When you lose weight, your body fights.
You may be able to lose a lot of weight at the beginning, without much effort.
However, the weight loss can decrease or stop altogether after a while.
This article lists 20 common reasons why you are not losing weight.
It also contains practical advice on how to break the plateau and make things move again.
1. Maybe you’re losing without noticing
- 1 1. Maybe you’re losing without noticing
- 2 2. You are not keeping track of what you are eating
- 3 3. You do not eat enough protein
- 4 4. You are eating too many calories
- 5 5. You do not eat whole foods
- 6 6. You are not lifting weights
- 7 7. You are binge-eating (even in healthy foods)
- 8 8. You are not doing cardio
- 9 9. You are still drinking sugar
- 10 10. You are not sleeping well
- 11 11. You are not reducing carbohydrates
- 12 12. You are eating too often
If you think you are experiencing a plateau of weight loss, then you do not need to be scared for the time being.
It is incredibly common that the scale does not move for a few days (or weeks) at a time. This DOES NOT mean that you are not losing fat.
Body weight tends to fluctuate by a few pounds. It depends on the foods you are eating, and the hormones can also have a significant effect on the amount of water your body maintains (especially in women).
In addition, it is possible to gain muscle while losing fat. This is particularly common if you recently started exercising.
This is a good thing, because what you really want to lose is body fat, not just weight.
It is a good idea to use something other than the scale to measure your progress. For example, measure the circumference of your waist and get your body fat percentage measured once a month.
Also, how well your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror can be very revealing.
Unless your weight has stagnated at the same point for at least 1-2 weeks, then you probably do not have to worry about anything.
2. You are not keeping track of what you are eating
Awareness is incredibly important if you are trying to lose weight. Many people actually have no idea how much they are actually eating.
Studies show that keeping track of your diet helps you lose weight. People who use food diaries or take pictures of their meals constantly lose more weight than people who do not (1, 2).
3. You do not eat enough protein
Protein is the most important nutrient to lose weight.
Eating protein with 25-30% of calories can increase the metabolism by 80-100 calories per day and make you automatically eat several hundred calories less per day. It can also drastically reduce cravings and the desire to eat snacks (3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
This is partially mediated by the effects of proteins on the appetite-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin and others (8, 9).
If you eat breakfast, this is the most important food to load the protein. Studies show that those who eat a breakfast rich in protein are less hungry and have less cravings during the day (10).
A high protein intake also helps prevent metabolic deceleration, a common side effect of losing weight. It also helps prevent weight recovery (11, 12, 13).
4. You are eating too many calories
A large percentage of people who have problems losing weight simply consume too many calories.
You may think that this does not apply to you, but keep in mind that studies consistently show that people tend to underestimate their caloric intake by a significant amount (14, 15, 16).
If you are not losing weight, you should try to weigh your food and track your calories for a while.
Here are some useful resources:
- Calorie calculator: use this tool to calculate how many calories to consume.
- Calorie Counters: This is a list of 5 websites and free apps that can help you keep track of your calorie and nutrient intake.
- Monitoring is also important if you are trying to achieve a certain nutrient goal, such as getting 30% of your protein calories. This may be impossible to achieve if you do not properly track things.
In general, it is not necessary to count calories and weigh everything for the rest of your life. Personally I do it every few months for a few days at a time to get a “feeling” of how much I should eat.
5. You do not eat whole foods
The quality of the food is as important as the quantity.
Eating healthy foods can improve your health and help regulate your appetite. These foods tend to be much more plentiful than their processed counterparts.
Keep in mind that many processed foods labeled as “healthy foods” are not really healthy. Keep whole foods as single ingredient as possible.
6. You are not lifting weights
One of the most important things you can do when losing weight is to do some type of resistance training, such as lifting weights.
This can help you cling to your precious muscle mass, which often burns along with body fat if you are not exercising (17).
Lifting weights can also help prevent metabolic slowdown and make sure that what is below the fat looks good (18).
You do not want to lose a lot of weight just to look “skinny” underneath.
7. You are binge-eating (even in healthy foods)
Binge eating is a common side effect of the diet. It involves eating large amounts of food quickly, often much more than your body needs.
This is a pretty big problem for many dieters. Some get drunk on junk food, while others choke on relatively healthy foods, such as nuts, nut butters, dark chocolate, cheese, etc.
Even if something is healthy, calories still count. Depending on the volume, a simple binge can often ruin a diet week.
8. You are not doing cardio
For some strange reason, cardiovascular exercise (such as running, jogging, swimming, etc.) has had a bad reputation in recent years.
However, it is one of the most effective ways to improve your health. It is also very effective in burning belly fat, the harmful “visceral” fat that accumulates around the organs and causes diseases (19, 20).
9. You are still drinking sugar
Sugary drinks are the items that put more weight on the food supply. Our brains do not compensate for the calories in them by making us eat less of other foods (21, 22).
This is not only true for sugary drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi; It also applies to “healthier” drinks like Vitaminwater, which are also loaded with sugar.
Even fruit juices are problematic and should not be consumed in large quantities. A single glass can contain a similar amount of sugar as several pieces of whole fruit!
10. You are not sleeping well
Sleeping well is one of the most important things to consider for your physical and mental health, as well as your weight.
Studies show that poor sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for obesity. Adults and children with little sleep have 55% and 89% more risk of becoming obese, respectively (23).
11. You are not reducing carbohydrates
If you have a lot of weight to lose and / or if you have metabolic problems such as type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, then you can consider a low carb diet.
In short-term studies, this type of diet has been shown to cause up to 2-3 times more weight loss than the standard “low fat” diet that is often recommended (24, 25).
Low-carbohydrate diets can also lead to improvements in many metabolic markers, such as triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and blood sugar, to name a few (26, 27, 28, 29).
12. You are eating too often
It is a myth that everyone should eat many small meals every day to increase metabolism and lose weight.
Studies actually show that the frequency of meals has little or no effect on fat burning or weight loss (30, 31).
It is also ridiculously inconvenient to prepare and eat food all day. It makes healthy nutrition much more complicated.
There is even an incredibly effective method of weight loss called intermittent fasting, which consists in stopping eating for prolonged periods (15-24 hours or more). You can read about that here.