Not Losing Weight? Here Are Some Reasons Why


In theory, weight loss should be easy: watch what you eat, work up a sweat, and reap the rewards.

But losing weight doesn’t always seem that simple. You can feel like you’re doing all the right things — and you might lose some weight at first, but then you might reach the dreaded weight-loss plateau.

I’m sure you’ve been there: You’ve followed your diet to a T, you’ve cut calories, you work out regularly, and you’re still not losing weight.

When you’re putting in the work and still not dropping pounds, well, that’s mind-numbingly infuriating. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.

Don’t give up. Below you’ll find 10 reasons why the number on the scale might be stuck, as well as some suggestions for how to help you start losing weight again.

And, remember, it’s a journey. Even before you reach your goal weight by committing to a healthy lifestyle, you’ll start feeling stronger and learning to fuel your body with the right foods, and you might even find a workout you love!

Stalled weight loss can happen for any number of reasons and to anyone, but there’s a good chance your weight loss troubles fall under one or more of the following 20 reasons for not losing weight.

You Just Started

Your body undergoes many new changes when you start a fitness program.

If you went from eating processed food and couch potato to healthy eating and extremely active, it’s entirely possible you won’t lose a single pound the first couple of weeks.

Increased muscle glycogen capacity in response to more exercise is a big reason people don’t see weight loss at first.

You’re Being Impatient

It’s been a month and you’ve lost 4 pounds. Great! Or is it? To many, this is a failure. They aren’t getting back what they put in.

Give it some time. Get it out of your mind that weight loss is a week to week event. Be happy about what you’ve accomplished. Progress is progress.

Keep it up and it accumulates over time.

Your client is eating too few calories

In theory, “calories in” and “calories out” is the universal equation for energy balance and fat loss. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to approach diet with the “work more, eat less” approach.

Most of us are familiar that this a recipe for burnout and for the body to fight back.

Furthermore, those same people who often work themselves to oblivion end up getting the opposite results and killing their energy.

 It’s not so simple, and it is up to you to educate your clients on why simply “eating less” and “moving more” isn’t the way.

Help your client understand that exercise is a small part of the equation: adequate nutrition supports the workouts, their recovery, and their life.

Meanwhile, the exercise helps them achieve the body they want. Explain to them that the body typically strives for balance.

Tip things too far in one direction than the other, and the body will do what it can to right the balance (usually hold onto weight).

In addition, everyone’s base metabolism will be different. We know this as basal metabolic rate (BMR). Some common factors that will affect this include age, previous weight and diet history, daily activity levels, and intensity of training.

For your purposes, here is how to calculate the basal metabolic rate, per the Harris Benedict equation.

For moderate exercise 3-5 days a week, multiply BMR by 1.5 for total amount of calories in a day.

BMR Calculation for Men: BMR = 66.5 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5.003 x height in cm) – (6.755 x age in years)

BMR Calculation for Women: BMR = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight in kg) + (1.850 x height in cm) – (4.676 x age in years)

These calculations offer a good base for establishing guidelines and educating your clients on how weight loss occurs. 

Make sure they understand that the long-term implications and negative effects of not eating enough go way beyond fat loss. 

You’re Focused On Weight

Weight, weight, weight…we all seem to be obsessed about it. So much obsession, yet it’s so meaningless. Body transformation are about fat loss.

If you’re losing fat, you’re doing great. Put the scale away and buy some body fat calipers to track your progress.

You’re Not Including Strength Training

When most people think of losing weight, they think of cardio and long drawn out sessions on the treadmill, or running to lose weight.

In reality though, strength training, not cardio is the real fat burner, and should be the focal point of every weight loss exercise routine.

See why strength training will be your fat loss savior.

You’re Not Very Active

Do you sit behind a computer all day? A little activity can go a long way. Sometimes a single workout followed by a day of inactivity just isn’t enough.

Buy yourself a pedometer and track the steps you take in a day. If it’s less than 5000, you probably need to get moving a little more. A walk after dinner couldn’t hurt.

Lack of Sleep

How much sleep do you get a night? If it’s not 8-9 hours, you’re making your weight loss goals much harder to reach.

Sleep affects everything from appetite to glucose metabolism.

Make sure you’re making it a priority.

Find out how sleep helps you lose weight.

