Search

WHY SOME PEOPLE LOSE WEIGHT FASTER THAN OTHERS



One of the most common fitness questions people ask me is “why are some people losing weight faster than me?” Gahh, so frustrating right?! Especially when you do everything right, and make no progress, while your friend loses weight just from going for a 1 km walk every afternoon.


There are lots of reasons some people see results faster than others, but these can be boiled down to three key factors: biology, your nutrition/fitness plan and psychology.


Weight Loss Factor #1: Biology


Biology plays a huge role in determining how easy it will be for you to lose weight. Factors like gender, age, metabolism and genetics influence how easily you can gain, lose and maintain weight. Understanding how your genes work for and against you will help you find the missing key to unlock your weight struggles, rather than continuing to struggle with methods that don’t work.


Affiliate Disclaimer: I am a participant in affiliate programs, including Amazon.com. This page may include affiliate links that will take you to an external website. Any purchase you make after clicking on one of these links will earn me a small commission at not a cent of extra cost to you. Concerned? Need to know more? No problems. Head to my Privacy Policy and Affiliate Disclosure for more information.


Gender


How frustrating is this meme ...



... because #accurate.


Know why you can go on an extreme diet, cut sugar, train every day and only lose a half kilo a week, while your husbo just cuts out beer on weeknights and loses 5 kg instantly?




(Minor exaggeration).


Men are, unfortunately, just biologically hardwired to lose fat faster than women. Us girls are, unfortunately, more prone to storing fat than men.


Boo.


This all boils down to the fact that we're the ones who produce children. Women's bodies have naturally higher levels of oestrogen, which actually keeps fat on our bodies so we can get pregnant and support a growing foetus.



But it doesn't stop there. (Isn't that enough? I mean, really?)


Because of men’s natural body composition, they have more muscle (about 36% more on average) and a faster metabolism, so their bodies burn more calories just sitting there doing nothing. They also have a higher exercise tolerance than us, so working out at the same level can feel harder to us.


So it's GREAT to go on a couple's fitness journey with your bae, and I totally encourage it, just don't feel discouraged if you don't progress as fast as your husband, or think you must be doing something wrong.


It's just biology, baby. You're doing great.


Genetics


You know that friend who lives on McDonalds and KFC and just never gains weight? Have you always wondered what her secret is?


The truth is, she’s probably won the genetic lottery.


(Mind you – that’s only from a weight maintenance perspective. Eating a poor diet can still make you sick.)


Every BODY is different. Take a look around at your group of friends.


You might have a friend who looks like a twiggy Victoria's Secret model, never works out, and eats like a horse.



You might have another friend who lifts weights a few times a week for a couple of months and starts looking like one of the Avengers.


You might have another friend who's naturally soft, and round, and cuddly.


The rest of us fall somewhere in between.


There's not much we can do over the genes we get, and how these affect our weight, but babe, remember: we can ALWAYS play a good hand with the cards we're dealt.



Did you know that there are roughly 20 major genes and 200 minor genes that influence how your body stores fat and gains/loses weight?


There are also genes which determine your levels of exercise tolerance, body composition and hormone fluctuations.


A large number of the population (about 43%) is genetically predisposed to being overweight/obese. There is a specific obesity related gene in particular, called the FTO gene, which can increase your chances of being overweight by almost 70%.


Your environment, lifestyle, and nutrition choices are still super important factors for determining your weight, and studies show that even with the FTO gene, you can still lose weight – it just might take a little longer, or require a bit more effort than the average person.

Now, this doesn't mean that if you have this gene you're guaranteed/doomed to be obese, it just means that for you, weight loss can be more challenging.


It can be done, but it doesn't come easy, you know what I mean? You've gotta work for it, and work hard.


Genetic factors have a compound effect on how you eat, train ... and ultimately, how fast/slow your body will lose weight and gain muscle.


BUUUUT genetics only play a part, they don't tell the whole story.


Your environment, lifestyle, and nutrition choices are still super important factors for determining your weight, and studies show that even with the FTO gene, you can still lose weight – it just might take a little longer, or require a bit more effort than the average person.


