9 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight While Working Out (2023)

Do you eat well, exercise often, and still feel like you're not maintaining a healthy weight? It can be frustrating when you are doing everything "right," but still not feeling or looking how you want to.

Total-body wellness is a lifestyle. Weight loss happens from a combination of maintaining a calorie deficit, eating nutritious, delicious foods when you are hungry, moving your body consistently, be it cardio, Pilates, or walking, and having a positive mentality about it all.

No matter who you are or what your background is, chances are one of these nine reasons could be why you're not losing weight.

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If you're working out but not losing weight, the first place you should be looking is the kitchen. Some people focus all their energy on burning off calories, so they don't take the time to consider what they're putting in as fuel.

A good rule of thumb is to stick to all-natural, whole foods. (Think: foods that grow in the ground or on trees instead of produced in factories.)

Tip: Look for foods with the fewest ingredients on the label and shop the produce section of the grocery store.

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You’re Not Striking the Right Balance

If you've been shunning carbohydrates because you think they are the weight-gain culprit, you might want to reconsider. Cutting out an entire macronutrient from your daily diet (not to mention that carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy) can make you feel deprived and tempt you to binge.

Instead, reach for healthy, complex carbs, such as:

  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Peas
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole grain bread

Of course, sweets are fine to indulge in, but a steady diet of simple carbs, like candy, soda, sugary sweets, and processed foods with added sugar, won't help you reach your weight-loss goal.

Tip: Go for starchy carbohydrates, which are digested more slowly and release glucose into your bloodstream more slowly.

If you've already refined your diet and are still not losing weight, it may be that you're simply eating too much. In order to lose weight, your body needs to run a calorie deficit, meaning you need to burn more than you consume. That being said, you don't need to deprive yourself either.

Eat whenever you're hungry and eat slowly enough so you can stop just before you get full. And don't be afraid to eat the foods you crave from time to time in a healthy amount. (For example, instead of eating three cookies, stick to one. You can satisfy the craving for that chocolatey chip goodness without overdoing it.)

The moment you start depriving yourself is when you start to feel like you're missing out on something, and you want to binge.

Tip: Healthy snacking during the day can help will keep you from eating too much during meals. Grapes, cucumbers, bananas, and apples are all great whole-food snack ideas.

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You’re Doing Too Much Cardio

Yes, cardio is a necessary part of your workout routine. It keeps your heart healthy, boosts your metabolism, and gives you a good sweat (you should try to break one daily).

However, only doing cardio—or doing too much of it—can actually add to the problem. Longer cardio sessions, like staying on the elliptical for 90 minutes or going for regular 10-mile runs, can eat away at your lean muscle mass, which is essential for increasing your metabolism to burn more calories.

It causes the body to become more endurance-focused, storing energy as fat to ensure it has plenty of reserve fuel to keep you going for all those miles. Not to mention it dramatically increases your appetite, making you more susceptible to unnecessary snacking or overeating.

Tip: Federal guidelines for physical activity suggest that adults do strength training, focusing on all major muscle groups, two or more days a week.

This one goes hand in hand with too much cardio. It's not that you shouldn't do cardio—if you love to run or bike for reasons other than losing weight, then by all means don't stop. But if you're working out but not losing weight and your primary goal is fat loss, there are other forms of exercise that give a much better bang for your buck.

The best way to lose weight and build lean muscle is by doing some form of strength training in addition to your cardio. The more muscle tone your body has, the more fat you'll burn.

If you're not ready to give up your cardio routine just yet, try adding some interval training by performing short bursts of all-out effort mixed into your regular session. These workouts are much more effective at promoting hormones that target stubborn fat. Then, start adding some resistance training to your routine.

Tip: Body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges are a great place to start to help build up to lifting actual weights.

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You're Working Out for Too Long, but Not Hard Enough

There's no exact equation to working out and eating healthy—it's a matter of trial and error, finding out what works specifically for your body. And more time spent in the gym doesn't always equal a more fit person. Unless you're an athlete, bodybuilder, or marathoner-in-training, the average person shouldn't be working out more than an hour a day.

Your workouts should be intensity-dependent, not time-dependent. Keep this fact in mind: The harder you work, the shorter your workout time may need to be.

Tip: Maximize time spent at the gym, in a fitness class, or in your at-home workout routine to achieve that coveted afterburn effect, which keeps your metabolism revved for 24 to 48 hours afterward.

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When you achieve that afterburn, and you're feeling your workout the next day, those are the days to focus on different muscle groups. Or, if you prefer to work out your whole body, establish a workout routine where you work your entire body one day and then take the next day to do light cardio, stretching, or complete rest.

Recovery and rest are often more important than the workout itself. During those periods, your body does most of the actual fat burning.

Tip: Give yourself time to fully recover, so you're ready to work hard the following day. Most importantly, listen to your body. Push yourself, but also give your body some love, too.

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You Are Under Too Much Stress

Exercise is a stressor on your body. When you have a healthy balance of exercise-related stress and recovery time, your body is healthy and can lose its excess fat. However, not giving your body enough time to recover can also be a negative (see above) as you'll start to produce an excessive amount of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Cortisol is both normal and important when working out; it's involved in processes that give your muscles the energy needed to get moving. But when your body is exposed to cortisol for longer periods, it starts to cause negative effects, like stubborn fat in areas you don't want.

