23 Reasons Why You Are Not Losing Weight – Here’s The Solution

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jessica Peatross, MD
Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist  • 

It’s frustrating when you don’t lose weight even after trying so hard. If working out, controlling your carb cravings, and making changes to your lifestyle is not enough to lose weight, then what is? It is in these moments of despair that 99% women give up on their weight loss agenda. After all, it’s better to relish the delish and be flabby than depriving yourself. Agreed. But that’s a trap. And before you fall for it, take one last look at the real reasons you are not losing weight. Science says that there are many factors that affect weight loss (1). Let me tell you what they are.

1. Know The Difference Between Fat And Mass

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Did you know that losing weight is confused with shedding fat and building muscle mass? When you say you want to lose weight, rephrase it and say that you want to get rid of the flab. Initially, when you start your weight loss program, you will lose water weight, which will show on the weighing scale. But, after a few days, your body will start building lean muscle mass, and the more you eat sources of protein and workout, the more muscle you will build, and the more toned you will look. Lean muscle mass can make your weighing scale go up, which may make you feel that you are gaining weight instead of losing it. To cut the long story short, always look at the body fat percentage to find out whether you are losing fat or not. You can calculate body fat at any gym.

2. Your Weight Loss Goals Are Unrealistic

Unrealistic weight loss goals can also be disappointing. I have personally heard many women say that they want to lose weight, but they were in the healthy weight range. However, if you do need to lose weight, go for it, but keep your goals realistic.

Losing 10 pounds in a week is not possible, and I am talking about fat and not water weight. Fad diets may promise the impossible, but they cannot guarantee permanent weight loss. You should always aim at losing fat gradually. Write down your short-term goals in a journal. For example, no sugar in beverages or lose 2 pounds in a week. This will make your goals more realistic and achievable. And once you have achieved your short-term goals one by one, you can notice a huge difference in your appearance, brain function, muscle action, and mental fitness.

3. You Think You Eat Healthy

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Isn’t it a real problem when you eat healthy and still don’t lose even half an inch? You remain flabbergasted and disappointed. Take a second look at your day’s meals, especially when you are snacking or drinking beverages. Ideally, your meal should contain a good source of protein, dietary fiber, complex carbs, and healthy fats. You should get 10-35% calories from protein, 45%-65% calories from carbs, and 20%-35% calories from healthy fat. Sources of lean protein are chicken breast, ground lean turkey, lean cuts of pork, mushroom, legumes and beans, tofu, and soy chunks. You should consume veggies and fruits to get the required amount of dietary fiber and complex carbs. Consume nuts, seeds, avocado, clarified butter, olive oil, flaxseed oil, flaxseed butter, etc. to provide your body with healthy fats.

Apart from this, you should monitor what you are snacking on. That’s where many of us go wrong. Energy drinks, packaged fruit and vegetable juices, soda, coffee with cream and sugar, potato wafers, ranch dip, mayonnaise, deep fried chicken, and even overeating veggies and fruits as a snack can hinder your weight loss. To find out whether you are actually eating healthy, maintain a food journal and record what you are eating and how much you are eating for a week. It will give you a fair idea where you should make some changes or if it’s something else that’s preventing you from losing weight.

4. Your Hormones Are Going Berserk

Hormones play a very important role in a woman’s life. Hormones such as cortisol (released when you are stressed), ghrelin (hunger hormone), thyroid (hypothyroidism can lead to weight gain), insulin (too much insulin in the blood can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, and diabetes), and leptin (too much leptin in the blood, and your brain is desensitized to food, and you keep eating) can wreak havoc on your health.

The worst part? Initially, you will not even understand that it’s your hormones that are making you eat so much or slowing your metabolism. Talk to a dietician or a physician and get your hormones checked. Follow their advice to balance your hormone levels. You can also read this article to find out which hormones affect weight loss and what you can do about it.

5. You Are Not Doing A Mixed Workout

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So, you have been working out and have lost a bit of weight, but now, you are not shedding any flab. The important question is, are you limiting yourself to only cardio? If yes, there’s your answer for not losing weight. Cardio is great, but you should also incorporate weight training into your routine. Weight lifting will help keep your muscles active, boost your metabolism, and help you get a toned body.