Hormone Imbalance


Sometimes our hormones get a little out of whack and this can play havoc with our weight. An imbalance of the stress hormone, cortisol, or an abnormal thyroid function, can affect weight gain.


Ladies particularly struggle with hormone fluctuations, especially if they have things like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or are going through menopause.


If you’re worried that your hormones might be the problem, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.


Age


Listen, a nutrition and workout program just hits different at 36 than it did at 26.


There’s NO denying that as we age, our bodies are more prone to storing fat.


This is because, from the age of 35, we gradually start losing muscle mass, which contributes to your metabolism.




HOWEVER this doesn’t mean it’s “all downhill” from 35 – far from it. Regular resistance training and a high protein diet will offset sarcopenia (age related muscle loss) and help you build age defying, fat burning muscle to amp up your metabolism again.


All I’m saying is ... don’t skip your weights at the gym, especially as you age. Weight training is the fountain of youth.


Sleep


Are you getting enough good quality shut eye?


If not, this could be the reason you’re not getting the results you want.


When you don’t get enough good quality sleep:

  • Your brain’s frontal lobe activity is reduced (the part of our brains responsible for making good judgement calls and impulse control). When this is reduced (say from drinking or lack of sleep), you’re biologically less able to make good choices.

  • Your brain’s reward centre is more sensitive when overtired and begins to crave things that give you an instant “feel good” hit – making you less able to choose long term feel good goals over quick wins.

  • Research has also shown that too little sleep is linked to increased portion sizes and preference for higher calorie foods.

  • Your body releases increased amounts of cortisol i.e. the stress hormone, which prompts your body to store energy (i.e. calories and fat), in case it has to burn it later to get out of a “flight or fight” situation.

  • Your body has difficulty processing insulin, which regulates the nutrients you eat. Insulin famously manages your blood sugar levels, but it’s also responsible for metabolising fat and protein. When your body isn’t processing insulin properly, fat can’t metabolise properly, and so ends up getting stored in your body. Your insulin sensitivity also drops by 30% after just four days without decent shut eye ... which increases insulin resistance (the Bad Guy – closely linked with diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure as well as excess belly fat).

  • Your body can’t properly regulate two important neurotransmitters (or chemicals) for appetite control: grehlin and leptin. Grehlin makes you hungry, and increases with lack of sleep. Leptin helps you feel satisfied after eating, and decreases with lack of sleep.


As you can see, sleep is more critical to weight loss than you might have thought. Who knew you could sleep your way to the body of your dreams, right?


Some of my favourite tips for getting a better night’s sleep include:-

  • Having a regular bedtime and “awake” time as much as possible: This gets your body into a rhythm and makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up at regular times. Your body loves consistency!

  • Don’t read stressful stuff before bed: Stay off social media for an hour before bedtime. No responding to messages, answering emails, or scrolling your feed.

  • Exercise: Daily exercise is incredibly helpful for sleep – just make sure to give yourself several hours between your workout and bed time so your body has a chance to wind down afterwards.

I’ve written a post dedicated to getting the best night’s sleep ever, so if you think sleep might be affecting your fitness results, make sure to check it out.

Read This Next:

The Importance of Beauty Sleep


Weight Loss Factor #2: Programming


If you’re stumped as to why other people seem to be losing weight faster than you, it’s a good idea to look over your nutrition and exercise plan. Things that might be a hidden factor include the frequency, type and intensity of your workouts, what you’re eating, and your daily activity levels.


Your Workouts Aren’t Challenging Enough


There’s a quote that says “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”, and I think that’s sooo accurate when it comes to fitness.


Listen, sometimes you only have the physical, emotional and mental capacity for a gentle workout and that’s fine too. ANY movement has benefits.


However, to see results with your training program, you really need to be challenging your body in order to grow stronger and faster and to lean down.


Activity at the right intensity puts just enough strain on the body to force it to adapt so that it can meet the demands of your workouts. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it (if you go too hard you could hurt yourself), but your workouts should feel moderately challenging by the end.


If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.

This means that, if you’re doing a weights workout, that last rep of your set should feel difficult to complete without shaking. If you’re doing cardio, you should be able to manage to talk in short sentences, but not hold a detailed conversation with the person next to you.


