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Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 14 Reasons Why + Solutions

If you’re not losing weight, there’s a good reason why. Here are some reasons why you’re struggling to lose weight and what to do about it.

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People often reduce weight loss to a simple math equation – calories in vs. calories out. In reality, there can be many reasons you might not be losing weight like genetics, sleep habits, stress levels, and more. If you’re struggling to lose weight, you’re not alone. 

A weight loss journey can have many ups and downs, and it can be easy to get discouraged when you aren’t seeing the weight loss you’re expecting. Especially if you think you’re doing everything right. You may lose weight easily at first with a few diet changes and more exercise, but at some point, you will likely hit a weight loss plateau. 

This article provides reasons why you might not be losing weight, as well as solutions for each of them. 

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14 Reasons Why You Might Not Be Losing Weight

Exercise

You exercise but you are not working on your diet

While exercise is an important piece of the puzzle, diet plays just as much of a role. If you are exercising but your diet is not in check, this could be a reason why you’re not losing weight. 

Try making small dietary changes to start, like adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, and swapping out caloric beverages (soda, juice, specialty coffee drinks) for water and other low-calorie beverages. 

You are not getting enough movement

To achieve weight loss, you need a minimum of five days of moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes, but it usually takes more than that to really burn enough calories. 

If you’re having difficulty doing this much exercise, schedule it into your calendar like you would a doctor's appointment. 

You are not focusing on the right fitness routines

A combination of both cardio and weight training produces the best weight loss results. For maximum results, try interval training two to three days each week, with low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio the other days. Switching between high-intensity workouts and active recovery will allow you to burn more calories and build your endurance. 

You should also include some form of resistance training in your routine, like weightlifting. Resistance training can help you maintain lean muscle mass, which is often lost along with body fat if you are not strength training.1, 2

Strength training can also help prevent decreased metabolism that often occurs with weight loss. If you’re new to strength training, try full-body workouts to start. 

As always, it’s important to listen to your body as you adjust your exercise routine. If your recovery is poor (soreness that lasts for days after a workout or feeling extra tired), you may need to lower the intensity and give yourself an extra rest day. 

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Diet

You are not eating what’s right for your metabolism

Protein is an important nutrient that helps maintain muscle mass and promote weight loss. 

Eating 25–30% of calories from protein can increase metabolism by 80–100 calories per day. This can help you lower your calorie intake by several hundred calories. Eating a high-protein diet also makes you feel full and satisfied, which helps to decrease cravings and hunger.3, 4

To increase your protein intake, load up on protein at breakfast. Try adding eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or a protein shake to your normal breakfast. 

You are cutting out entire food groups

Fad diets that eliminate entire food groups – like how keto cuts out carbohydrates – may result in initial weight loss, but these diets are not sustainable and often lead to a weight loss plateau. You may even gain back some of the weight you lost after coming off a strictive diet. 

Rather than following a restrictive diet or cutting out entire food groups, aim for a balance of carbs and fat while prioritizing protein. Eat a variety of foods from each food group, including lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. 

You don’t have to eat keto, vegan, or any other fad diet to lose weight. 

You are consuming too many added sugars and processed foods

Processed foods and foods that have added sugars are high in calories and highly palatable, meaning they are pleasant to taste and easy to overeat. These foods are also not very filling, so it’s easy to overconsume calories without realizing it. 

While there’s nothing wrong with having processed foods and sugars from time to time, if you eat too much of them too often, you’re more likely to consume excess calories that will prevent weight loss. 

Try adding protein to your favorite processed snacks. If you often reach for the bag of chips when you want a snack, lessen your portion of chips and add some turkey jerky to increase protein and fullness. 

You are eating too much

While there are other factors that determine weight loss outcomes, calories in vs calories out is still important. You cannot lose weight if you are not in a calorie deficit, which means eating fewer calories than you burn. 

If you’re not losing weight and are unsure of how many calories you’re eating, it could be helpful to track your food and calories for a short period of time. You can use apps like MyFitnessPal or Chronometer to track your calories. It is not recommended to count calories and weigh your food for the rest of your life. Instead, use this tool short-term to help you get a better idea of how much you’re eating, and what portions will help you to be in a calorie deficit. 

You don’t drink enough water

Drinking water can help with weight loss. One weight-loss study showed that people who drank 17 ounces of water 30 minutes before meals lost 44% more weight than participants who did not.5 


Mindset

You are not focusing on the right purpose for weight loss

Many people want to lose weight to change the appearance of their bodies. Often people make the mistake of believing they will be happier, more confident, or feel better about themselves once they lose weight. This is simply not the case. Weight loss does not cure negative body image.

Practicing body positivity, or at least body neutrality, and focusing on health-promoting behaviors is a better way to a successful weight loss journey. Instead of focusing on weight loss, change your mindset to focus on daily habits like exercise, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress. This will make your weight loss journey much more enjoyable. 

You have unrealistic expectations

If you want quick, easy weight loss results, you’re not alone. That’s why so many people resort to gimmicks and fad dieting in order to lose weight fast. These methods might result in weight loss at first, but often the weight loss is from water and not fat. 

The reality is that weight loss is a slow process. A lot of people lack patience and throw in the towel before they reach their goals. Some people will see rapid weight loss at first, but over time, a 1-2 lb weight loss per week is normal. 

