So, you’re training regularly and eating clean and still got almost nothing to show for it? Assuming that you don’t have an extreme amount of body fat, your workout regime is the right one and you’re following a proper diet and supplementation plan – your progress should be a rather decent one.
1. You haven’t really broken up with sugar
Consuming an excessive amount of sugar leads to an increased storage of fat and we bet that’s the exact opposite of your goals. Although you’ve taken sugar out of your drinks and homemade meals, hidden sugars could still be sneaking into your healthy diet. Typically, sugar is lurking in all kinds of processed food you don’t even notice, like tomato sauce and salad dressings. Of course that carbohydrates deserve their respective place in our diets but sadly, simple and over-processed sugars can make up around 50% of the carbs we consume. So try to eat as much “clean”, natural foods as possible, read labels thoroughly on everything else you buy and remember – not every food that contains added sugar will taste sweet.
2. You’re simply eating too much
The fact that you’re eating healthy, quality food doesn’t give you a free pass to overeat – we all know this but we get carried away sometimes. Food can simply taste so good, and you might think “well it’s not loaded with sugar and trans fats, so I could have another serving – i’ll sweat it out later anyway” and the next thing you know, you’ve actually gained weight instead of shaking some off. At the end, no matter what type of food you consume, losing weight requires consuming less calories than you burn. Everything else gets stored as fat, period. Cut down on your daily intake of calories and you’ll start seeing noticeable results.
3. Your levels of testosterone are low
As you already know, testosterone is a hormone which plays many important roles in the male (and female, but to a lesser extent) body, including maintaining muscle mass, bone density, energy levels, strength and sex drive. Not having enough of it can hinder all of those things, increase fat storage and even lead to depression and anxiety.
There are many reasons for a testosterone drop, most prominently obesity, diabetes, hormonal disorders and testicular cancer, and there are many ways to get it back to normal again – losing the excess weight, training, cutting back on sugar and certain types of food and taking natural testosterone boosters, just to name a few. If you suspect that your stalled progress has to do with your levels of testosterone, you should first consult your doctor and get a blood test to prove it, then consider what your next step should be.
4. You’re chronically stressed
Besides creating a mess in your life, chronic stress keeps your levels of cortisol in a near-constant peak, which is associated with decreased protein synthesis and increased appetite and weight gain.
We have to thank our physical and mental response to danger, commonly known as stress, for keeping us safe and sound through all phases of evolution, including the present one, but chronic stress is more like a nasty side-effect to the unbalanced relation between the hectic progress of the modern lifestyle and our relatively slower adaptation to it as organisms. That means that although stress in general has a valuable adaptive role for human beings, chronic stress on the other hand has absolutely nothing good to offer to your safety, health or personal development – it will only make you feel terrible, pack some more fat and reduce the quality of your cognitive functioning.
If you haven’t already found a healthy way to manage it, it’s never to late to try out some proven methods like relaxation techniques, bicycling in the countryside or just talking to someone who cares.
5. Have you got the blues?
If you’ve suffered/are still suffering from depression, anxiety or a mood disorder, and taking certain medications to relieve the symptoms of your condition, this can interfere with your weight loss and bodybuilding efforts.
Although depression itself is usually accompanied by disorders in the sleeping and eating patterns that can lead to fatigue and weight gain, some anti-depressants have been shown to increase weight gain in patients as well. Chances are that your low mood already makes it hard for you to give your 100% into consistent training and your anti-depressants obstruct your efforts to lose the excess fat.
If this is the case, you might want to consult your doctor about possible changes in your therapy before you dive deeper into bodybuilding. And then we have some great news for you. Multiple studies have given us bulletproof evidence that regular exercise brings significant psychological benefits – for example, one Harvard study has shown that ten weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than traditional counseling.
So if you’re struggling with some dark thoughts and feelings, try to do the exact opposite of what your gut is telling you to do (it’s not always right about things, no matter what spiritual gurus want you to believe!) and hit the gym immediately. Exercise will not only revive your overall level of energy, but it can reverse the effects of stress and mood swings by increasing the release of endorphins and provide you with a feeling of accomplishment and enhanced self-confidence as well.