Noticing how your body is responding will give you the best idea of how challenging your workouts are. It’s a better indicator than, say, sweating (I’ll sweat walking to my mailbox), or feeling sore (you can still get a great workout without muscle soreness).


If more often than not your workouts are challenging you, you’re on the right path! But if you feel like you could still talk the whole way through your aerobics class, or if you can bust a set of 8-12 reps with ease, it’s time to up the intensity to keep seeing results.


You’re Not in a Calorie Deficit


No matter what “diet” you’re doing to lose weight:

  • Keto

  • Low carb

  • Low calorie

  • Low fat

  • Paleo

  • Sugar free

  • Vegan

  • Clean eating


... the idea behind it is to eat less processed foods, which can be highly calorie dense, and to eat more whole foods, which are often less calorie dense, thereby putting you in a caloric deficit.



So, you may be sticking like glue to the “allowed foods” on your “nutrition plan” – but you may be eating more calories than you’re burning, which will cause you to gain weight.


Healthy foods like nuts, seeds, avocadoes, lean meat, olive oil, coconut oil, dairy, and quinoa are undoubtedly good for you, and they’re an important part of a balanced diet.


But they are calorie dense – just ¼ cup of nuts has 150 calories.


2 tablespoons of coconut oil has 234 calories – almost as many calories as a McDonalds hamburger.


It’s easy to overeat these foods and unknowingly consume a lot more calories than you’re burning, even though you’re eating those calories from healthy sources and sticking to your "allowed foods".


It doesn’t mean you need to restrict these foods – just be mindful of the caloric density of things like nuts, seeds, oils, avocadoes, dairy and wholegrains – and be careful with portion sizes.

Read This Next:

Are Nuts Healthy?

You’re Not Eating Enough High Quality Calories


To a large degree, the amount of calories you eat will affect your results.


However, if those calories all come from three Big Macs a day, you’re going to feel pretty rotten.


All calories are not created equal. If all of those calories come from ... well ... let's just say foods that aren't nutritionally dense but are calorie dense:

  • You increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other chronic preventable illness

  • You’re going to feel hungry all the time – food that has high caloric density is low in volume, so it doesn’t fill your tummy

  • You can increase your risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency because highly processed food often doesn’t have a lot of those important nutrients

Consider a Big Mac: one burger has 563 calories.


For the same amount of calories (slightly less, actually), you could eat:

  • Two Weet Bix with 1/3 cup skim milk (140 calories); plus

  • 140 g of YoPro strawberry yoghurt (90 calories); plus

  • 1 cup of grapes (62 calories); plus

  • 85 g of chicken breast with a tablespoon of teriyaki sauce and 1 cup of steamed broccoli (230 calories); plus

  • 1 cup of air popped popcorn (31 calories).

Both are okay choices!


But if you choose the second option:

  • Your body will get more fibre, minerals, and vitamins

  • The volume of food is HUGE for the same amount of calories as a single Big Mac – increased satisfaction and fullness for longer, so you won’t be hungry 15 minutes later

  • You probably couldn’t eat all of it in one sitting – so by eating lots of low calorie, high volume foods throughout the day you’ll consume less calories overall

One thing I have to admit to loving about calorie tracking is that there ARE no rules. I’m not cutting any favourite foods, and it’s helping me heal from the perception that there are “good” and “bad” foods.


This way, all foods fit in moderation.


But when the majority of your daily calories come from highly nutrient dense foods, rather than highly caloric dense foods:

  • You can eat WAY more food overall and feel fuller and more satisfied with the same amount of calories

  • You get the most bang for your buck in terms of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) per calorie – helping with the health of your skin and hair, improving your metabolism, giving your body more energy, boosting your immune system and decreasing your risk of chronic disease.

  • You’ve got a better shot at keeping your blood sugar stable: White bread contains the same amount of calories as wholegrain bread. Both are acceptable choices. When you choose the wholegrain variety, your blood sugar levels remain stable, preventing a spike in insulin. Insulin resistance (caused by rapid spikes in blood sugar over time) increases your risk of type 2 diabetes and weight gain.

