actively informed

News and insights from your clinicians at Precision Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.

Microsoftteams Image (1)

Why am I not losing weight?

Precision Orthopedics By Precision
April 3, 2023 | Health

We all know that the quickest (and most sustainable way) to lose body weight is to remain in a calorie deficit over an extended period of time (If you didn’t know this, first check out our Calories and How to Count Them article!). But it’s becoming more and more common for people to feel their weight is remaining stagnant despite holding onto that ever-so-unpleasant calorie deficit… making the whole process feel like a lose-lose situation!

Well, first of all we’re very sorry to hear that! 

And second of all, we might have a solution (or 4) that is likely to explain exactly what is going on:

    1. You are retaining water

    2. Your diet lacks fiber

    3. You are gaining muscle mass

    4. You are not in a calorie deficit

Let’s dive into each of the above and identify which one (or more) most applies to you.

You’re retaining water

Have you ever taken a weight check before and after a workout? Usually you’ll find that your body weight will be much after training; but that’s no reason to get your hopes up just yet! This is a clear example of how water can affect your body weight. 

After working out, your body is naturally depleted of things like water and glycogen (stored carbohydrates), and this can be a little misleading when stepping onto the scale post sweat.

The same can work the other way around, step on the scale, and then drink about 15 oz of water before stepping on again; you’ll have gained almost a pound of weight, but this is purely water weight. 

Our point is that your body will fluctuate in weight, but this doesn’t always accurately represent your overall body composition. 

Dehydration can play a large role in how heavy you are too!

You see, your body is on a constant endeavor to attain a healthy hydration balance. If adequate hydration is not achieved, the body counteracts this by retaining water to prevent water levels from becoming too low. 

Which will consequently add some digits to the scale. 

By maintaining correct hydration, your body will have no need to retain higher levels of water. You’ll also feel less bloated and more energetic as a result!

Other factors such as sodium/salt levels in your diet, your menstrual cycle, or the amount of carbohydrates you eat can affect how much water you retain; and consequently, how much the scales say you weigh. But ultimately, it’s important to remember that water gain and fat gain are two very different things. Yet, relying purely on what the scales say, can create heavy demotivation.

Your diet lacks fiber

Fiber. You may have heard of this once or twice before, and rightly so! It’s pretty important.

Specifically, dietary fiber

Dietary fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that originates from plant-based foods.

Fiber helps to regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep our hunger levels in check while feeding the body good bacteria, which is essential for optimal health and longevity.

Fiber is vital to the processes that help remove waste and various toxins from your body – which will in turn help that scale drop a little too. If feeling bloated, sluggish, heavy, or low on energy, go for a meal high in fiber. 

Nuts, whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains all contain good amounts of fiber. So start there! Remember, because high-fiber foods are generally filling, they’ll help aid that weight-loss journey too. 

You can find more information about dietary fiber right here in our ‘It’s Not Only About Calorie Tracking’ article!

You are gaining muscle mass

This is the ideal situation! 

More lean muscle mass = A higher metabolism. 

A higher metabolism = More food/energy needed to maintain weight!

If you’re following any form of exercise program, it’s very likely that you’ll be gaining muscle mass; especially if your program includes an element of resistance training. 

The problem arises only when you rely on what the scale digits tell you. 

If you lose 5 lbs of fat but gain 3 lbs of muscle, does that mean you’ve only lost 2 lbs? Technically, yes, but altering your body composition in this way should be your ultimate target. 

Why? Because muscle actually occupies less space than fat! In fact, it can occupy up to 18% less space than its softer counterpart. Muscle tissue is denser, harder, and way more intricately formed than fat tissue. Not to mention the fact that muscle requires energy (calories) at rest (fat does not), resulting in a higher calorie burn when immobile. 

Instead of using just the scale to map your progress, opt to use a combination of body measurements, progress photos, and body composition tests to fully understand the progress made on your fat-loss journey.

You are not in a calorie deficit

Now that we have covered some of the other possibilities as to why you may not be losing weight, it might be worth pulling up the question: Are you actually in a calorie deficit? 

Take a second or two to mull this over. 

As discussed in our Calories and How to Count Them article, we know that, ultimately, weight loss comes down to the simple equation:

Change in body weight = Energy In minus Energy Out

Easily summed up as:

If you consume more daily calories than you burn off, you will gain weight.

If you consume fewer daily calories than you burn off, you will lose weight.

If you consume the same amount of daily calories as you burn off, you will maintain weight.

There’s almost nothing else to it. 

Take a review of roughly how many calories you’re consuming on a daily basis and compare that with your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), this will give you an idea of how much you need to consume each day to begin chipping away at that body fat. 

Weight loss can be a tedious, sometimes frustrating process. A process which can be easily given up altogether. Afterall, long-term results are easily clouded by short-term happiness. 

But with small adjustments and the right information, it can be an extremely fulfilling, life-extending journey that leaves you happier, more-confident, and more self-empowered as a result.  

Remember, weight loss is not always linear. Slightly wrong turns, diversions, and the odd speedbump is completely normal; but the journey is well worth it.

Now, more than ever, you’ve got this.