Food journal? Check. Regular workouts? Yes, indeed. Enough fiber to keep an entire army regular? You got it. I know how to lose weight. I’ve been writing about the topic for more than a decade. That’s why it was so frustrating when I notice that the pounds were clinging to me like a codependent boyfriend, no matter how hard I tried or how hard I exercised. And according to experts, many women like me experience the same confusion over a scale that won’t budge despite their best efforts.
Determined to finally make a breakthrough, I combed through research and grilled diet gurus to pinpoint little-known reasons why your efforts—and mine—haven’t been showing up on the scale. Here’s what I learned.
1. You don’t drink enough water.
We’ve all heard how important H2O is when it comes to shedding pounds. It helps to suppress appetite, so you’re less likely to overeat. But that’s not all: When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys can’t function properly, so the body turns to the liver for additional support. Because the liver is working so hard, more of the fat you consume is stored, rather than burned off.
Most surprising to me, though, is that if you’re upping your fiber intake but not also regularly filling up your water bottle, things tend to get a wee bit, er, backed up. “It’s important to add fiber gradually and increase water intake at the same time. Otherwise, instead of helping with digestion, fiber may actually lead to constipation,” notes Anna-Lisa Finger, R.D., a certified personal trainer and dietitian. Turns out, I often consume nearly double the recommended 25 grams of fiber daily. Gulp.
Just how much water should I be drinking? “About one-half your body weight in ounces every day, especially if you’re exercising,” says Pamela Wartian Smith, M.D., the author of Why You Can’t Lose Weight. So the eight-cups-a-day rule applies only to sedentary women who weigh 128 pounds (sure as hell not me!). If you’re one to consume an aggressive amount of fiber (guilty), an additional 8 to 16 ounces of water per day is a good idea, she adds. Just be warned: That amount of liquid—for me, a liter at each meal, minimum—requires serious effort and will turn you into a peeing machine.