There are several reasons why you are not losing weight even when you are doing all the things they say you should. You know, exercise eat the right things, cut calories, do cleanses, and follow the newest diet there is.
You do all that and more and still, the scale barely moves downwards.
And that is beyond frustrating because you want to see that new thinner woman in the mirror. You want to fit into that tiny black dress.
But it looks like the scale hates you. Okay, no, not really. Why can’t you lose weight?
Trying to lose weight can be so frustrating for many of us. Why is this? There are many reasons that can totally stall your dreams to lose weight and fit into that awesome form-fitting dress you so want.
Yes, losing weight can be quite a struggle for quite a lot of people.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why weight loss is so hard at times, and find out how we can finally, shed off some of the pounds.
And just as a heads up, this post contains affiliates links. You can read the full disclosure here
So why can’t you lose weight?
Here are some common reasons why:
You are not eating whole foods
Food choices can contribute a lot to the amount of weight you lose. Well, of course. We all know this. But food companies are so clever. And that is why there is so many foods labeled healthy that are far from healthy. If you are eating some such prepackaged foods, you may be consuming empty calories, excess sugar, and preservatives that lead to weight gain.
Unfortunately, just because prepackaged food says it’s healthy does not mean that that’s the case. So if you are not checking the labels this may be another reason why you are not losing weight. It’s a struggle, I know.
But to lose weight we need to eat whole foods, with ingredients you can identify, and cooked a healthy manner.
The other thing to consider is that some foods have a higher satiety index than others. And those in the box even if labeled healthy such as 100-calorie packs just cannot compete with real food. Choose instead foods that are more nutrient-dense.
This will contribute to your micronutrients essential to energy metabolism. You will also eat less, feel full and lose weight.
You are not eating enough protein
To function better and keep your eating frequency down, you need to eat 25- 30 % protein in calories.
Proteins keep you full longer so you eat less, and less frequently. This research found that including enough proteins in your meals cuts on eating frequency.
And a study by The American Journal Of Clinal Nutrition also supports that eating at least 15% to 30% of calories in protein leads to weight loss.
They found that weight loss was due to reduced appetite caused by an increased nervous system sensitivity to leptin, the hormone that lets you know you are full.
So it is simple. Make sure your diet includes enough protein per day, so you are not often hungry and somehow sabotaging your efforts to lose weight.
You have Vitamin D deficiency
Do you have a vitamin D deficiency? Vitamin D is so crucial in the development and functioning of the human body. Research is only now starting to understand the many crucial roles that vitamin D plays in the body.
Many studies are showing a relationship between obesity and vitamin D deficiency, and given that 40 % of the US population is deficient in vitamin D, then you can see how many people are likely struggling with weight and obesity, and even other chronic health issues as a result.
According to the International Journal of Health, Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic with Over 1 billion in the world population having a deficiency or insufficiency.
Vitamin D functions as a hormone and it regulates the function of over 200 genes. That is a lot.
These genes determine what your cells do. So with a deficiency, some cellular functions are not working as they should, and that can lead to weight gain and many health problems.
Vitamin D is essential for growth and development. Per this article, vitamin D deficiency can result in Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, fibromyalgia, depression, chronic fatigue, syndrome, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer disease, (Naeem Z. 2010)
If you are committed to losing weight and I know you are, it is important to know that all the health bases are covered including maintaining the optimal levels of vitamin balance. Have your Dr. check your vitamin D levels, and if low, he will prescribe a course of vitamin D.
My doctor prescribed me a course of vitamin D2 and when I was done, she advised me to take vitamin D3 2000 IUs daily. These are the ones I take. I like them because they are easy to take with berry flavor, have no gelatin, are non-GMO, and are pectin based.
You are not drinking enough water.
A common reason for stalled weight loss is dehydration. It is hard to lose weight if you are not drinking enough water because dehydration slows down your metabolism.
Proper hydration affects all your organs and optimizes fat-burning mechanisms. Think for example that your brain is 80% water. Your brain may have a lot to do with weight loss.
If you are dehydrated, depending on how much, you can get confused, experience lethargy, sluggishness, and lack motivation.
