Let me know if this sounds familiar. You decide to embark on a weight loss journey. You start a new diet, you get yourself a gym membership and begin exercising. At first you start seeing some results here and there, but after a while the scale does not want to budge.
It feels like no matter what you do, you can’t lose weight.
I know how you feel. I’ve been there.
As much as I hate to admit it, weight loss is harder than what I would like it to be.
But that does not mean that you should give up on your weight loss journey! It’s not that you can’t lose weight and that you’re stuck where you are forever. It means that there are some tweaks and adjustments that need to be made.
There are a lot of potential reasons why you are not losing weight. Eating too many calories, not exercising, following fad diets, medical reasons, too much stress, lack of sleep, not doing resistance training, just to name a few.
I am here to help!
This article lists 27 reasons why you’re not losing weight.
Under each section (reason) there are actionable tips to quickly resolve them and start seeing results again.
1. Weight is Not a Good Measurement of Progress
The term weight loss is one of the most flawed fitness jargon out there.
In our minds, when we see the number on the scale go down we automatically believe it’s a good thing.
The diet, workout and hard work is paying off. I am losing weight, yay!
And vice versa, when we see it going up we believe it is a bad thing.
All that hard work and I’m still gaining weight? Screw this!
Unfortunately, our body weight is not two dimensional.
Your weight is influenced by a number of factors such as muscle, bone, water and body fat.
For example, when you first start exercising and dieting you might see a drop in weight due to the sudden change in your lifestyle. After a while, your weight might not move an inch, but you are still noticing signs of improvement. Your abs are starting to show and you’re more lean. Your body composition improves with time, but your weight hasn’t moved much. This is because you have gained some muscle and your bone density has increased as a result of exercise.
After a while you might even notice you have gained weight while dieting and working out, but your composition has drastically improved.
A good example is that of Kelsey Wells.
In her post on Instagram she shows her weight loss progress. And even though her body composition has changed completely, she has only lost 5 lbs. According to the standards of many, this is a complete failure. That is, if she was only following what the scale showed her. But the pictures speak for themselves.
As you can notice from the pictures above, she had technically gained weight (going from 122lbs to 140lbs) even though her composition had drastically improved.
The scale, and your weight, are a good form of measurement. However, you have to make sure that you accompany them with other forms to ensure that you’re on the right track.
Take pictures and videos.
Take measurements of certain parts of your body like your waist, arms, chest and legs.
Combine all of these measurements in a notebook and that will allow you to better follow your progress.
If you notice you are losing inches but not weight, that’s simply because you are losing fat but you’re gaining weight because of muscle and bone weight.
The only time you need to be worried is when you are losing weight but not fat. This could mean that you are losing muscle and bone weight and that there might be some exercise and diet adjustments that need to take place.
Combine different methods of measuring your fat loss progress. Do not rely only on the scale. Take progress pictures and videos. Meausre your waist, legs, chest, and arms and write them down in a notebook to better understand and follow your progress.
2. You’re Not Exercising
Exercise has received a lot of backlash recently from mainstream media. With tons of videos and articles being made how exercise is redundant.
All these sources claim one thing – if you want to lose weight then you need to improve your diet.
Take this video by Vox for example:
While it is true that your diet plays an important role in weight loss. Saying that exercise is unnecessary is completely false.
I would go as far to argue that exercise a crucial element to losing weight and fat loss.
Exercise helps make sure that you are in caloric deficit by helping you burn extra calories while training and by increasing your resting metabolic rate.
A combination of cardio and resistance training is necessary.
Quite often, I have clients who do the exact opposite. They focus far too much on their exercise but ignore their diet. Their hopes are that by doing so they are going to burn off the calories from their poor diet and have nothing to worry about.
And then they wonder why they can’t lose weight.
A balance between a good diet and exercise is fundamental for weight loss.
Exercise is important for weight loss. Make sure you incorporate cardio and resistance training with your diet to improve results.
3. You Are Eating Too Many Calories
One of the main reasons why most people have trouble losing weight is because they are eating more calories than what is necessary for them to lose weight.
According to most studies, people under report their calorie consumption by about 47% (study, study, study).
Just because you lower your portion sizes or start a “healthier” diet, does not necessarily mean that you are going to lose weight.
Regardless of what you will read on the Internet, if you wish to lose weight then you need to be in a caloric deficit.
It’s simply how our bodies work.
A good place to start is a calorie calculator. With the calculator you can roughly measure what your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is. Your TDEE shows you how many calories per day you potentially burn based on your age, weight, height and weekly activity.
In order for you to lose weight, you have to be about 300-500 calories below your TDEE.
