Nutrition Articles

3 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight

Why Weight Loss is Harder for Some People than for Others

You've been sticking faithfully to your calorie range and exercise plans for awhile now, but you're not seeing the results you want on your scale. Meanwhile, your weight -loss buddy is happily watching the pounds melt away week after week. Not fair!

Or maybe you're losing weight but not from the areas where you really want to shed some fat. (Skinny feet are nice, but not so much when your muffin top is still as big as ever.) And then you have that other friend who can eat anything and everything without gaining a pound, while just watching him or her eat seems to make you gain weight.

What's going on here? Why don't your efforts seem to be paying off while weight loss seems so easy for other people? Is there anything you can do to get better results?

Sometimes there is a simple, general reason why one person loses weight faster than another. For example, men tend to lose weight more quickly than women, mainly because most men naturally have more lean muscle mass (thanks to their higher testosterone levels), and more muscle translates into a faster metabolism. Men and women also tend to store excess weight in different places—men in the abdominal area ("apple" body type), which is usually easier to lose; women in the hips and thighs ("pear" body type), which is usually harder to take off.

People who have more weight to lose may also drop the pounds more quickly in the beginning of a weight-loss program. This is because the more you weigh, the more calories you burn during any given activity. (Walking with an extra 50 pounds on your frame is harder than walking with 20 extra pounds of weight.) A person who weighs more can also cut more calories from his or her diet without jeopardizing the body's ability to function efficiently. If you weigh 300 pounds, you may need 3,500 calories per day or more to maintain that weight; cutting 1,000 calories from your diet (down to 2,500/day) will let you safely lose 2 pounds per week. But if you weigh 150 pounds, you may only need 1,800 calories to maintain your weight, and if you try to cut the 1,000 calories from your diet (down to 800/day), your body won't have enough fuel and your metabolism will slow down drastically, making fat loss harder, not easier. Therefore a person with less weight to lose needs to aim for a smaller calorie deficit, which will translate to a slower rate of weight loss.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

    This is amazing, but I really wish they went into more detail on what she did for her exercise. Dieting is very important, but to really be healthy you need to find that good balance between the two.

    This reminds me a lot of the diet I've been using and the same process of making slow changes instead of dramatic over night changes. You can find a thorough review of the diet that I used here

    Weight loss isn't an over night thing, it's a lifestyle change that takes time, but is well worth it! I lost over 40 pounds doing this and both me and my husband love the new me! - 3/5/2015 6:26:26 AM
  • Another reason could be quite simply that you don't *need* to lose any more weight. If you have to struggle to lose that last 5 pounds just to reach a magical number on the scale, how easy will it be to maintain it? Our bodies know where they need to be. - 2/11/2015 4:04:27 PM
  • This article REALLY finally made certain aspects of weight loss make sense to me. I had noticed that with some people I work with that are attempting to lose weight and are quite heavy that they were able to lose a lot of weight in quite a short period of time while I struggle to get the scale to move even a pound. - 1/3/2015 2:55:55 AM
  • This article REALLY finally made certain aspects of weight loss make sense to me. I had noticed that with some people I work with that are attempting to lose weight and are quite heavy that they were able to lose a lot of weight in quite a short period of time while I struggle to get the scale to move even a pound. - 1/3/2015 2:54:50 AM
  • Terrific information in this article!! Thank you! - 12/14/2014 3:12:44 PM
    I'm puzzled. After loosing 20 lbs & being just 5 lbs from my goal I had lab work done & I've learned my total cholesterol has gone up (205 from 176) & my blood pressure is borderline too high. I am consistant with at least 30 minutes, sometimes more, of activity most days. Any thoughts? Could it be what I'm eating? I eat very little bread, when i do it's always whole grain/sprouted. No red meat ever, poultry 1-2 a week, loads of cooked & raw fruit & veggies. Splenda or stevia when I want to sweeten something, just can't figure it out. - 10/13/2014 5:07:38 PM
    This is a great article, and many of the member comments are most informative and helpful. I'm glad I joined SparkPeople! - 9/21/2014 9:47:29 AM
  • I thought this article would be simplistic, but it was actually quite thorough. Cramperella's comment about the effect of yo-yo dieting on metabolism is well worth considering too. - 9/21/2014 7:19:29 AM
  • Very informative. I've been sitting at the same weight from the start although I have made changes to diet and activity. I just changed thyroid med to synthroid maybe that will help.. - 9/20/2014 6:49:09 PM
  • The culprits are sugar and carbs. Believe me...reduce unnecessary sugar at first then learn to do without it. Reduce carbs (white flour, bread, crackers, etc). Whatever you not eat LOW-FAT anything. You will gain weight because low fat foods are high in sugar. Processed foods contain sugar too! Learn more about a low carb lifestyle. - 9/3/2014 1:00:56 PM
  • 1254KATE
    I just want to get off to a good start - 8/22/2014 10:09:34 PM
  • There was no mention in the article of the effect of repeated weight loss on your metabolism. If you have been a serious yo-yo dieter like myself, your body may not respond normally anymore. My body doesn't trust me anymore. It is always on the look out for the next famine and hangs on to weight for dear life. I can religiously follow a strict program for weeks on end and lose absolutely nothing and then one day, bam! I step on the scale and it appears as if I have lost 8lbs overnight! It can be depressing to not have your body respond like everyone tells you it is supposed to. Weighing myself weekly is pointless. - 8/6/2014 5:37:42 PM
  • ALJ218
    The article makes some pretty good points. However, I do think some people can count everyday movement as activity. When I was coming down from a much larger weight, taking the stairs, doing light housework, and parking at the end of the grocery store parking lot made all the difference.

    I still count some things as activity that are not considered traditional exercise (for example, my walk to and from school, laundry,) but they're not all I do. - 7/2/2014 9:18:46 AM
  • The point which the article I believe is making; Everyones body and reactions to weight loss will be different. I can usually tell before I get on the scale if I lost weight or not. I cant lose weight unless I starve myself Im a man on a 1300 cal diet a day. the scale has read 202 for 4 weeks now. Ive been walking every other day for 3 miles and riding my bike for 20 min a day hard. On the other hand ..... You hear about Snooky loosing 40 lbs in six months. Is their a secret weapon for for people on tv. Im not giving up . I keep in mind it took 25 years to get this fat and ive only been at it for 3 months - 9/20/2013 7:56:18 AM

    and this: "A pound of fat represents about 3,500 calories of stored energy, so you can predict that a calorie deficit of 3,500 will translate into one lost pound, give or take a little."

    No you cant. You cannot predict methodical weight loss. There are too many factors involved for each person and telling them that they can predict a 1 pound loss by burning 3500 calories is setting them up for failure. You cannot do that. You have to do this with something other than that number in mind - otherwise you are teaching people that the only function of exercise is to eradicate calories and that is messed up. I cant read any further. Sometimes the reason you arent losing weight is because you are letting yourself get away with mediocre effort.

    throws hands in the air. - 1/29/2013 9:59:23 AM

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