10 Common Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight (+ Is Your Metabolism to Blame?)
Are you frustrated with your fat loss efforts? Does it feel like you’re wasting your time because you’re barely seeing any progress?
There could be several reasons why you’re not losing weight. For starters, have a look at your current diet and exercise plan. Often times, people overlook the fundamentals of weight loss because of outrageous products that guarantee rapid weight loss in a matter of weeks. However, sustainable weight loss happens over a prolonged period, and it is certainly not the work of a single pill or shrink wrap.
If you’re wondering why your weight loss progress has stalled, perhaps one or more of these apply to you:
10 Common Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight
1. You consume a lot of sugary drinks and fast food.
This has to be the number one reason why people don’t lose weight on a diet. Our addiction to the modern western diet of salt, sugar, and fat can keep us hooked even when we want to change our lifestyle habits.
If you are still drinking and eating sugar while expecting to lose weight, then it makes sense why you aren’t seeing results. Refined carbs and sugar are packed with empty calories that offer no nutritional value and end up being converted to fat stores in your body. This is why junk food has no place in anyone’s diet.
Sugar also causes an inflammatory response in the body and can wreak havoc on the balance of your natural gut bacteria. Your gut biomes are responsible for assimilating your food and providing nutrients to the body to be used as energy in metabolic and other biological processes. If this delicate balance of good and bad bacteria is thrown off-kilter, it may hinder your weight loss efforts.
Drastically reducing your intake will do wonders for blood sugar control, managing cravings, and stabilizing hunger pangs. Withdrawal symptoms may occur at the onset, but over time, you will learn to crave less refined sugar and more whole foods. (1)
2. You don’t exercise regularly.
If you aren’t going to put in the extra effort, then your fat loss will eventually stall. Physical activity increases metabolic rate, which means you burn a higher amount of calories than you would at rest.
Doing cardio on the treadmill, lifting weights, or engaging in a sport are all great forms of exercise and can kick fat loss into overdrive.
Just 30 to 45 minutes of exercise done 3 to 4 times a week can result in significant progress. Once you have mastered this routine, you can even increase your training frequency to 4 to 5 times a week.
Just make sure that you are operating at the proper intensity. If you are on your phone during your workout and barely even break a sweat, don’t expect to see any changes. (2)
3. You’ve been dieting for too long.
Dieting is a marathon, not a sprint, but even still, you don’t want to be dieting forever. It also refers to a caloric deficit, which means that you’re eating fewer calories than you expend on a daily basis.
Generally, 12 to 16 weeks of aggressive dieting (loss of 1 percent of your bodyweight per week) is considered manageable but not without dieting symptoms such as extreme hunger, low energy, and unstable moods. Incorporate diet breaks, or simply stop dieting altogether once you exceed the period of time you have set for yourself.
Eating a calorie deficit reduces your metabolic function as it forces the body to go into survival mode. If you continue to restrict calories below your daily requirements, it will further downregulate body processes to conserve energy. In this case, dieting too long IS a metabolic problem due to the body’s adaptations to the caloric deficit.
A diet break, cheat meals, and refeeds can help with diet symptoms. (3) Diet breaks are temporary phases during a diet wherein the dieter raises calories to help upregulate hormones and to provide a mental break. Refeeds are high carbohydrate days wherein muscle glycogen stores are replenished and leptin is upregulated. Cheat meals are more mental than anything else, and offer a break from otherwise repetitive dieting.
4. You aren’t quantifying your caloric intake.
Some dieters think that they can simply estimate their portion sizes and caloric intake. However, even for seasoned dieters, eyeballing portions and estimating calories is not ideal, and can result in mediocre progress.
Everything that you eat should be tracked for its energy content and macronutrient profile. This may sound like a lot of effort in the beginning, but over time, it will become a very useful tool in quantifying your intake and will teach you how to better estimate in the future.
You may never look at your food the same way ever again. (4)
5. You eat excessive amounts of healthy food.
Every food product contains calories. This includes clean food, healthy food, junk food, fruits, vegetables, nuts, you name it. If you have been snacking away on trail mix too often or eating one too many avocados, then you have been sabotaging your fat loss efforts.
Clean foods have calories too, and some healthy food products such as nuts or oils are high in fat, which means high in calories as well. Compared to carbohydrates and protein which contain 4 calories per gram, fats contain 9 calories per gram.
Consuming large portions of fatty foods, regardless of how healthy they are, can still hinder weight loss efforts if you frequently go over your target caloric intake.
6. You don’t eat enough lean proteins and good fats.
This has something to do with the metabolism since it concerns the thermic effect of food.
