Why aren't I losing weight? 9 reasons & fixes
Counting calories, exercising and endlessly dieting, but still not losing weight? When the scales just won’t budge despite all your hard work, it can feel frustrating, confusing and totally demotivating.
First things first: it’s not your fault. With fad diets here and gimmicky weight loss products there, weight loss misinformation is hard to avoid.
The good news? By ditching diets, scrapping fads and focusing on a simple whole foods diet instead, weight loss can become easier than you think.
Here are 9 reasons why you’re dieting but not losing weight - and exactly how to fix them.
9 reasons why you’re dieting but not losing weight
1. Are you only focusing on calories?
“Calories are all that matter for weight loss” – sound familiar?
It’s true that a calorie deficit will induce short-term weight loss. But did you know that restricting calories without paying attention to the quality of those calories could make weight loss much more difficult?
Your body needs calories for energy, but it needs quality calories – fibre, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals from whole foods – to keep you in good health.
Choosing low-quality processed foods just because they’re low in calories can have a negative impact on your appetite-regulating hormones, metabolism and gut health.
And if all those key weight-regulating factors are in poor condition, it can become really difficult to budge any unwanted weight.
The fix: Ditch calorie counting and focus on the quality of your diet instead.
That means eating more nutrient-dense calories from whole foods – think unprocessed meat, fish, full-fat dairy and non-starchy vegetables – and fewer processed ‘low-calorie’ foods.
These foods keep your gut, hormones and body healthy, whilst keeping you so full that you naturally consume the appropriate number of calories, without having to track a thing.
2. Are you eating too little (and damaging your metabolism)?
Sure, drastically cutting back on calories or eating as little as possible will help you lose weight in the short term – but it’s not enjoyable, healthy or sustainable.
Your body has adapted to survive, so cutting calories too much or too quickly will lead your body to believe that it’s in famine and needs to conserve energy. You’re also likely to lose a lot of muscle.
Together, these factors lead to a lower metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories). To lose more weight or even maintain your current weight, you’ll need to eat even less than before.
In fact, studies show that low-calorie diets eventually decrease the number of calories the body burns by as much as 23%.
The fix: Instead of aiming to eat as little as possible to lose weight, switch your focus to nourishing your body with nutrient-dense whole foods.
Start by eating regular, satisfying meals until you’re comfortably full, to keep your metabolism healthy. Focus on getting more natural whole foods into those meals, whilst keeping processed foods to a minimum.
Whole foods are usually higher in fibre and protein, so they’re more satiating and will help you to regulate your weight without going hungry.
3. Are you prone to yo-yo dieting?
Prone to strict dieting for a few weeks, quitting entirely for a month or two and then starting all over again – on repeat?
Studies show that when people use a short-term diet to lose weight, they’ll regain 30–65% of that weight within one year. Even worse, a third of dieters will eventually end up heavier than they were before.
That can leave you feeling like a total failure and quickly embarking on the latest diet fad in a bid to turn things around – before it becomes unsustainable and the yo-yo cycle starts again.
The fix: Reframe your mindset. Instead of aiming for weight loss by being ‘on’ or ‘off’ a diet, aim to become a healthy eater for life.
The best way to do this is by gradually incorporating new, healthy eating habits into your routine. Work on them one at a time and gradually build them up, so that they’re sustainable and long-lasting. They could be as simple as:
- Having Purition for breakfast
- Taking a healthy lunch to work, rather than grabbing a meal deal
- Cooking 1 or 2 evening meals per week from scratch – and gradually building up the frequency
4. Are you too busy to eat healthily, consistently?
Maybe you eat healthy when you can, but often get home late from work and end up ordering a few takeaways per week. Or, perhaps you’re determined to lose weight but ready meals have become your mid-week go-to because your evenings are packed.
The problem? Losing weight in the long term requires eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods most of the time. Consistency beats perfection. If you eat healthy meals all week but enjoy a less nutrient-dense meal and dessert at the weekend, it won’t derail your weight loss efforts.
But if a lack of time means you eat takeaways 3 times a week and grab a pastry for breakfast most days en route to work, that’s when you’ll struggle to see results.
The fix: Healthy and busy don’t need to be mutually exclusive. If your busy schedule means you struggle to eat healthily most of the time, try these simple lifestyle tips and tricks:
- Start meal planning – it’s a real timesaver
- Try spending an hour on a Sunday prepping your lunches for the week
- Cook an extra portion of dinner every evening to have for lunch the next day
- Batch cook meals and freeze a few portions to use on busy evenings or when you’re unexpectedly late home
- Try Purition for breakfast or lunch – it’s great for weight loss and takes seconds to make
- For free, healthy and easy weekday meal inspiration, you can sign up to The Daily Feed
5. Are you eating lots of refined carbohydrates?
If you’re dieting but not losing weight and tend to base your meals around starchy or refined carbs, you might have just found the culprit.
Refined and starchy carbohydrates – think white bread, pasta, noodles, white rice, and chips – are rapidly digested by the body, causing a spike in your blood sugar levels.
