If you want to know why you can’t lose weight even though you’re dieting and exercising then you’ve come to the right place.
Let me ask you something…
Have you been counting calories, cutting carbs, eating protein and working out regularly but still not getting the results you want?
It can be frustrating and discouraging when you’re putting in the work but the scale doesn’t want to budge.
Don’t give up yet.
If you can’t seem to lose weight or if you’ve hit a plateau then I’m going to let you know what you’re doing wrong.
When nothing seems to be working and you stop losing weight then you have to take a bird’s eye view.
In this blog post, you’ll uncover why you can’t lose weight no matter what you do. And what to do about it so you break through those plateaus.
Why You Can’t Lose Weight No Matter What You Do
It might sound crazy, but having a plump body was an ideal feminine trait just 100 years ago
Nowadays, having a slim and toned body is the ideal.
You’re constantly hit hard by movies, TV and social media with unattainable body images.
If you can’t lose weight then it’ll be good to take a look at your history.
Are you a yo-yo dieter?
If you are then you’ve most likely found it more and more challenging to lose weight with every new attempt.
Yo-yo dieters tend to have a harder time losing weight than those who stick to a diet and exercise program long term.
Research has found this happens because your body changes the way it stores fat after you’ve been deprived.
If you deprived and starved your body for too long then your body will want to store more fat once you start reintroducing calories.
Your body does this in case it goes through a starvation period like it just did. Your body i
An animal study found mice who were put through a yo-yo diet had an immune response that causes fat loss to be more difficult.
1) Most People Aren’t Eating As Healthy As They Think
In my own personal observations as a personal trainer, I’ve noticed most people just aren’t eating as healthy as they think.
It’s going to take a lot more work on your diet than just eating a chicken breast and kale.
You have to look at your overall diet and see exactly what could be causing you to stop losing weight.
Are you sneaking in those Girl Scout cookies, diet sodas, candy bars and cereals?
If you are then there’s a good chance that could be what’s stopping your body from burning off fat.
I recommend writing down a food log of everything you eat and drink for one week. If you can’t do a week then at least go for 3 days.
Then take an objective look at your calorie, macronutrient and “cheat foods” in your diet.
Start chopping away at the bad stuff you’ve been eating.
It’s surprising to see some of the junk we all unconsciously are eating too much of.
I’m not one to put all the blame on genetics for your weight loss plateaus, but in all honesty, it does make a difference.
Some of us are born with endomorph body types causing us to retain fat and excess weight more than others.
Others are born with ectomorph body types making weight loss so easy it’s hard to gain weight.
Your genetic makeup may make losing weight more difficult for you than others.
But this doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel just yet.
It only means you’re going to have to put in some extra work than those who are born with naturally thinner body types.
I’ve found most people born with an endomorph body type are better off cutting out their carbohydrates to lose weight. It works way better.
This animal study found rats fed a modern western diet while pregnant were more likely to give birth to obese mice with slower metabolisms.
3) Diet & Exercise A.D.D.
The other big reason I’ve noticed some stop losing weight is they can’t stick with one thing for any real length of time.
To lose weight and keep it off you’re going to have to find a diet and exercise plan that works for you and keep with it.
People today all have “shiny object syndrome” where we jump to the next new opportunity without sticking to any one thing. If you would’ve just stuck with the one thing that works then you would’ve already gotten the results.
It’s easy to get distracted and want to try something else. When you end up failing a diet plan it’s human psychology to get excited about a new opportunity that could work for you.
Next thing you know you’re jumping from the Paleo diet to Keto and you’re moving on from boot camp workouts to Soul Cycle.
Stick with one thing and go all the way in.
Being realistic about your goals is key as well.
If you’re setting too high of a goal then it’ll be easy to become discouraged and give up.
Instead set 2-week, 4-week or 6-week goals. This will keep you motivated as you start stacking up these little victories.
Motivation won’t last, but you desire to reach your goal will.
4) Your Metabolism Is Trash
If you’ve haven’t eaten a leaf of kale or seen the inside of a gym in your whole life then it’s going to take more time.
Years of not taking care of yourself can’t be overturned in a matter of days or even weeks.
You might need to build up some lean muscle to jump-start your metabolism into fat burning mode.
The older you get the slower your metabolism is going to be.
With every decade your metabolism will slow 2-8%, which is most likely from decreased muscle mass.
