Experts share how to get the scale moving.
The only thing worse than not losing weight is feeling like you’re doing everything right and still not losing weight.
The frustration is common: “I constantly have women asking me why they aren’t losing weight on their diets,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants and a nutrition expert for Sonima.com. The answer is different for everyone, but chances are, yours comes down to one (or more!) of these top causes.
Sorry to break it to you, but you might not be sticking to your diet as well as you think you are, says Taub-Dix. Keep a food journal to track what and how many calories you’re taking in at each meal and snack. “It can be really eye-opening,” says Taub-Dix. “Portion sizes are often larger than you think and without journaling you may simply forget to count calories from alcoholic beverages, condiments, or that handful of popcorn you grabbed when walking past the office kitchen,” says board-certified internist Pat Salber, M.D., host of the “The Doctor Weighs In” podcast. Check out Fooducate or MyFitnessPal if an e-version would be easier for you, and make sure to log your eats immediately so you don’t forget to track them.RELATED: 4 Food Journal Mistakes You Might Be Making
Even healthy weight loss comes with some muscle loss. “Since muscles consume seven times as much energy as fat, muscle loss during dieting can reduce the number of calories we need to continue to lose weight,” says Salber. Fight the urge to cut calories further (it will only make you burn more muscle), and start performing more strength workouts to help you get your muscle and metabolism back.
Extreme diets will help you lose weight—but not for long. “When you follow a very restrictive diet, the body tries to preserve fat,” says Salber. To do that, it not only starts degrading muscle, but also slows its biological processes and your metabolism to preserve energy. Meanwhile, juice cleanses can keep your blood-sugar and insulin levels spiking to increase fat accumulation around your middle. When trying to lose weight, the average woman shouldn’t go below 1,200 calories per day, she says. If your diet restricts calories further, it’s dangerous.RELATED: The Scary Thing That Happens to Your Muscles on a Crash Diet
Apart from throwing hunger-regulating hormones out of whack, a lack of sleep can hurt your metabolism, says Taub-Dix. In fact, pulling a single all-nighter can cause your resting energy expenditure—the number of calories you burn without moving—to significantly drop, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.RELATED: 6 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight
This is the least likely reason you’re not losing weight, but medical conditions can still be to blame for a stubborn scale. For instance, hypothyroidism, in which your body’s doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, is associated with a slower metabolism and a tendency to store, instead of burn, fat, says Salber. And hormonal issues related to polycystic ovary syndrome can make losing weight far more difficult than it needs to be.