Top Five Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

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Not Losing WeightYou’re watching your diet and hitting the gym regularly for cardio and resistance training, but you’re not losing weight. You start wondering if it’s really worth all the effort.

Before you succumb to any sweet temptation that will assuage your fears about the scale berating you again, consider the following advice from health experts who give some of the main reasons the pounds won’t budge.

1. You rarely eat breakfast. Elizabeth Somer in Shape magazine’s article “8 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight” says research reveals that 25 percent of females skip breakfast, and most of them will ultimately gain more pounds because skipping the first meal of the day sets them up for failure later in the afternoon when raging hunger usually sets in. Studies also show that men and women who eat breakfast are more likely to drop pounds and more inclined to keep those pounds off permanently.

The Solution: Start eating breakfast. Some health experts recommend eating a high-protein meal like eggs or low-fat meat. Others suggest eating a high carbohydrate meal consisting mostly of whole grains. Then there are others that recommend a combination of both protein and carbohydrates.

It’s probably best if you decide for yourself what works well for breakfast through trial and error. Some people find a high-protein meal in the morning helps them feel energetic and satiated until the afternoon, while others swear by eating an early morning meal consisting mostly of fiber-rich carbs.

2. You’re eating more calories than you think. A USDA study, says Somer, reveals that 80 percent of women underestimate their daily caloric intake by 700 calories. That’s quite a few calories considering one pound consists of 3,500 calories, so an extra 700 calories a day, which adds up to 4,900 a week, could easily freeze the numbers on the scale.

The solution: “Keep a food journal,” says Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D in Somer’s article. It will hold you accountable and make you think twice before eating or drinking something that’s high in calories or carbohydrates. Keeping a food journal will also help you identify situations that may trigger binge and unconscious eating. Many dieters report that keeping a food journal is the best way to lose weight.

If you’re already tracking your food or counting calories, and the scale seems frozen, be a little more meticulous. You could be overestimating portion sizes, which is easy to do. It may be worth your while to weigh your food until you’re sure about your ability to be accurate. If you find you’re eating a little more than you thought, reduce your portions accordingly.

3. You’re not getting enough sleep. According to Angela Spivey in the article “Lose Sleep, Gain Weight” published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Epidemiologic studies have suggested that short sleep cycles may lead to obesity as well as hypertension and other metabolic disorders.

The solution: To keep your metabolism charged, get at least seven to eight hours sleep each night. Be careful about environmental factors that may disrupt your sleep cycle such as noise and exposure to artificial light.  These conditions may affect your body’s natural internal clock, says Spivey.

4. Your thyroid is underactive. Thyroid disease or hypothyroidism is vastly undiagnosed and untreated state authors Mary Jane Minkin and Toby Hanlon in Prevention’s article “Thyroid Alert.” Besides weight gain or inability to shed pounds, other symptoms include mood swings, dry skin, constipation, and fatigue.

The solution: Ask your doctor to check your thyroid gland. He or she can determine through a simple blood test called TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) whether or not your thyroid levels are normal. More women than men suffer from hypothyroidism, and women over the age of 50 are even more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism.

If you suffer from hypothyroidism, your doctor will probably prescribe a synthetic form of thyroxine. Because thyroid levels can still fluctuate even when you’re taking medication, you’ll need to have regular blood tests to check your TSH levels. It’s also important to take the lowest dose possible because if the dose is too high, it can cause bone loss, say Minkin and Hanlon.

5. You’re taking medication that affects weight. There are several types of medications that can cause weight gain:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihypertensives
  • Medication for diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal drugs
  • Bipolar and neurological disorder drugs
  • Corticosteroids.

The solution: If you’re taking any medication, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects. If you’re taking one that may increase your weight, ask your doctor about other alternatives.

There are controllable and uncontrollable reasons for holding onto extra pounds. You have no control over genetic factors that predispose you to being overweight or obese; however, you can still push the numbers on the scale in your favor because you do have control over your body when it comes to diet, exercise habits and behavioral changes.


Minkin, Mary Jane and Hanlon, Toby. “Thyroid Alert.” Prevention. July 2003, Vol. 55, Issue 7, p97.

Somer, Elizabeth. “8 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight.” Shape. December 2002, Vol. 22, Issue 4, p120.

Spivey, Angela. “Lose Sleep, Gain Weight.” Environmental Health Perspectives. January 2010, Vol. 118 Issue 1.

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