You’ve read all the health advice online, you’ve tried all the diets, and you’ve slaved for hours at the gym. But you’re still not losing weight. What gives? Though there are many plans and regimens out there that promise weight loss for everybody, no single plan is going to result in the same effect for everyone. After all, everyone’s body is different! While one person may drop pounds trying the keto diet, another might not see the same result.
Don’t believe it? Try searching the internet for weight loss advice. (Or better yet, please don’t.) You’ll get a myriad of contradicting opinions, supported by equally contradictory sets of research that seem to prove each one. Low-fat? Some studies are all for it. Low-carb? Other research swears by it.
But no one diet seems to be the miracle cure that works for every person. (Think about it: If this diet existed, people wouldn’t struggle so much to find answers and whoever invented the program would be rich.)
There are all kinds of potential reasons why your weight loss quest hasn’t been as successful as you think it should be — only some of which are in your control. These 20 reasons you’re not losing weight might surprise you.
Your body needs water to break down stores of fat. It’s a biological process, and it requires H2O. Breaking down fat is also not a vital process — so if your body’s short on its water supply, it will be one of the first things to stall. To encourage the breakdown of fats stored in your body, stay as hydrated as possible.
It seems simple, but it’s the harsh truth. Societal ideals of weight are wavering around a BMI of 16 — a number the World Health Organization classifies as “severely thin.” Chances are, your ideal weight in terms of appearance isn’t your body’s ideal weight in terms of health, and you’re pushing it to be lower than the weight you healthfully need to be. And the weight you healthfully need to be could theoretically be anything; there is lots of debate in scientific communities right now about whether it’s possible to be fat and healthy simultaneously. While there are advocates for both sides, there is a large body of research suggesting that poor health outcomes are simply correlated with higher body weight — not caused by it.
Mindfulness is defined by Time magazine as “the act of focusing attention on present-moment experiences.” Simply by taking the time to meditate, reflect, and be in the present moment, you can reduce stress and improve your overall health. Your hormone levels have been shown to balance, and you experience a drop in the amount of cortisol in your blood. Cortisol influences weight by encouraging your body to keep it on — when you’re mindful, your body might become less inclined to hold onto extra pounds.
It’s true that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) boosts your metabolism and workout performance quickly. However, if you’re doing high-intensity workouts every day, the metabolic effects of those workouts begin to diminish. Instead, your body gets stressed out by the over-exercise and starts to slow down its metabolism, actually putting on weight. Some low-impact exercise, like walking, might be a good idea to incorporate into your routine.
Arguing with your craving for cupcakes isn’t going to make it go away — it’s going to make it stronger. Saying “no” to your favorite indulgent foods only adds fuel to the fire by making you want the thing you’re told you can’t have. It’s psychology: Cravings and sugar addiction are myths. When you deprive yourself of these foods, you’re actually more likely to eat them in the long run, and in greater quantities.
“Set Point Theory” is the scientifically-backed idea that there is a predetermined weight range your body considers ideal for functioning. Your body will work to stay in that range. Some people have higher set points than others — it’s possible that yours is on the higher end, and that to be healthiest your body wants to be at the higher weight.
Your diet was working so well! What happened? Studies show that 95 percent of dieters gain the weight back that they lost. A majority of dieters actually gain back more weight than they lost. This phenomenon is part of what drives yo-yo dieting. When weight comes back, people might be driven to try another more extreme diet to lose it again — only to (yet again) gain the weight back.
We know you’ve heard the mantra “muscle weighs more than fat” over and over again — and it’s true. But what’s also true is that when you’re building muscle, you hold onto water weight. That’s the weight you gain due to water retention in your body — weight that has nothing to do with fat cells. If you’ve been hitting the gym and suddenly see the number on the scale go up, don’t panic.
Some people do successfully lose weight, right? In the short term, at least. They pick a diet, commit to an exercise regime, and don’t waver until they’ve lost the pounds they wanted. But in order to do that, many people have to miss out on aspects of their social lives they enjoy. Dinners out with friends, happy hours, and party foods aren’t exactly Whole30-compliant. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t good for your mental health — and your physical health, as a result!
A slowing metabolism is a natural part of aging. Trying to combat a slowing metabolism by dieting can make matters worse — lowering your caloric intake too drastically causes your metabolism to drop even further. The best thing to do in this scenario is to continue living a healthy, balanced lifestyle and learn to love your body as it is, no matter how it’s changing.
When you enter a caloric deficit, you might lose weight initially. But in the long term, your body could lower its metabolism in response. This is why calorie counting may not be as effective as you’d hoped. Some telltale signs you aren’t eating enough calories include headaches, constantly feeling cold, and feeling tired even when you sleep a full eight hours.
Depending on the type of sickness you experience, your body could react in all kinds of ways. However, it’s possible during your temporary virus or infection that you’ll put on a few pounds. Don’t fret about this change — just focus on getting better. Once you’re healthy again, your body will balance back out.
Stress of any kind — body stress, emotional stress, etc. — releases the hormone cortisol, which can cause many side effects including weight gain. To minimize the cortisol in your system, try to keep stress to a minimum. Stress-reduction tactics, such as meditating or listening to music, can also be effective.
Sleep deprivation can affect your health in ways that are scarier than the scale — not sleeping enough can cause high blood pressure, depression, and memory loss. But it can also cause weight gain. That’s because your sleep actually has an effect on your metabolism. Some studies suggest that sleep deprivation can lower your resting metabolic rate, which is the rate at which your body uses calories when it’s completely at rest.
Weight gain is a really common symptom that’s often overlooked. People may assume that there’s something wrong with their diet or exercise frequency instead of looking into possible medical reasons that they’re putting on pounds. A thyroid condition, certain disease treatments, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and diabetes are just a few of the common medical cases that could result in weight gain, regardless of lifestyle habits or diet. If you’re gaining weight and you don’t know why, talk to your doctor about what might be going on.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the conversion of energy from food into stored fat cells for later use. When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases insulin. This indicates to your body that there is excess energy circulating the blood that’s available for storage. Your muscles, liver, and fat cells all store energy as a result. However, when a person becomes insulin resistant, muscle and liver cells stop responding to the increase in insulin in the blood. All the energy becomes stored as fat. As a result, many people experience some weight gain before the insulin resistance is treated. There are a number of reasons why a person may become insulin resistant, ranging from eating too much sugar to a serious infection.
Antidepressants and other medications have a direct effect on the hormone production in your body. Since hormones have a lot to do with regulating your metabolism, these pills can shake things up a bit and cause you to keep on weight or even gain weight no matter what you do. Remember during these times that your mental health is more important than the weight on the scale — and that an improvement in your mental health could help you love your body as is!
Whether it’s a marathon, a ballet recital, or a championship sports game, these types of events have you training morning, noon, and night. All that movement and all those hours spent practicing take a toll on your body. It starts anticipating the need for extra energy in the future to sustain all those hours of movement the only way it knows how — by holding onto fat. Fat is where your body holds its energy stores, and it knows you’ll need the fuel.
No, not because sodium-heavy foods are secretly making everyone obese. It’s because if you’ve been eating a lot of sodium, you’re likely to retain more water. Water retention results in what’s called “water weight,” which is exactly what it sounds like: weight you gain because of extra water hanging out in your bloodstream. Once your body’s sodium levels balance back out, this weight goes away.
If you have a history of dieting, it’s likely that your metabolism has been thrown off from its original balance. This is OK — but in the future, instead of pursuing weight loss through a restrictive diet, consider trying one of these small diet changes that can make a big difference in your long-term health.
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