In theory, weight loss seems like a simple goal. You essentially want to tap into your body’s excess fat stores to use as your fuel source ultimately getting your body into fat burning. So you might go on a low-fat diet, cut calories, or maybe workout excessively only to find that you’ve made minuscule advances towards your weight loss goal.
It’s demotivating and perplexing when you feel like you’re doing everything “right” but seeing little to no success.
With tons of trendy ways to achieve weight loss, the overabundance of information can stop us dead in our tracks…. after all… most of us aren’t experts in the matter and we just want to know what works and what doesn’t.
The unfortunate truth is that there is no miracle weight loss solution; we are all made differently, metabolizing energy differently, and our bodies all require their own particular routine for optimal and effective weight loss.
With that said, to help you determine what might be derailing your unique weight loss journey, we want to enlighten you on that ever so frequent question we all tend mutter at one point or another…”Why am I not losing weight?”
Here are some common weight loss trends and a summary as to why you might not be losing weight like you think you should be…
Calorie Deficits and You
Starting with the most common strategy – creating a calorie deficit.
This is when you consume less calories than you burn which encourages your body to use stored energy (or fat stores) as a back-up resource for energy. It seems simple, logical, and like it would be effective, but if taken to extreme measures, this weight loss method can have opposite, undesirable and unhealthy results. In turn, moving you further away from your weight loss goals. Read more about how cutting calories can affect weight loss.
You are going into Starvation Mode and stressing out
The reason(s) calorie deficit may not be resulting in the desired effect of weight loss is because your body is most likely going into “starvation mode” where your body realizes its not getting enough calories and so slows the metabolism to reserve the fuel stores you have for future survival. Additionally, going on an extreme calorie deficit could be stressing you out! Whether your stress is being caused by work, at-home responsibilities, family or friend drama or because of your new change in diet – stress plays a major role in weight loss.
When taking your calorie deficit too far, you might not be providing proper nutritional support to make up for what you’re cutting out… this can really put us in a state of stress physically and mentally. We can understand the steps needed in order to lose weight, but if our mental state isn’t up to the task – success will be a difficult goal to reach.
When stress levels are high, so is the hormone cortisol (the stress hormone) and cortisol can affect how we metabolize our macronutrients – fats, protein, and carbohydrates. So when our bodies are stressed, while we may be cutting calories, the hormone cortisol may be telling our bodies to store incoming calories instead of burning them. Not only will you increase stress because you’re not seeing results, but you literally may not be providing energy your body needs to function. The few calories being consumed might be going straight to storage and you may end up feeling worse than you started.
Not only will stress from an unrealistic diet change affect how you physically succeed with your weight loss, but it can amplify stress in other areas – it becomes a cycle of sorts that simply won’t help you achieve your weight loss goals. Not getting enough calories can make us feel agitated, fatigued, anxious, and just unhappy overall.
What do I do if my calorie deficit isn’t helping with weight loss?
Always consult your physician before implementing any kind of weight loss strategy, but if you’re attempting a calorie deficit for weight loss, it’s best to start slow.
One pound of body fat contains about 3,500 calories. So to drop 1 pound of body fat in a week you would want to start by cutting around 500 calories per day. Over the course of 7 days of cutting 500 calories (7 x 500 = 3,500), theoretically you should drop 1 pound of fat.
What works for one may not work for all so if you start asking yourself “why am I not losing weight in calorie deficit?” consider the above and re-adjust your caloric intake, reduce stress levels, or try out another weight loss strategy that might work better in your daily routine.
Why am I not losing weight on the keto diet?
Keto has been all the rage for the past few years as far as successful weight loss tactics go. For many, the keto diet works wonders. The keto diet consists of restricting carbohydrate intake (the fuel source our bodies typically prefer to use for energy) and because of the lack of carbs, the body goes into a state of ketosis where it becomes efficient at burning fat stores as fuel.
The main way to get into ketosis is by cutting carbs while increasing fat intake. Everyone’s carb max intake is most likely different, but the rule-of-thumb is to consume no more than 20-50 carbs per day or 5%-10% of your daily caloric intake. Sounds simple right?
Getting into ketosis, however, can be a delicate balancing act, if you’re not balancing your macros just right your body might still be using carbohydrate or glucose for energy. So if you’re attempting to lose weight with the keto diet but not seeing success, consider these roadblocks below that might be hindering your results.
You are consuming too many carbohydrates
You might still be eating too many carbs which breakdown into glucose (the body’s initial choice for fuel). Though you think you may have cut carbs down to the bare minimum, if your body is getting just enough carbohydrates each day the body will not resort to fat burning (ketosis) for energy. To more accurately figure out how many carbs you should consume when attempting the keto diet, first determine you Basal Metabolic Rate (the amount of calories your body needs to function on a daily basis) and then multiply your BMR by .05 or .10 to determine how many calories you should get from carbs to achieve ketosis or fat burning.
You are consuming too much protein
Eating too much protein can also be the culprit of why weight loss isn’t working while on the keto diet. The body is amazing and can adapt for survival even in extreme measures where it’s not getting what it needs.