The aging process can be harder for women as many women who didn’t use to be heavy in the past will struggle to keep the excess weight off.
Many women gain around 5-15 pounds as they age from lowering of muscle mass and decreased physical activity.
This all contributes to a slower metabolism.
Many women also gain weight during menopause as shifts in hormones cause weight loss to be difficult.
5) Not Getting Enough Sleep
If you’re not getting enough hours of quality sleep per night then it could be what’s holding you back from losing weight.
Your body releases fat burning hormones with enough quality sleep. If you’re not getting these fat burning hormones released into your body then it’ll slow your metabolism.
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep with women on average needing 20 minutes more.
Don’t go to bed starving. Instead if you’re hungry eat a small protein rich meal that could help your metabolism.
Or even taking a spoonful of almond butter before bed is better than going to bed hungry.
Try to not eat big meals or lots of carbs before bed as it could make it harder for your body to burn them off when you sleep.
Make sure you’re not watching TV or playing with your phone in bed before sleeping.
Dim the lights and read a book to improve the sleep quality.
The less sleep you get the less willpower you’ll have the next day.
This means it’ll be harder to stick to your diet and go to the gym if you didn’t get a good nights sleep.
This study found getting just 30 fewer minutes of sleep during the week can accelerate the development of insulin resistance.
See my in-depth blog post on the connection between sleep and weight loss for more on how to improve your quality of sleep so you can keep losing weight.
6) Not Working Hard Enough
I know it might seem like you’re working really hard, but more times than not I’ve noticed it’s not enough.
If you’re having trouble losing weight then it’ll be a good time to see if you’re really doing what’s necessary to get results.
Are you being 100% honest with your diet and exercise?
Losing weight can require a lot more disciple than you think. Eating a cupcake might seem harmless but it could derail your metabolism.
I’ve had people come up to me in the gym asking why they can’t get results even though they’re “working out hard.”
Then when I see them working out in the gym they do one light set of bicep curls then play around on their phone for a few minutes.
Others I’ve noticed are Chatty Cathy’s in the gym. It’s not hard to imagine why they’re not losing weight.
Do you have a case of “Portion Distortion?”
Over the years portion sizes have grown in the Western diet.
It’s become common and far to easy to overeat with larger portion sizes today.
Use small plates and if you absolutely have to eat that cookie than make sure it’s a small one.
If you’re being lazy about meal prepping and you’re not doing the hard workouts then you can’t expect to lose the weight you want.
7) Not Enough Calories
Weight loss is just “calories in, calories out” right?
This goes against almost everything you’ve grown up knowing about losing weight.
The truth is your body will hold onto fat when you severely cut calories by releasing fat storing hormones.
You’ll then be more likely to burn off muscle than fat. You’ll also burn off calories slower than you’d think.
Yet, you could also be eating too many calories.
When you’re working out your body want to replenish those lost calories by increasing your hunger.
This causes a lot of people to overeat and wonder why they can’t lose weight.
It’s tempting to want to reward yourself after a hard workout. Keeping your calories in check is absolutely necessary.
It’s always a good idea to track your calories to make sure you’re getting enough and not eating too much.
“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker
8) Carb Overload
Some who are trying to lose weight do so only by cutting calories. But for many people, they also need to cut their carbohydrate intake as well.
Controlling your carbs will have a dramatic effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels. Having these stable are key to weight loss.
The more starchy and processed carbs you’re eating the more insulin your body needs to release.
Insulin resistance happens when your cells have trouble absorbing the blood glucose your body releases from eating sugar and high glycemic carbs.
Stay away from the processed carbs like pasta, bread, and cereals. They’re no good!
Sugary drinks, even diet soda are linked to not only weight gain but belly fat increases as well.
Even so-called “healthy” granola bars will cause you to gain weight.
If your body naturally has a tendency to gain weight then cutting out your carbohydrates will help.
9) You’re Measuring the Wrong Weight
If you’re having difficulty losing weight then it might be a good idea to know about water and muscle weight.
Your body could be holding water for a variety of reasons which can throw off the scale when you weigh yourself.
You could be eating too many salty and sugary foods causing your body to retain water.
Or maybe your not drinking enough water. This could also cause your body to hold onto every last drop of water it has.
This study found a higher intake of water promoted weight loss.
A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half of your body weight in fluid ounces daily.