If you cover your TDEE calorie intake, you will maintain your weight. If you eat fewer calories than your TDEE you will lose weight. And, following the same logic, if you eat more than your TDEE in calories you will gain weight.
For example, if your estimated TDEE is 2,000 calories (i.e. you need 2,000 calories to maintain your weight) then you should be consuming about 1,700 to 1,500 calories per day to lose weight.
You should not take what the calorie calculator gives you as the golden rule. A calculator cannot estimate the exact number of calories you need to eat in order to lose weight. However, it’s a good place to start.
And do not worry!
You will not be counting calories for the rest of your life. Once you get the hang of it, you will understand how much is too much. And as a result, you will control your portion sizes without having to search each meal’s caloric values.
To lose weight you must be in a caloric deficit of 300-500 calories. Use a calorie calculator to ballpark measure your TDEE. Once you have your TDEE, subtract 300-500 calories (preferably 500). This will give you your daily caloric goal to lose weight.
4. You’ve Hit a Weight Loss Plateau
Plateaus are a natural part of weight loss. Almost everyone reaches one eventually.
Most people get surprised and discouraged by plateaus. They are following a healthy low calorie diet and exercises, but their weight does not budge.
Your body slowly adapts to your diet and workout program. It becomes efficient at expanding calories.
Believe it or not, our bodies do not like having a low body fat storage. Our survival instincts kick in and as a result our metabolism slows down.
This is where you will need to apply some changes to your diet and workout to help keep the ball rolling.
To break out of your plateau you might want to either lower your calories or increase your workout frequency and/or intensity.
Also, following any of the steps below will help you break out of your weight loss plateau. The material in this entire article can be used to break through.
Plateaus are a natural part of weight loss. It might appear discouraging as you are still following a low calorie diet and you are exercising but you are not losing weight. This is because your body has adapted to your diet and workout program. To break out, you will need to apply changes – lowering your calories, increasing exercise intensity, adding diversity, etc.
5. You’re Not Lifting Weights
The go-to exercises for those trying to lose weight is usually cardio. Lots of it.
While cardio is, without a doubt, a great way to burn extra calories, it should not be your only form of exercise.
Resistance training, such as lifting weights, is one of the most important things that you can do when trying to lose weight.
They will help you build muscle.
Muscle tissue is metabolically active. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn whilst resting or exercising.
If your goal is not to get “bulky”, don’t worry. Muscle growth is far more complex than you think. Just by lifting some dumbbells and barbells when at the gym, you’re not going to automatically grow bigger.
Muscle soreness is another factor. After a good resistance training you will leave the gym feeling sore the next day.
Sore muscles are a result of your workout damaging your muscle fibers. After your workout your body enters a “repair stage” where it begins rebuilding your muscle fibers and building new ones to prevent further damage. This is essentially what muscle growth looks like.
During this repair stage, your body will naturally use more calories to help push the process. Muscle recovery lasts for about 48 hours after your workout (depending on your composition). What that means is that you are going to be burning extra calories for 48 hours after leaving the gym.
Lastly, lifting weights can help prevent metabolic slow down. Ensuring that you will not hit a “brick wall” and see more long-term weight loss progress.
If you don’t have any free weights laying around, or if you do not wish to join the gym, that’s fine. Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges are a great starting point.
You can also opt-in and get yourself some resistance bands to help add some variety to your resistance training.
Adding resistance training to your workout program will greatly benefit your weight loss progress. They will help you burn more calories, prevent muscle loss and help maintain long-term fat loss.
6. You Are Not Carb Cycling
Carb cycling, or carb manipulation, is a great tool for those who struggle to lose weight. It’s the practice of maximizing the benefits from eating carbohydrates, while minimizing the negatives.
Here is how it works:
You eat your normal amount of carbohydrates during your training days, which should be about 50% of your total daily calories.
And you eat fewer carbohydrates during your rest days (i.e. when you’re not exercising).
The goal of carb cycling is for you to match your body’s need for carbs.
During your training days you will need more carbohydrates to help fuel your workouts. And because you don’t need as many calories and energy for your resting days, you eat fewer carbs.
The high-carb days are also in place to help refuel your muscles’ glycogen stores, which will help improve workout performance (study). They will also help the function of appetite and weight regulating hormones – leptin and ghrelin (study, study).
Your low fat, resting, days will switch your body to a more “fat based” system for energy. This will improve your body’s ability to use fat, and stored fat, as energy (study, source).
This study shows how after 8 weeks of switching to a high fat high protein breakfast (such as eggs) participants saw a 65% improvement in weight loss.
As a guide, if you follow the traditional 50% ratio of carb calories during your training days. Lower that amount to about 10% – 20% for your resting days.
