Here's Why You Don't Lose Weight, and the Solution
I’ve been going to the gym (bodybuilding) for over 6 years now.
I started skinny, gained a lot of weight, lost a lot of weight, and by lots of trial and error came to the point where I can control my weight in both directions.
I love to research the topic, and generally, just really enjoy what I do.
One thing I notice though is that there are a lot of misconceptions about weight loss. One of those is that people say they’re not losing weight, while on a diet.
This made me wonder... What are the reasons why they're not losing weight, and how to fix them?
So many articles online spill random facts about this topic.
Most of these might not have any real impact at all. Understandably, it’s hard to see what information is true and to know the cause of why your diet isn’t working.
In this article, you can expect some good news and some news you might like a little less.
I’ll be straight up honest with you, and provide you with practical knowledge that you can use.
Here's why you don't lose weight, and the solution.
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Your metabolism is not why you don't lose weight
I often come across statements that sound something like: “I’m obese and only eat 1000 calories a day, but still I can’t lose weight, because my metabolism is broken”.
The truth is that the majority of people don’t have a metabolism problem, these cases are extremely rare.
The reason they’re not losing any weight on a 1000 calories diet, is because they’re simply not on a 1000 calories diet.
This has been a topic that’s heavily researched by scientists, with a clear conclusion.
Our metabolism is not broken.
Good news for most of us. We’re more than likely perfectly capable of achieving our fat loss goals.
The bad news is that this means that if you’re not losing weight at the moment, your metabolism is most likely not why you don't lose weight
There are certain ways you can optimize your metabolism naturally. You can read about this here.
This brings us to the first (and very important) issue…
Most people underestimate their calories
I’m going to make an assumption here. Most people reading this are not tracking their calories at the moment.
There’ve been studies that researched how many calories people overestimate that they eat in a day. The findings were that on average people with a healthy body weight overestimate by 20%, and overweight people overestimate by 40-50% or even more.
Overestimating calories can be the reason why you don't lose weight. Simultaniously, it can be the solution.
Personally, these numbers don’t shock me at all.
Our societies nowadays make it very easy to overconsume calories, because a lot of those calories come from (processed) foods that we don’t even consider in the first place.
Some examples: you eat a healthy salad, but there are “healthy” oils on it or dressings, which might be hundreds of unconsidered calories. Imagine eating French fries with mayonnaise, the added mayonnaise could be more calories than the fries themselves.
If you’re unaware of these important details in your diet, it’s easy to see how almost everybody overestimates the number of calories they eat in a day.
This can even happen if you track the number of calories you consume in a day.
I’ve experienced first-hand how easy it is to make this mistake.
Once I dieted for 6 months, lost about 20 kilograms of weight, and increased my calories a bit to maintain my new weight.
By misreading the pre-packed pancake label, I ate 500 calories more than I thought every day. A lot of progress was lost in a matter of weeks.
I’ve learned from my mistake and can confidently say that tracking is by far the best way to increase your awareness about the number of calories a certain food contains.
Tracking calories is part of the solution
What gets measured, gets managed.
And when it comes to your diet, that quote might be the one best secret to weight loss success.
You can fix the overconsumption of calories by simply tracking your caloric intake.
I would strongly encourage anybody to track their calorie intake, at least for a while, so they develop a good understanding of the foods they eat.
I would go as far as to say they should teach this stuff in school. It probably sounds like a lot of work, but it’s easier than you might expect.
You can use an app on your smartphone, such as MyFitnessPal (I’ve been using this one for years), which makes it very simple to add/scan the foods you eat.
I’ve written a tutorial on how you can start tracking calories yourself. You can read it here.
You're becoming aware of calories, but what can you eat?
What about the best food choices to lose weight?
When you’re trying to lose weight it’s important to find foods you love that are low in calories, but high in volume.
This means you can eat a lot of it, without it sabotaging your diet.
Bad choices in food can be a reason why you don't lose weight.
Part of the solution is eating enough protein and healthy fats.
