15 Common Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight
If you’re stuck at a weight loss plateau, these 15 common reasons why you can’t lose weight should be able to help you jumpstart weight loss again!
You start by making small changes to your diet. You drink a green smoothie every day, and you stop eating dessert.
You don’t lose weight.
So you decide to do something drastic, and you order a bunch of expensive, chemical-laden weight loss drinks from the internet.
You commit to counting every calorie that you put in your mouth.
The scale doesn’t budge.
Does this sound familiar?
If you aren’t losing weight no matter what you do, you may feel as though your body just doesn’t work properly. It’s easy to lose motivation and just resign yourself to living an unhealthy lifestyle if the supposedly healthy one isn’t getting you anywhere.
To be honest, losing weight is about more than just burning more calories than you eat.
Your weight can be affected by a number of factors, including your mindset and your hormonal balance. Read below for additional insight, and scroll to the end for one simple solution!
15 Common Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight
You consistently gain weight when you’re not losing it.
This sounds strange, but the average American does gain weight each year according to the research…
A 2000 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that adults between the ages of 25 and 44 gain between 3.4 and 5.2 percent of their body weight each year (1). That’s a yearly increase of 7.5 pounds for a 150-pound woman.
If your norm is to gain and not just to maintain, it can seem to take double the effort to lose weight. Working to maintain your weight first can give you a better baseline to work from.
You’re lying to yourself.
We are all dishonest with ourselves in so many ways.
Perhaps you are losing weight, but you just aren’t meeting an unrealistic goal.
Maybe you tell yourself that you’re counting calories, but you give yourself a freebie when you’re in the break room at the office.
You might complain that you work out 7 days a week, but most of your gym time is spent chatting with friends.
Be honest with yourself about your weight loss attempts. It can be difficult to come to terms with this awareness, but it can help you understand what’s really hampering your weight loss efforts and help you meet your goals.
You’re eating something that your body doesn’t like.
There is a reason that everyone is cutting out gluten and dairy these days. More and more diet plans are heading towards this conclusion.
Compounds in both can be triggers for autoimmune disease. People can also be sensitive to gluten and dairy even if they don’t have an autoimmune disease.
Your body can be sensitive to just about any food or chemical. If a food causes inflammation or intestinal damage, it can interfere with the nutrients that your body does absorb and make it hard to lose weight.
The best way to find out if you’re sensitive to a certain food is to become keenly aware of your body, test out what happens when you eliminate and re-introduce the food and be honest with yourself.
At the bottom of this article, we’ll talk more about our 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge, which eliminates potentially inflammatory foods for a period of 21 days to help you jumpstart your weight loss. This will help you determine how your body responds to certain foods.
You’re drinking too much.
We’re not talking about water here. In fact, if you’re drinking enough water, you can actually improve your body’s ability to lose weight.
However, if you’re drinking too much alcohol or too many sugar-laden beverages, you may have trouble losing weight. This can happen even if your total caloric intake is restricted.
Alcohol and sugary drinks aren’t good for you for many reasons, but they can lower your metabolism and prevent your liver from functioning properly. This can leave you with excess fat, especially around your abdomen.
Your cheat day is out of control.
Many dieters allow themselves a way out in the form of a cheat meal or cheat day. Allowing yourself to slip up for a moment is one thing, but bingeing yourself into oblivion is another.
We’ve all been there…
If your cheat day involves doughnuts for breakfast, an entire pizza for lunch and a fast food dinner chased down by several beers and an ice cream cone, you might be sabotaging any efforts that you’re making to lose weight.
Real talk… Small rewards WORK.
This is a concept that works very effectively in our 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge, but there are very specific rules regarding how much you can eat and how long it lasts. It’s very important to keep these boundaries in place so that you don’t go overboard.
You’re not letting yourself feel hungry.
Many diets claim to help you lose weight without the hunger. Experiencing natural feelings of hunger and satiety can be good for your waistline, though.
Shying away from hunger can lead you to eat for comfort or to eat too many small meals throughout the day, contributing to a higher calorie count. Your body won’t use your own fat for energy if you’re constantly supplying it with fuel through food.
We advocate a diet that helps you LISTEN to your body and determine when you are actually hungry and when you are simply eating out of boredom (it happens FAR more often then you think!).
Research shows that mindful eating can help you lose weight, change your eating behaviors and even reduce psychological distress (2).
Turn off the TV and look away from your smart phone while you eat. When you notice that you’re not hungry anymore, put away your plate.
If you live with a family member or friend, try to make meal times a community activity. It will help you pay attention to what you are eating as well as connect with others.
If you live alone, light a candle and take some down-time to eat your meal. It will help you relax and lower your cortisol (stress) levels.
You’ve been doing the same thing for too long.
If you’re actively trying to lose weight, things shift after a little while. The weight stops dropping so noticeably and your metabolism begins to change.