6. Underlying Medical Issues

Medical issues like thyroid problems, insulin resistance, PCOS, sleep apnea, Cushing’s syndrome, etc. can prevent weight loss. If you have been doing everything right but haven’t yet got a medical check-up done, do that right away. However, you have nothing to worry as most medical problems can be treated. Work with your physician, dietician, and trainer to help you lose weight the right way.

7. Know Your Genes To Fit Into Those Jeans

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Genes play the most important role in every living being. They determine our physical appearance, internal functions, and even our behavior. If you have seen people who eat a lot but are still skinny, you know what I am talking about. Genes that make your metabolism automatically slow or cause hormonal imbalance can make it really hard for you to lose weight. In this case, you should consult a doctor and a fitness trainer to reduce their effect. A good lifestyle, workout routine, and proper eating habits have been found to help a lot. But since not every individual’s body works the same way, you should get a customized plan to help trigger weight loss.

8. Not Drinking Enough Water

About 75% of your body weight is water. Water helps maintain homeostasis, keeps the cells turgid, and aids various biological reactions and functions, digestion and absorption, transportation of chemicals, and toxin removal. When you do not drink enough water, all these functions are not carried out properly. And when that happens, your metabolism slows down, your cells start producing different proteins, toxins are not flushed out, and proper digestion is inhibited. If you are trying to lose weight, your metabolism, digestion, excretion, and cell function should be at optimum levels. Without consuming adequate amounts of water, that’s not possible. So, drink 3-4 liters of water every day. Drink more if you are working out.

9. You Do Not Consume Enough Protein

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Protein is an integral part of your body. Right from your hair to the enzymes in your body, everything is protein. A good amount of lean protein will help you build lean muscle mass and give you a toned look. Moreover, proteins are tough to digest and can create a negative energy balance, thereby aiding weight loss. You should consume at least one source of protein with each meal. Include these in your diet – chicken breast, ground turkey, mushroom, legumes, soy chunks, soy milk, tofu, etc. You should consume 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of your weight.

10. Following The Wrong Cooking Method

You can buy the right ingredients, eat in the right amounts, and workout but still not lose weight if your cooking method is wrong. Deep frying, cooking for too long, or charring can diminish the nutritional value of the ingredients and change their properties, which can prove to be harmful to your body. So, try to eat raw, sauteed, blanched, and boiled veggies. Grill or bake or add meat to soups. Use cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil to cook. Avoid consuming deeply fried or charred food.

11. You Have A Desk Job

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If you have a desk job, you probably sit in one place for at least 8 hours a day. And that is inhibiting your weight loss. Sitting at one place continuously can also slow down your metabolism and cause every morsel of food to get converted into fat. This is why people who have desk jobs have more belly fat and lower body fat. You should start moving around every hour to keep the metabolism going and help the circulatory system transport food, oxygen, and water to various parts of your body and also flush out the toxins.

12. Avoiding Fat

You need to consume healthy fats if you want to get rid of the fat. Healthy fats contain omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation, thereby preventing inflammation-induced weight gain. Fats are also required to maintain the cell structure and function. Consume almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, olive oil, rice bran oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed butter, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter, peanut butter, and clarified butter (ghee). But make sure to control the quantity as overconsumption of healthy fats can also lead to weight gain.

13. You Still Haven’t Cut Down Your Sugar/Carb Intake

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Sometimes, we consume foods without knowing that they contain sugar or carbs in high amounts. Check the labels for HFCS and added flavoring agents. Sauces and ketchups contain a truckload of sugar and carbs, so avoid them. Buy plain breakfast cereal, avoid salted or sugar coated nuts, and do not consume too many multigrain biscuits.

14. You Skip A Meal To Cut Down Calories

Skipping a meal to cut down on calories never works. When you skip a meal, your brain slows down. This, in turn, slows down your metabolism and digestion. Moreover, you will eat more during the next meal because you will be starving and feel it’s alright to eat more as you have skipped a meal. The body, however, stores the extra food in the form of fat. Eat every 3-4 hours, control your portion size, and do not skip breakfast.

