6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (2023)

6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (1)

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There's nothing more frustrating and disheartening when your hard work doesn't pay off, particularly when it comes to exercise and eating well.

Maybe you've been pushing your body to the limits training every day, or you've filled your diet with nothing but healthy, varied whole foods. But still the weight doesn't budge.


According to health experts, there are a few simple reasons why you're not losing weight -- and they don't all have to do with eating too much.

According to Chloe McLeod, an accredited practising dietitian and sports dietitian, much of the problem surrounding difficulty losing weight has to do with overly high expectations.

"Often people are wanting to lose three or four kilos in a week, or to lose it much too quickly for it to be safe or meet expectations. So it's about adjusting those," McLeod told The Huffington Post Australia.

"In relation to actually not being able to lose the weight, whether it's coming off way too slowly or not coming off at all, there are two main reasons why this will often be happening."


6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (2)


1. You aren't eating enough.

You're probably thinking, 'Eat more to lose weight? Surely that's not right'. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you're not eating enough, chances are you won't lose the weight.

"The most common reason people, particularly for women, aren't losing weight is they are not eating enough," McLeod said.

"Rather than eating too much, it also works the other way around. I see people all the time going on these ridiculous 1,200 calorie (or less) diets, plus they train for an hour to an hour and a half each day. And they say, 'I'm barely eating and exercise a lot, so I should be losing weight. But why aren't I?'


"This happens because there's not enough energy going in to fuel what they're doing, so their metabolism starts to slow down and, as a result, they struggle to lose weight."


This idea is simple: eat more so you can do more.

"A good example of that is a client I recently saw. She has been training really hard and really cut back on her food to around 1,200 calories. She runs 30 kilometres a week and does boxing, but she couldn't lose those last couple of kilos. We looked at how much she was eating," McLeod said.

"I know it sounds counterintuitive to eat more to lose weight, but in that situation it was exactly what she needed to be doing."

Nutritionist Christine Cronau agrees.

"There are many popular programs and diets that advocate exercising hard and restricting calories, especially fat. However, this can set us up for failure," Cronau told HuffPost Australia.

"Our bodies need fuel to run effectively and when we exercise, we need more fuel, not less. Reducing fuel intake and doing hardcore exercise is very hard on the body. It's like filling a car with half the petrol it needs to go a certain distance, but still expecting it to go the distance."


"Your car is not going to run if it doesn't have enough fuel in it. So you need to be putting in enough fuel in order for everything to function well," McLeod added.

6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (3)

Thomas Tolstrup

When we take in less calories than we need, (especially combined with exercise), our body goes into a state of "starvation stress", Cronau said.

"Our thyroid has to slow and our metabolism has to slow. What happens when we stop the punishing exercise routine and start eating again? We will generally gain the weight back, plus interest," Cronau explained.

(Video) Calorie Deficit: 6 Reasons Why You're NOT Losing Weight

2. You're eating too much (even if it's healthy food).

On the other side of the spectrum, if you are overconsuming food, weight loss will be harder. This one is obvious, but many people may not understand this still applies to healthy food.


"Maybe the person is actually eating too much, even if they're eating really healthy and exercising regularly. Even with these healthy choices, if there's too much going in, it can result in weight loss not occurring," McLeod said.

This comes down to the fact that weight loss = more energy out than energy in. That is, if your body is burning less energy (through exercising and your basal metabolic rate) than the energy you are eating (food), then this will not result in weight loss.

6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (4)

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"A good example of that is maybe the person is exercising in the morning, then they have a really quick, small breakfast, go to work and don't have time for lunch. So they don't eat anything until later in the afternoon, but then they really overeat to overcompensate for missing out on the other meals," McLeod said.

"Even if they're making healthy food choices, it can still end up being too much overall."

Other times, our portion sizes for each meal and snack are simply too big.

"Yes, they're having a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, but over the course of the day it ends up being more than the body requires," McLeod said.


This isn't to say eat junk food because, well, what's the point -- not all calories are created equal and are metabolised differently in the body.

You can figure out how much energy you require in a day according to your age, height, weight and exercise level.

