It seems like just about everyone has tried to lose weight at some point in time, and it can be super frustrating when you think you are doing everything right yet you aren't losing any weight - or you might even be gaining weight! Seriously the worst. There is usually one or more factors contributing to this, the trick is figuring out what you need to change to see changes on the scale and with how your clothes fit.
Below lists the top 11 reasons you are not losing weight:
1. You aren't moving enough
If you have a job or lifestyle where you are sitting most of the day and getting less than 5,000 steps (aka you are sedentary) your body is not going to burn many calories beyond your resting metabolic rate. This means it will be harder and take longer for you to lose weight. Being more active during the day can be as simple as standing rather than sitting or walking rather than driving. These little changes add up over time and can lead to tons of calories burned without you even realizing it. One great way to track your daily movement is to use a fitness monitor to track movement and calories burned, or even just an app on your phone to track steps. Tracking something is better than tracking nothing.
2. Your thyroid is sluggish
Your thyroid is a major factor regulating your metabolic rate, and if you have a sluggish thyroid, this will translate to a sluggish metabolism. This generally happens over a long period of time so you may not be able to tell the effects right away, but if you have a family history of hypothyroidism it might be a good idea to get this checked out.
3. You are eating too many carbs
Too many carbs are a problem for most individuals because they are super easy to overeat and they don't keep you full for very long - bad combination for your weight loss efforts! Carbs also stimulate the fat storage hormone insulin, so every time you eat carbs you are stimulating this hormone whose main function is to store calories. If you are going to eat carbs, aim for carbs that are high in fiber such as vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
4. You are eating too much in general
Overeating will cause weight gain, whether this be too many carbs, protein or fat. It is much harder to overeat protein and fat because these foods are incredibly filling and satisfying, but if you overeat past the point of feeling full then it can happen with these foods as well. Also, if you are combining high fat foods with high carb foods, this is the exact recipe for weight gain and is what I advise patients of mine who are trying to gain weight - for example, quesadillas and burritos as a no no when trying to lose weight!
5. You aren't strength training
This doesn't mean you have to go and lift heavy weights everyday, just using your body weight is enough. This could be as short as a 15 minute circuit to an hour long yoga class. Strength training exercises will help you to both maintain the muscle you have as well as build more muscle. Muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning the more of it you have, the more calories you burn at rest and with exercise.
6. You are not incorporating high intensity interval training
High intensity interval training is one of the best ways to lose fat faster. This is because not only does it cause you to burn calories during the exercise, but it also causes your body to continue to burn calories even after the exercise is done - up to 72 hours after! The greater the intensity, the greater the burn. A great way to monitor your intensity is to use a heart rate monitor or fitness tracker.
7. You are overly stressed
Too many circulating stress hormones in your body favors your body to not only hold onto fat, but also to gain fat. This is another reason why when you are stressed it can be hard to lose weight. Read more about the effect of these stress hormones here.
8. You aren't sleeping
Not getting enough sleep or not getting enough good sleep will definitely make it harder for your to lose weight. Sleep is when your body is able to recharge itself, build muscle, and regulate hormones. Lack of sleep increases hormones that make you hungry, stressed, anxious, and moody. Make a point of giving yourself an adequate amount of time to sleep or risk having to experience the above symptoms as well as weight gain.
9. You are drinking too many cocktails
A glass of wine a couple of nights a week is totally fine, it may even prevent you from snacking on other things. However, when you start drinking more than one drink a night those calories can add up and cause weight gain. The worst offenders are cocktails with high sugar ingredients or sweet wine. Stick to dry wine and spirits on the rocks or spirits with a zero calorie mixer.
10. You aren't drinking enough water
If you are even a little dehydrated, this can make you feel hungry which may cause you to overeat when really all you needed was a glass of water. A good rule of thumb is to drink 64 ounces of water per day, more if you are exercising. Water also helps to take space up in your stomach making you feel more full, so try to drink a glass or two of water before meals.
11. You are eating too little
The worst thing you can do is to eat too few of calories. Not eating enough is actually more common than you think and is only going to make you gain more weight in the long run. If you are constantly feeling hungry, this is a clue that either you are not eating the right foods, or you are not eating enough. If you are eating protein and fat and very low carb and you are still very hungry - you need to eat more! Start with adding an extra serving of protein, fat, or fiber at meals if the above scenario is true for you. For example, say you typically eat 3 eggs for breakfast and you are still very hungry after 2 hours. Fix this by adding another egg, a tablespoon of coconut oil, or throw in a tablespoon of chia seeds for some fiber.
Main take aways...
There is almost always one or more factors that could be stalling your weight loss goals, and it will almost always be one or more of the above. Don't let these factors stall you anymore!
Board Certified Nurse Practitioner in California. Blogging about health, fitness and mindfulness.