Not losing weight despite diet and exercise? Here are some habits that could be the reason behind why you are still piling on the kilos

Losing weight and keeping it off can be an intensely frustrating journey. However, if you stick to it, you'll definitely be able to beat the battle of the bulge. Here are some reasons why you may be facing setbacks.

Stingy with the calories: You’re very conscious of every morsel of food you eat, and when it comes to counting calories, you’re a human calculator. You starve yourself constantly and your weight yo-yos with every fad diet you try.

“Excessively restricting the calories is one of the most common mistakes made by people wanting to lose weight,” says Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation (N-DOC). “Excessive restriction of calories causes a stronger appetite as it tricks the body into thinking that it requires more food due to deficiency of essential nutrients.” It is therefore essential that calorie restriction is gradually developed over a period of time after consultation with a dietician.

“We should encourage our bodies to go into fat burning mode, instead of fat saving mode,” says Kolkata-based Dr Hena Nafis, specialist in weight management and nutrition. “If you starve yourself, especially after a rigorous workout, your body will store more fat and you tend to lose muscle fibre instead of building it. Muscle gives your body definition and shape. You also lose water and vital water soluble vitamins. As a result, your metabolism suffers. Your heart muscles and blood sugar gets affected. The focus should, therefore, be on fat loss and not weight loss.”

Wean yourself off fad diets by ensuring that you eat regularly and adequately, fuelling yourself with small frequent meals through the day. “A healthy balanced diet that encompasses all the nutrient groups such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibre would be ideal,” says Dr.Nafis. Don’t eliminate any food group and work out an eating plan that suits your lifestyle.

Playing couch potato after workout: You're fairly religious about your workouts and you hardly ever miss a session. But what about life after gym? If you think your workout gives you licence to play couch potato for the rest of the day, this could explain why you haven’t seen a significant weight loss yet.

Exercising regularly isn't enough if you’re going to follow it up by long spells of laziness. The human body has been designed for constant activity. “In order to speed up weight loss, you have to keep moving through the course of the day,” says Vinata Shetty, Reebok master trainer based in New Delhi. “Otherwise, you run the risk of not burning more calories than you are taking in.”

Keep your metabolism as high you can and this means being more active in general. Avoid sitting for long periods. “Try to sneak more action into your daily schedule and think of ways that you can do mundane chores differently.

For instance, stand on one leg while you comb your hair! Walk everywhere you can and make use of staircases for quick workouts,” says Shetty. Invest in a pedometer to clock your steps and always try to improve your previous scores. “Remember, your exercise session doesn’t end with the gym! Weight loss will eventually depend on your cumulative activity.”

Not planning your post-workout snack: Exercise not only burns calories, it also breaks down the muscle tissue in our bodies. If we do not re-build this tissue effectively, despite the vigorous workouts, weight loss just won’t be possible.

If you overwork the muscles, you tend to ruin them. Muscles burn more calories and improve your strength and stamina, so if you don’t concentrate on rebuilding it, you’re not capitalizing on your workout.

By consuming the right kind of nutrients, especially within 30 minutes of completing your workout routine, we can re-build muscle and speed up weight loss. “The post-exercise snack must be chosen carefully,” says Dr Hena Nafis. “For it to be most effective, it should be a combination of carbohydrates and proteins. Since liquids are more easily absorbed by the body, I’d recommend whey protein shakes. Buttermilk is a good choice as well.”

Hatred for dairy: If you can’t stand dairy foods, you’re probably not getting enough calcium to fuel weight loss.

Lack of calcium can cause sluggish metabolism. “Recent research has shown that consuming calcium-rich low fat dairy foods along with regular physical activity can speed up weight loss by 50%-70% while strengthening bones, preventing osteoporosis,” says Dr Anoop Misra. “You’ll also see overall and abdominal fat loss and the gain of muscle mass.”

Add low-fat dahi (yoghurt), milk and buttermilk to your diet. If you’re lactose intolerant, then get your dose of calcium from sprouts, dark green leafy vegetables or from a supplement prescribed by your doctor.

Doing too much too soon: Weight loss requires patience and perseverance of your goals over a long period of time. If you workout too much and too soon, you are bound to burn out.

Any fitness regime that isn’t meant for the long-term just won’t work. “You see them in every gym class,” says Shetty. “Those over-enthusiastic exercisers who just want to keep going. These people are in danger of quitting mid-way (before they reach their fitness goals) due to injury or fatigue.”

It is best to take things slow and ensure that your workout is balanced so that it becomes a lifestyle change, instead of a two-week wonder! Even though the results may be slower, you can keep the weight off permanently.

Mind isn’t on the workout: Lack of attention can result in severe injury, disrupting the exercise routine over the next few weeks.

“The mind-body connection of exercise is more pronounced than we think. When your mind isn’t on your workout, your posture, execution of the exercise, the intensity at which you workout—all this suffers and you tend to take longer to perform the same routine,” says Nisha Varma, fitness expert. “As a result, you don’t reap the full benefits. All this can adversely affect your weight loss goals.”

Enjoy your exercise routine. If you find your current workout a drag, explore other more interesting options until you find one that you can truly throw yourself into. “Don’t exercise for more than an hour and fifteen minutes a day,” advises Varma. “If you are very overweight or obese and must exercise for longer, break the routine into two sessions so that your concentration won’t waver.”