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Top Ten Reasons Why You Can't Lose Weight

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

In my last two blog posts, I explained the body's various metabolic processes and how the body's metabolism down regulates and adapts during a calorie deficit.

In a body that has a functioning metabolism, hormonal activity and gut health, one should lost weight in response to a calorie deficit. So what's going on if you can't lose weight in calorie deficit?

Here's the top ten reasons why you can't seem to lose weight:

  1. You aren't actually in a calorie deficit.

    1. Saying you're eating less and tracking your calories daily so you know you're eating less are two completely different things! If you start your diet without knowing how much you're actually consuming then it's going to be hard to ensure you are in fact eating less on a consistent basis. I'd recommend tracking your calories/macros for 3-7 days, take an average, and consume that for the next week. This will allow your body to see what a consistent intake feels like. After that, I'd drop calories by 200-300 depending on where you started (this is why it's good to have a coach in your corner to make sure you're in a safe position to cut calories in the first place).

    2. Or you know how much you're eating but aren't factoring in enough activity to elicit a large enough calorie deficit. Some people utilize low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio like walking or an easy time on the elliptical but you may need to increase your intensity to a medium or high intensity level to see assist with a caloric deficit.

  2. "But I eat healthy!"

    1. You can still eat all the healthy foods but not be in a caloric deficit. This is why knowing the numbers behind your metabolism and weight loss efforts is helpful when narrowing down where the issues are because you can eat healthy foods in excess!

  3. Come to find out, you're already eating too little calories and you have no room to cut from.

    1. You've tracked your daily intake at 1350 calories per day which is low but you don't know why you aren't losing weight if you're eating so little. It's because you're body has adapted to this low calorie intake (see my previous blog post for more) in order to protect you from further weight loss. It senses deprivation and an unsafe environment which means you have two choices, 1) cut calories more to see weight loss which is not recommended since you're already eating enough for toddler or 2) reserve diet to up-regulate your metabolism back to a healthy maintenance level and restore metabolic resiliency before actually dieting.

  4. You're eating adequate calories and have safely cut to a lower intake but aren't seeing any progress on the scale or non-scale.

    1. You may have hormonal imbalances interfering with normal physiological pathways impacting your ability to lose weight. I wrote a blog post all about hormonal imbalances and how to address those with diet, check it out HERE. An extensive blood work panel looking at thyroid markers, inflammation, and adrenal function would be beneficial to see if there are hormonal irregularities at play.

    2. Another concern would be gut health since it plays a crucial role in nutrient absorption and intestinal permeability. Having daily bowel movements is a sign that you are eliminating waste on regular basis which is essential for optimal metabolic functions. I wrote a blog post explaining the gut, where things are absorbed and the most common gut issue I see as an RD which you can check out HERE. Many ways we heal our hormonal health are ways we can heal our gut health, aside from some specific protocols and supplements but the basics are the same! - Prioritize whole foods and protein intake, daily movement and resistance training, rest and recovery, water with electrolytes and limit caffeine and alcohol.

  5. You aren't tracking your liquids correctly.

    1. This is huge for people who don't realize they grabbed a G2 Gatorade instead of a Gatorade Zero or you ordered ice tea at the restaurant and didn't realize it was sweetened. These calories add up quickly! It's safer to choose soda water, plain water, diet and zero versions of full calorie beverages.

    2. Another calorie culprit is alcohol which should be tracked as carbs or fats since the calories need to come from somewhere! I wrote a whole post on How Your Body Handles Alcohol which explains the science behind alcohol metabolism and how it affects your calorie intake, check that out HERE.

  6. You aren't giving yourself enough time on the 'diet' to see any changes.

    1. Many people will make a change in their daily routines for 1-2 weeks and get fed up when they don't see progress. You need to be doing the basic healthy habits (outlined above) for 1-3 months in order to see change and/or determine if there is something deeper going on.

  7. You've diet hopped too much and have never actually stuck to anything long-term.

    1. This can lead to weight cycling which can lead to weight gain over time as you are constantly putting your body through different diet modalities and then falling off the wagon and trying something new shortly after. The body craves consistency so stick with something for at least 3-6 months before moving onto something new. This is why it's beneficial to have a coach help you track everything from weight and progress pictures to biofeedback and everything in between so they can help you pivot if need be!

  8. You aren't giving your body time to rest and recover.

    1. I get that you want to lose weight and tracking your intake while getting in your recommended activity will help but if you are overdoing it and under recovering your body will hold water an inflammation. This can mask weight loss progress and make you want to diet or train harder. I recommend 7-9 hours of sleep night (you can do less if you're waking up feeling rejuvenated frequently), stretching daily and taking 2-3 days off from the gym per week.

  9. You're a cardio bunny still and think lifting weights makes you bulky.

    1. I'm not opposed to cardio, I think it's great for cardiovascular endurance, heart heath and lymphatic drainage but if that's all you're doing then you're missing the health benefits of resistance training which are increase in muscle strength, improved bone density, stabilizes and protects joints, supports mental health and improves sleep quality.

  10. You're dining out frequently and not tracking your intake accurately enough.

    1. Even if you're choosing healthier options when dining out, kitchens use vegetable oils and excess salt when cooking increasing inflammatory responses in your body. It also can be harder to portion control and bringing your food scale to the restaurant may or may not be something you're comfortable with, Either way, if you're frequently dining out and still tracking, this still could be a sticking point in your progress. I'm not saying stop going out all together, I love going out to dinner, but maybe allot for more calories at the restaurant to accommodate for some discrepancies!

If you believe you need further help, guidance and accountability from a coach so you can have someone else monitor all of this for you, then please apply to work with me here! I'd love to help you achieve your goals if you're truly ready for a change!

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