When you lose weight, your body fights back.
You may be able to lose quite a lot of weight at first, without much effort. However, weight loss may slow down or stop altogether after a while.
This article lists 20 common reasons why you’re not losing weight.
It also contains actionable tips on how to break through the plateau and get things moving again.
If you think you are experiencing a weight loss plateau, you shouldn’t fret just yet.
It is incredibly common for the scale not to budge for a few days (or weeks) at a time. This does not mean that you are not losing fat.
Body weight tends to fluctuate by a few pounds. It depends on the foods you are eating, and hormones can also have a major effect on how much water your body retains (especially in women).
Also, it is possible to gain muscle at the same time as you lose fat. This is particularly common if you recently started exercising.
This is a good thing, as what you really want to lose is body fat, not just weight.
It is a good idea to use something other than the scale to gauge your progress. For example, measure your waist circumference and body fat percentage once per month.
Also, how well your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror can be very telling.
Unless your weight has been stuck at the same point for more than 1–2 weeks, you probably don’t need to worry about anything.
SUMMARY A weight loss plateau may be explained by muscle gain, undigested food and fluctuations in body water. If the scale doesn’t budge, you might still be losing fat.
2. You’re Not Keeping Track of What You’re Eating
Awareness is incredibly important if you are trying to lose weight. Many people don’t have a clue how much they’re really eating.
Studies show that keeping track of your diet helps with weight loss. People who use food diaries or photograph their meals consistently lose more weight than people who don’t (1, 2Trusted Source).
SUMMARY Keeping a food diary can be helpful when you are trying to lose weight.
Protein is the single most important nutrient for losing weight.
Eating protein at 25–30% of calories can boost metabolism by 80–100 calories per day and make you automatically eat several hundred fewer calories per day. It can also drastically reduce cravings and desire for snacking (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
This is partly mediated by protein’s effects on appetite-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin and others (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
If you eat breakfast, be sure to load up on protein. Studies show that those who eat a high-protein breakfast are less hungry and have fewer cravings throughout the day (10Trusted Source).
A high protein intake also helps prevent metabolic slowdown, a common side effect of losing weight. Additionally, it helps prevent weight regain (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
SUMMARY Low protein intake may bring your weight loss efforts to a standstill. Make sure to eat plenty of protein-rich foods.
4. You’re Eating Too Many Calories
A large number of people who have trouble losing weight are simply eating too many calories.
You may think that this does not apply to you, but keep in mind that studies consistently show that people tend to underestimate their calorie intake by a significant amount (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
If you are not losing weight, you should try weighing your foods and tracking your calories for a while.
- Calorie calculator — Use this tool to figure out how many calories to eat.
- Calorie counters — This is a list of five free websites and apps that can help you keep track of your calorie and nutrient intake.
Tracking is also important if you’re trying to reach a certain nutrient goal, such as getting 30% of your calories from protein. This can be impossible to achieve if you’re not tracking things properly.
It is generally not necessary to count calories and weigh everything for the rest of your life. Instead, try out these techniques for a few days every few months to get a feel for how much you’re eating.
SUMMARY If your weight loss seems to have come to a standstill, it’s possible you may be eating too much. People frequently overestimate their calorie intake.
5. You’re Not Eating Whole Foods
Food quality is just as important as quantity.
Eating healthy foods can improve your wellbeing and help regulate your appetite. These foods tend to be much more filling than their processed counterparts.
Keep in mind that many processed foods labeled as “health foods” aren’t really healthy. Stick to whole, single-ingredient foods as much as possible.
SUMMARY Make sure to base your diet on whole foods. Eating too much processed food could ruin your weight loss success.
One of the most important things you can do when losing weight is to do some form of resistance training, such as lifting weights.
This can help you maintain muscle mass, which is often burned along with body fat if you are not exercising (17Trusted Source).
Lifting weights can also help prevent metabolic slowdown and ensure that your body stays toned and muscular (18Trusted Source).
SUMMARY Strength training is an effective way to lose fat. It prevents the loss of muscle mass often associated with weight loss and helps maintain long-term fat loss.
7. You’re Binge Eating (Even on Healthy Food)
Binge eating is a common side effect of dieting. It involves rapidly eating large amounts of food, often much more than your body needs.
This is a significant problem for many dieters. Some of them binge on junk food, while others binge on relatively healthy foods, including nuts, nut butters, dark chocolate, cheese, etc.
Even if something is healthy, its calories still count. Depending on the volume, a single binge can often ruin an entire week’s worth of dieting.