As you are lowering your carb intake, lower your calorie intake too. This will make it easier so you don’t have to stuff your face with protein and fats to maintain the same calories. Lower your resting day calorie intake with 200 to 400 calories.
Carb cycling utilizes the benefits of carbs while minimizing the negative effects. Eat carbs as you would (40% – 50%) of your total calories on your training days. And eat about 10% to 20% of carbs (from your total calories) during your resting days. Lower the total amount of calories you eat during resting days with about 200-400 fewer calories.
7. You Are Not Eating Enough Protein
You have probably heard of how important protein is for those who aim to build muscle.
That’s only half of the story. Protein is the most important nutrient for losing weight.
Our bodies use more energy to metabolize protein when compared to carbs and fats.
When eating protein that is equal to 25-30% of your total caloric intake, it was shown to increase metabolism by 80-100 calories per day (study, study).
Another notable contribution of protein to weight loss is its ability to reduce appetite. Protein leaves you feeling fuller and lowers food cravings. This is mainly through protein’s effect on the appetite regulating hormone – ghrelin (study, study).
This study shows how by increasing the protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories, participants ate 441 fewer calories. They reported feeling satiated and having no cravings for unhealthy foods. As a result, they lost 11lbs (5kg) in 12 weeks.
Protein can also help prevent metabolic slowdown and promote a more long-term weight loss solution (study, study).
Protein is the most important nutrient for weight loss. Make sure that the macro nutrient makes up 30% of your total calories – that is about 0.8g to 1g of protein per 1lbs of your body weight. So, if you weigh 135 lbs that means you should eat about 135g of protein per day.
8. You Are Not Timing Your Meals
Meal timing is where you time your meals throughout the day to make sure that you maximize on their benefits and mitigate their drawbacks.
The time of the day that you eat your protein, fats and carbohydrate will drastically impact your workout performance and weight loss results.
Here is a simplified version of what your meal timing should look like:
1. Breakfast Time: This is when you would like to eat a balanced amount of carbs, fats and protein. Protein and fat will keep you full and satiated throughout the day. Carbohydrates will help kick start your day and ensure that you have a good amount of energy throughout it.
During your rest day you can opt in for a low carb, high fat and high protein meal This will kick start your fat-for-energy system.
2. Lunch Time: another well balanced meal with a bit more focus on protein and carbohydrates.
3. Pre-workout Meal: aim for the majority of your daily carb intake to be before your workout. Make sure that you have your meal about 1-2 hours before your workout so that the food is properly digested. The carbs before your workout will help improve your performance.
4. Post-workout Meal: more protein, carbs and less fats. Protein will initiate your muscle recovery, carbs will replenish your lost glycogen stores. Keep the fat intake lower as it will slow down the digestion of both proteins and carbs.
5. Night-time: High protein, medium fat and low carb. This is the time when you want to minimize the amount of carbs you eat. This is to ensure that you do not get a spike in insulin which will lower the release of growth hormone, which is responsible for long-term fat loss.
A low carb meal is anywhere from 10-15 grams.
Because your metabolism is at its slowest during night time, you would like to avoid high amounts of carbs as you are risking the potential of the nutrient benign converted into body fat.
Give your body enough time to digest your meal before going to bed – about 2-3 hours before sleep is ideal.
Try and avoid snacks before bed, especially those packed with refined sugars and carbs.
The time of the day at which you eat your carbs, protein or fats will impact your workout and weight loss performance. Earlier in the day is when you would like to focus on eating your carbs (breakfast,lunch and before/after your workout) ensuring you have a healthy flow of energy for your day and exercises. Low carb, high protein and mid fat is your goal for night time.
9. You Are Binge Eating (Even Though Healthy Food)
Binge eating is what I like to refer to as a “natural side effect of dieting”.
Weight loss is hard. Especially for those who try and drastically change their lifestyle and eating habits. Something I strongly do NOT recommend.
Binge eating is where you eat large amounts of foods in one sitting, often larger amounts than what your body needs.
A common excuse I hear from clients is “it’s ok, I’m still eating healthy”.
It’s not ok, though. Some healthy foods are heavy in calories. Nuts, peanut butter, dark chocolate, cheese or whole wheat products. Calories are calories.
Remember, when your aim is weight loss or fat loss you need to be in a caloric deficit.
50 grams of almonds, a very healthy snack, about 300 extra calories. One tablespoon of peanut butter is about 100 calories and half a bar of dark chocolate is about 300 calories.
Even though all these foods are healthy, a single binge can oftentimes ruin your weight loss.