When you high amounts of protein, while restricting carbohydrate intake, the body will breakdown proteins into amino acids which then can be converted into glucose. So in this scenario your body will still use glucose as its fuel source rather than fat, hence, you will not achieve ketosis or be using fat for fuel.
Once you’ve ruled out that excessive carbohydrate consumption is the issue as to why you aren’t losing weight, check your protein intake.The keto diet requires fat consumption to be around 70%-80% while keeping protein around 10%-20%.
When trying the keto diet for weight loss, ensure you know the amount of calories you should be consuming each day and the unique macronutrient breakdown required to get your body into ketosis or fat burning.
Why am I not losing weight on intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is all the rage when it comes to health, wellness, and weight loss. Not only does it tend to help with cutting the amount of calories we consume each day and so weight loss because we’re doing all of our eating in a small window of the day, but its has many other awesome benefits towards health as well. To name a few, intermittent fasting helps to induce autophagy in the body. Autophagy is when your body goes into a type of survival mode since you’re not eating and starving your cells. This bodily process encourages healthy cells to go about the body and “eat-up” any damaged cellular components, and invasive bacteria or pathogens. Your body is “cleaning” itself up on a cellular level improving health while reducing inflammation. Additionally, intermittent fasting may help to reduce cholesterol, encourage fat burning, and help you get a better nights rest.
So when you’re looking to reap all of the benefits of intermittent fasting but seeing none… here are some things to consider.
You are consuming too many calories during your eating window
While it is important to ensure you eat enough on so as to not go into Starvation Mode you must also remember not to over indulge. Fasting helps with weight loss due to the fact that it helps you to eat less calories in the day so if you’re binging and eating more than your body needs all in your eating window – you’ll be in a calories surplus and not lose weight. Get signed up with a food journaling app that will help you manage your calorie intake, determine your BMR and try to consume around that number or under during your eating window.
You are not fasting long enough to make a difference
There are different types of fasting routines and finding the one that works for you is important. If you’re not allowing for enough time between your eating windows you just might not be making big enough changes to see a difference. Experiment with the intermittent fasting methods below to find out what works best in your routine.
- 16/8 method – Fasting for 16 hours & eating window of 8 hours
- 5:2 diet – Eating normal for 5 days & restricting to 500-600 calories 2 days
- Eat Stop Eat – Eating normal for 5-6 days & 24 hour fasting for 1-2 days
- OMAD (one meal a day) – Fasting for 23 hours each day and eating within 1 hour window (usually dinner)
See whats most manageable and effective for your journey. Always remember to consult with your PCP before diving into any new diet to ensure its safe for you.
Why am I not losing weight after exercise and dieting?
Exercise and dieting are the main staples of weight loss and wellness. Going back to the basics is always a good strategy to try when trying to achieve weight loss results and a overall healthier lifestyle. So when you’re eating healthy and working out 5 days a week but not seeing results… whats going on?
Consider these weight loss roadblocks below.
You are still in a calorie surplus
While you may be eating more nutrient-dense foods and working out each day, you could still be consuming too many calories. The body needs to be in a calorie deficit in order to pull from fat stores to start burning fat.
Reassess your meals each day, get signed up with a food journaling / calorie counting application and closely monitor how many calories you really are consuming each day. If eating more than you’re burning try cutting calories by 500 each day and see how it goes!
You are doing too much cardio
There is no denying that exercise is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle, but as with most things, excess can become a problem. A healthy exercise routine that will encourage weight loss and fat burning should include a combination of strength training (anaerobic) and cardio (aerobic).
The reason this the case is because strength training helps to encourage muscle growth and muscle requires more energy to function in turn upping the metabolism and calorie burning.
Cardio is awesome; it helps improve heart health among other things, but too much cardio (especially without strength training) can deter weight loss progress. Excessively long cardio sessions can begin to eat away at your muscle mass and encourage fat storage because your body is becoming more endurance-focused. Your body begins to store more fat to ensure it has reserves to keep you going when you’re consistently doing long cardio sessions. Additionally, the less muscle mass you have translates into lower metabolism and ability to burn calories.
If you’re only focusing on cardio, try adding in some strength training into your weekly workouts 2-3 times a week to upkeep muscle mass and metabolism. Its easy to start with resistance bands and finding the right circuit training video on Youtube. Keep cardio in your routine at about 30 minutes a day 5 days a week as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When you cut down on cardio while adding in strength training you are bound to see progress towards weight loss goals.
If you’re not seeing the success you want then its time to reassess your tactics and healthy eating habits. Don’t be hard on yourself when you see those social media health gurus making weight loss look easy – odds are they too have had a long journey themselves using trial and error to find out what works best for them. Weight loss isn’t once size fits all so you need to find out what works for you.
Choosing safe, effective, and sustainable weight loss habits are whats really key and establishing a healthier lifestyle versus going “on” and “off” diets is how you will succeed.
When turning to the world wide web to research weight loss strategies just remember that it might take you a few tries to find what works for your body and that’s OK. When you’re just not sure where to start or how to reassess your current weight loss plan, see how working with a health & wellness professional works out. They can help get you on the right track towards achieving your weight loss goals.