As nutritionist Kim Pearson says, “The body wants to maintain a state of balance, so to counter this high level of sugar in the bloodstream, it releases insulin to carry the sugar away into cells. When this happens, our blood sugar dips and that’s when we experience cravings for foods that will increase our blood sugar once again. And so the cycle continues.”
Over time, a carb-induced blood sugar rollercoaster can contribute to cravings, weight gain and even the development of type 2 diabetes.
The fix: Instead of using bread, pasta, noodles and rice as the core part of your meal, try to include more non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, courgette, mushrooms and kale.
You can still enjoy the same meals as your family. Just refer to our simple swaps and opt for cauli or broccoli rice instead of rice or potatoes, or cabbage or courgetti instead of pasta or noodles!
6. Is your gut health struggling?
Did you know that your weight is closely tied to your gut health?
Your gut microbes influence the way your body digests food, stores fat and balances blood glucose levels, as well as the key hormones that signal hunger and satiety – all key factors in weight regulation.
That’s why numerous studies show that low gut bacteria diversity (when there are fewer types of bacteria in the gut) is closely linked with weight gain and obesity.
Alongside struggling to maintain or lose weight, symptoms of poor gut health include a frequently upset stomach, extreme food cravings, skin conditions and fatigue.
The fix: Firstly, consider fibre – are you getting enough of it? Your gut bacteria feed off fibre – it’s, quite literally, food for your gut! The easiest source is vegetables, so try to enjoy a wide variety of them every day to keep your gut bugs in check.
Another great source is nuts and seeds, which is what makes Purition so gut-healthy. Every flavour contains almonds, coconut and flax, sunflower, chia, pumpkin and sesame seeds – it’s a daily feast for your gut!
Discover more about why Purition is great for your gut.
7. Are you chronically stressed?
No matter how great your diet is, losing weight becomes difficult if you’re feeling stressed.
When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands pump out cortisol and adrenaline to prepare your body for a harmful situation. You’ll notice a faster heart rate and you may feel more alert, which is a totally natural response to stress.
But if you’re chronically stressed, the cortisol levels may become elevated long-term. This can lead to a bigger appetite and reaching for ‘comfort food’. It can also lead to reduced metabolism, as your body believes it needs to conserve energy to deal with a dangerous situation.
This explains why research has discovered that those with a higher cortisol response typically have more body fat.
The fix: If you feel that ongoing stress is affecting your quality of life or negatively affecting your health, we’d first recommend speaking to your GP or seeking the help of a professional.
However, there are some steps you can take yourself to manage your stress levels:
- Take a daily walk in the fresh air
- Get out in nature whenever you can
- Take regular breaks from work
- Talk about your worries with friends and family
- Try meditation and/or stretching
- Dedicate some time to things you enjoy
- Be mindful of your caffeine intake
8. Are you lacking good quality sleep?
Sleep helps to regulate the balance of hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). After a bad night’s sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up, while your level of leptin goes down.
Research suggests that sleep-deprived individuals tend to choose foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates. In fact, studies show that regularly sleeping for less than 5 hours, compared with sleeping 7–8 hours, increases the likelihood of developing obesity by 40%.
According to The Sleep Charity, most adults need around eight hours of sleep per night.
The fix: If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, here are a few simple sleep tips that could help:
- Avoid screens for an hour before bed – try reading instead
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each night
- Moderate caffeine and ditch it entirely after 2 pm
- Avoid eating 2–3 hours before bed
9. Are you overexercising?
Spending hours on the treadmill could actually hold your weight loss journey back – and it’s all linked to the cortisol problem we mentioned above.
When you overexercise, you put your body under stress. Your body doesn’t know the difference between stress from exercise and stress from – well – actual stress.
So your cortisol levels spike. Your appetite goes haywire, your body can’t burn off energy as easily and you actually end up further away from your goals.
The fix: This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t exercise – exercise has so many health benefits! But if you’ve been exercising intensely and still not losing weight, it’s worth dialling it back slightly.
Swap a few intense cardio or HIIT sessions out for resistance training, or even just a gentle walk, and see if it makes a difference. And most importantly, forget about using exercise as a means to lose weight – it’s your diet that’ll make the scale move!
Dieting but not losing weight? It always comes back to whole foods
You might have noticed that whole foods are the answer to many of the weight-loss-woes – and for good reason, too.
Whole foods work in synergy with your hunger/satiety hormones, gut microbiome and other systems that help you to regulate your body weight, naturally.
So if you're not losing weight, but not basing your diet around whole food ingredients, we almost guarantee you’ll see results if you make an effort to eat more of them.
All Purition customers get free nutrition help and support from our in-house nutritionists, who are always just a call, chat or email away. Get started today by choosing any 7 samples for £16.80!
How to use Purition for weight loss
Your guide to meal planning
Healthy eating: Form the foundation
Time to stop counting calories
What you should do next...
1. Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, recipes and advice about healthy eating.
2. Try Purition for 14 days
Unlock all the benefits of a whole foods diet with none of the effort. Get 2 weeks of easy nutritious meals & pick your own flavours!