When binge eating foods, you are running the risk of lowering your weight loss progress. Try and avoid eating large amounts of foods in one sitting, even if “healthy”.
10. You’re Not Eating Enough Fiber
A diet rich in dietary fiber carries a number of health benefits – it helps fight against hearth diseases, lowers cholesterol, lowers the risk of diabetes and colon cancer.
Alongside with all its health benefits, fiber can aid those trying to lose weight.
There are two kinds of dietary fiber – soluble and insoluble.
Insoluble fiber does not mix with water and passes through the gut. It can help with constipation (study).
Soluble fiber mixes with water and forms a gel-like substance that slows down the speed at which the stomach passes food to the gut.
Soluble fiber is the type of fiber which helps improve weight loss and it does so in different ways:
1. It helps reduce appetite: Soluble fiber is a powerful appetite suppressor. It gives a feeling of satiation and as a result lowers cravings and the urge to binge foods.
This will also help make sure that you stick with your diet and keep your calories in a deficit.
2. Gut bacteria diversity: there are about 100 trillion healthy bacteria living in the lower gut that help regulate a lot of our daily bodily processes.
A greater probiotic diversity in the gut is linked with lower risks in conditions such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart conditions, mental health, etc.
A recent study found that people with higher bacteria diversity had a lower chance of gaining belly fat.
process of bacteria breaking down fiber is called fermentation. During this process short-chain fatty acids are produced. This type of fat increases the process of fat burning and reduces the risk of fat storage (study).
3. Soluble fiber slows down the digestion of carbohydrates: soluble fiber is the reason why fruit is healthy, even though they are packed with sugar. It helps slow down the release of sugar in the blood and lower the spikes in insulin.
This will help lead to a more prolonged source of energy, without crashes. And helps reduce the risk of body fat storage.
A good amount of fiber intake per day is about 25-35 grams.
Here is a list of foods high in fiber that you might like to add to your grocery list:
- Red kidney beans (3 grams per 133 grams)
- Avocados (13.5 grams per 1 avocado)
- Pears (5.5 grams per 1 fruit)
- Apples (1 gram per 1 fruit)
- Flax seeds (1.5 grams per 1 tablespoon)
- Broccoli (1.5 grams per 100 grams)
- Oats (5.5 grams per 50 grams)
- Black beans (5.5 grams per 130 grams)
Most fruits and nuts contain a good amount of soluble fiber.
Soluble fiber carries a number of weight loss benefits. Make sure you enrich your meals with dietary fiber. Aim for about 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
11. You’re Not Using Cheat Meals
Cheat meals can help break weight loss plateaus and prevent your metabolism from slowing down.
What is a cheat meal?
A cheat meal is that one meal where you get to eat whatever you want. Whatever your heart desires. No matter how “unhealthy” or how many calories, carbs and fats it has. Nothing is off limits.
Treat yourself. Eat a pizza, a bunch of doughnuts or a hamburger.
You read that right, the occasional junk food break will actually benefit your weight loss results.
Sticking with a calorically deficient diet for long periods of time is hard. It’s mentally taxing and makes it harder to stick to your diet.
Allowing yourself a cheat meal every 2 weeks can help break that mental barrier and give you something worth looking forward to. Making it easier to stick to your diet.
It also prevents you from being “that person” at social events. You know who I’m talking about.
Cheat meals have been shown to help “restart” your metabolic rate (study).
And are a great tool to help with increasing the levels of the appetite and metabolism regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin – with up to 30% (study).
As a rule-of-thumb, aim for a cheat meal that is about 1,000 – 1,500 calories. This can be anything – burgers, pizza, ice cream, cookies. You name it.
Cheat meals are shown to help restart your metabolism, and improve levels of appetite and metabolic regulating hormones. Have a cheat meal once every 2 or 3 weeks.
12. You’re Following a Low-Carb Diet
The most popular form of a mainstream weight loss diet is a low carb one.
With tons of health-based websites and fitness gurus claiming that it is “the best way to lose fat and weight” I am not surprised that so many people are on it.
Here’s the thing:
It doesn’t really work. Or at least it doesn’t work in the long run.
“Any diet that wants you to eliminate carbs, protein or fat is one that should walk away from”, says Taub-Dix. “Your body needs a certain amount of nutrients, including all of the above plus the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that come along with those foods.”
Of course, you’re going to experience weight loss when you get on a low carb diet. This is simply because you are lowering your total calories consumed and you are mitigating the insulin effects of carbs.
However, at the end of the day. It really comes down to calories in and calories out. As long as you’re maintaining a caloric deficit, as discussed above, you will be losing both weight and fat.
