UAE: Working out daily but not losing weight? Here's probably why

Do not believe in 'instant' results, experts said as they listed some tips and reminders


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 6 Jul 2024, 3:08 PM

Last updated: Tue 9 Jul 2024, 9:41 PM

Sharjah resident Shuaib Ali has been hitting the gym consistently over the past year but, no matter how strict his regimen was, his weighing scale was barely moving.

“I was 130kg when I started the gym in the month of August last year. After following a strict exercise routine, outdoor and indoor, I could lose just 6 kilograms in one year,” said Ali.

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Every morning, Ali rises before dawn, lacing up his sneakers, and heading to the gym by 6am.

His workout routine is rigorous, too, comprising 45 minutes of exercise, including a 10-minute cardio session. “I hoped that this disciplined regime, combined with a proper diet, would yield significant weight loss results,” said Nicolas, a freelance fitness trainer who worked with Ali.

“However, the reality has been different for Ali. I have trained many as they have shed pounds in just 5 to 6 months,” the coach said.

Despite the lack of visible results on the scale, Ali remained committed to his routine.

“I have read about people losing weight quickly, and it can be discouraging to see no progress at all. But I am committed to my health and will continue my efforts,” the expat said.

Ali was advised to consult a doctor and he was surprised by what he found.

"I learned that I am suffering from thyroid disorders. And that’s the reason I had many symptoms and I thought they were normal,” said Ali.

Beyond diet and workout

Losing weight doesn't revolve only around diets and workouts, dietitians said. A variety of complex physiological and lifestyle factors could be at play.

“Cravings and energy expenditure are also significantly influenced by psychological variables- including stress, emotional eating, and sleep habits," said Fahmida Jafri, dietitian-clinical nutritionist at Thumbay University Hospital.

Fahmida Jafri
Fahmida Jafri

"In addition to lifestyle changes, medical intervention may be required for underlying medical issues such as insulin resistance or thyroid abnormalities."

Hormonal imbalances like insulin resistance or thyroid conditions can seriously block weight reduction efforts, said dietitians.

“Despite attempts to cut back on meals and increase physical activity, hypothyroidism results in inadequate thyroid hormone synthesis, which slows metabolism and can cause weight gain with reduced calorie burning,” said Jafri.

“Insulin resistance impairs the body’s capacity to use glucose for energy effectively, which raises blood sugar levels and increases fat deposition, especially in the abdominal region."

Jafri noted that this hormonal issue was more common than people think.

Weight loss tips

Health conditions aside, personal trainer and nutritionist Alain Pigoupa said appropriate dietary changes and physical exercise can help one reduce weight.

Alain Pigoupa
Alain Pigoupa

Do not believe in instant results — which are always 'glorified' in social media posts. the experts said. Instead, be consistent and stay in the zone.

Here are a few reminders:

  • Do the right exercises

“One has to understand that there are specific exercises and workouts for weight loss," said Pigoupa, who lives in Abu Dhabi.

"Age and body type play a very important role in determining what workouts to carry forward."

Pigoupa said there are many factors that can hinder the weight loss journey. “Excessive cardio without enough food can lower your metabolism, as your body conserves energy."

  • Avoid sitting down for long periods

“Long periods of sitting increase obesity risk. Stay active with movement breaks throughout the day,” said Pigoupa.

  • Don't eat too much — or too little

Overeating or undereating can hinder weight loss. "Aim for a balanced approach,” said Pigoupa.

  • Hydrate properly

“Consuming the right amount of water based on your age and body type is very important in a weight loss journey. Stay hydrated to manage weight and support overall health,” said Pigoupa.

  • Rest well

A proper sleep cycle is very important for a healthy body. Lack of sleep disrupts hunger hormones, leading to increased appetite and weight gain, he added.

  • Don't let stress bring you down

“Managing stress is very important in today’s fast-paced world. Chronic stress raises cortisol levels, making fat loss harder. Find ways to decrease stress levels,” said Pigoupa.


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