  • A focus on whole foods like wholegrains (brown rice, oats, pasta, wholegrain bread, wholegrain cereals), fruits and vegetables means you’ll naturally increase your fibre intake. Fibre sweeps the gut clear of toxins and waste products, lowers cholesterol, reduces bloating and helps you poo regularly (which is just ... honestly one of the most important things you can do for your health).


You’re Doing Things the Healthy, Sustainable Way


So Sally at the office loses 5 kg in two days from some crazy cabbage-juice-and-diarrhoea-tea diet she bought from Instagram and you’re mega jealous, because you’ve been at your fitness plan for a month and a half and lost half as much as she has overnight.


It might be true that Sally saw results faster – but obviously one cannot live on cabbage juice and diarrhoea tea alone.


(Bleurgh, or even for a day – can you imagine?)



It’s important to remember that most diets like this might promise overnight results, but most of that is probably water weight and ... well ... old poo that’s been stuck in Sally’s colon (poor Sal), and within a few days, she’s likely to gain most of that 5 kg back.


(And then a couple of kilos extra on top of that, because she’s lived on cabbage juice for three days, and she’s starving, so she’ll eat twice as much as normal to make up for it.)


But you’re doing things differently. You’re doing things the right way.


Weight loss is going to be slow and gradual for you – and that’s okay. In fact, it’s wonderful.


Your way is sustainable, enjoyable, and a lifestyle you’ll be able to stick with for life. So, whilst it may take you a lot longer to see results, you’ll likely enjoy and be able to maintain those results for the long haul.


Crash diets like very low calorie diets, cutting food groups, or weird cleanses might deliver drastic results in the long term, but they come at a high price.


A shonky metabolism, digestive issues, out of whack hormones, and long term weight gain to name a few.


Best not to compare your journey to anyone else’s, and remember why you started in the first place: to get healthier, fitter, and to create an active, happy lifestyle you can sustainably enjoy for life.


You’re Not Starting From the Same Place


Someone with a lot of weight to lose will shake the weight faster than someone who’s trying to drop those last 5 kg. Whilst it might initially feel like they’re getting better results than you, remember that we’re all on different paths and at different stages of the journey.


(And read on for why it’s so hard to shake those last 5 kg.)


You’re Further Along in the Journey


When you first start losing weight, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose, the weight comes off relatively fast.


This is because losing weight requires some big lifestyle changes like:

  • Drinking more water

  • Being more active

  • Eating low calorie foods

and so on. When you and I first start to do this, our bodies have no idea what’s happening and start burning through fat stores pretty fast.


However, your body is sneaky sneaky. Over time it adjusts your metabolism to slow down fat loss.


This is a survival mechanism from your caveman days. Think about it: you’re a caveman and food’s been scarce for a few days.


So you’re getting more active – out hunting more, chasing harder after prey – and living on less food.


If your body didn’t adjust its metabolism to compensate for increased activity and decreased energy stores, it would starve to death.


Your body doesn’t know that it’s 2021 and food is ridiculously readily available to most of the Western world.


It doesn’t know that we live in unprecedented times where many privileged people in the Western world suffer more from the effects of too much food than not enough.


We haven’t yet evolved to be able to switch this mechanism off, so we have to deal with a plateau or two along the way.


Fortunately, you can shake this up by increasing your exercise intensity, adjusting your nutrition, and tweaking a few of the other factors mentioned in this article. But all this to say: don’t be surprised if weight loss feels easy at first and then starts slowing down the further you get into your journey.


You’re Not Active Outside the Gym


This is a little big one that I stumbled on relatively recently, because of my own weight plateau.


Take two people (because I’m a diehard Disney nerd, let’s call them Minnie and Daisy).


Minnie and Daisy decide to go on a fitness plan together.


They both have similar biological factors as above (let’s assume).


They both have the same basic daily caloric needs.


They both eat the same amount of calories in a deficit.


They both do the same plan, working out at the same time, at the same type and intensity, for the same duration of 40 minutes, 5 times a week.


But Minnie is getting better results than Daisy, and it’s doing Daisy’s head in.


Why is Minnie getting better results than Daisy?


Because when Daisy finishes her workout, she drives to work, sits at her desk, doesn’t move until lunch, when she eats in the office lunchroom, goes back to her desk, works until 5 pm, drives home, and flops on the couch to watch Netflix.