The main disadvantage of a low carb diet is the lack of energy you will get for your workouts. The lower the energy, the lower the effectiveness of your workouts.
Secondly, a low carb diet limits your meal prep. Lower meal diversity makes it harder to stick with a diet.
A low carb diet also carries the risk of causing a metabolic slow down and an increase in appetite due to the decrease in leptin and ghrelin.
Lastly, you will not be able to benefit from the weight loss benefits of dietary fiber, which I mentioned above. While there are a few low carb sources of fiber, the majority of them come from fruits and vegetables – both of which are higher in carbohydrates.
A low carb diet is not sustainable. It will also lead to low energy during your workouts and lower their effectiveness. You also miss out on carb related weight loss benefits, such as dietary fiber and a decrease in appetite and metabolic hormones.
13. You’re Relying On Diet Pills
We all wish there was a shortcut to a successful weight loss. And companies know that.
This is why there are so many brands and fitness “professionals” who are constantly trying to sell you the best solution to weight loss in pill form.
Ask yourself, if diet pills worked, do you believe that people would bother exercising and dieting? Probably not. We would all be taking supplements.
I will repeat myself again. Weight loss occurs when you are in a caloric deficit. No miracle-work diet pill will help you do that.
I have had a good number of clients who had not changed anything in their diet or exercise. They had simply bought some diet pills and expected results and were asking why haven’t they lost any weight.
I’ll tell you straight up – do not waste your money.
Put simply, diet pills do not work and you should not waste your money on them. Do not rely on them! Focus on your diet and exercise.
14. You Are Drinking Your Calories (Smoothies and Fruit Juices Are Bad For Weight Loss)
The reason why you cannot lose weight could be because you are drinking sugary beverages.
They are the most fattening items on the shelf and can single-handedly ruin your weight loss.
They carry no satiety (study, study), they are often jam packed with calories and sugar, they are easy for your body to digest (leading to insulin spikes), and should be completely avoided.
Beverages like Coke and Pepsi are obvious culprits. But the ones you should be watching out are those branded as “healthy” – like vitamin water and especially fruit juices.
Fruit juices are packed with fructose sugar and lack the one thing that makes fruits healthy – fiber.
Another culprit that hides under the “healthy umbrella” is the smoothie. Smoothies have recently become extremely popular in the fitness industry and are a topic for an article on its own.
They will not help you lose weight! As a matter of fact they might to the exact opposite.
Do not fall victim to popular trends and marketing ploys claiming that “juice cleanses” and specific juices will boost weight loss. They will not.
And as much as you will hate me for saying this – that also means no sugar in your morning coffee.
Try and limit as much as you can the consumption of such beverages. If you can completely remove them from your daily lifestyle, even better.
Any beverage that contains calories needs to be avoided. This includes drinks that fall under the “healthy” label – fruit juices and smoothies especially.
15. You’re Not Drinking Water
Increasing the amount of water you drink can help improve weight loss.
Drinking water has been shown to increase the amount of calories you burn while resting. With some studies showing a 25-30% increase in calories burned just after 10 minutes of drinking water. This effect lasts for 1.5 hours (study, study).
A very interesting study shows how women who increased their water consumption with 1 liter managed to lose 2kg (4.4lbs) of weight. The impressive part is that the only lifestyle change that was made for participants was the amount of water they drank. Everything else remained the same.
Drinking water before meals is also shown to help reduce appetite.
In this 12 week weight loss study, participants who drank water 30 minutes before their meal managed to lose 44% more weight than the group that did not.
Drinking water has also shown signs of lowering the risk of weight gain through fat storage (study, source).
The recommended consumption of water to achieve these results is roughly 8 oz (2 liters) per day. This varies from person to person. Try and aim around 2 liters as your base line.
Drinking water can help improve weight loss. Make sure you drink about 8 ounces or 2 liters of water a day.
16. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep could be the main reason why most struggle with weight loss. I mean it.
A study showed how people with poor sleep have 55% to 89% higher likelihood of suffering from obesity. Another study claims that people who got less than four hours of sleep were 73% more likely to be obese.
Another study showed how participants who underwent a 14 day decrease in their quality of sleep saw a 55% drop in weight loss performance (source). This is while participants maintained the same caloric deficit.
This is potentially caused by a rise in the stress hormone cortisol, which signals the body to conserve energy. Cortisol is shown to increase fat storage and weight gain (study).
Using your phone, laptop or TV before bed to watch something, or to fall asleep to, might be disrupting your sleep.
They are shown to suppress the release of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep (source). As well as reducing the quality of sleep (study). According to experts, setting a “tech curfew” that is anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of no screens before bed will benefit you and your sleep.