This means that you won’t feel like heading out to the gym. You may find it difficult to even make good choices in food. You have no energy. Energy production requires water. Your body is a machine, whose fuel is proper hydration and the right nutrition.
Drinking enough water is essential for an optimized metabolism and for weight loss. Research published in The Journal of Endocrinology Clinical and Metabolism found that drinking water increased metabolism by 30% within 10 minutes after drinking and reached the maximum after 30-40 minutes.
Try drinking cold water. The body then uses more energy to warm the water which results in more energy expenditure and weight loss.
Also, if you drink water before you eat, you won’t eat as much, as this makes you full sooner, thereby cutting some calories consumption and will help you lose weight.
If you are drinking anything but water, especially if you drink soda, even diet or juices, these can stop you from losing weight. Some drinks such as fruit juices and even vitamin water can be loaded with sugar.
What then happens is that you are consuming loads of liquid calories which unfortunately don’t keep you full so you still eat. Some drinks especially juices, and even coffee, leave me still thirsty.
Coffee is a diuretic and makes you go to the bathroom more so you dump all the water.
Juices and their sugar have the same effect because the body tries to get rid of excess sugar through urine. So for optimal hydration, and weight loss, water is essential.
If you really hate plain old water, you can increase your water intake by adding fruit to your water. I love infused water. Using a pretty infuser bottle makes it so pretty and easy and appetizing. You can get one to go and one to infuse a big batch at home.
There are a variety of fruit water infuser that makes the water look so good pretty and appetizing, such as this one
I do love my beautiful fruit infuser.
And even better, this bottle comes with an Ebook to help you maximize your fruit variety infusions. Awesome, I say.
Another way to make sure your water intake is sufficient is to use a bottle that tells you exactly how much you are drinking to keep you motivated and accountable such as this one
or this motivational water bottle.
You are eating too many calories
Alas! Even too much healthy food can still cause weight gain. So you must eat all in moderation. Fruit, for example, is great for health.
But fruit also has lots of sugar in the form of fructose, and some fruit such as mangoes have many more calories than others. So don’t eat too much of a good thing.
Are your portions just a little larger than you should maybe have? Sometimes it is hard to see that our plates are a little bigger than we should because, hey that’s how we grew up with mama saying “eat some more baby, that’s not enough food.”
Now, I would never recommend that you count your calories for the rest of your life. No one got time for that. But for a while just to be sure just how much you eat, tracking calories can give you a better picture of your food consumption habits.
It is true that most people underreport their caloric consumption.
But to be sure, try for a while to use tools such as these:
The caloric calculator helps you see how many calories you should eat and a caloric counter helps you see how many you are actually eating. This is crucial especially if you want to know if you’re eating enough protein for example
You can also get smaller plates. This will help you keep your portions under control. Measure your food. Not for life, but for a while to train your brain. Then you will find that you get used to eating smaller portions.
Just make sure it is smaller portions of food that are nutrient-dense, with vegetables, proteins, and whole grains.
You are not eating enough calories
And the opposite is also bad for weight loss.
Life is all about finding a happy balance. So another reason you are not losing weight is calorie restriction. If you are restricting calories too much and eating way less than you need, then you won’t lose weight too.
The body is designed with compensatory mechanisms, that react to these calorie restrictions by holding on to fat because the body is trying to protect you in case starvation is coming.
Research in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the body has compensatory mechanisms that work against you when you start a restrictive diet.
This results in changes in hormones that regulate hunger and appetite.
If you are on a diet that is too restrictive, your metabolism slows down to compensate. And that works against your efforts to lose weight. Therefore it is important to avoid diets that leave you feeling hungry.
Weight loss is essentially a lifestyle. With an overall healthy lifestyle, you maintain a balance and are not starving your self. It won’t happen overnight, or in a week.
To lose real weight and not just water weight, the healthy way takes time, but you can lose 1-2 pounds a week.
Your intake does not equal your activities: caloric imbalance
A calorie imbalance is another reason why you are not losing weight. Ok, this one explains itself. We can’t just eat and then lay on the couch, though I know I want to. Make sure the amount of food you eat is met with an equal amount of activity.