Lean proteins such as chicken, fatty fish, and eggs are the ideal fuel for a fat loss diet because they are satiating and nutrient-dense. Of the three macronutrients, protein has the highest thermic effect. Fat on the other hand, has the lowest thermic effect.
When you restrict carbohydrates and increase your sources of good fats and proteins, you give you body a fat-burning advantage by regulating blood sugar. This reduces cravings, increases the number of calories burned through processing food, and helps fuel the body at the same time.
Good sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids offer many health benefits, one of which is the ability to mobilize fat stores to be used as fuel for metabolic processes. (5)
7. Sleep quality and duration are not a priority.
Rest and recovery factor heavily into weight loss results if you examine the body processes that occur during sleep, as well as the amount of rest you need to perform at an optimal rate.
With your body in a depleted state from a calorie deficit, you have less resources for repair and recovery. This could potentially mean lower athletic performance and reduced work output. If you’re trying to lose weight, you want to be working harder and smarter, not less. To ensure recovery in between workouts, make sure you get plenty of good quality sleep.
During your sleep cycle, your body enters REM sleep, which has restorative and healing benefits. Ensuring that you get enough sleep and REM time every night is critical to your recovery efforts and important for weight loss efforts.
Also, when sleep quality is poor, the body tends to release more cortisol, which can not only stall fat loss efforts, it can also promote body fat storage. Be sure to keep stress low, and to prioritize the amount of sleep you get every night. (6)
8. You are not well-hydrated.
When dieting, an increase in water intake can help curb hunger and cravings. It also sends signals to the body that you are well-hydrated, which should reduce bloating and water retention. This flushes excess water from your body while ensuring that cells contain enough water to function properly.
Also, water assists in flushing out toxins that may have built up in the digestive tract. These waste materials can interfere with nutrient absorption. If you’re eating healthy foods, maximize their nutrient content by ensuring optimal absorption rates through proper hydration. (7)
9. There is a lack of commitment to your weight loss journey.
This one is all on you. No one said that losing weight was going to be easy. That being said, it doesn’t have to be extremely hard either.
Take some time to remind yourself every day why you are dieting. Remind yourself of the health and lifestyle benefits of having a strong, athletic physique. Keep yourself motivated by referring to pictures and videos of people who inspire you not only to be better, but to surpass your previous bests.
There will be days where your resolve to stay on your diet is tested. It is in these moments where progress is made and grit is developed. Staying committed and focused toward your goals requires energy and intensity, not to mention it will be a test of will as well. Be prepared and always stay accountable.
10. You have unrealistic expectations.
Unrealistic expectations can be a motivation killer. Set feasible goals for yourself, and give yourself a manageable timeline to accomplish them. Know what is possible and within your capabilities before you set your goals. There is nothing more dissatisfying than missing your target because you aimed too high.
How to Lose Weight: The Basics
Your metabolism is defined by chemical processes that all serve to maintain life. Contrary to popular belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of weight gain. It is determined more by your calorie intake, physical activity, and energy needs.
1. Train to Boost Your Metabolism
There are many weight loss benefits associated with using metabolic conditioning exercise strategies such as HIIT. High-Intensity Interval training works by elevating your heart rate for extended periods of time with exercise and taking short periods of rest between each work period.
It is versatile and effective and boosting weight loss with exercise. However, HIIT is incredibly demanding, so make sure that you are recovering properly between workouts to avoid injuries and overtraining.(8)
2. Create a Journal and Track Your Progress
If you are unsure if you are making progress with your weight loss, then track your progress effectively with a diet journal. Write down all of the foods you eat every day and track their calorie content and macronutrient profile.
Record your workouts and your general feeling of well-being for the day and how it influenced your mood and your workout. By collecting this data you will begin to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. You will notice patterns in behavior and diet planning that you can correct and improve on.
Progression is all about tracking your results and then analyzing them to adjust your strategy. Take these tips to fix any common mistakes you may be making with your weight loss and get things back on track.
3. Be Aware of Your NEAT Activity
NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It refers to any and all activities that are not eating, sleeping, or have anything to do with exercise. This includes everything from doing the laundry to walking back and forth from the house to the car with your groceries.
By increasing NEAT activity, you are effectively increasing your energy expenditure without compromising recovery. It’s a great way to burn calories without feeling like you’re exercising, but is just as effective at promoting weight loss as traditional exercise.
The Final Word
If you’re not losing weight as quickly as you’d like, have a look at your diet and training plan first. If there are things to be improved or polished, focus on those first. If you still don’t see progress even after making adjustments, then maybe the problem is your metabolism.
Consult a health care professional if your weight refuses to budge even when you’re sure that you are already in a caloric deficit. There could be underlying causes that need to be addressed before you can expect to see results again.