5 Reasons you're not losing weight

4th Nov 2020

5 Reasons you're not losing weight

5 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

When it comes to losing weight, you often see results pretty quickly to start with.

You’re motivated and focussed on the task at hand.

But what happens when things start to plateau? Why aren’t you losing weight like you were before?

Here’s five common reasons why the scales might be refusing to budge.

1. You’re not in a calorie deficit

Whether you like it or not, if your weight has stabilised (or even increased) chances are that you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning.

It’s been shown time after time that the ONLY way that weight loss can occur is if you’re in a calorie deficit, which means that if you’re not losing weight you’re either in an energy balance, or energy surplus.

Take a look at point 2 below to see how to tackle this!

2. You’re Not Tracking

You know you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, but guessing and hoping are both pretty inaccurate ways to ensure that this happens.

Tracking your calorie intake might not be something you can or even want to do all of the time, but when you’ve hit a weight loss plateau I’d strongly recommend that you spend at least a few days tracking what you’re consuming so that you can truly see where the extra calories are coming from.

Tracking via something like MyFitnessPal will either shine a light on the excess calories, or will make you more mindful of what you’re eating and give you a visual, live reminder to sustain the calorie deficit that you’re working towards.

3. You’re Eating Back Calories That You Burned!

You know that being physically active is a key contributor to increasing calorie expenditure and helping you to achieve the essential calorie deficit that you’re after.

But, people regularly “treat” themselves after a workout as they feel like they’ve earnt it. All that hard work in the gym, on the bike or pool can often make you feel as though you’ve created room in your calorie “bank” to fill up with some more food.

The issue here tends to be that the calories expended during a workout are often a lot lower than you might think, and any calorie “burn” can be very easily eradicated with a little treat here and there.

Exercising in order to “treat” yourself is also quite a negative way to build a healthy relationship with food and exercise, so try to look at exercise in other ways; in particular the health benefits that it will bring now and long into the future.

Remember, you’re not a dog…so “treating” yourself with food as a reward should be avoided, and instead look to use a flexible way of eating that enables you to include some of the foods you really enjoy without putting yourself into a calorie surplus.

4. You’re Stressed

Stress affects a lot of people, maybe even more than usual during these strange and difficult times.

And whilst stress affects everybody in different ways, many people turn to food or drink as a way to “manage” their stress. Before they know it, one biscuit has turned into the whole pack, a few crisps has turned into the whole bag, a glass of wine has turned into the whole bottle.

This tends to become a habit, and habits can be difficult to break once they’re engrained as a “normal” part of your behaviour. With that in mind, you’ll need to consider what behaviour you can replace this stress-induced eating with.

This could include having a glass of drink or sugar-free squash when you get the urge to grab a snack, going for a short walk to take yourself out of the environment where food is more easily accessible or at the more extreme end of the scale…simply not buying the energy-dense foods that you tend to grab when stress becomes a problem. If the snacks aren’t in the cupboard or the fridge they can’t be eaten!

Consider other ways to manage your stress too, such as yoga or meditation which can help you to control your emotions and in turn reduce your reliance on calorie-laden foods and keep the weight loss on track.

5. You Have a Medical Condition

There are clearly many factors involved in weight loss (and gain), and thankfully for most people their weight loss struggles are not due to any underlying medical conditions.

However, if you are not seeing the weight loss that you would expect and you can be absolutely certain that you’ve been operating in a calorie deficit that’s been designed to meet your own personal needs (everybody is different, so don’t be fooled into thinking there’s a one-size-fits-all approach) then it might be worth a conversation with your doctor to discuss whether there could be anything else to think about.

Examples of medical conditions that can affect weight loss include hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and sleep apnoea.

If you are diagnosed with such a condition, don’t think this means that weight loss won’t be possible. For women with PCOS, for example, it simply means that it’s going to be more difficult to achieve weight loss than somebody without PCOS. Calorie deficits will need to account for a reduced basal metabolic rate, and certain supplementation may be recommended that can assist with blood sugar control and in turn play a supporting role in weight loss.


If your weight loss has stalled, or you just need a more personalised level of support make sure to seek out professional advice. You can contact me on chrisfosternutritionist@outlook.com or @chris_the_nutritionist on Instagram to discuss your needs.