It’s not uncommon to stand on the scale and be discouraged by occasional disappointing weight
loss results. The human body is a complex machine that can be both unpredictable and prone to
natural weight plateaus. Usually, these plateaus can be overcome by simple changes in your
weight loss regimen.
However, if you’re experiencing consistently disappointing numbers, or even weight gains
while on your diet, there are seven potential reasons you’re not reaching your weight loss
goals as quickly as you’d like.
Calorie Intake Goals
General calorie recommendations can only do so much to help you determine how many calories
you need to stay healthy while also losing weight. Many people make calorie assumptions without
taking into account other factors like physical activity level, age, and even gender. The result is you
may actually be eating too many or too few calories for your unique body type. Too many calories
will prevent you from reaching the deficit needed to burn off the pounds.
Consuming too little calories works against you with initial fast weight loss followed by plateaus and
even weight gains as the body transitions into survival mode, stashing as many calories away as fat as
While diet is essential for weight loss, exercise is just as important both for weight loss and your
overall health. Exercise not only helps create a larger calorie deficit towards fat burning, but it also
boosts your metabolism not only during but also post-workout. Aim for at least 150 minutes of
moderately intense aerobic exercise each week, including at least 3 days of strength training for
optimal health and weight loss benefits.
While supervised, safe fasting can help boost weight loss for some individuals, regular meal
skipping can actually sabotage your numbers when you get on the scale. The spacing of meals is
important for not only helping you feel full to avoid bingeing on cravings but also to balance your
insulin production and blood sugar levels.
Drastic changes in blood sugar can cause your body to produce more insulin to help counteract the
imbalance. Higher insulin levels encourage the body to store more sugar as fat, impacting your
long-term weight loss results. To combat this side effect, plan your meals evenly spread throughout
the day, preferably no more than 3 to 4 hours apart. This small change will help you keep your insulin
levels under control.
While not tracking your calorie intake won’t prevent you from losing weight, knowledge is power in
any weight loss plan. It’s common to underestimate how many calories are in a certain food or how
much food you’ve actually eaten during the day. A daily calorie log helps you budget calories better
as well as helps you practice better portion control and overall food awareness.
Technology and apps make tracking both easy and convenient, allowing you to track foods from just
about anywhere on your smart devices. Several apps take tracking even further by breaking the foods
you eat down to their essential proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Your Emotional Health
Your emotional health plays an integral role in weight loss as emotional ups and downs can lead to
goal-destroying binge eating. Giving into the occasional craving in a moderate way is okay as it
helps ensure you’re not feeling deprived by your diet. However, if your go-to coping mechanism is
food when life gets rough, you may want to work with a mental health professional to develop
better coping mechanisms.
Emotional stress can also impact weight by triggering a fight or flight reaction in the body.
This natural response floods your system with hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that can
increase hunger and encourage the development of visceral fat in the belly, regardless of the
amount of food you’re eating.
Don’t underestimate the calorie loads in the beverages you choose to drink. Items like juice or
coffee may seem healthy or low-calorie but often contain more calories than you think. For
example, even 100 percent fruit, no sugar added juices contain natural sugars and hidden calories.
Your daily coffee run can also derail fitness goals if you add flavorings, sugars or cream, especially
if you drink multiple cups throughout the day.
Underlying Health Issues
If none of these options apply to your specific situation, your lack of weight loss may be
contributed to an underlying health issue. For example, an underactive thyroid gland can slow
down your metabolism, making it much harder to lose weight. Treatments like insulin for diabetes
or corticosteroids can also cause weight gain.
Keep in mind that weight loss plateaus are common and can often be overcome by small changes
in your plan and by not giving up. As with any change in your diet or exercise routine, be sure to
involve your doctor to ensure that your routine is safe for your individual health condition.