You’re eating good, you’re exercising, and the weight used to be falling off, but it’s not. Or maybe it was and then stopped.
You’re frustrated.. “WHY AM I NOT LOSING WEIGHT?!”
If this has happened to you… I have felt that pain.
Wondering why you’re not losing weight is fairly common occurrence and is often referred to as a weight loss plateau.
Struggling to lose weight or hitting weight loss plateau can be one of the most frustrating parts of the journey.
I’ve hit a weight loss plateau more than once. It sucks.
There’s many reasons it happens and sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out the solution.
Here are 15 options to consider:
1. YOU’RE NOT TRACKING WHAT YOU EAT.
The number one reason I see people struggling to lose weight is because they’re under estimating how much they’re eating.
You make some changes to your diet and the weight starts falling off. But then your body gets used to this new diet and you stop losing weight as fast.
You made some great progress, but if you really want to take it to the next level, you need to know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
I highly recommend you track everything you eat for at least a week.
If I am trying to lose weight, I will track everything I’m eating the entire time, but I know this is not for everyone, so I encourage you to try it for a week just to get a better idea of your actual numbers, you might be surprised.
There’s lots of apps and websites that will allow you to very easily track your food. I personally use the MyFitnessPal app. I go slightly more in depth about how to track your food and what your number should be in my How to Count Your Macros post, and even more in depth in my fitness program if you’re interested.
2. YOU’RE OVER ESTIMATING HOW HARD YOU’RE EXERCISING.
This goes hand in hand with my last point.
To lose fat, generally speaking, you have to be eating in a caloric deficit – aka you need to be eating less calories than you’re burning in a day.
If you’re under estimating how much you’re eating, and under estimate how much you’re burning, that is a good candidate for a reason you might not be losing weight.
To get a better idea of how many calories you’re actually burning, you can first try a calories burned calculator.
The best way that I have found to track how many calories I’m burning is to wear a fitness tracker, like a FitBit or Apple watch – there are many other cheaper options as well though! The important thing is that it monitors your heart rate. This means it will take into account how hard your are working to determine how many calories you burned more accurately.
3. YOU’RE EATING TOO FEW CALORIES.
Have you ever heard about putting your body into starvation mode if you don’t eat enough?
It’s a real thing.
If you’re body is not getting enough fuel, aka calories, to function, it will think it is starving and make changes to burn the least amount of calories and hold on to as much fat as possible.
How do you know if you’re eating enough? If you haven’t already gotten it, again, this is where a calorie calculator comes in handy.
So if you’re not eating enough, that’s something you might want to look into if trying to get over a weight loss plateau.
4. YOU MIGHT BE LOSING FAT AND NOT KNOWING IT.
You might think you’ve hit a weight loss plateau because the scale isn’t moving. But you have to remember that muscle weighs more than fat.
You might be losing fat and gaining muscle! This was one problem that I personally was having and didn’t realize it until I looked at my progress pictures.
Would you believe I’m almost the exact same weight in these 2 pictures?
Don’t use the scale as your only means of measuring your progress.
My personal favorite way to measure my fitness progress is to take pictures
Would you believe I weighed almost the exact same in the two pictures below (less than a 1lb difference)?!?!
That’s how much the scale can lie to you.
Try to take one at the beginning of every week, in relatively the same clothes and in the same space/lighting.
You can also get a flexible tape measure to track inches lost or even take note of your clothes fitting differently!
5. YOU’RE EATING TOO MANY PROCESSED FOODS STILL.
If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau and you’ve been ‘eating healthy’, but still sneaking in some processed foods, it’s time to cut those out!
The more processing a food went through to get into the form that it’s sold in the stores, the less you should be eating it – think cookies, chips, boxed meals, etc. Try to stick to whole, natural foods like meats, fruits, and veggies.
6. YOU’RE EATING TOO MANY “DIET” FOODS.
A common misconception is that if a food says ‘fat-free’ or ‘sugar-free’, then it’s healthy.
This unfortunately is not true. Most of the time, the natural fat and sugars that have been removed to be able to put that on the label, has been replaced with even worse for you ingredients.
If you’re struggling to lose weight or get over a weight loss plateau, try ditching anything that says fat-free or sugar-free. If you can’t get rid of them all together, replace them with their original counterparts, just in smaller portions.
7. YOU’RE STRESSED.
When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. When you’re cortisol levels are too high, it has been correlated with fat accumulation around the midsection.
So take it easy on yourself. Definitely don’t stress about losing weight. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint, and the only person in the race is you.
8. YOU’RE NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH.
Sleep deprivation also triggers cortisol release, so similar to reason #9 that you might have hit a weight loss plateau, if you’re not getting enough sleep, this could be the culprit!