3. You're stressed.

When it comes to weight loss, stress is a two-pronged culprit: when you're stressed you likely eat more and, separately, your body may be less likely to lose weight.

(Video) 6 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight | Fat Loss / Dieting / Cutting Tips For Better Fat Loss

"What I often see is people who are stressed are often stress eating. Even if they're making healthy food choices, it ends up being a bit more than usual which your body doesn't really need," McLeod said.

6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (5)

Dougal Waters


"Stress does have an impact on all your different hormones and how your body is able to utilise different things. It's definitely possible that stress can make it harder to lose weight.

"More commonly, though, the reason it's harder is because there's more food going in due to stress eating."

4. You're exercising too much.

According to Cronau, you can also put your body into stress (and inhibit weight loss) by exercising too much.

"We can actually end up doing more harm than good. If we have not fuelled our bodies correctly, exercise can be quite stressful, causing excess cortisol (the stress hormone) production, which often causes weight gain," Cronau explained.

5. You're eating too many 'healthy' foods.

Thanks to social media and online health 'experts', the message surrounding what's healthy and what's not can become skewed.


"People often think some foods are really healthy, such as raw treats or many raw snack bars, but they're often really calorie dense," McLeod said.

6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (6)

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(Video) 6 Reasons You're NOT LOSING WEIGHT | How to Boost Your Metabolism

"Carbohydrate choice is also really important. If you're choosing white bread or processed foods, they don't fill you up enough. Even though they might have similar calories to the other less processed alternatives, because you get hungry quicker, you end up eating more overall."

6. You're not sleeping enough.

You guessed it: lack of sleep doesn't just have an effect on our mood and concentration.

"If you're not sleeping enough, that can actually have an impact on your ability to maintain a healthy weight," McLeod told HuffPost Australia.

"There's quite a lot of research around that now and the importance of getting enough sleep so your body is able to destress and function properly.


"On top of that, when you're tired, your body actually releases more of the hormones that make you feel hungry. This means, again, that you think you need food when your body doesn't really need it."

6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (7)

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So, what are the solutions?

"Make sure that you're eating enough. Rather than counting calories and focusing on that, focus on fuelling yourself with plenty of fresh produce, whole grains, lean protein, and drinking plenty of water so that you're not accidentally eating when you're actually just dehydrated," McLeod said.

"Get plenty of sleep. And whether it's exercising as stress relief or meditating, practise different strategies to help with managing stress."

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6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight (8)


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What is the main reason for not losing weight? ›

You're eating too many calories

Many people who have trouble losing weight are simply eating 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 calorie intake by a significant amount ( 15 , 16 , 17 ).

Why am I not able to lose weight even after exercise? ›

One of the main reasons why burning calories through exercise may still not result in weight loss is due to overexertion, or inflammation of your body. If you exercise too hard on a daily basis, there is an excess of inflammation in your body. All the added up inflammation makes you gain more weight than lose.

Why am I not losing weight on 16 8 fasting? ›

You're eating too much during your eating window.

“If you end up consuming the same number of calories (or more) during your eating windows as before you started intermittent fasting, then you won't lose weight.”

Why am I not losing weight even though I'm not eating? ›

Conservation Mode. Hardly eating doesn't help with long-term weight loss because severe calorie restriction sends your body into conservation, or "survival," mode. Your body holds onto fat when it doesn't have enough calories to support normal functioning, according to the Waldo County General Hospital website.

Why am I not losing weight on 1200 calories? ›

You can't lose weight on 1200 calories a day because you're no longer in a calorie deficit. Your body has adapted to what it's been doing and plateaued. If you start your diet with a 500 calorie deficit per day, your body adapts to this in various way so that over time your energy requirements are reduced.

Why am I not losing weight walking 10,000 steps a day? ›

However, without understanding your net caloric balance, walking 10,000 steps, 15,000 steps, or even 20,000 steps a day might not be enough to cause any meaningful fat loss or improvements in body composition. To achieve fat loss, you need to burn more calories than you get from your food.

