7 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight/Body Fat

Categories: Nutrition

7 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight/Body Fat 


We all know the feeling; placing your feet on that step, gazing down at the number below and being devastated with the outcome. How did you not lose a single pound in the past week? You did everything perfectly! 

Maybe the scales aren’t working properly, your metabolism is ‘running more slowly than usual’ or last night’s stir fry was quite ‘heavy’. Fortunately 99% of the time, a stalling weight loss is not down to a faulty set of scales or last night’s dinner. It’s usually something simpler than this.

1. Misjudging your calories in 

The difference between the amount of calories we think we consume and the calories we actually consume can be up to 25% either way. 

For example, a daily target of 2000 kcal, might actually range anywhere from 1500-2500! Differences in calorie counting software, food measurement errors and the way individuals absorb food all play a role on the amount of calories available to the body. 

It’s worth knowing that the calorie and macro amounts shown on food packaging aren’t always exact, so you could be consuming more or less calories than you think. 

Solution: Decrease your calories slightly (100-200 calories) for 2 weeks and see if it makes a difference

2. Misjudging your calories out 

I’m not doing a great job of promoting calorie counting I’ll admit, but calories out can be hard to judge. Paradoxically, studies show that the value of calories in will in fact alter our calories out without us ever realising it. 

For example, if your maintenance calories are 2200 kcal you might decrease your calorie consumption to 1700 per day (the idea being that you would have a deficit of 500kcal per day which would equal a pound of weight loss per week). However, the very act of decreasing your calories in will decrease the calories out value meaning you may not actually be 500 calories in deficit, it may be more around the 200-400 mark. 

This is just the body’s way of defending against famine. If you eat less it will subconsciously move less leading to a decreased calorie burn. 

Solution: Be mindful of the amount of movement you do in the day that isn’t ‘planned exercise’. Perhaps invest in a pedometer and set yourself a goal of 10000+ steps. 

3. You aren’t setting goals 

Goals are VITAL when trying to shift the pounds, without them we become rudderless with no end point in mind. Goals should follow the SMART principal; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and have a Timeframe. Goals can be split into outcomes, e.g. lose 1lb per week, and processes, e.g. eat three servings of vegetables per day. 

Solution: Set short process goals to be attained every day/week with longer outcome goals. Ideally process goals will lead to achievement of the outcomes. Write down your goals every morning and night to keep them fresh in your memory.

4. Your aren’t tracking your progress 

We often hear the misguided phrase ‘don’t weigh yourself’. This should be altered to ‘don’t weigh yourself every day’. Your weight can be a great objective measurement tool, and although not perfect, does give a good correlation as to the amount of ‘fat loss’ in the body. As well as providing a measure of your progress it can work as your own personal coach by keeping you accountable. When you step on that piece of equipment after a few heavy nights out and a few bags of crisps you know it isn’t going to lie. Problems only occur when individuals get obsessive over the scale and start weighing themselves after breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Aside from using the scales, there are other ways you can track your progress. For example, using a tape measure, judging how well your clothes fit, arranging a skin fold caliper assessment etc. 

Solution: Pick a set time each week to weigh yourself and stick to it. Do not weigh yourself any more or less! Once you’ve done your weigh in, put the scales away out of sight until your next weigh in. 

5. Lack of sleep 

Everything in the body will be negatively affected by lack of sleep, and our ability to lose weight is no exception. How many times have you ended up tossing and turning most of the night and found the next day you were craving processed fats and carbs? Pretty often I bet. 

This is due to the effect sleep deprivation has on our hormones; specifically leptin and ghrelin. In their simplest forms these two hormones tell us when we are hungry or not. 

The loss of a single night’s sleep causes shifts in their levels leading us to crave more food, and unhealthy food at that! 

Solution: Develop a night-time routine; go to bed at the same time every night, switch off all electronics one hour before bedtime, etc. 

6. You aren’t eating enough protein 

In order to lose weight, some people will tuck into a few leaves of lettuce, some peppers and a tomato thinking that this is the best approach. Unfortunately a meal like this won’t fill you up. The reason for this is lack of protein. 

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. In other words, it will keep you fuller for longer in comparison to fats and carbs. This is partly down to its slow digestion time and the balancing effect it has on our blood sugar levels. If protein is too low, then hunger pangs will be stronger which can lead to snacking etc. This will cause an increase in calories and slower or no weight loss. 

As well as the effect on our appetite, protein preserves our muscle mass and has a positive effect on our immune system. 

Solution: Eat more protein! Set yourself the goal of consuming protein with each and every meal, even snacks. This will lead to a decrease in appetite throughout the day. Simply adding 100g skinless chicken breast to your salad can increase protein intake by around 30g!

7. The weekends are a free for all 

You’ve been living like a Shaolin monk all week; not one iota of junk food or alcohol. You are proud of yourself and rightly so! However, you decide that Saturday is going to be your ‘cheat day’! After you’ve polished off a few glasses of wine, a Chinese takeaway, perhaps a bar of chocolate or some crisps, you’re starting to wonder if this will affect your weight. 

Unfortunately this is a common problem. People try their best throughout the week but when the weekend arrives it becomes a free for all. The thought process goes something like this: ‘I’ve been good for five days, one or two days off isn’t going to do much harm’. 

Well it can and it does. 

For example, if you’ve been on a caloric deficit of 500 calories during each week day, that will create a deficit of 2500 calories. However, if you eat and drink whatever you fancy over the weekend, you will reverse that deficit and possibly go above your maintenance. So although you’ve been ‘good’ for five days of the week, you could possibly still put on weight. 

Solution: Again it comes down to becoming aware of your calories in. There’s nothing wrong with eating a cheat meal, as long as you still exercise some restraint. Set yourself an allowance for ‘treat’ food, say for example 10% of your overall calories. So if you have the goal of consuming 2000 calories, your allowance is 200. So instead of eating 2000 calories each day, eat 1800 (2000 minus 200). Now you could either use that up, or if you like to live a little at the weekends then ‘bank’ them. Five days multiplied by 180 equals 900. So instead of eating 2000 calories on Saturday you are now able to eat 2900. So you’ll still be able to get that Chinese after all!

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