Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 5 Reasons You're Stuck in a Plateau

by Suzanne Hiscock

Have you been stuck at the same weight for a few weeks despite the fact that you seem to be doing all the “right” things? It’s frustrating when your weight loss comes to a stop even though your routine hasn’t changed much. This happens to a lot of people and is commonly referred to as a plateau.

There are a couple of different reasons why the scale isn’t budging. With a few tweaks to your routine, you’ll find that you can start losing weight again. Take a look at some of the most common reasons why you may not be losing weight:

1. You’re underestimating the calories you eat. When you start a diet, you’re probably quite strict about counting your calories. You may even use a scale or measuring cups to make sure that you are eating the right portion size. However, as time goes on, you tend to get less rigid, eyeballing portions instead of being accurate. This could be adding extra calories without you realizing it.  Track your calories with an online calorie counter or fitness tracker.

If you’re not sure how many calories you should be eating, you can easily calculate your calorie deficit with this calorie deficit calculator.

2. You’re overestimating calories burned. If you’re following the calories burned guide on the exercise machine or relying on estimates from the internet, you may be overestimating how much you are burning when you work out. Get yourself a heart rate monitor that tracks calories and to make sure you’re working at your target heart rate.

See:  How Many Calories Do You Burn In a Day?

3. You’re not eating enough. People who are more active need more calories just to survive. If you eat too few calories, your body thinks that it’s starving and it tends to hold on to the fat. The barest minimums are 1200 calories for women and 1800 for men.  People that are larger, more active, or breastfeeding may require much more.  I’d venture to say that most people need much more than the 1200/1800. 

Calculate how many calories you should be eating.

4. Your body is in a rut. Our bodies are made to be efficient. If you’ve been doing the same exercise routine since you started a diet, your body may have adjusted to the activity, so that it’s not burning as many calories as when you first started. To remedy this, try switching to a different aerobic exercise, or increase your frequency, duration or intensity.  If you’re weight training, try different exercises and be sure to increase the weights if the exercises are too easy.

5. You’re losing fat but gaining muscle.  If you’re new to exercise (or getting back into it after a long layoff), you may be losing body fat but gaining muscle at the same time.  I’ve had this happen to me several times.  If this is the case, rejoice!  That’s the holy grail of fat loss.  How can you tell if you’re losing fat and gaining lean body mass?  Track your body fat percentage over several weeks.  You may see your weight staying the same but your body fat percentage dropping.

If you don’t think that any of these reasons apply to you, you may want to discuss your concerns with a doctor. Be sure to keep a detailed log of your foods and activities so that your doctor can get a better idea of the whole picture.

Must Read
Here’s my favorite fat loss guru’s answer to the plateau question.  It’s what helped me get through my plateaus! How An Entire Year Could Go By With No Fat Loss

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About the Author

Suzanne Hiscock is a PN1 Nutrition Coach, ACE-certified Health Coach, as well as an ACE-certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. For over 16 years, she has been helping people lose weight and get fit through her website, FitWatch.com. Whether it's with one-on-one nutrition coaching, nutrition programs or courses, and tools or calculators, she can help you to eat better, move more and believe in yourself.