So I hate to break your heart, but you must exercise. Unless of course, you do like to exercise.
Exercise does make you feel good, but when not accustomed to it it feels like a chore.
I know I am not the only one who finds exercise a chore. But we have to do it, in order to keep a balance between energy consumption and expenditure.
Our bodies were meant to move. That is why the ancient man had no pot belly. He spent his day hunting, moving, farming, running after a game running from various sorts of threats.
But these days, ahh the joys of modern life- we have cars, desk jobs, computers then we come home to our couch and we watch TVs. We are our health undoing.
So to lose weight, make sure that the amount of food you eat, and the calories you consume, are met by an equal amount of activity. We must move more to lose weight and maintain weight loss.
You are not sleeping enough is the reason why you are not losing weight
Not sleeping enough impacts weight loss and it may be another reason why you are not losing weight. Sleep is so important and I feel they really ought to educate people more on sleep, and its role in overall health, including mental health, and sleep’s role in weight loss.
Imagine how easy a fix this is. Sleeping enough can help you lose weight, and improve your mental health, which will also help you lose weight.
Yet so many people are not getting enough sleep.
Sleep is important for weight loss. A study published in The American Academy Of Pediatrics found that sleep restriction in childhood increased the long-term risk of obesity.
Unfortunately, research has found that if one had short sleep in childhood, then they are more likely to struggle with obesity from childhood to adulthood. That also means they are likely to struggle with many chronic health conditions as well
RELATED: The Secrets to Better and Improved Sleep
One reason short sleep causes obesity may be because short sleep causes a disruption in hormonal regulation in hormones such as leptin, ghrelin, and cortisol.
These hormones determine how hungry you feel and how often, and leptin lets you know when you are full so you don’t overeat.
There may even be many more areas of health that are disrupted by short sleep than we know currently.
It is also true that when one doesn’t sleep enough they are too tired the next day.
This means an inability to engage in activities such as exercise, and really the likelihood that one will make bad choices in food due to reduced mental fortitude.
If you are tired from lack of sleep you feel awful. You really have no energy to cook, leave alone plan, and cook healthy meals.
So try to sleep at least 7-8 hours a night and your efforts for weight loss will bear results.
Granted there are some people who have a hard time and are unable to sleep enough due to health issues, perhaps anxiety, or just generally, suffer from insomnia.
I would suggest trying to manage a lack of sleep as naturally as possible. The best way to do this is by having a bedtime routine to help you wind down slowly and tell your body and mind it’s time to sleep.
Include a warm bath with some essential oils like lavender to help you relax. Epsom salts ar also lovely in a bath. They are so relaxing.
You may also use an essential oil diffuser, and diffuse some amazing relaxing essential oils to help you sleep
Do everything you can to fall asleep and stay asleep to improve your weight loss. Avoid light and keep the room dark A sleep mask such as this silky soothing mask helps.
Another thing that can cause you to be sleepless or wake up too soon is a deficiency in magnesium. Some deficiencies, such as deficiency in vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium can affect how well you sleep.
You can have your levels checked but there is research showing that most magnesium tests don’t really show the real picture, and so many people have a magnesium deficiency.
Since I started taking magnesium I sleep so much better. As a nurse who works the night shift, and sleeps during the day, I know of sleep struggles.
Taking a magnesium supplement has been life-changing for me as far as sleeping well is concerned. This is the magnesium that I take and love.
You can also try magnesium oil which is great because it is directly absorbed by the skin. And of course, an Epsom bath which also has magnesium is very helpful.
I recommend reading this article which is an in-depth article about how crucial magnesium is in our overall health.
RELATED: Signs of magnesium deficiency you should know
You have too much stress in your life
Stress as bad as it is can also make it hard to lose weight.
The bad thing is that stress is on the rise. Don’t you miss the much simpler past? I know I do. Sometimes life just piles things on us that can cause lots and lots of stress. And our lifestyles have changed so much increasing the amount of stress on any given day.
Unfortunately, stress can make one ill, and it plays havoc on a person’s weight loss efforts.
When one is stressed, one may be too overwhelmed to make good decisions such as healthy food choices.