If your workout is between 30 minutes and an hour long, and it’s the only form of activity you’re doing, this means you’re only active for between 2% to 4% of your entire day.

When Minnie finishes her workout, she walks the three blocks to the office. She gets up at regular intervals through the day to walk and stretch, walking over to talk to her colleagues rather than sending an email, and using a sit/stand desk.


At lunch time, she puts her walking shoes back on and walks a few blocks, then eats lunch at her desk. After work, she gets off the bus a stop early and walks home.


After dinner, she and her husband Mickey (why not) take their dog Pluto for a walk in the park (I’m committed to this now), or she does yoga before bed.


Minnie is a LOT more incidentally active throughout the course of the day than Daisy, and burns a lot more calories, so she’s getting those results a lot easier.


Listen, it’s great that you’re working out, and I am so proud of you.


But let’s look at this objectively: you have 24 hours in a day. If your workout is between 30 minutes and an hour long, and it’s the only form of activity you’re doing, this means you’re only active for between 2% to 4% of your entire day.


Now don’t get me wrong, this is better than nothing of course, but if your goal is to lose weight, it’s going to be very hard to create a calorie deficit without starving yourself, even if you're working out every day.



You might have heard the fitness advice to “walk 10,000 steps per day” – this is why.


If you’ve walked 10,000 steps per day, you’ve likely been very active ... active enough to be able to easily stay in a calorie deficit or maintain your ideal weight without spending hours in the gym or restricting yourself to rabbit food.


It’s estimated that you’ll burn between 300 to 400 extra calories a day (depending on a bunch of factors) just by walking 10,000 steps.



If you’re currently sedentary, and not moving around a lot, it can be helpful to get a step tracker just to help you see how active you are throughout the day.


If you have a Samsung phone, the Samsung Health app has a step counter which can give you a rough idea of how many steps you’re taking per day (although you need to be carrying your phone around everywhere, so this may not be very accurate, but it will give you a rough guide).


For better accuracy, consider a smart watch (like this one) or a Fitbit, which will count the number of steps you take and can help you see how active you’re staying throughout the day.


Some fitness watches are extra fancy and will even beep at you when you’ve been sedentary for too long, encouraging you to get up and move.


I was shocked to see just how little I moved outside of my workouts, and now I’m making a commitment to move more throughout my day. I’m building up my step count from ... well, virtually zero, by increasing the amount of steps I walk by 10% each day until I build up to 10,000 steps.


(Remember, trying to do too much too soon can feel overwhelming for your mental health and your body, and is usually unsustainable, so start slow and gradually build the habit with time.)


Weight Loss Factor #3: Psychology


Ever heard the catchphrase: “Fitness is 80% nutrition, 20% exercise”? What you might not have heard is that the overarching 100% is your mindset. A fit and healthy lifestyle begins with your mindset – if it’s not in the right place, the wheels can fall off the wagon. Here’s what I mean.


Stress


Stress is a sneaky little saboteur when it comes to weight loss!


Not only can it sabotage your efforts if you’re a stress eater (like me), long term chronic stress actually has a negative effect on your metabolism and capacity for critical thinking.


Stress can lead to:

  • Impairment in critical thinking i.e. your ability to make good decisions

  • Cravings for sugary foods

  • Increased appetite

  • Lack of motivation to work out

  • Poor sleep (which we already know can affect weight gain)


High levels of cortisol (i.e. the stress hormone) release glucose into the blood stream, causing a blood sugar spike, and conserve energy (i.e. fat stores) to help you in a “fight or flight” situation.



Because your body thinks it needs a good jolt of glucose to either “fight or flight”, you’ll begin to crave sugary foods.


Great if you’re a caveman under attack from a neighbouring tribe. Not cool if you’re trying to get fit.


There are lots of ways you can manage stress levels:

  • Meditation

  • Regular exercise

  • Deep breathing

  • Journalling


but if you’re having trouble managing stress and anxiety on your own, and you think it might be contributing to weight gain, it’s important to chat to your doctor about it.

Read These Next:

"Help! I Can't Stop Stress Eating!" Is Food the First Thing You Reach For In a Crisis?