Drinking too much coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks during the day might be disrupting your sleep too (source).
Instead of relying on your morning coffee to you wake up, perhaps your goal should be better sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
Sleep deprivation can slow down or completely stop your weight loss. Make sure you get about 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Limit your screen time before bed to anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before going to sleep. And try to lower the amount of caffeine you drink during the day to help improve your sleep quality.
17.Your Cardio Lacks Intensity
Cardio is often synonymous with weight loss. While cardio should not be the only form of exercise you use, it should definitely be a part of your program.
The problem is that when most people do cardio to lose weight, they often opt in for doing low intensity steady-paced cardio (i.e. low intensity cardio).
Increasing your cardio workout intensity will help you improve weight loss progress.
High intensity cardio is more effective for burning calories. It is regarded as more effective for reducing belly fat (study, study).
High intensity cardio is also less time consuming, more engaging and entertaining, and will help for a more long-term weight loss.
Here is a good list of cardio exercises that you can consider adding to your program.
You can also test out a high intensity interval training (HIIT) such as the Tabata protocol.
Doing more high intensity cardio will help you burn more calories and thus improve your weight loss. Aim to add one or two sessions to your weekly workout routine.
18. You’re Not Doing Compound Exercises
Every exercise falls into one of two categories:
Isolated – involves the movement of one joint and one major muscle.
Compound – involves the movement of a minimum of two joints and more than one muscle group.
While isolated exercises are great for targeting specific lagging muscles and reduce the risk of injury. They are not great for weight loss.
Compound exercises on the other hand work wonders when accompanied with a good diet to help promote weight loss.
They target multiple muscle groups all at once. This explosive nature leads to a larger amount of calories being burned.
During your resting period you will have a large number of muscles, small and large, recovering from your workout. This in turn will raise your resting metabolic rate and cause you to burn more calories whilst at rest.
I am not only referring to resistance training. Compound cardio exercises such as jump rope and burpees are great examples that will get your heart rate racing and your body burning more calories.
Here are some of the best compound exercises that you can add your workout program:
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Military Presses
- Good Mornings into squats
When designing your workout for the day or week, have half of your exercises be compound.
Compound exercises will skyrocket your weekly calories burned and will help maintain a long-term weight loss regiment. Make sure that at least half of the exercises in your workout are compound.
19. You’re Not Doing Upper/Lower Body Super sets
Upper and lower body super sets are a great way to enhance your workouts. They are considered as a bit of a “hack” that will lead to you burning exponentially more calories and as a result will help you boost weight loss.
The reason why they are so effective is because of two main reasons:
You involve two major muscle groups from the upper and lower body such as your back and chest (upper body) and your quads and hamstrings (lower body).
This will increase your calories burned, improve the release of growth hormone, which is the main hormone responsible for fat loss in the body, and will increase your resting metabolic rate.
Also, it forces your blood to travel from your upper body to your lower body. This will skyrocket your metabolism and lead to you burning more calories.
This training protocol will drive your metabolic rate to hyper-drive. If you are struggling losing weight adding upper/lower body super sets will definitely help you out.
Try and add one or two workouts throughout the week where you combine upper and lower body where the majority of the workout is comprised super sets.
Lower body/upper body super sets are notorious for burning lots of calories and drastically increasing your metabolic rate. Add one or two upper/lower body splits where the majority of the session is complied of super sets.
20. You’re Too Stressed
Perhaps the reason why no matter what you do you are not losing weight is because your stress has gone up.
Stress and weight gain, or the inability to lose weight, go hand in hand.
There are two main ways stress influences our results:
- Stress can lead to cravings. We often reach for “comfort foods” when we are feeling stressed or down.
I think we all have experienced a moment in life where after a long stressful week all you want to do is kick it back, watch some of your favorite shows and binge eat your favorite junk food.
To make matters even worse, sources show a correlation between people with higher levels of stress having elevated food cravings (study, study, source).
- Cortisol hinders weight loss. Cortisol is naturally released when we are either psychologically or physically stressed.
The problem with cortisol is that it promotes weight gain and fat storage (study, study, source).
Stress is something with which I personally struggle every day. It almost became a natural part of my everyday life.
So what are you supposed to do if you are experiencing prolonged stress?
Take the time of the day to check in with yourself and try to lower your tension as much as possible.
For example, my knee-jerk reaction is to quickly get mad at things that cause distress, but are out of my control. Whenever I find myself in such situations, I take a deep breath and reconsider the circumstances from a different view. This usually helps calm me down.
Many people claim that meditation and yoga are great for them to relieve their stress levels. Maybe give them a try. A study found that meditation can decrease binge eating and emotional eating (study).