What are the stages of losing weight? ›

The 4 Phases of Weight Loss
  • Phase -1 – GLYCOGEN DEPLETION. Glycogen Depletion: ...
  • Phase -2 – FAT LOSS. This is the sweet spot for healthy weight loss. ...
  • Phase -3 – PLATEAU. ...
  • Phase -4 – METABOLIC RECOVERY. ...
  • All the Phases of Weight Management:
Apr 12, 2018

Why am I gaining weight when I'm eating less and working out? ›

You've gained muscle.

And here's an often overlooked fact: Muscle tissue is more dense than fat tissue. So as you gain more muscle and lose fat, you change your overall body composition, which can result in a higher weight, but a smaller figure and better health.

Does lemon water break a fast? ›

The truth about lemon water and intermittent fasting

Long story short - the answer to the question “Does lemon water break a fast?” is no, lemon water does not break a fast. Lemon water contains almost no calories and zero sugars, it doesn't raise insulin levels, which means it will not break your fast (1).

Does fasting 16 hours a day help lose weight? ›

According to some researchers, fasting for 10–16 hours can cause the body to turn its fat stores into energy, which releases ketones into the bloodstream. This should encourage weight loss. This type of intermittent fasting plan may be a good option for beginners.

How to weight loss fast? ›

12 tips to help you lose weight
  1. Do not skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight. ...
  2. Eat regular meals. ...
  3. Eat plenty of fruit and veg. ...
  4. Get more active. ...
  5. Drink plenty of water. ...
  6. Eat high fibre foods. ...
  7. Read food labels. ...
  8. Use a smaller plate.

Where do you lose weight first? ›

Mostly, losing weight is an internal process. You will first lose hard fat that surrounds your organs like liver, kidneys and then you will start to lose soft fat like waistline and thigh fat. The fat loss from around the organs makes you leaner and stronger.

How long does it take to start losing weight? ›

The first stage of weight loss is when you tend to lose the most weight and begin to notice changes in your appearance and how your clothes fit. It usually happens within the first 4–6 weeks ( 1 ). Most of the weight loss in this stage comes from carb stores, protein, and water — and to a lesser extent, body fat.

How do I kick start my metabolism? ›

5 ways to boost metabolism
  1. Exercise more. Add interval training to your cardio routine and burn more calories in less time. ...
  2. Weight train. Add muscle mass to your body and you can burn more calories at rest. ...
  3. Don't skip meals, especially breakfast. ...
  4. Eat fat-burning foods. ...
  5. Get a good night's sleep every night.

How long will it take to lose 30 pounds on a 1200 calorie diet? ›

For example, it would take one 3 to 6 months on average to lose 30 pounds on a 1200 calorie diet. It is based on CDC; one can lose 1 to 2 pounds per week on average.

Why can't I lose weight eating 1000 calories a day? ›

The diet doesn't have enough calories

Eating too little — say, 1,000 calories a day — can prevent you from losing weight, too. "When you don't eat enough, your body is starving and it's not going to lose any extra weight" because it needs those energy stores to keep you alive, Fakhoury said.

Why am I eating less than 2000 calories a day but not losing weight? ›

This is called a weight loss plateau. The initial weight loss is usually just water weight and not fat loss. The plateau is caused by loss of muscle that occurs during weight loss (if you are not working out). To counter this, you can either cut more calories or increase your physical activity.

How many steps should I walk a day to lose 10 pounds in a month? ›

"This means to lose 1 pound, you'll need to walk roughly 35 miles or 70,000 steps. Over the course of a week, this means targeting 10,000 steps a day," says Davis. At this rate, you could lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn.

What medical conditions stop you losing weight? ›

Here are five health conditions that can make it harder to lose weight.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone-related condition that affects millions of women. ...
  • Hypothyroidism. ...
  • Insulin Resistance. ...
  • Hormonal Changes. ...
  • Mental Health Conditions.
May 11, 2020

How much do I need to walk to lose weight? ›

People interested in walking for weight loss should consistently hit at least 10,000 steps each day. Some people may even want to increase their total number of steps beyond this amount. However, any steps that a person takes beyond their normal daily step count can help them lose weight.

What are the 3 keys to weight loss? ›

Cardio work, strength training and counting calories and macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) are the three big components of weight loss. You should be doing all three, but each of these is not created equally when you're trying to lose weight.