15. Eating Too Frequently

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Some people have the habit of eating too frequently, which ultimately leads to weight gain. In fact, even if you eat healthy and go for regular workouts in the gym, eating too frequently will create a positive energy balance. This will lead to weight gain. As mentioned earlier, you should eat every 3-4 hours and not every hour. Drink water if you feel hungry. Quite often, we tend to feel hungry when we are thirsty.

16. You Binge Eat Healthy Food

So, you just quit the habit of binging on junk. Great! But have you checked whether you are consuming too much of healthy food? Veggies, fruits, and grains also contain sugar and carbs. And when you eat too much of healthy foods but do not workout, the energy is not expended and gets stored as fat. So, have controlled portions of healthy snacks or meals to lose weight.

17. You Are Carrying A Lot Of Weight On Your Shoulders

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Stress, anxiety, and depression can take a toll on your mental and physical health. All these negative emotions stimulate the secretion of cortisol, which then recruits all the fat receptors in your abdomen area, leading to central fat accumulation. Stress also causes a lot of toxin accumulation that can affect the cell functions. Easier said than done, but you must try and meditate regularly. Talk to your therapist or friends, travel, rest, read books, learn new skills, and forgive yourself. Also, you can keep a journal and list all the tasks you need to complete for the day. Checkmark those that you completed by the end of the day. This way, you will not be anxious and get rid of the habit of procrastinating.

18. You Are Not Getting Enough Sleep

Not sleeping for at least 7 hours can lead to weight gain. Your brain is constantly working, and it needs to rest to orchestrate the body functions. Plus, if you are working out, your muscles are undergoing wear and tear. They get repaired when you rest and sleep. Not sleeping enough, therefore, can lead to muscle fatigue, slowed down reflexes, hormonal imbalance, and weight gain. Have your dinner by 7-7:30 pm and sleep by 10-10:30 pm. This will keep you from staying up late and late night snacking. Moreover, you will wake up early and have the time to meditate, workout, and prepare your breakfast.

19. You Are Too Strict With Your Diet

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Your weight loss will plateau if you are too strict with your diet. You should enjoy one cheat day every week to prevent your weight loss from plateauing. On this day, consume 500 calories more than your diet days. Make sure not to exceed this limit. This way, your body will keep guessing what comes next, and your metabolism will remain active.

20. You Are Overtraining

Working out more will not lead to weight loss; it will lead to injury. Many people lift heavy weights right on their first day of training so that they burn the calories soon. But that’s not going to work. You need to workout according to your body’s stamina levels. You can increase the intensity and volume of the exercises as you start building more muscle power and strength. Overtraining can lead to loss of lean muscle mass, making you look “skinny fat”.

21. You Are On Medication That Hinders Weight Loss

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Many medications, such as antidepressants, neuroleptics, cortisone capsules, contraceptives, allergy medicines, and blood pressure medicines, can hinder your weight loss. Talk to your doctor about your weight loss goals so that he/she can prescribe an alternative. You should also let your dietician and trainer know that you are on certain medication. This will help them design your diet and workout plan accordingly.

22. You Multitask When You Eat

Do you often watch TV, work on laptop, text, or chat while you are eating? If yes, you’ve got your problem! You should concentrate only on eating when you have your meal. It will give you a fair idea about how much you are eating, which will send a message to the brain that you are not hungry. When you do not look at what you are eating, you do not see how much you ate and end up consuming junk after an hour of having your meal.

23. You Do Not Have Good Social Support

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This is one of the most important factors that will affect the reading on your weighing scale. If you have social support from people who understand your weight loss goals and help you in every way to achieve it, you will lose weight quickly. However, lack of social support would mean eating out at restaurants and ordering foods that don’t comply with your weight loss goals. Drinking alcohol, not being motivated to workout, and not sticking to all the points mentioned above can easily prevent you from shedding those unwanted pounds. So, talk to your friends and family and ask for their support. Hang out with people who are serious about losing weight so that you are inspired by their stories.

So, these are the 23 reasons you are not losing weight. Weight loss is not easy, especially if you have lost a little bit of the initial weight. You have to be more careful and love yourself and your body more than you love anything else. And, for sure, you will start losing weight. So, start now by finding out what’s hindering your weight loss. And once you have figured that out, stick reminders on your wall to prevent you from falling back into old habits. Good luck!

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