I personally find exercise to work wonders for relieving stress.
You can also speak with a professional in the field such as a therapist. Especially if you are dealing with chronic stress.
Stress greatly impacts weight loss and can single-handedly be the reason why you’re not losing weight. Aim to lower your stress levels through mindful thinking, practicing meditation and/or yoga. If you suffer from chronic stress you should contact a professional.
21. You Might Have a Medical Condition
I believe that this article does a good job at showing that weight loss is a complicated process. There are a lot of factors involved.
Some factors we can control such as our diet and exercise. We can also work to manage our sleeping patterns and stress.
Unfortunately, there are some factors of weight loss which we cannot control.
If you notice that you are not losing weight even after applying changes to your diet, exercise and lifestyle there might be a medical condition or medication which is making it hard for you to lose weight.
Medical conditions and medication such as:
- Thyroid conditions
- Medications to treat diabetes
- Some antidepressant medications (SSRIs)
- Corticosteroid (steroid) medication
- Beta-blockers to treat high blood pressure
- Antipsychotic and anticonvulsant medications
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Sleep apnea
Are known to make weight loss harder. And can even lead to weight gain even though exercise and diet is maintained.
I would recommend speaking with your doctor to rule out the possibility of a medical condition holding you back.
Certain medical conditions or medications might be negatively impacting your weight loss efforts. Contact your doctor to help understand your options.
22. You’re Not Eating Whole Foods
Meal prep can be hard sometimes. And stores are offering an easy solution to that problem – portable and easy meals.
However, most store bought ready meals are packed with excess calories, are often low in nutrients (such as protein and fiber), have a high fat content and most times are rich in sugar.
Companies do these things because they are far more interested in the meal’s flavor than they are in its nutritional value.
Don’t be fooled by foods labeled as healthy. Those foods are also quite often loaded with excess calories, sugars and fats that will throw your diet off balance and disrupt your weight loss.
“Healthy snacks” are even worse. Try and avoid those as much as possible.
Aim to prepare your meals using whole food ingredients. And if you decide to opt-in and buy yourself something from the store, try and get single-ingredient foods.
Make sure that your diet is predominantly made up of whole foods. Try and avoid store bought ready meals, even those labeled as healthy.
23. You Are Following a Fad Diet
Atkins diet, keto, paleo, juice diet, low carb, low fat, the list goes on.
Yeah, I said it. Keto is a fad diet.
And I am only touching the surface. There are some niche fad diets that will make you scratch your head in wonder. But people follow them.
It’s easy. Not easy in the sense of easy to follow, but rather easy to understand.
Most of those diets offer two things:
- A promise of fast weight loss
Controlling your diet from scratch can be overwhelming. Especially with the vast amount of information that the Internet offers.
The problem with most fad diets is that they are not based on scientific evidence and quite often can be counterproductive to weight loss.
Other times, diets like the ketogenic one, are based on real science but are extraordinarily limiting and hard to follow. Why get on a diet that will stress you out and once you get off of it you will quickly gain your weight and fat back?
The other issue with fad diets is they are often tricky and misleading.
Companies and gurus are smart. They give you a diet they know will deliver quick short-term results and make you believe they work.
They drastically lower your calorie intake, your carb intake or fat intake. Of course you’re going to lose weight.
The question is for how long until you hit a brick wall and fall in a plateau?
And, as already discussed, your weight is influenced by a multitude of factors. Most diets lead to losing water weight due to their low carb content. Fooling you into believing that you’re on the right track.
If you are following a fad diet and are wondering why you are not losing weight and why are you no longer seeing results, this is why.
Here is a quick checklist to make sure you avoid fad diets.
If you see a “____ diet”. Avoid it.
There you go. I just saved you from wasting your time and money. You’re welcome.
Most fad diets are counterproductive to weight loss or are not sustainable. Instead of following a specific diet, focus on eating whole foods, following a caloric deficit of 300-500 calories, and practice meal timing and cycling. Combine a good diet and exercise for the best results.
24. You’re Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle
Modern life has made sedentary life the new norm.
We’re sitting at desks for the majority of the day. We drive cars or take buses to commute. And we take elevators and escalators when moving indoors.
When you sit for hours without any movement your body experiences a decreased production in lipase (by 90-95%) – a fat-inhibiting enzyme (study), which is shown to help boost weight loss. The same study also claims that exercise did not have an effect on lipase production, but “incidental activity” (such as walking, cycling, walking up stairs) did.
That hour that you spend exercising may not be enough to fight off the 8 hours you spend seated.