Where is the hardest place to lose fat? ›

As against areas such as legs, face and arms, our stomach and abdominal regions possess beta cells that makes it difficult to reduce the fats easily and lose weight in these areas. However, as per research, belly fat is the most difficult to lose as the fat there is so much harder to break down.

Why is my body holding onto weight? ›

If you're consuming too few calories your body essentially goes into starvation mode and receives the message that it needs to protect itself. This means holding onto weight for protection's sake. The body perceives reduced calorie intake as a stressor.

Can eating too little make you gain weight? ›

Calories and Your Health

But if your calorie intake dips too low, says Lummus, your body could go into starvation mode. "Your body will start to store fat because it thinks it is not going to get anything," says Lummus. "You will be at a point where your body is kind of at a standstill."

What to eat to lose weight? ›

9 Foods to Help You Lose Weight
  • Beans. Inexpensive, filling, and versatile, beans are a great source of protein. ...
  • Soup. Start a meal with a cup of soup, and you may end up eating less. ...
  • Dark Chocolate. Want to enjoy chocolate between meals? ...
  • Pureed Vegetables. ...
  • Yogurt with berries. ...
  • Nuts. ...
  • Apples. ...
  • Yogurt.

Does gum break a fast? ›

Gum contains calories

For stricter forms of fasting like water fasts, consuming any calories technically breaks your fast. This is especially true if you're chewing multiple sticks of gum per day or choosing a type of gum that's high in sugar.

Does coffee break a fast? ›

The short answer is yes, you can drink coffee while intermittent fasting. But, this answer comes with a big caveat: You can drink black coffee while intermittent fasting, but coffee drinks with cream, sugar, or other forms of calories technically break your fast.

What can I drink in the morning while intermittent fasting? ›

Technically speaking, eating or drinking any calories breaks a fast. That means it's generally considered OK to drink black, unsweetened coffee or tea, as well as water.

Does sleeping count as fasting? ›

Does sleeping count as fasting? A. Yes, while following intermittent fasting, sleeping is considered a fasting period. Therefore, one does not consume food or drinks during this state.

Does drinking water help you lose weight? ›

Water can be really helpful for weight loss. It is 100% calorie-free, helps you burn more calories and may even suppress your appetite if consumed before meals. The benefits are even greater when you replace sugary beverages with water. It is a very easy way to cut back on sugar and calories.

What foods should I avoid while intermittent fasting? ›

You should stay away from foods that are calorie-dense and contain high amounts of sugar, fat and salt. “They won't fill you up after a fast, and can even make you hungrier,” Maciel says. “They also provide little to no nutrients.”

How do I lose 10 pounds quick? ›

Here are 14 simple steps to drop 10 pounds in a single month.
  1. Try cardio for weight loss. ...
  2. Eat fewer refined carbs. ...
  3. Start counting calories. ...
  4. Choose better beverages. ...
  5. Eat slowly. ...
  6. Add fiber to your diet. ...
  7. Eat a high protein breakfast. ...
  8. Get enough sleep every night.
Oct 1, 2018

How to lose 1 pound a week? ›

Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity. Depending on your weight, 5% of your current weight may be a realistic goal, at least for an initial goal.

How to lose 5 pounds in a week? ›

How To Lose 5 Pounds Fast
  1. Drink Two Glasses of Water Before Every Meal. ...
  2. Reduce Bloating. ...
  3. Get Eight Hours of Sleep. ...
  4. Avoid Processed Foods. ...
  5. Strengthen Your Core. ...
  6. Ditch Alcohol Completely. ...
  7. Try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

What does fat in urine look like? ›

In addition to an oily appearance, your urine might also have a milky white color. This is due to the presence of fat and protein in lymph fluid. Other symptoms of chyluria include: blood in your urine.

Which body part loses fat last? ›

Coming to the point, you will first lose “hard fat” (visceral fat) that surrounds your organs like liver, kidneys and later, you will burn soft fat (belly fat, thigh fat, back fat, etc.). Women accumulate fat cells around their belly area, hips, thighs and these areas are usually the last from.