Managing My Anxiety

Should You Work Out If You're Stressed?

Negative body image


Hey, listen, I get it: when you’re not happy with your body it can do a number on your self esteem and self confidence.


Maybe going to the gym feels like a hurdle. Maybe you feel frustrated with your body for not doing what you want it to do.


I’ve been there.


I would “punish” myself beyond breaking point in workouts and restrict food in an attempt to fight against my body.


In the end, it did more damage than good. And each time I burnt out from going to these extremes, it only compounded the problem.


I blamed my body, thinking there must be something wrong with it.



It was when I learned to love my body, accept it as it was, and want to take the very best care of it I could (even if the weight never dropped) that everything changed.


Negative body image can be difficult to overcome, and self love can be a tough journey, but it’s the most rewarding one you will ever take.


When you approach fitness and nutrition from a place of wanting to take loving care of your body, healthy choices don’t feel like something you “should” do – they’re something you want to do.


I have some great resources that can help with this (HERE and HERE) but if you’re still stuck, it’s a great idea to talk with someone who can help you deal with negative thoughts about your body.

Read These Next:

How to Deal With Bad Body Image Days

A Beginner's Guide to Self Love

Black and white thinking


Black and white/all or nothing thinking is your psychological enemy when it comes to keeping on track with your fitness goals.


Here’s what it looks like:

  • Attaching moral value on food (e.g. kale is “good/clean” and chocolate is “bad/evil”).

  • Aiming to eat and exercise “perfectly” and if you can’t do it “exactly” you can’t do it at all.

  • Writing the day off because of one unhealthy moment or missing a workout, and falling into a pit of donuts until tomorrow/next week/next month/next year.

  • Holding off on eating healthy until you can afford to buy all organic.


This isn’t just going to derail your fitness goals, it’s going to play havoc with your mental health too.


There are no “good” or “bad” foods ... food is just food.


Some foods help your body feel good and strong and healthy. Other foods just taste good.


That’s it.


Aim for overall consistency rather than getting everything “perfect”. There’s no such thing, and life will always happen.


Do the best you can with the resources you have. And if you don’t get it quite right, that’s okay – you can always choose differently when the next meal rolls around.


Lack of motivation


Okay, but why are you doing this fitness journey though?


What’s your motivation?


At the very outset of your fitness journey, the most IMPORTANT thing to do is get clear on why you’re doing this.

  • What does achieving this goal mean to you?

  • If you achieve this goal, how will it make life better for you? For the people around you?

  • If you don’t achieve it, what will it cost you? What will it cost the people around you?

  • By achieving this goal, what do you get to have that you don’t have currently?

  • Why is that important to you?

The more clear you can get about why you’re on this journey, the more motivated you’ll be to achieve it, and the more likely you’ll be to stay on track and consistently make choices in line with your goals.


Read These Next:

3 Steps to Changing Your Life

4 Steps to Get Motivated Again

How to Get Motivated to Work Out (Even When You Really Don't Feel Like It)

Conclusion


Whilst it’s true that if you burn more calories you’ll consume, weight loss will occur, the rate this will happen WILL still vary. There are a LOT of other factors that influence weight loss, including your unique biology, how you’re eating and exercising, and your psychology.


The good news is that most of these things can be tweaked! With a little adjustment (and self acceptance) you’ll be able to bust through that pesky plateau and get back on track.


If you would like more information on getting in the best shape of your life, don’t forget to download the subscriber-only FREE fitness resource bundle, with an .mp3 of relaxing self love affirmations, a collection of journal prompts, and an eBook, all designed to help you build sustainable habits for a fit and healthy lifestyle ... for life.

Get Your free fitness resources HERE

The Edit // Shop the Story



Save Some for 'Ron


Did you like this post? Don't forget to pin it for easy reference next time! Just hover over the image below, click the black 'Pin It' button in the top left hand corner, and Pinterest will walk you through the next steps.




24 views
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Note: This page may contain affiliate links. rhiannonday.com is a participant in affiliate programs including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. These affiliate advertising programs are designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to external websites, including to Amazon.com.
Refer to the Affiliate Disclosure and Privacy Policy for more information.

© 2020 by RHIANNON DAY