Nutrition Articles

3 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight

Why Weight Loss is Harder for Some People than for Others

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Likewise, factors like age and body type can affect how fast you can shed extra pounds. Older people, for example, often lose weight more slowly, perhaps because of hormonal changes and/or because they have less muscle mass or may be less physically active.

So, if you're comparing your weight loss to someone else's, make sure you're not comparing apples to oranges (or pears)—that's just going to be frustrating and won't tell you anything useful about your own efforts.

Sometimes, though, people who seem to share a lot of these factors—similar body size, weight, age and activity levels—just don't get the same results, even when they do the same things. A lot of individual factors, including your individual genetics and quite a few medical conditions (like hypothyroidism, PCOS,and insomnia) and medications (like corticosteroids, or antidepressants), can make weight loss difficult. If you're in this boat, you may need to work closely with your health professional to find an individualized approach that will maximize your weight loss results without jeopardizing your health.

But more often, slow or non-existent weight loss can be traced to very common problems that can be identified and overcome with the right kinds of changes in diet, exercise, or daily activity patterns. That's what we'll be looking at below.

The No. 1 Problem: Your numbers aren't right.

In a healthy, "normally" functioning body, weight loss occurs when you use (burn) more energy (calories) than you take in from food. This calorie deficit forces your body to take fat out of storage and turn it into fuel that your cells can use to maintain necessary body functions. 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.

By far the most common reason why weight loss seems to be going slower than people expect is that their calorie deficit is not as large as they think it is. Either they're not burning as many calories as they think they are, or they're eating more than they think they are, or a combination of both.

The formulas used to estimate how many calories people need to maintain their current weight aren't accurate for everyone—they can be off by as much as 30-40%, especially if your body fat percentage is pretty high, your physical activity level is significantly higher or lower than average, or you're counting almost everything you do (e.g., light housework, grocery shopping, walking up one flight of stairs) as "exercise" even though it doesn't actually meet the parameters of what counts as fitness (a high enough intensity to elevate your heart rate to an aerobic range; a duration of at least 10 continuous minutes for the activity; the moving of large muscle groups in a rhythmic way).
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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

  • We eat too much of the wrong stuff. When we do, our gut gets 'damaged'. then the cycle gets worse and worse until....bang one day your huge and sick.
    I figure if it takes 6 weeks to heal a broken bone and a month for major illness's like cuts, gashes and the like to heal, then how long does it take to get the gut back into a stable state? Personal experience.... 3 weeks of eating whole foods, with no BS food. Then the body can start the process of healing itself from the inside out.
    Moral to the story? Be patient, your body is sick, if you are overweight, it takes time to stabalize the gut, then heal from the inside out. Stay the course, because the old way got you to where you are.
    I have tested this theory on me 3 times. Ate crap, got heavy, ate whole foods, lost weight.. Have a superb day. - 5/21/2016 9:52:46 AM
  • A good ballanced article. Very useful. - 5/18/2016 2:51:02 PM
  • Yeah, it is not fair. You watch what you eat and spend time on workout and still do not lose weight like you have expected and yet your friend that eat everything that comes her way has an amazing lean body. I agree with the part that states that it easier for a man to lose weight more than a woman. I believe it is true and it is like that because of the female hormones. I came to know about this in the first weight loss guide that I have ever known that does not depend on diet for weight loss because reveals that it is not food or exercise that determines our staying slim, but our hormones-the estrogen, insulin, cortisol and thyroid. You can check it our here... https://www.myfit
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    -will-it-work-for-me/ - 4/29/2016 10:41:21 PM
  • Hi, so I have been struggling with my weight throughout my life since grade school, I was always the tallest in my class and the heaviest, I never knew what was wrong with me, including my father was morbidly obese from excessive drinking of liquors,...I never gained an extreme amount of weight until I was separated from my first husband...then I hit rock bottom from not having a place to live to being incarcerated from anger problems, Last but not least I was put in a mental hospital for a couple of weeks and when I got there they ran a whole bunch of test's on me, then they weighed me, I had not weighed myself for some time, I didnt think much of it, but then I got on the scale and it said 350 pound's, I was only 24 at the time at 5'9...that doesn't seem right, so something in my mind had clicked,...I kept eating the hospital food even though it wasn't good for me, but by the time i got home I realized that all this bad association had to do with my eating habit's, I had no idea what the eating right for your blood type was until my weight stopped going down, because I had started the atkins diet after I had gotten out of the mental hospice, and decided i needed to lose weight fast, and had seen results from a friend who had lost a large amount of weight on the atkins diet, so I dropped 100pound's within half a year,...then I went back to my bad habit's eating grains, bread, fried everything, not know my blood type was against all these factors...so that's my story, I just recently lost 28 pounds this month, I'm down to around 200 pound's following my blood type o+ diet, try it, it really does work. - 2/1/2016 3:32:55 PM
  • LIZAF16
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    Speaking about garcinia, donít even spend your money on that. I tried it 2 years go with literally 0 results.
    - 12/1/2015 9:03:29 PM
  • I've been size 10 all my life without even trying a lot. Recently I hit my 40th birthday. And now i can see that iím starting to gain weight. Soon i will need my personal time zone. My metabolism is getting slower i guess. i hate working out so decided to give weight loss supplements a shot. But there are so manyÖ. My friend which is a dietitian said that verifiedforskolin
    .com is the best since it's verified by a lot of studies. Maybe somebody tried it? Or should i try garcinia?
    - 12/1/2015 8:52:11 PM
  • Reason #4) You have a pre-existing health condition which causes weight gain.

    Reason #5) Your doctor has you on a prescription which also causes weight gain. - 11/25/2015 6:36:03 AM
  • SPUNOUTMOM
    This article has been very helpful. I have PCOS & hypothyroidism. Which would explain why I can't get my weight down as quickly as I like. - 9/23/2015 9:42:22 AM
  • I agree with some of this article. I don't agree with eating the amount of calories that they say you need. I started out at 350 lb. , over a few months my calories were lowered to 1000 a day. I lost weight. I was under doctors supervision. Whenever I raised my calorie count I gained or stayed the same. I also had to workout a lot.
    I truly believe most people eat too much, they need to lower their calorie count and they will lose. Plus exercise.
    Even now to maintain my weight loss I stay at 1200 a day. Once in a while I go over but not often. And found I have to exercise. If I let up on the cardio, I gain whether I ate more or not.
    It's not easy staying in shape, but better than where I used to be. - 9/9/2015 5:17:05 PM
  • I agree with some of this article. I don't agree with eating the amount of calories that they say you need. I started out at 350 lb. , over a few months my calories were lowered to 1000 a day. I lost weight. I was under doctors supervision. Whenever I raised my calorie count I gained or stayed the same. I also had to workout a lot.
    I truly believe most people eat too much, they need to lower their calorie count and they will lose. Plus exercise.
    Even now to maintain my weight loss I stay at 1200 a day. Once in a while I go over but not often. And found I have to exercise. If I let up on the cardio, I gain whether I ate more or not.
    It's not easy staying in shape, but better than where I used to be. - 9/9/2015 5:17:05 PM
  • 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
  • NANCYHAL
    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
  • MAMAKITTEH1
    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:
    http://www.gett
    inghealthywit
    hmary.com/Ven
    usFactor
    Or get more info here:
    https://www.you
    tube.com/watc
    h?v=bgmykC3yrkI - 7/2/2015 1:39:07 PM
  • LEXITV
    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
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    - 6/11/2015 10:25:28 AM
  • ATTANT
    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 http://wp.me/p5NI
    sT-k

    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

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