8 Surprising Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight

8 Surprising Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight

If you’re having trouble losing pounds, consider these causes of stalled weight loss.

By: Maressa Brown

No matter how diligent you may be at tracking your meals and hitting the gym, it’s possible you may still struggle to shed weight. And even if you’ve been succeeding on a healthy diet and fitness plan, there’s a chance you may find yourself facing the dreaded but common weight loss plateau. Your stalled progress may not be your fault. Here, eight sneaky -- but totally fixable -- factors that may be standing in the way of your weight loss goal.

1. The same old workout: If you’ve been doing the same exercise routine for too long, your slim-down will inevitably slow down. If you don’t mix it up frequently enough, your body gets accustomed to your routine and isn’t challenged to change.

For this reason, expert trainers like Jillian Michaels suggest a split routine, which focuses on different muscle groups during different workouts and various cardio options (not just the elliptical or bike) to achieve max calorie burn.

2. Pesticides in your fruits and vegetables: You may feel like you’re doing your diet a big favor by having a big salad or snacking on an apple, but certain produce may be hurting more than it is helping! “There is a fairly strong case for pesticides as an ‘endocrine disruptor,’ evidenced by research on subjects exposed to pesticides and with a significantly stronger likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes,” explains Rebecca Solomon, MS, RD, CDN, director of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York. “In addition, there are correlations between pesticide exposure and high triglycerides, high fasting glucose, high blood, as well as a decrease in HDL (good cholesterol). However, at this time, there are no studies confirming that exposure to pesticides would impact one's ability to lose weight.”

That said, you might do well to at least steer clear of the Dirty Dozen (the most commonly sprayed fruits and veggies). In fact, a recent study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that eating the right fruits and vegetables and avoiding the most contaminated ones for just five days can reduce circulating pesticides that affect weight to undetectable or near undetectable levels.

3. An underactive thyroid: If you have hair loss, feel cold when it’s warm out, or are suffering from forgetfulness or low energy, you may have a thyroid issue. The thyroid gland is the primary regulator of your body’s metabolism, and if it isn’t functioning properly (for a plethora of reasons from genetics to stress and other hormonal imbalances), you might struggle to lose weight, even if your diet and fitness plan is in excellent shape.

Thankfully, working with your health care practitioner to diagnose hypothyroidism can help get you back on track.

4. Not enough carbs: If you’re following a low-carb diet, dipping too low in terms of carb intake may actually backfire and keep you from making progress. “The strategy to restrict carbs can actually hurt my clients who are also working out on a regular basis,” explains PJ Monson, certified personal trainer and CEO of MyFitMojo. “If their carb intake is too low, then this can slow down their metabolism, increase their stress hormones, and reduce their ability to gain lean muscle.”

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5. Skipping breakfast: Even if you feel like you’re just not a breakfast person, ditching the first meal of the day may be messing with your metabolism. Studies like one published in the Journal of Nutrition show that missing breakfast causes metabolic and hormonal differences in the responses to foods consumed later in the day, as well as differences in appetite.


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6. Not enough strength training: If your focus is on cardio and cardio alone, you may not be getting the results you want. That’s because weight training builds lean muscle, which increases your resting metabolic rate and keeps you burning calories throughout the day.

To prevent injury and develop consistency, start off with one to two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for all major muscle groups, recommends the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

7. More lean muscle: If the scale isn’t budging or is even going up, but you’ve been strength training, it’s possible that you’re hitting your goal in a totally different way. “When adding muscle, a person’s weight may stay the same or even increase,” explains Monson. BMI isn’t helpful either, as it doesn’t take into account the difference between muscle and fat. So if you’re looking more toned and your clothes are fitting the way you want them to, it may be best to abandon the scale altogether!

8. Artificial sweeteners: Foods or drinks that use artificial sweeteners may seem like a smart way to cut calories, but research shows they’re actually detrimental to successful long term weight loss. One study looked at 3,682 individuals over seven to eight years, and after adjusting for common factors that contribute to weight gain such as dieting, exercising change, or diabetes status, the study showed that those who drank artificially sweetened drinks had a 47 percent higher increase in BMI than those who did not. The reason: Chemical sweeteners may affect the body’s ability to gauge how many calories are being consumed.

Which of these has ever plagued your weight loss progress?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/stevecoleimages

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