9. YOUR BODY HAS ADJUSTED.
If you’re doing the same workout routine and eating the same foods over and over again, your body has probably become acclimated to it. Try switching things up if this is the case and you’ve hit a weight loss plateau.
This is one of my biggest complaints about online workout programs and even online coaching. I’ve gotten a few of both and they all did the same thing, they gave me a hand full of foods and a handful of workouts and that was it. After you do those enough, then what? You’re forced to buy more.
This was the idea behind my Fit for Life diet and exercise program – to be able to buy this one program and never have to buy another, ever again. I saw the pattern for success that all of the programs were following, and it wasn’t rocket science, so I decided to make a program where I teach you how to build your own diet and exercise plans (along with giving you a number of examples) so that you could have an infinite number of workouts and meal plans!
10. YOU’RE NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER.
Drinking water can help you overcome a weight loss plateau in a number of different ways.
For starters, people much more often than you would think, confuse thirst for hunger. If you think you’re hungry, drink a big glass of water and wait 10 minutes to see if you’re still hungry before eating.
Drinking water before a meal will help you become full faster and therefore eat less.There was a 12 week study that showed people who drank 17 oz of water 30 minutes for a meal lost 44% more weight.
Getting enough water is vital to allowing your body to flush and detox itself properly.
For and hour and a half after drinking water, it has been shown to boost the rate your body burns calories by 24-30%.
11. YOU’RE NOT LIFTING WEIGHTS.
Weight lifting or any form of resistance training is a great way to lose weight.
Women in particular are more inclined to skip weight lifting in favor of cardio when trying to lose weight, but both are important.
In the picture on the left below, I had already lost 15-20lbs. On the right is the difference adding in weight lifting made.
If you’re afraid of getting bulky, the picture below is me after lifting as heavy as I possibly could for well over a year consistently.
The amount of muscle mass you have plays an important role in how fast your metabolism is. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn naturally. So try hitting the weights if you’re looking to get over a weight loss plateau.
12. YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH PROTEIN.
If you want to gain lean muscle like I mentioned in the last point, protein is going to be your best friend.
There’s a reason all the gym bros are always grunting about protein… bro.
Protein has the highest thermic effect of food, meaning eating protein burns more calories during digestion. Protein also contains an amino acid, leucine, that numerous research studies have identified as a potent catalyst for burning body fat.
Protein naturally found in food like meat and eggs is most important, but you can also get more from a protein supplement.
There are also a few additional supplements that can help boost fat loss in there well as a bonus.
13. YOU’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH CARDIO.
This is the opposite counterpart to the #5 reason why you’ve hit a weight loss plateau. Many people find cardio to be miserable, including myself. Increasing my cardio, but not taking away from my weight lifting time, is almost always a guaranteed way for me to personally get over the slump when I’ve hit a weight loss plateau.
Cardio does NOT have to be just running on a treadmill. Switch it up to be something you enjoy! This is another point I stress and go more in depth on in my program.
14. YOU’RE TAKING IN TOO MUCH SUGAR.
Unless you are tracking your food, there is a good chance you’re taking in way more sugar than you would ever guess – and therefore carbs since sugar is a carb.
Look on the back of almost any label and you are likely to find sugar, or some form of it, listed in the ingredients list – even in the most unexpected foods.
Some common places high amounts of sugar is found that you might not guess are:
- Protein bars
- Orange juice, apple juice
- Spaghetti sauce
- Flavored Coffee
- ‘Sports’ drinks
- Canned soup
- On the go breakfast bars
- Canned beans
That doesn’t mean you have to cut all of these completely, but look for alternatives and keep everything in moderation.
15. YOU’RE MAKING EXCUSES FOR YOURSELF.
We’re all guilty of this at one point or another.
Our mind has a funny way of trying to avoid pain, aka hard work, aka what’s going to get us results.
We make subtle excuses for why we’re not succeeding and to take the blame off our conscience.
If you work at learning to recognize and overcome your excuses, you will be amazed at how disciplined you become and how much faster you start to see results.
16. YOU’RE WINGING IT
Have you ever walked into the gym thinking you had a plan..
but your plan was just “I’ll work on my legs today.. eh, maybe some abs too”
I never get as much out of those days as I do when I walk in prepared.
When I come in with an exact workout, my workout is 93% more effective.
That’s a made up percentage, but I’m pretty sure that’s close.
You should have an exact plan that lays out which exercises and how many sets/reps you’re going to do.
I explain exactly how to create your own workout plan in my Fit for Life program.. along with 16 weeks of premade workouts to get you going.
You can also learn more about what’s included in it here…
17 . YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION.
Certain medical conditions will halt your weight loss no matter how hard you try. For example, thyroid issues and sleep apnea.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor if you’re trying to lose weight or starting a new diet or exercise regimen!