I’ve written a complete article about which foods are best for trying to lose weight, which also covers exactly how much you should eat. You can read it here.
The main takeaway is that not all foods are created equal, especially when you’re trying to lose weight.
Some foods seem to be insignificant, or you don’t even actually enjoy them, but contain a mind-blowing number of calories. Learn to be aware of this, make different choices, and you’ll be one step further to crushing your weight loss goals.
Be mindful of food, awesome, but what about drinks?
Drink diet soda to lose weight
Even though I’m 400% committed to fitness and health, I don’t survive solely on water. And don’t worry, you don’t have to do this as well.
Many people falsely believe that the sweeteners in diet soda are plain evil, and should be avoided at all costs.
The truth is that, unless you drink 500 liters of diet soda a day, it will more than likely be harmless to your body. The benefit of drinking diet soda is that you can enjoy a drink without consuming any excess calories.
The consumption of sugary sodas or other drinks high in calories can be a reason why you don't lose weight weight, and diet soda can be a great solution.
This means you’ll save calories for food, and it’ll make it easier to stick to your weight loss plan.
Note: some research indicates that drinking diet soda, causes people to be more tempted to eat something sweet (with calories). This doesn’t mean diet soda makes you gain weight by itself. Just be aware of this.
I experience the complete opposite, I even drink zero-calorie candy cans (these taste like candy).
So, you don’t have to drink a lot of water? Well, not exactly…
Drink enough water to lose weight
Your body consists of about 70% of water.
Your body needs water for about every internal thing it does, including metabolizing fat for energy.
It’s very difficult to burn fat properly if you don’t drink enough water, so try to aim for at least 1,5 liters a day or more if you’re very active.
It might not be the tastiest thing in the world, but just imagine the additional progress you'll make during your weight loss journey.
Drinking more water can be part of the solution to losing weight.
There are many ways to make water tastier these days as well. I mix it with some sort of zero-calorie syrup.
Just be sure to not drink 2 liters before bed.
Is sleep the reason you don't lose weight?
Sleep is crucial for your health, productivity, and overall quality of life, and you guessed it… weight loss.
The benefits of a good night of sleep are endless.
First of all, most of your fat isn’t burned during the day or while working out. The weight loss you’re after occurs during the REM phase of your sleep, aka your “deep sleep”.
Next to that, by getting in more sleep you’ll be less hungry during the day and your performance in everything you do goes up.
If you currently don't sleep enough, this could be the reason why you're not losing weight.
Cuddle up with your favorite teddy bear, snug under a blanket, and sleep for at least 7-8 hours a night.
Pro tip: create a routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time most nights. Also, make your room pitch black. This helped tremendously for me.
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Exercise will help you lose weight, but it's not the solution
One last thing to consider that can accelerate your weight loss journey is going to the gym (or exercising at home).
If you build muscle and lose fat, your body will look way better than if you just lose weight.
A reason you're not losing weight might be that you simply can't eat enough food. Going to the gym and building muscle can fix that by increasing the amount of energy you burn. This means you can eat more food while losing weight.
I want to point out though that it’s not required to lose weight, for this diet is by far the most important aspect.
If you’re interested in going to the gym and you want to learn more, I’ve written a complete article on how you can start. This will provide you with all the knowledge you need to maximize your time and effort, for the most results possible. You can read it here.
Losing weight can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
With the right knowledge and a little determination, I’m convinced nearly anybody can lose weight, and be the healthiest person they possibly can be.
I hope that I’ve given you one more piece (or multiple pieces) of the puzzle in your weight loss journey, so you achieve exactly what you’re after.
You now know common reasons why you might not be losing weight, and how you can fix them.
Oh, and never forgot… POPCORN is the most amazing fitness snack. Don’t believe me?
I’ve written an article that explains why. It’s my mission to preach popcorn, so it would be cool if you read it by clicking here.
Be careful if you decide to read it thought. You might have a new favorite snack after.
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