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Top 10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

Updated on July 18, 2018
dwelburn profile image

David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.

Why can't you lose weight?
Why can't you lose weight? | Source

Why You’re Not Losing Weight

So you’ve been dieting and you’re exercising regularly; you’ve lost a few pounds but now you’re stuck. And no matter what you do you can’t seem to lose any more. What could the problem be? Well, here are the top 10 reasons why you are not losing any more weight…

1. You’re Eating Too Many Calories

This may seem obvious, but there are still people who will tell you that calories don’t matter as long as you eat the right foods. But it’s just not true. And whilst the effect of calories from certain foods may be different from those from other foods, when it comes right down to it if you are eating too many calories you won’t lose weight.

If you are one of those who eats every 2 or 3 hours to ‘boost your metabolism’ you could end up eating more than you need over the course of the day. But if you cut your calorie intake down to 10 – 12 times your body weight in pounds it would be difficult not to lose body fat.

Eating less may be a challenge; although if your diet centers around whole natural foods, with lots of green vegetables you should not need to go hungry. But anything in life that’s worth accomplishing will take some effort and discipline. So if you’re not losing fat the way you want to, the answer may be very simple – eat less!

2. You’re Eating Too Many Starchy Carbs

If you are overweight chances are you won’t be very insulin sensitive, so you won’t handle carbs very well. And most people don’t do enough physically demanding work to warrant a high carb intake anyway.

If you are quite lean and training hard you can eat a decent amount of carbs, but if you have a lot of fat to lose cutting the carbs can be an important step to take in order to facilitate effective weight loss. Don’t go too far though, especially if you are training regularly, as you will need some carbs to power you through your workouts as well as to preserve your muscle mass as you lose fat.

3. You’re Eating Your Carbs At The Wrong Time

You don’t want to be eating starchy carbs at every meal or you’ll have almost constantly raised insulin levels. And you can’t burn fat if your insulin levels are high.

The best time to eat them is post workout, in the evenings and possibly at breakfast time. You are most insulin sensitive after training and before you have eaten anything in the morning. However carbs cause more serotonin to be released in the brain and they put you into ‘relax and repair’ mode, so avoiding them during the day and eating them in the evening instead can be a very effective strategy (just don’t eat them too close to bedtime).

4. You’re Eating Too Much Fat

Dr. Atkins had it wrong. You can’t just cut the carbs and then eat as much fat as you want. Fats are very high in calories so if you eat too much you can easily overshoot your daily calorie needs.

However I’m not advocating a low fat diet. You do need some good healthy fats in your diet for a whole variety of reasons. Get these from oily fish, nuts and nut butters, seeds, avocados, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil and grass fed butter.

5. You’re Eating Too Many Nuts

Nuts (and nut butters) are good wholesome foods, and very nutritious, but they are very calorie dense and high in fat, so you don’t want to be eating too many of them if you are trying to lose weight. If you can eat just a few and then stop that’s fine. But if you find them habit forming it might be best to avoid them, or just use them as garnish occasionally.

6. You’re Drinking Your Calories

If you are trying to lose weight its better to chew your calories. By drinking protein shakes, milk, fruit juice etc. you can easily consume a lot of extra calories without thinking about it. Have a whey protein shake after your workout by all means, but apart from that stick to solid food. The simple act of chewing and digesting food burns more calories than drinking them does as well.

7. You’re Not Lifting Weights (Or You’re Training Too Light)

If you are dieting to lose weight you will lose muscle tissue as well as fat, and this is not what you want. Muscle burns up extra calories just by being there, so if you have less of it you will find it more difficult to lose fat. You also need muscle to maintain your strength for your daily activities.

That’s why it’s really important to lift some weights when you are dieting. But most people make the mistake of training too light, doing high reps and having very short rest periods between sets. If you are an experienced lifter and normally train heavier this is a big mistake as you will just get weaker by doing this. And even if you are just starting out, heavier weights will give you much better results.

When you are trying to lose body fat you need to use weight training as a way to maintain your muscle mass, so keep the weights heavy and the reps in the low to medium range – the same as you would if you were trying to get big and strong.

Just a note though; it is possible that you could increase your muscle size whilst losing fat – especially if you have never lifted before. And this could mean your weight may not go down so much, even though you are losing fat, because muscle is heavier than fat. But as it’s really fat you want to lose anyway (not ‘weight’) this is not a problem. The scales are a useful guide, but how you look and how your clothes fit are more important.

And yes, women should lift weights too. It won't make you big and masculine looking. Take a look at my hub on weight training for women for more information on this.

8. You’re Doing Too Much Cardio (Or Not Enough)

Traditional steady state cardio will not do a great deal to help your fat loss efforts. And too much can actually be counterproductive. The reason for this is that excessive cardio causes your body to produce more cortisol (stress hormone). And that leads to muscle wasting, fat deposition and many other health problems.

A much more effective type of cardio is high intensity cardio such as sprint training. This really revs up your metabolism so you’ll burn fat for hours after your workout has finished. But don’t do too much of this either as it is much more difficult to recover from than lower intensity forms of cardio. Two or three sessions per week is plenty.

Another great form of cardio is simple walking. This is very low intensity, but great for burning off that little bit of extra fat. So if you go for a good fairly brisk walk for half an hour every morning you’ll be making a positive contribution to your weight loss efforts. Do remember however that your diet is the most important factor.

9. You’re Under Too Much Stress

Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, which as I have said can increase fat storage, especially in the abdominal area. Most people today are constantly stressed, and if you have constantly raised cortisol levels you will find it very difficult to lose weight even if your diet and training are perfect.

So take time out to de-stress. Meditate, listen to music, laugh, do fun things, and try not to take things so seriously. Good stress management is important for successful weight loss.

What do you think is the main factor preventing you from losing weight?

See results

10. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

People who are sleep deprived also have high cortisol levels. And lack of sleep reduces your insulin sensitivity too. Obviously both these things will hinder your ability to lose weight.

During sleep you produce more growth hormone which helps your body burn fat more effectively, so if you miss out on your sleep you’ll miss out on this important aid to fat loss too. But having adequate sleep improves every aspect of your health, so make it a priority to get enough each night.

So if you are not losing weight in the way you would like these are the 10 most common reasons as to why this might be. Take a good hard look at the areas you feel you could improve on and then take the necessary steps to put them right. When you do you’ll be able to get the results you want and achieve the weight and body composition you desire.


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    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      You are welcome Meltaway. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • meltawayyourfat profile image


      4 years ago from New York

      Very good article! Thanks! :)


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