Top 8 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

Updated on November 13, 2020
A picture containing indoor, clock, sitting, table

Description automatically generated

There’s no sugar-coating it: losing weight is hard. So it can be disheartening to feel like you’re putting in the effort but not dropping the pounds.

Two-thirds of British people now say they’re stuck on a perpetual diet, which leads to the natural conclusion that many people struggle to achieve long-term weight loss. Yet many of these cases likely stem from just a few common problems.

Knowing, as they say, is half the battle. Here are the top 8 reasons you’re not losing weight.

1. The In/Out Equation

The single most basic explanation for weight retention is the simple calories in/calories out equation.

You’ll only lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume. If you’re confident in your exercise regime, perhaps it’s time to ask some tougher questions. For instance, you might need to be more rigorous in tracking the calories you consume to find out where you’re going over budget. You may also have to identify “exceptions” you’re making, such as whether you dine out too often.

2. The Liquid Lunch

Which brings us to the most insidious calories we consume: those we drink.

It’s easy to think of drinks as being calorie-light, but the truth is quite the opposite. For instance, the caloric content of alcohol might surprise you, so be sure to count that glass of wine in your calorie tracker.

It’s not just alcohol you need to think about, however. Even “healthy” drinks like fruit juices come packed with calories, and we should really think of them as a naughty treat. Fruit juices can contain extraordinary amounts of sugar which, while healthier than a milkshake or soft drink, can take us beyond our daily recommended intake.

If you aren’t tracking drink calories, you’re only getting part of the picture. To boost your weight loss, be sure to track the calories you drink. Also, consider switching to straight water, or opting for flavoured water over fruit juices and smoothies.

3. The Sedate State

While you can lose weight solely through dieting, you’re sure to face an uphill struggle without…well, some uphill struggling.

Calories are the body’s fuel reserves, so it makes sense that a lack of exercise makes it harder to burn them off. Through dieting, you can put less and cleaner fuel into your body, but if your engine is always idling, you aren’t burning through that fuel quickly.

Bodily fitness also forms a feedback loop for losing weight. As our overall fitness level increases, the body gets used to working harder, making it easier to keep weight off.

4. Hard Work is Hardly Working

Who knew this exercise thing could be so complicated?

It’s true: you could be doing the wrong kind of exercise for long-term weight loss. Exercise isn’t one catch-all activity, but a series of different activities we lump under the one term.

For losing weight, cardiovascular exercise rules the day. Exercises in this category (such as running or swimming) get your heart pumping and your muscles working, so they’re excellent at burning away calories.

In contrast, spot exercises like weightlifting and crunches are good for toning and muscle health, but they’re less effective at burning fat. Which leads us to our next point. 

5. Beefing Up

Believe it or not, exercising too much can slow down your weight loss, too. 

If you’ve started a new weight-loss regimen after a sedentary period, you can expect to build some muscle. That’s great news for your overall health, but can be a downer when you step on the scales.

The reason for this is simple: muscle is denser than fat. As you lose fat and gain muscle, your weight could even out despite a trimmer form materialising in the mirror.

Luckily, this is a problem needing no solution. Simply keep doing what you’re doing. As your gains stabilise, you’ll continue to lose weight as you burn fat. You can also revise your weight loss expectations if you’re happy with your overall fitness results.

6. Getting Sleepy

Excess weight isn’t an entirely specific issue. It’s also a systemic one.

In other words, many things that appear unrelated to the calorie in/out ratio indeed play a role in weight management. Sleep is one of them.

Sleep is nature’s reset mode, when the body gets to work on renewing and strengthening itself. If something interrupts this process, it can lead to systemic issues like weight gain.

Practice good sleep hygiene habits to see if that makes a difference. It could also be that you suffer from a sleep-related health issue, such as sleep apnoea. If anyone has ever told you that you snore like a wildebeest, this could be at the heart of mystery weight retention.

7. A Spoonful of Sugar

You might also struggle to lose weight as a result of medication you’re taking. 

A variety of prescription medications can lead to weight gain as a side-effect. Of course, we won’t advise you to stop taking prescribed medication. If you’re concerned about the side effects of your medication, you should speak to your doctor for advice. They may suggest other treatment options for your condition.

Even if switching your medication isn’t on the table, it’s helpful to know that it could be causing weight retention. That allows you to plan around it and can help you manage your frustration.

8. Eating Without Seeing

It may sound like woo-woo, but the idea that our mindfulness can affect our eating habits is scientifically supported.

In this age of distraction, we often eat while occupied with other tasks, whether it’s staring at the TV or browsing Facebook on our phones. Yet the human brain is poor at multi-tasking, even on a subconscious level.

When we eat while distracted, we enjoy our food less, feel less full, and autopilot our way into eating larger portions. While the idea of sitting around the dinner table to eat might seem old fashioned, weight-loss science is on its side.

Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight Explained

These eight reasons you’re not losing weight highlight some of the most common problems you might encounter on your weight loss journey. Yet a little knowledge goes a long way. By knowing about these barriers, you can overcome them.

Looking for more weight loss help? Be sure to check back often.

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.