When you’re doing any kind of weight loss program, give yourself a break periodically. Maintaining your weight loss is just as important as achieving it.
Focusing on staying at the same weight for a while can help your body reset so you can ultimately continue and reach your goal.
Guys, this goes back to the importance of a cheat meal in your weight loss journey. Not only does it give you motivation, but it helps to give your body a break from extreme dieting.
You’re not sleeping well.
If you’re sleep deprived or don’t get adequate rest, your metabolism can suffer.
Sleep problems can also mess with your body’s hunger and satiety mechanisms, making you feel hungry even when you’re not.
See our article on the importance of sleep for further reading on how sleep impacts your hormones, weight loss, and much more.
You don’t have enough stomach acid.
According to Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, stomach acid helps the gall bladder secrete bile, which helps break down fat (3). Stomach acid helps the liver and the pancreas do their job and break down the right nutrients at the right time.
Many people have low stomach acid, which can surprisingly be the cause of heartburn. If enough acid isn’t available to help digest the food in your stomach, your stomach muscles will do most of the work.
This pushes food up into your esophagus, causing heartburn. You end up taking an antacid, which makes your esophagus feel better but further exacerbates the problem, according to Chris Kresser.
Helping your body to produce enough stomach acid (by reducing your intake of antacids or by supplementing with HCl) could help you lose weight if this is the problem.
I also highly recommend Chris Kresser’s book, The Paleo Cure, if you’re looking for a good book to read on dieting and overall health. He talks in-depth about inflammatory foods as they pertain to your diet as well as other common health topics, including sleep, exercise, and meditation.
You’re not hydrated.
Research shows that drinking enough water, especially 30 minutes before meals, can help you lose weight (4).
Just don’t drink too much water during a meal, or you could dilute the stomach acid that you need to digest the food.
Try adding some lemon or cucumber to give your taste buds a treat!
You’re using exercise as an excuse to eat more.
When people exercise too intensely while also aggressively dieting, they tend to eat back all of the calories (and more) that they just burned.
You’re left feeling utterly famished and like you “deserve” a snack.
This means that you might not be creating the calorie deficit that your body needs to lose weight.
Don’t look at exercise as a free pass to eat more; weight loss happens primarily as a result of your diet.
This is another concept that we advocate HEAVILY in our 21-Day Plan for this reason and others. Exercise is often too difficult and even damaging to the body when people reach a certain weight.
Check out our article on how to lose weight if you weigh 200 lbs or more for additional insight here.
You’re eating fake sugar.
Your body responds to more than just calories in foods. Your brain is responsible for setting your body up to receive and process nutrients.
As Dr. Hyman explains, when you trick your brain into thinking it will be getting sugar by eating calorie-free sweeteners, you set off physical and hormonal responses that make you gain weight (5).
The other problem with this is that substituting sugar for artificial sugar does not help you solve the underlying problem, which is your behavior.
A detox from sugar helps to change these eating habits and is another key concept in our diet plan.
You’re stressed out.
Excess cortisol can cause your body to hold onto excess fat. Chronic stress can also cause adrenal fatigue, which leads to hormonal imbalances that can prevent weight loss.
Even if you don’t feel mentally stressed, if you’re always focusing on being productive at the expense of adequate rest and leisure time, your body could be churning out cortisol that is keeping you from reaching your weight loss goals.
You don’t have realistic expectations.
At some point, you’re going to reach a healthy weight that works for you. Despite what you see on TV and in magazines, some body goals are unachievable due to genetics.
Don’t use genetics or hormones as an excuse, but be realistic about your weight loss goals and do not compare yourself to others.
As long as YOU are on a journey towards becoming a healthier you, you’re on the right track!
If something is not happening the way that you want it to, the quickest solution is to become aware of the problem. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what needs to be fixed.
Instead of focusing on the solution, focus on completely observing what is actually going on right now. Once you have the details about the status quo, you can effectively work toward your goals.
Guys, if you’re still with me at the end of the article here, I do want to take another minute of your time to tell you about our 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge.
I mentioned it several times in the article above regarding eliminating inflammatory foods, cheat meals to keep you motivated and to give your body a reset, and not doing intense exercise while aggressively dieting.
The point behind our diet is of course fast weight loss, but the concepts behind the Challenge are about helping you STICK WITH the diet in the long-term.
Whether they are backed by science, sound good in theory, or speak the truth, no diets actually WORK unless you can STICK WITH them.
Our diet helps our clients lose an average of 10 pounds in just 21 days, but even better is the feedback we get from people about how the program has taught them how to change their eating habits and find a diet that truly works for them in the long-term.
We have over 1,000 people in our private support group going through the Challenge together, and every day they are sharing experiences, results, motivation, and lots of recipes!
We’d love to have you check us out and join our growing community!
Start your 21 Day Fat Loss Challenge by clicking here!
If you liked this article on the 15 common reasons you can’t lose weight or have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below!
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