Your weight can also throw off the scale if you’re building lean muscle.
If you’re lifting weights then you can expect your body to gain muscle.
Muscle weighs something too. Even though your body is burning fat the muscle will also weigh something. This can skew the scale.
Muscle takes up 15% less volume than fat so you’ll notice your clothes fitting better as the inches fall off.
This is why it’s more important to keep track of your inches, body fat percentage, and lean muscle mass.
Gaining lean muscle will help to tone and shape your body so you don’t become “skinny fat.””
Muscle naturally increases your metabolism. You’ll burn fat faster and around the clock.
With lean muscle, your clothes will fit better and your body will be shaped better.
10) You’re a Boozer
I’ve noticed some people who are having trouble losing weight are drinking too much alcohol.
Drinking alcohol can sabotage your weight loss results.
This study found drinking alcohol was detrimental to your tendons and muscle growth.
Drinking alcohol at night will negatively impact your quality of sleep. It’ll be harder for your body to reach that deep sleep state leaving you feeling tired the next day.
Not to mention all the empty calories you’ll get from drinking alcohol. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. This is pretty high considering there are no nutrients in alcohol.
Alcohol causes inflammation in your body making it difficult for your metabolism to promote fat burning.
Moderation with your alcohol intake is always key. Check out some of the best weight loss alcohol drinks if you have to consume alcohol.
11) Your Hormones Are Off
Getting your hormones right can be the hardest reason to identify why you can’t lose weight.
Women can retain water up to 10 days before their period, which can skew their weight loss efforts.
If you have hypothyroidism then you’re more likely to gain weight from increased salt and water buildup.
Thyroid problems affect 20 million Americans according to the American Thyroid Association.
Men and women have different hormonal battles with losing weight.
This study found men were more likely to lose weight faster than women, but women were more likely to have success long term.
Higher muscle mass in men is why they have a weight loss advantage over women.
Testosterone lowers in men with age which can cause an increase in weight, belly fat, heart disease and insulin resistance.
Testosterone will drop even more in men who are overweight. Having too much belly fat is a telltale sign of low testosterone.
If you’re on medications such as antidepressants or birth control then it could also hinder your weight loss efforts.
Even though most studies have found birth control didn’t cause weight gain it doesn’t mean that’s the case with everybody.
If you suspect this might be the case then it’ll be a good idea to talk to your doctor to come up with a solution.
12) Chronically Stressed Out
If you’re under constant stress your body releases cortisol causing you to gain belly fat.
These “fight or flight” hormones will wreak havoc on your body as they’re constantly released.
Chronic stress can and will:
- lower your quality of sleep
- cause you to eat high-fat foods
- negatively impact your gut health
Even the process of trying to lose weight can be too stressful for some.
This study found those attempting to lose weight actually ended up gaining weight.
Mood changes and binge eating were all too common with those who get stressed out with the challenges of losing weight.
Do whatever you can to lower the stress in your life. I know it’s easier said than done, but your body is depending on it.
13) Your Gut Is Out of Whack
The bacteria and the health of your gut play a major role in your weight.
If you’re eating too many processed foods then the health of the good bacteria in your gut could be compromised.
Having enough healthy bacteria in your gut very well could be what’s responsible for your weight loss.
If you just went through a treatment of antibiotics then it could’ve killed off a lot of your healthy gut bacteria.
Eating more fermented foods and supplementing with probiotics could improve your gut health.
Be sure to read this blog post with my top gut healing foods to cure leaky gut syndrome.
If you’re trying to lose weight then it’s important to get your gut health right.
At the end of the day, you need to take an objective look at your weight loss process and fill any holes holding you back.
Having patience is going to be key to your long-term success.
It’s easy to get quickly discouraged if you don’t see the weight falling off immediately. Especially after you’ve been putting in some hard work.
Put in the work, trust the process, fill in the holes and the weight will come off.
Make sure you’re using a proven, science-backed fat loss system like my Flat Belly Formula program.
This way all you have to do is follow a foolproof blueprint and you’ll be guaranteed to lose weight and belly fat.
We all want to lose weight, but it’s going to be a wise idea to focus on optimal health long term.
Appreciate your unique body and never compare it to what you see on TV and social media.
Sometimes all you need to do is take a harsh objective look at what’s holding you back.
Then it’s time to change things up if you can’t lose weight no matter what you do.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.