Try and switch to less comfortable alternatives. Instead of taking the escalator or elevator, take the stairs. Instead of driving everywhere, walk or cycle.
For example, what I have been doing is is I would get off the bus a couple of stops early, or park my car further away, and walk the rest of the distance.
And if you find yourself sitting at your desk for too long. Stand up and stretch for a bit. Or use your lunch break to take a walk.
This study shows how people who stood up and stretched once every hour saw a boost in their metabolism of about 13%.
The extra 300-600 calories you burn everyday will greatly impact your weight loss.
Focus on moving more throughout the day. Stand up and stretch every hour when you’re seated. Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Walk and cycle rather than always taking the car or public transport. All of these will help you boost your daily calories burned by 300-600, which will benefit weight loss.
25. You’re Not Adding Diversity
I have noticed that adding diversity to my workout and diet has shown to help me a lot when I’m not losing weight or when I plateau.
While some claim that you do not have to add diversity for weight loss. Others state that a monotonous diet can lead to weight loss plateau.
Change your exercise times. Switch it up.
Instead of exercising Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Exercise Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Increase the intensity of your Friday exercise more than what it was last week.
Instead of eating oatmeal for breakfast. Try eating something like an omelette. Changing the foods you eat and their timings help too. Experiment with meals you haven’t tried before.
Anything you can do to diversify your diet and exercise, do it.
Also, this will help make the process far more enjoyable and exciting.
Who wants to do the same thing over and over again? You’ll end up giving up.
Try and shake things up. Change bits and pieces of your diet and workout every 2-3 weeks.
Add some diversity to your diet and workout every 2-3 weeks. This will help prevent metabolic slow down and help prevent weight loss plateau.
26. You’re Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can prevent or slow down weight loss.
Alcoholic beverages are usually high in calories.
A 12 oz beer is about 150 calories. A glass of red wine is 125 calories on average. If you were to drink four beers, you would be consuming about 600 calories.
Moderate drinking seems to be ok. Heavy drinking, however, is linked to weight gain (study).
Instead of cutting out alcohol completely, I would recommend lowering the amount you drink. Be mindful of its calories and make sure it fits in your daily calorie intake.
Alcoholic beverages are rich in calories. Try and limit the amount of alcohol you drink as much as you can and be cautious of your total caloric intake when drinking alcohol.
27. You Have Unrealistic Expectations
Social media, advertisements, pill pushers, bloggers, fitness gurus. One thing all of these have in common is that they have helped construct unrealistic weight loss expectations.
Weight loss is a slow process. Even when done correctly.
It’s true. You can lose a lot of weight in the beginning. This is called “newbie gains”. It is where your body reacts to the sudden change to your diet, exercise and lifestyle.
Hardly any person can sustain a weight loss of 1-2 pounds every week for months straight. Why? Because it’s unhealthy.
Do not listen to those annoying commercials and landing pages that claim that by following their program you can lose 30 pounds in a month. Simply not possible.
Setting realistic and feasible goals will help make sure that you keep on track and do not get discouraged after suffering unmet expectations.
Depending on your weight and composition, if you are just now starting out you could expect a 1-2 lbs drop in weight per week.
After a while (about 4-6 weeks) you will notice your weight loss rate drop. This is natural as you have probably gained some muscle and bone density in the process.
The longer you keep going and the more you are going to start shifting your attention from your weight to other measurements. Using pictures and video, and measuring body parts to ensure you are reaching your desired body composition.
Realistically, if you’re following a good 12 week weight loss program, you could expect losing about 15-30 lbs. This depends on your starting weight. The heavier your weight, the more you can expect to lose within that time frame.
Remember that weight loss is a relatively slow process. Losing 1-2 lbs every week for months is hardly achievable by many. A realistic goal would be losing 15-30lbs when following a 12 week program (this depends on your starting weight and your commitment). Be critical of influencers and other fitness personalities for creating unrealistic expectations.
Weight loss is no easy task. There are numerous factors that can slow down your progress or even stop it altogether.
At the most basic level you have to remember three things:
- Weight loss only occurs when you are in a caloric deficit.
- Incorporating exercise with your diet is important.
- And, you need to do resistance training.
Try adding other strategies to your program that will help improve your weight loss such as using cheat meals, increasing the intensity of your workouts, decreasing stress, getting more sleep, etc.
And do not get discouraged when you hit a plateau. It’s a natural part of any program.
Most importantly you have to remember that weight loss requires patience, dedication and self discipline. Take your time, do not rush it. Apply changes to your lifestyle slowly over time instead of throwing yourself in the deep end.
Excellent post! You’ve captured many, of not only weight loss issues, but also important elements to improve health and fitness. Great information.