It is easier to stay in and just order pizza, or reach for that ice cream, stop by fast food place and get french fries. And more days is of this will eventually lead to weight gain.
So it is important that we find a way to reduce stress because, frankly, our overall health depends on it.
Stress causes increased production of cortisol, the fight or flight hormone, and this can lead to weight gain.
When the body has too much cortisol, then the body stores fat around the shoulders and abdomen, and this weight is so hard to get rid of.
Cortisol causes the muscle to weaken and reduce. And you know, one way to lose weight is to increase your muscle mass. That is why men lose more weight than women- because they have more muscle mass.
Try and find ways to cope and combat excessive stress, so you don’t lose even more muscles through cortisol accumulating and causing fat gain and muscle loss.
Cortisol also increases your appetite, and there go your weight loss and health goals.
It causes you to sleep less, and are likely to feel hungry while you stay up so you eat.
Also, when you are stressed, it is likely that you will want some comfort food so you reach for that ice cream or order a pizza.
Besides you are exhausted so want something easy like taking out. Yea, with so much stress, weight loss can be difficult.
So the best thing to do is to find ways to cope and lessen the stress and its impact.
Employ such healing practices as prayer, talking to a therapist, talking to a friend, journaling, practicing meditation and, mindfulness, exercising, spending time in nature, and even taking walks in nature, just to mention a few.
Practice self-care. This is very important for moms, especially who tend to put everyone else before their own care. You must put your own oxygen mask on first.
- Amazingly Simple Self-Care Ideas for Moms to Improve Mental Health
- Steps to Attaining Your Health Goals in 2019
- Simple Habits to Fine Tune Your Life for a Happier and Improved Life.
You have a hormone imbalance
Hormonal imbalances are among the many common reasons why you are not losing weight.
Your hormonal balance plays a major role in your general health and wellness.
RELATED: How to Balance Your Hormone Naturally
This for many people trying to lose weight is the crux of the matter.
Hormone imbalances cause metabolic problems in the body. You see your body is supposed to work on feedback mechanisms that act as gatekeepers so that certain functions do not go overboard.
Too much or too little production of certain hormones can change the way your body functions, and change certain metabolic functions as well.
There are several hormones that if out of balance can derail your weight loss even with dieting and exercising. Your body has an amazing design with several hormones that work in harmony if all is working as it should.
But when one hormone gets out of line, it may affect many other hormones. Think for instance about estrogen and progesterone.
These two work in balance so that after the production of estrogen has reached its optimal levels, then progesterone production starts.
If this negative feedback backfires, then estrogen continues, and too much leads to extra weight and other health problems.
But let’s first look at the hormones that can determine whether you lose weight easily or not
Insulin is important for regulating your blood sugar, by making sure that glucose which you consume in the form of carbohydrates is pushed into the cells for energy.
Sometimes, these cells become insulin resistant and no longer receive the signal from insulin to accept the glucose from your food.
So then this excess sugar is stored in the fat cells. Unfortunately, since your cells still need energy, you then feel hungry so you eat. Now I know that when one is hungry and there is food, one is bound to eat, right, its science, in its very primal essence.
And so goes on the fat gain cycle in spite of the very good intentions for weight loss.
Leptin Is the grown-up in the house. It is the hormone that tells your body, woman, you did eat enough already, stop.
It is in more scientific terms, your satiety hormone, It sends the brain a signal when you are full to let you know so you can stop.
Well.. when it is not working, you cant feel full and you eat way more than you should otherwise. It turns out like in insulin, sometimes the body also has leptin resistance. too. Girls, can one get a break?
So it is not your fault. Your leptin has failed you.
Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that works in concert with leptin. This is the hormone that is all too happy to let you know when you are hungry. But if the feedback mechanism fails and you have a leptin and ghrelin hormone imbalance, you can eat more than you need.
When ghrelin doesn’t get the signal from the leptin to say you are full you feel hungry all the time and you eat more than you should.
Also, your body becomes more sensitive to ghrelin when you restrict calories, making you feel more hungry. And that is also why restricting calories doesn’t work for weight loss.