Where does fat go when you lose weight? ›

As your body metabolizes fat, fatty acid molecules are released into the bloodstream and travel to the heart, lungs, and muscles, which break them apart and use the energy stored in their chemical bonds. The pounds you shed are essentially the byproducts of that process.

How long does it take to lose 20 pounds? ›

Losing weight safely typically involves losing 1-2 pounds per week ( 1 ). This would allow you to lose 20 pounds within about 5 months at 1 pound per week or 2 1/2 months at about 2 pounds per week.

Why am I not losing weight even though I am exercising? ›

Most people who have difficulty losing weight are simply eating too many calories. An important factor in weight loss is how many calories you're eating versus how many calories you're burning. It may seem easy, but if you're not tracking your calories each day, you may be consuming more than you think.

Why is it so hard to lose weight? ›

Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight? Your body is designed to hold onto as much fat as possible to store for times when food may be scarce. That makes losing weight difficult for most people. Factors at play include genetics, age, race and ethnicity, diet, physical activity, hormones, and social factors.

Why am I not losing weight even with calorie deficit and exercise? ›

If you're not losing weight in a calorie deficit you may need to adjust your stress levels, diet, and sleep patterns. Other reasons for weight gain during a calorie deficit are hormonal changes, aging, and other health conditions.

How long does it take to start losing weight when exercising? ›

In terms of losing weight through exercise, he says people can start seeing results in two to three weeks. But he explains that if you want to keep the weight off, you'll need a routine that progresses slowly and steadily instead of one where you're going all out.

Why do I still think I'm fat after losing weight? ›

Some specialists use the term “phantom fat” to refer to this phenomenon of feeling fat and unacceptable after weight loss. “People who were formerly overweight often still carry that internal image, perception, with them,” says Elayne Daniels, a psychologist in Canton, Mass., who specializes in body-image issues.

Why am I getting fat even after working out? ›

There are several research-backed reasons why you might notice a slight weight gain after exercise. These include muscle gain, water retention, post-workout inflammation, supplement use, or even undigested food. In most cases, post-workout weight gain is temporary.

Why am I not losing weight on 1500 calories a day? ›

If you're a man, woman weighing over 164 pounds or a female who regularly exercises and you aren't losing weight eating 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily, it may be time to see a doctor. Hormone imbalances – such as underactive thyroid – can decrease your body's metabolism and inhibit or prevent weight loss from occurring.

Why am I not losing weight on 1,000 calories a day? ›

The diet doesn't have enough calories

Eating too little — say, 1,000 calories a day — can prevent you from losing weight, too. "When you don't eat enough, your body is starving and it's not going to lose any extra weight" because it needs those energy stores to keep you alive, Fakhoury said.

Is working out 30 minutes a day enough to lose weight? ›

Researchers say the results suggest that 30 minutes of exercise a day may provide additional weight loss benefits. For example, people may still have extra energy leftover after shorter workouts to be more physically active throughout the day.

Why do I look thinner but weigh the same? ›

Muscle is denser than fat, and as it is more compact within your body, as you gain muscle mass, you end up looking thinner, no matter your physical weight. So, if you've been doing a lot of strength training lately, it's likely this is the reason that you're looking fantastic but not dropping those numbers.

Do you get fatter before losing weight? ›

You'd think that going on a strict diet and exercise regimen would help you drop pounds quickly, but most people actually gain weight at first. If this has happened to you, don't give up on your goals just yet.

Is 50 pounds of weight loss noticeable? ›

Dropping 50 pounds can have dramatic effects on your body. You are likely to sleep better, especially if you were suffering from sleep apnea. Your cholesterol and blood pressure are likely to drop, and surprising things like memory function and the health of your eyes may even improve.

How often should I weigh myself? ›

Daily weigh-ins.

If you're really committed to losing weight, weighing yourself every day can be helpful. Research shows that people who weigh themselves every day have even more success with weight loss than those who weigh in once a week.

Can stress cause weight gain? ›

The question of whether excess amounts of cortisol can lead to weight gain is essentially the same as asking if too much stress can cause you to put on unwanted pounds. The answer in both cases is yes.


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