Exercise isn't the only stressor that can produce excess cortisol. A stressful personal or professional life can also make your body produce too much of this hormone. When you stop exercising, your body stops producing cortisol; however, it may not be quite as easy to turn off the mental stressors going on in your life.

Tip: Make sure you're keeping your mental and emotional health in check in addition to your physical health. You should strive for total-body wellness.

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You're exercising regularly and eating healthfully, but now the numbers on the scale won't budge; your weight loss has plateaued. There are lots of reasons this can happen.

If you're cutting calories, you may experience a rapid drop in weight initially, as your body burns stored glycogen for energy. You might even lose a little muscle along with fat. To rev up your weight loss again, you may need to cut more calories or amp up your physical activity.

Tip: Add resistance training to build muscle and burn fat.

A Quick Review

There are many reasons why you might experience a halt in your weight loss, despite your best efforts, such as not maintaining a calorie deficit or exercising too much. If you are feeling stuck, reach out to your healthcare provider to help you determine the reason for your plateau, and to help you get back on track.

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Why am I working out but still not losing weight? ›

You've Gained Muscle Mass

If you're gaining muscle while losing fat, the scale may not show any weight change. In fact, it may even show some weight gain, since muscle is denser (takes up less space) than fat.

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 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).

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.

Why am I working out and eating less and not losing weight? ›

Muscle is denser than fat.

While one pound of fat weighs the same as one pound of muscle, muscle occupies about 18 percent less space. In addition, muscle burns calories while fat stores them. So, if your weight isn't decreasing but your clothes are starting to fit more loosely, you may be building muscle.

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.

Why have I gained 10 pounds since working out? ›

“When you start exercising, your muscles start gobbling up fuel called glycogen,” says Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph. D., Director, Headspace Adjustment Bureau, Precision Nutrition. Since glycogen stores water, you could gain up to 10 pounds in water weight alone, says Scott-Dixon.

What part of the body loses fat 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.

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 intermittent fasting? ›

Can You Drink Coffee While Intermittent Fasting? 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.

Does apple cider vinegar break your fast? ›

Apple cider vinegar contains only trace amounts of carbs and is therefore unlikely to negatively affect your fast. Furthermore, it may help you feel more full and maintain your blood sugar levels.

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 20 pounds in a month? ›

How to Lose 20 Pounds as Fast as Possible
  1. Count calories. ...
  2. Drink more water. ...
  3. Increase your protein intake. ...
  4. Reduce your refined carb consumption. ...
  5. Start lifting weights. ...
  6. Eat more fiber. ...
  7. Follow a sleep schedule. ...
  8. Set reasonable goals and stay accountable.
Aug 13, 2018

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)

How long can a 200 pound person go without food? ›

Your body can meet the majority of your calorie requirements from stored fat, but total starvation is fatal in 8-12 weeks, regardless of initial body weight.

What is the best fasting time to lose weight? ›

Fast for 12 hours a day

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.

What not to eat when intermittent fasting? ›

Intermittent fasting is the practice of restricting your food intake to certain hours or days during a given amount of time, usually a week. When you do eat, it is recommended that you avoid processed meats, sugar, trans fats, and refined starches. Whole foods like avocado, berries, and lean animal-proteins are best.

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 am I working out and not losing belly fat? ›

You're Doing the Wrong Exercises

More muscle means more calorie burning. That said, if you can only do one exercise, choose aerobic exercise (like walking or running). It works best for burning fat. Make it a habit, and slowly ratchet up the intensity to get the results you're after.

How long does it take to lose weight with exercise? ›

Significant weight loss and muscle gains will take approximately eight weeks to see, however, even though you're not seeing muscle definition, the benefits going on in your body and mind are considerable. “Your clothes will fit better, your posture will be better and you'll walk taller,” Sharp says.

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 while exercising? ›

Increased muscle fuel also adds a little weight

When you exercise regularly, your body stores more glycogen to fuel that exercise. Stored in water, glycogen has to bind with water as part of the process to fuel the muscle. That water adds a small amount of weight, too.

Why am I working out but still gaining weight? ›

Muscle Gains. Muscle mass is denser than fat mass and you will undoubtedly gain weight from lean muscle gains. While your clothes may feel looser, the scale may tell you otherwise.

What exercise burns the most belly fat? ›


The most effective exercise to burn stomach fat is crunches. Crunches rank top when we talk of fat-burning exercises. You can start by lying down flat with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.

What are the signs of losing belly fat? ›

10 signs you're losing weight
  • You're not hungry all the time. ...
  • Your sense of well-being improves. ...
  • Your clothes fit differently. ...
  • You're noticing some muscle definition. ...
  • Your body measurements are changing. ...
  • Your chronic pain improves. ...
  • You're going to the bathroom more — or less — frequently. ...
  • Your blood pressure is coming down.
Nov 30, 2020

How many times a day should I exercise to lose weight? ›

Working out twice per day can up the speed of weight loss when done properly and in combination with a balanced diet. The key is burning calories higher than what's consumed.

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.

How long does it take to lose 10 pounds? ›

But on average, you should lose 10 pounds in exactly 5-6 weeks for a healthier and more achievable estimate. This means that you lose around 2 pounds per week, which is in line with the CDC's recommendation for safe weight loss at a rate of 1–2 pounds per week, a sustainable goal.


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