This research found that ghrelin levels start to rise within a few days of starting a diet. Sometimes the levels of ghrelin even doubled in weight loss as this research found
And that means you are compelled to eat even more.
But, don’t despair. You can still win. You can eat more protein and that will help reduce the hunger pangs.
Cortisol: As discussed above, increased cortisol production can cause weight gain, as cortisol causes you to eat more, and encourages the body to store fat.
A slow thyroid or hypothyroidism will make it very difficult to lose weight. Some of the signs of hypothyroidism include weight gain, constipation, excessive exhaustion and lack of energy, excessive sleep, hair loss, hair thinning, and the list goes on.
Your thyroid is the driver of your metabolism, and if it slows down and not producing enough thyroid hormones, then your metabolism slows to a crawl. It is important to have this checked if you have been struggling to lose weight and it is not happening.
Also help your thyroid out by eating foods that are rich in nutrients such as selenium, zinc, and iodine. And increase your fiber intake as well to help with constipation, and help you feel full so you don’t eat too many calories.
Medical conditions unfortunately are some of the biggest reasons why many people don’t lose weight in spite of their best efforts. Do you have a chronic condition such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, diabetes, or sleep apnea?
These may be the reasons why you are not losing weight. Sadly, many people have more than one medical diagnosis that interferes with weight loss.
Also, many medical conditions including depression require taking medications that cause weight gain. Some like prednisone, a steroid medication also make you hungrier and interfere with sleep. All in all a recipe for weight gain.
Steroids cause to accumulation of fat in the abdomen, shoulders, and general weight gain, which can be hard to shed.
In hypothyroidism, the body’s basal metabolism decreases, so that even if you eat less, you are also burning fewer calories, so your weight loss is minimal to none.
Also certain medications you may be on can also drive weight gain, including some birth control medications, some medications for depression, and many others.
So check the side effects of your medications, and check with your provider to see if any others are available that have lesser side effect effects or that don’t cause weight gain.
You eat mindlessly
Okay, I know that sounds harsh, but hear me out. Who is not guilty of eating while they scroll through their social media feed?
Studies have shown that eating mindfully can result in significant weight loss.
Oh, I know, you must eat while watching TV, and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. Most of us do this. However, it is important to pay attention as you eat. Or to eat mindfully.
When you eat mindfully you also savor the food, the taste, and the texture, and be present in that moment. Plus you chew slowly which helps you eat less and pay attention to the cue that you are full.
But when we eat with distractions, our mind fails to pay attention, and we may miss cues that we are full.
And that may be one more reason why you are not losing weight.
So when we do this daily for years, just imagine how many more excess calories we consume this way.
Commit to start eating mindfully and you may see better results on the scale.
Your diet plan is too restrictive
No one likes to feel restricted, and so we eventually end up giving in, or our minds just rebel. If you have a long list of no eat food groups and living on lettuce, you can find this really difficult to keep up with. And being too restrictive may be among the reasons why you are not losing weight.
Instead, stick to a happy balance, a happy medium. While some really rich foods such as sweets and desserts can pack a lot of calories, eating these occasionally and watching the portions will help you not feel deprived. And then you are likely to continue with a healthy eating diet program.
Your Job may be derailing your weight loss
Our work environment has changed over the years and many of us are working at a desk job where we sit for 8-10 hours. This simply goes against biology. Our bodies are made to move.
And that is one of the biggest reasons why you are not losing weight if you sit at your desk all day 5 days a week for 7 hours on average.
When our bodies move, we boost metabolism and burn more calories. Moving also helps us with circulation so that food and nutrients are taken to organs that need them while toxins that can contribute to weight are taken out.
Did you know toxins are stored in fat tissue? So the more toxins you have the more fat is made to ensure a safe place to keep these toxins so they don’t harm you.
So when we don’t move as much and try to compensate with 30 min to an hour at the gym well, it is not the same, and weight loss stalls.
Try to stand and move about throughout your workday. Take a walk during your lunch break.
and stay away from those donuts that your nice boss brought in this morning. I know, so tempting!
Your friends at work, oh you the ones who encourage you to just take a slice of pizza, saying it’s just a slice! Yeah, ignore them.