Too Much Stress

How is your mental health?

Your “mental fitness” is an often overlooked part of a fitness program, yet there is such a strong connection between mind and body. Stress affects hormone levels, motivation, and weight loss.

You’re Being Inconsistent

A workout here or there isn’t going to get you anywhere. Consistency is a major key to success. The same goes for your diet too.

You can’t expect to eat processed food whenever you get the urge and still make progress. Make a plan and stick to it.

You’ve Reached a Weight Loss Plateau

Weight loss plateaus are very common. Weight loss doesn’t occur in a straight line. You might lose 3 pounds one week and 1 the next.

It’s unpredictable. However, if you’ve been stuck at the same weight for weeks, you might want to consider implementing a few “tricks”.

You Don’t Need to Lose Any More Weight

Have you ever considered the fact that you are not losing weight because you don’t need to lose any more?

If you’re already small in stature, the problem might be a lack of lean body mass, and not an excess of weight.

Yes, you might have some fat to lose still, but fat loss does not always equal weight loss.

Your Workouts Lack Intensity

Are you just going through the motions when you exercise? Give your body a reason to change. You need to be pushing yourself to your limits when you work out.

Don’t expect your body to drop the fat if you don’t physically show it it needs to. Boosting your intensity can increase your fat loss.

You’re Not Really Eating Healthy

I can’t tell you the number of times people have told me they were eating healthy, only to find out that their diets were filled with processed foods.

Make sure you’re eating whole foods. For the most part, that means there should only be 1 ingredient on the label (oats, beans, etc).

You’re Eating Too Many Carbs

Before you freak out, I am not anti-carb. Carbs are necessary to efficiently fuel high-intensity exercise and central nervous system function.

The keyword is “efficiently”.

Carbs should be eaten in proportion to activity levels. The more active you are, the more you’ll need. If all you do is a work out and then sit behind a desk, you won’t need as many as someone who is very active.

You’re Lacking Willpower/Motivation

Motivation, or lack thereof is a big problem for many people, and weight stagnation certainly doesn’t help things.

What do you do? You find that source of inspiration that got you started in the first place, or you pick one of these 101 ways to get motivated to lose weight.

You Have a Medical Condition

Yes, there are medical reasons for why your weight loss isn’t going anywhere; however, these affect a very small percentage of people.

Understand that a low thyroid is many times (but not always!) an effect of a poor lifestyle choices, and not the cause.

That being said, some people have legitimate medical issues, and if you think you’re one of them, definitely talk to your doctor. Medications can also make it more difficult to lose weight.

You Haven’t Learned the Art of Grocery Shopping

You’ve probably already heard the golden rule of shopping – shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s where 95% of the healthy food is.

If you spend more time in the aisles, then you know your problem.

You’re Over-Snacking

For many people snacking goes hand-in-hand with sitting at your desk, or watching TV. These calories add up fast.

In addition, many of the 100 calorie snacks from the stores are just empty calories that do nothing to help you lose weight.

Make snacking work for you. You don’t want it to just not hurt you, you want it to help you. If you’re intent on snacking, at least consider eating one of these healthy snack ideas instead.

Your Metabolism Has Adapted

Prolonged calorie restriction can wreak havoc on your metabolism. Your body adapts to calorie restriction by slowing its production of many hormones.

You can combat this through cheat meals, exercise, or any one of these other 8 ways to boost your metabolism and fat loss.

You Still Haven’t Changed Your Lifestyle

As I’ve said over and over again, successful long-term weight loss doesn’t come from dieting, it comes from changing your lifestyle.

If you’re the person who jumps on and off diets, you need to take a different approach to weight loss – one that focuses on lifestyle changes. Weight loss is a side effect of living a healthy lifestyle.

Final Thoughts: Adopt a Healthy Stance When for Weight Loss

A well-balanced diet and exercise is the best way to weight loss in a healthy way that doesn’t harm our bodies.

When we starve ourselves and eat too little, our metabolism slows down, which makes it even harder for our bodies to burn more calories.

An unbalanced diet can even lead to weight gain.

In addition to eating healthy, we should get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week.

Our exercise routines should also include some strength training exercises to build our muscle mass, which can help burn fat more efficiently.

With healthy eating and exercise, you’ll gradually stop worrying why you’re not losing weight ever again.