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

  • STSO888
    Great article and to know that you started at 50 is very inspirational to me! Congratulations on your weight loss. It gives me hope that I can do it to at 51! - 8/19/2015 12:44:31 PM
    This article was very helpful to intellectually understand the lack of success I am having; but it sure doesn't make it any less frustrating to know that age,medicine, and metabolism are fighting me every step of the way. I think changing my mindset to returning to a healthy daily diet needs to be my goal and hope, with time, weight loss will follow. - 7/28/2015 5:36:45 PM
    Thanks so much for the great blog. I find so much interesting and helpful info here. I just wanted to mention again that hormones are definitely a huge factor in losing weight. Metabolism slows as we age and women are already at a disadvantage because their bodies are naturally hardwired to process hormones that control weight differently than men. It's not an even playing field, unfortunately. You can't change Mother Nature but it's manageable. There's an amazing women's weight loss program called The Venus Factor that's filled with tons of valuable info and advice on female metabolism and the effects of hormones on weight. It's definitely worth a look for any woman who's struggled with their weight and is looking for a real solution that works! I highly recommend checking it out. You can see the page here:
    Or get more info here:
    h?v=bgmykC3yrkI - 7/2/2015 1:39:07 PM
    Thank you so much for the useful information! Each time I read a blog like this I already feel healthier! For those of you who are interested in beating the scale and really targeting weight loss please read below!
    I am casting for a new TV show with a nutritionist, looking for people who are trying really hard to eat well and maintain a healthy diet, but are having trouble losing weight or seeing dramatic changes on the scale. If you have friends and/or family members that might be interested in learning more about the casting, please email me at untitlednutrition
    - 6/11/2015 10:25:28 AM
    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

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