Going to the gym regularly and eating well could be a full-time job in itself. If you're doing it to lose weight, it can be demotivating to put all the effort in and not seeing it paying dividends. If you're looking in the mirror or standing on the scales and not seeing your fat deposits melt away, there could be a number of reasons for that. Let's take a look at why that might be.

At its very core, the body is a fairly simple food consumption / excretion machine. It isn't absolutely that simple, but it's a useful illustration. Food goes in, the body takes what nutrients it needs and gets rid of the rest. Food and exercise go hand-in-hand and complement each other enormously, but can also counter-act each other. If your calorie intake exceeds the calories you're burning, then you won't ever lose fat. It's very easy to think you're sticking to a healthy eating plan, but if you're not recording or tracking what you're eating and really understanding the nutritional make-up of the food, it can mask a number of issues that you may not be aware of.

As people, we're all different. We have different aims, different goals, different needs and, obviously different bodies, when it comes to exercise and fitness. With all that in mind, it could be that your eating the wrong foods and consequently, the wrong calories for your particular set of goals. Food affects us in different ways and goes through different metabolic pathways on its journey through our system, before they are turned into energy. If you're simply counting the calorie content of your food and disregarding the metabolic effects they have on you, then it could be throwing your plan into chaos.

In recent years, the use of technology in the fitness industry has increased enormously. Everything from pedometers through to Apple Watch and FitBits have turned exercise into a 'game'. You can track your steps, your runs, map your cycling routes and how many calories you've burned. You can compare your efforts with those of your friends or people who Iive nearby. These pieces of equipment aren't cheap and the technology within them is incredibly advanced, but they're not perfect. They use algorithms and mathematics to work out how many calories they 'think' you've burned. Whilst the figures they give you may be accurate, they also may not. If you've come to rely on your fitness data this way, you may not be getting the whole story and therefore the inaccuracies inherent within them, may be giving you false hope when it comes to burning calories.

If you're not losing fat in the way you want, one aspect you may not have considered is elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone which regulates a wide range of body processes including metabolism and the immune response. It's made in the adrenal glands and then released into the blood in response to either physical or emotional stress. With regard to training and exercise, cortisol inhibits the uptake of amino acids into the muscle's cells or, to put it another way, it makes it almost impossible to give your muscles fuel when your cortisol levels are high. It also stops bone formation and decreases calcium absorption in the intestine. If you're feeling stressed and wondering why your training isn't paying dividends, it might be time to relax a little.

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