7 reasons you’re not losing weight
7 reasons you’re not losing weight
Written by Graham Hurst
A common question I get on social media is “Why am I not losing weight?”
Now before I even start to answer the question, I’m going to need a lot more information.
I usually start with a few basic questions like “What are you doing right now?”, “How long have you been trying to lose weight”, “How are you measuring progress”.
Now these might seem a bit obvious but even the simplest of questions can give a good indication as to what areas may need addressing, if at all.
In some instances it’s a case of a little more patience but in others, it might be a case of further education into calories the energy balance.
In short, the answer isn’t a quick or straight forward one but based on my experience, there are generally 7 main reasons why you’re not losing weight. I’ve outlined there below and added my views on what you can do to change that.
Reason 1: You’re too reliant on government guidelines
The current calorie guidelines are 2000 for women and 2500 for men. This blanket advice is in all honest, very poor. In some cases this could be far too much and in others, far too little.
A 40 year old 5’2” female who works in an office, rarely exercises and is very sedentary would likely gain weight pretty rapidly at 2000 calories per day. Whereas take me for example, a 6’4” male weighing 105kgs who is pretty active and trains regularly. Well I lose weight if I eat less than 3,700 calories.
Your caloric intake should be specific to you and your goals. This should take into account your age, current weight and target weight, height and activity levels.
Reason 2: You’re underestimating your calorie intake
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is underestimating their caloric intake.
This could be knowingly or unknowingly, or a combination of the two.
The main two examples I see of this on a daily basis are Granola, and peanut butter.
A “serving” or granola is usually around 45g. A serving is NOT a bowl. If you don’t weigh it, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be way over the 100g mark. (Try it for yourself and see) You can thank me later!
The other is the good old “tablespoon of peanut butter”. Now a tablespoon according to most nutritional labels is 16g, around 90 calories. But if you’re like me and are a bit of a nut butter fan (cashew being my favourite), a tablespoon could be anything from 90 – 200 calories, depending on the size of the spoon and if it’s heaped or level. So my advice is always to weigh it first.
Reason 3: You’re over estimating your energy output
Modern day technology is great. I mean, the new generation of mobile phones and smart watches allow us to do things that in the past, we could only have dreamed of.
I mean who’d have thought 10 years ago that we would be able to book a holiday from our phone and even measure our heart rate and quality of sleep on something that we wear on our wrist?
When it comes to energy expenditure, however, I’m afraid we are still in the very early stages.
Whilst the “calories burned” feature sounds great and is really good to get you motivated, its accuracy is somewhat questionable. It is only based on a few variables, mainly height, age, weight and on occasion, heart rate. Whilst these could give you an estimate, I certainly wouldn’t fly to Vegas and put all your life savings on black.
My advice would be to use the step-count feature as a daily target but when it comes to your activity and calories burned, simply use it as a reference and not something that you would purposely adjust your calories because of.
Reason 4: You’re not tracking properly (knowing or unknowingly)
Another important point is to read the information on the packet carefully. Again this might sound obvious, but I’d strongly recommend it.
Using Myfitnesspal is great but it’s not 100% accurate, as the database is “user generated”. Put simply, this means the database is generated by people like you and me. We must trust that people have read the information on the packets properly and input these correctly into the app.
Common errors you I find are:
- Missing data – calories correct but no values for protein, carbohydrate or fat.
- Old data – the barcode remains the same but the ingredients change (this will affect calories and macros).
- Incorrect data – the barcode scans as a different product entirely.
One last trip hazard when it comes to calorie intake is cooked vs uncooked weight. This can hugely affect the calorie values, especially when it comes to things like pasta and rice. Pay attention to whether the values given are for cooked or uncooked and if uncertain, double check on the company website.
Reason 5: You’re only tracking Monday-Friday
Are you a bit of a weekend warrior? If so, this one’s for you.
It’s important to think of your calorie intake across the week as opposed to daily as this is what’s going to give you a far better insight to what your “true” intake actually is.
You can undo a week’s hard work quite easily by over-indulging on a weekend.
Have a look at the graphic below. These all average at 2000 calories per day, but indicate ways how you can adjust your intake to suit your lifestyle.
As they say, patience is a virtue. This couldn’t be any more truthful, especially when fat loss is the primary goal.
It’s difficult to accept at times but losing weight is going to take longer than you anticipate. Yes there are certain things you can do to expedite the process but accepting that it’s not going to happen in 2, 4 or 8 weeks is a very good start.
If you’ve been overweight for the last 5 years then it’s unfeasible to think that you will be able to rectify this in a number of weeks, despite what you might read online or in the glossy mags.
Look at where you are now and compare this to where you want to be.
What lifestyle choices do you habitually make that might be hindering your progress?
Can you identify any areas that you could quite easily improve without too much stress?
Answering these questions honestly and taking action should be your first job.
Reason 6: You’re not taking into account natural fluctuations in bodyweight (undigested food, water intake, time of month etc.)
This is one which a lot of people fall for, especially if weighing just once per week. Yet there are a number of factors that can easily impact on your scale weight:
- The time you weigh yourself (you are likely to be much heavier in the evening)
- Undigested food in your stomach
- Digested food ready for excretion (poo)
- Hydration level
- Hormones (time of the month/stress)
- Carbohydrate intake (For every 1g of carbs your body uses 3-4g water to transport to cells)
- What time you last ate
- Size of meal you last ate
These are often ignored when it comes to tracking body weight, so I always recommend weighing yourself first thing in a morning (post pee).
However, if you look at the table below you might be able to identify another problem that can arise, especially when doing weekly weigh-ins.
As you can see, the number on the scales reduces across the course of the week but depending on the day you choose to weigh yourself, it could represent a loss or a gain.
So for instance, if you checked your weight on Monday and again on Saturday you would assume a gain in weight. However, if you’d have chosen to weigh in on Monday and Friday (or Sunday), this would be a loss.
Weekly averages or bi-weekly weigh-ins can be far more useful for tracking but it’s important not to get too obsessed or hung up on this number. Remember, it’s not the only thing we should be
tracking, which leads me onto my next point.
Reason 7: You’re focusing too much on body weight
Whilst the scales are a really useful tool to track progress, they are only giving you a representation of your body’s relationship with gravity.
A better approach would be to use a combination of the following methods to track and measure, so you’re not just getting hung up on scale weight:
- Bodyweight (fasted)
- Progress photos
- Measurements (choose 3-5 areas)
- Clothes (how do they fit?)
- Skin-fold calipers (if confident in using them)
- What do others say? (Has anyone commented on your weight loss?)
If you’re new to resistance training, it’s very possible to change your shape considerably whilst remaining a similar weight. This is why it’s always useful to use a combination of progress markers.
So there we have it.
I hope this has given you more of an insight into what to look out for when trying to lose weight.
None of this is complicated stuff, but it’s often the simple things that are neglected when you are so focused on “the best approach for….”
If you feel ready, you’re committed to change and you want to achieve a set of results you never though would ever be possible, head on over and apply for our #Leanwithalife The 12 Week Online Coaching Programme.
If you’re a little unsure but still feel like you need a helping hand and some guidance to get you started on your transformation journey, head on over and start our free #Leanwithalife progamme 21 day trial.
Anything else just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.