You may also have unrealistic expectations of what your body will look like with diet and exercise. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is not going to make everyone look like a fitness model or bodybuilder – and that’s ok! You don’t need to be shredded to be healthy.

In fact, achieving the level of leanness you see on social media is often attained through unhealthy measures and can cause hormonal imbalances, especially in women. It’s important to recognize the images you see on social media and in magazines are oftens photoshopped.

If you’ve achieved some weight loss but the scale isn’t budging, it’s possible that your body has reached a set point at which it feels comfortable. This might be a healthy weight for you. At some point, attempting further weight loss may not be worth the effort, and could even negatively impact your health.

You don’t eat mindfully

Eating or snacking while occupied with another activity, like scrolling on your phone or binge-watching your favorite TV show, can often lead to overeating. When you’re distracted, it’s difficult to pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. When you eat slowly and presently, you are more able to pay attention to when your body starts to tell you it’s had enough. 

You should always practice mindful eating whether or not you are trying to lose weight. Mindless eating is one of the main reasons people gain weight and have difficulty reaching their weight loss goals.

Here are some tips to eat more mindfully:

  1. Sit down at the table to eat and avoid distractions. 
  2. Eat slowly, taking about 20-30 minutes to eat a meal, and 5-15 minutes to eat a snack. Chew your food thoroughly and pay attention to flavors, textures, and smells. 
  3. When the food is no longer satisfying and your start to feel full, stop eating. 

Other reasons

You have a health condition that prevents weight loss

Some health conditions can make it more difficult to lose weight. Medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, and insulin resistance can derail your weight loss efforts. Some medications may also cause weight gain.

If you think any of these things may be preventing you from losing weight, talk to your doctor to learn about options that may be right for you. 

Weight-loss plateau

If you think you might have hit a weight-loss plateau, don’t panic. There are a few reasons why the scale may have stopped moving.

A weight loss plateau might be a result of muscle gain, irregular bowel movements, and changes in body water. If the scale isn’t moving, it’s possible that you could still be losing body fat. 

It can be helpful to switch up your exercise routine, shift your macros, and prioritize recovery to help keep you motivated and support weight loss efforts. 

Not getting enough sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is an important part of losing weight. It’s also necessary for your physical and mental health.

Research shows that sleep deprivation is one of the main risk factors for obesity. Adults and children who don’t get good sleep have a much higher risk of developing obesity.6 

A night of poor sleep can affect your metabolism, intensify cravings, and make you feel more hungry. Inadequate sleep may impact cortisol levels, a hormone that plays a role in regulating appetite. Experts suggest that people move around less when they don’t get enough sleep, which means we burn fewer calories.

To make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep, go to bed at the same time every night, and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep. A nightly bedtime routine can signal to the brain and body that it’s time for sleep, which can help you fall asleep faster and get more restful sleep.

Tips to Support Your Weight-Loss Ups and Downs

Weight loss journeys don’t come without ups and downs, so here are some tips to help you stay on track and achieve your weight loss goals: 

Keep track of what you eat 

Logging your food and tracking your calories can help you hit your protein goal and stay in a calorie deficit.

Change your mindset 

Rather than focusing on weight loss alone, focus on the daily habits you need to do in order to achieve those goals. Keep expectations realistic, and remember, weight loss does not cure body image. 

Monitor your glucose

Using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can help with weight loss by showing you how different foods affect your blood sugar levels. This information will allow you to make adjustments to your diet to keep your blood sugars stable, which can tell your body to burn stored fat.

Measure your success in other ways

There are plenty of non-scale victories that you can use to measure your success. Some victories unrelated to weight worth celebrating include: clothes fitting better, increased energy, improved sleep, decreased pain, improved mood, and better health markers (blood pressure, blood lipids, blood glucose). 

Focus on your gut health

Eat high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds to promote good hut health.

Balance diet and exercise

Consistency is key when it comes to losing weight, so make sure your eating habits and exercise routine are sustainable. Find a routine that fits your lifestyle, goals, and preferences. 

Learn more about how continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) can help you lose weight, as well as other fitness and nutrition topics on the Signos blog

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References

  1. Hunter GR, Byrne NM, Sirikul B, et al. Resistance training conserves fat-free mass and resting energy expenditure following weight loss. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008;16(5):1045-1051. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.38
  2. Chaston TB, Dixon JB, O'Brien PE. Changes in fat-free mass during significant weight loss: a systematic review. Int J Obes (Lond). 2007;31(5):743-750. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803483
  3. Johnston CS, Day CS, Swan PD. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(1):55-61. doi:10.1080/07315724.2002.10719194
  4. Leidy HJ, Tang M, Armstrong CL, Martin CB, Campbell WW. The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011;19(4):818-824. doi:10.1038/oby.2010.203
  5. Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, et al. Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(2):300-307. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.235
  6. Cappuccio FP, Taggart FM, Kandala NB, et al. Meta-analysis of short sleep duration and obesity in children and adults. Sleep. 2008;31(5):619-626. doi:10.1093/sleep/31.5.619

About the Author

Victoria Whittington earned her Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition from the University of Alabama and has over 10 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.
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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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