Let’s just be honest, it is hard to keep up healthy habits and healthy eating if all your friends at work and all your family, and people around you eat whatever. But, you have some goals, weight loss goals.
Just don’t let your job sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Maybe you really don’t need to lose weight
Okay, now hear me out here.
You may be one of those people who look in the mirror and see something that is not there. Or people roll their eyes when you mention you need to lose weight.
Here is the thing we all have different body types of body shapes and weight set points. Yes, a weight set point is a thing, just like the optimal body temperature that your brain, and your hypothalamus see too.
So you see, your brain also knows your weight set point and when you try to push back on this, the brain recruits its superpowers in the form of hormones and other regulators to keep your weight where it believes it should be.
Unfortunately, a tug of war ensues between you and your brain and you lose weight and then you regain it. So it is not all your fault that you are not losing the weight you want. Your brain is working against you.
And those are the 15 reasons why you are not losing weight.
So tell me, have you had any struggles with weight loss? Has anything helped yet?
Read next: How to lose weight after 40 and keep it off
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Signs and symptoms of vitamin B 12
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Cappuccio, F. P., Taggart, F. M., Kandala, N. B., Currie, A., Peile, E., Stranges, S., & Miller, M. A. (2008). A meta-analysis of short sleep duration and obesity in children and adults. Sleep, 31(5), 619-26.
Naeem Z. (2010). Vitamin d deficiency- an ignored epidemic. International journal of health sciences, 4(1), V-VI.
Holt SH1, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. A satiety index of common foods. (1995). Sep;49(9):675-90.
Leidy, H. J., Tang, M., Armstrong, C. L., Martin, C. B., & Campbell, W. W. (2010). The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 19(4), 818-24.
Hi Janie, wonderful article!
Losing weight is mostly a matter of burning more calories than you eat or drink, so even if one eats healthy food, he or she still needs to eat in moderation to lose weight.
Portion control is king!
Hi Nick! So true. If one can balance calorie intake with exercise, given no underlying hormonal issues then they can lose weight.
Wow! Very thorough! I never thought about a magnesium supplement. Maybe I’ll look into that. Also going to try to be very conscious about my water intake. Some days I do well, others not so much!
Great info. I was recently diagnosed with a Vit D deficiency. I think a lot of people are deficient and have no idea. Thanks for the tips.
Laureen, you are welcome. Unfortunately these days there is a lot of people who are vitamin D deficient, and given the many roles, this vitamin plays including in weight loss it is crucial to make sure that your D levels are optimal.
Hi Stacy! it is sometimes simple things like water intake, eating consciously to include foods that meet our vitamins and mineral requirements that can help us become more healthy, including helping us in getting to our healthy weight.
Some brilliant advice here. I really need to drink more water I’m very bad and often just drink caffeine!
Hey Jade! Drinking water is one important thing you have to do for all your health needs and is key to weight loss. So try drinking more water and you will see a healthier you!
Coming over from SIPB great article, it’s great to see all the reasons in one place and so well thought out. Thank you.
A great piece, thank you for sharing x
Thank you, Claire. I am honored you thought so!
This was a very informative read – saving for later!
Kristi, I am so glad you found it helpful. Losing weight can sometimes really stump people as so many factors contribute to weight gain.
I gave up sugar one month ago and haven’t lost a single pound! It’s very discouraging! Maybe something on this list is the reason!
Oh, I know the struggle. Sometimes it may be more than one thing that is the cause of lack of weight loss. So go through the list and try to optimize different things.
You’ve included some great points in this article! I especially agree with the lack of sleep. I know that affects me and causes me to struggle losing weight. Thanks for writing!
Hi Cho! It is true and a problem in our modern times. Sleep does slow metabolism and affects many processes that affect health and weight loss.
Jane, this was a very well-written and thorough article on why people can’t seem to lose weight and the tips and advice suggested is so spot-on. I can assure you, I don’t have the problem of not eating enough calories…. lol Thanks for sharing.
Hi Beth! Thank you! I am so happy you liked this post. Losing weight can be tricky and no wonder so many struggles with it.