Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 10 Common Barriers

Some of the most common reasons why people are unable to lose weight include poor sleep habits, not exercising regularly and skipping meals. Stable routines impact regular hormone production, particularly cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) and leptin (which regulates appetite and fullness).

To lose weight, you should burn more calories than you consume, as excess calories will be stored in the body as fat. In addition, physical activity that promotes muscle gains can also help to boost metabolism and accelerate fat burning. 

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10 reasons you can't lose weight

The main reasons you may have difficulty losing weight are: 

1. Skipping breakfast

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Your body continues to consume energy while you are sleeping to keep bodily functions working, and after many hours of night-time fasting, you should replace this energy. 

Skipping breakfast can lead to reduced fat burning, as the body's attempt to conserve energy. The body may also resort to burning muscle for energy, leading to a slower metabolism and more difficulty losing weight. 

What to do: You should eat breakfast within an hour of waking. This meal should be made-up of fiber, fruit and protein. Learn more about healthy breakfast ideas that you can incorporate into your daily routine. 

2. Eating more calories than recommended

Some people have difficulty losing weight if they do not control the quantity of calories they ingest, and if they consume more calories than they waste. In these cases, even consuming a healthy diet can lead to weight gain if too many calories are ingested. 

What to do: Ideally, you should see a registered dietitian for a customized meal plan, as the amount of calories you ingest depends on your basal metabolic necessities, which varies from person to person. Your ideal calorie count depends on your age, sex, height, weight and activity level. 

Use the following calculator to determine how many calories you should eat per day: 

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3. Excessive eating before sleeping

Excessive eating before sleeping, or eating very fatty, hard-to-digest food, can slow down metabolism and make fat-burning more difficult. This is another common reason why some people may have trouble losing weight.  

What to do: You dinner should be consumed at least 3 hours before going to bed. You can opt for a light snack, like a yogurt, jello or piece of fruit, before bed if you feel hungry. 

4. Aging

Aging is another barrier to weight loss, as the body tends to burn less energy to maintain normal functions as it gets older. For example, the body will use less energy for functions like breathing, cellular repair and digestion. 

There are also normal hormonal changes associated with aging which lead to muscle losses. This can reduce metabolism, as muscles burn more energy than fat cells. 

What to do: Drinking a thermogenic tea can help to accelerate calorie burning when taken into an active lifestyle with strength training. These can help to boost metabolism and facilitate weight loss.

5. Not sleeping 8 to 9 hours per night

Poor sleep, under 8 to 9 hours per night, is another factor in weight loss. GH and leptin hormones are produced in the highest quantities during night time, which stimulates muscle gains and metabolism. It can also influence how full you feel after meals, leading to less eating.

Fatigue and stress from not sleeping enough can also increase cortisol hormones, which can make weight loss more difficult. 

What to do: Creating a structured sleep routine and going to bed at the same time every day can help you achieve 8 to 9 hours of sleep per day. Check out other tips for a good sleep that you can incorporate into your nightly routine. 

6. Not exercising regularly

One of the main reasons for difficult weight loss is not exercising regularly. Not exercising can slow down metabolism, which can make weight loss and calorie burning harder. 

What to do: You should exercise daily, alternating between aerobic exercise (like walks, runs, swimming and cycling) with strength-training (like weight lifting). This can boost metabolism and muscle gains, which are essential for weight loss. 

7. Not drinking enough water

Keeping the body hydrated is fundamental for accelerating metabolism and calorie burning. Adequate water intake can also help with nutrient and oxygen transport, maintain optimal intestinal functioning and help with food digestion. 

Water does not contain any calories and can help to keep you full. It can be consumed at any time of the day. 

What to do: Drink at least 1.5 to 3 L of water per day, either in its natural form, carbonated water, flavored water or in unsweetened teas. 

8. Stress and anxiety 

Stress and anxiety can facilitate increased cortisol production. This hormone increases in times of stress, and persistently high levels can lead to more fat accumulation on the body, leading to a slower metabolism and difficulty with weight loss.

What to do: Managing your stress and anxiety can help to reduce cortisol levels and promote weight loss. Ideally, you should participate in activities that relieve or distract you, like walking, stretching, meditation or yoga. Check out the herbs for anxiety and stress you can use to prepare soothing and relaxing teas. 

9. Hitting a plateau

Hitting a plateau of the most common reasons for not losing weight even with regular diet and exercise. The body can start to adapt to the same eating and activity routine and lead to a balance in energy wasting and calorie intake.

Maintaining a restrictive diet for too long, or rapid weight loss, can actually lead to a slower metabolism. This can cause the body to experience a plateau in results and make weight loss more difficult. 

What to do: You should regularly change up the type of exercise you perform and the intensity to ensure progressive muscle gains and weight loss. A change in diet as directed by a registered dietitian can also help to prevent or manage a rut in weight loss.

10. Hormonal imbalance

Hormonal imbalances, like when thyroid hormones are low, can slow down metabolism and energy burning, leading to difficulty with weight loss, even when actively exercising and dieting. Read more about the other symptoms of thyroid problems that may present with difficulty losing weight. 

What to do: You should see an endocrinologist for assessment and thyroid testing to determine whether your weight loss troubles are related to other metabolic processes in the body.