The first thing to make clear is that your weight alone is not the only indicator of your fat loss progress.
Your weight is effected by all kinds of things and it’s completely normal for it to vary from day to day. To read more about this check out my blog on how The scales can lie! Factors that affect bodyweight
But presuming that you are tracking your progress using other methods like tape measurements, progress pictures, how your clothes are fitting and still not seeing progress, here are 10 reasons why this might be:
1.You aren’t in a calorie deficit
In order to lose weight and reduce body fat you need to be in a calorie deficit; this is where you are eating less calories than your body needs each day. If you aren’t making progress and have given the plan you’re following enough time then the chances are you aren’t in a calorie deficit.
A sensible calorie deficit is eating around 300-500 calories less than your maintenance each day. Don’t worry, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Maintenance is basically the number of calories you need to eat to stay the same weight.
People always get stressed about how to work out their calories for fat loss and what their maintenance is etc. I’ve done a video on this, (click here to check it out) but a really simple way of doing it is to aim for a sensible number of calories, track your progress (weight, pictures, measurements) and then see what progress you make in a week. If you make progress you’re likely in a deficit, if not just reduce slightly and go again.
2.You aren’t tracking how much you eat
Trying to lose weight is really difficult without tracking your food using either an app like Myfitnesspal or an old school food diary.
It can be done but generally means following a set eating plan with set portion sizes. Life doesn’t always allow for this which is why I like the flexibility Myfitnesspal allows because you can enter everything you eat and keep track of your calories, for the day.
If you are just trying to lose weight by simply eating less and not making progress, tracking your food will make a huge difference and can also be a huge eye opener in terms of showing you what you actually eat.
3.You aren’t being accurate
If you are tracking your food using an app and if you are aiming for an amount of calories that would put you in a calorie deficit and still not losing weight, then I’d be willing to bet you aren’t being as accurate as you could be.
I see this a lot with people claiming to be eating 1200 calories and not losing weight, because for most people eating 1200 consistently will lead to weight loss. So if you aren’t, you probably aren’t actually eating 1200 calories.
There’s always going to margin for error when tracking what we eat, even going on food labels, packaged foods can vary by as much as 20% (so we are eating 20% more or less than the label says we are).
But if you aren’t weighing everything else, and just eye balling things and guessing on weights and quantities, you can’t be certain you are actually eating what you think you are.
Look to improve how accurately you are tracking and you’ll likely realise you are eating more than you think.
4.You aren’t being honest
This follows on from being accurate; if you aren’t entering everything you eat into Myfitnesspal then your calories each day aren’t a fair representation of what you are actually eating.
You need to be honest here and enter EVERYTHING
The biscuit in the meeting, the mayo on your sandwich, the slice of pizza you ate off a friend’s plate, it all counts.
5.You aren’t being consistent
Where most people go wrong is that they diet Monday to Friday (often too restrictively) and as a result, cave in at weekends and dramatically over eat.
There are 7 days in a week and they all count I’m afraid.
If you are in a calorie deficit all week but then massively over eat on a weekend, your average calories for the week will likely be over and in fact you won’t be in a calorie deficit. This is how people end up actually gaining weight on a diet.
Start by tracking everyday, no matter what you eat on a weekend, and look at what you have on average for the week, this might show you where your are going wrong. And also try to be sensible, perhaps don’t aim to eat so few calories during the week if it’s leading you to binge at weekends and instead eat slightly more. Eating more to lose weight might sound backwards but if it means you avoid those binges where you massively over eat then it’s beneficial.
Another way people go wrong is that they track for a day or two then miss a day and so on. You have to realise this is going to effect the results you can expect to achieve. Don’t be annoyed that you aren’t getting the results you want if you aren’t putting in the work consistently to do so.
Boring as it sounds, being consistent each and every day is one the best ways to ensure you are successful with your goals.
6.You’re eating ‘clean’
We all used to think that eating clean would lead to weight loss, I even used to advise this, but we now know this isn’t enough.
The most important thing for weight loss is being in a calorie deficit. In theory this means you can eat whatever you want providing you are in a calorie deficit, junk food, clean food whatever.
This is why you read these stories in the paper about a guy eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month and losing weight. It doesn’t sound right but it can absolutely be done providing you are in a calorie deficit.
But equally you could eat the cleanest diet imaginable, but if you are eating too much you won’t lose weight.
Clearly it’s about balance; being in a calorie deficit by eating junk food will result in weight loss but won’t be healthy. But eating just clean foods will not only be boring but can also be pointless if you still eat too much.
This is why I recommend eating 80% fo your food from nutritious, healthy sources and the rest from whatever you fancy. Providing your overall calories out you in a calorie deficit this will work just fine.
7.You are only focusing on exercise
The first step for most people trying to lose weight is starting to exercise. They then quickly become disillusioned when they find they are often gaining weight.
This can be because the extra exercise has made them more hungry so they’ve started eating more. Eating more actually puts them in a calorie surplus where they are gaining weight.
Exercising is fantastic for health, fitness, strength and mental wellbeing and it will also help you burn more calories. But it doesn’t mean you can then eat whatever you want.
I would definitely advise you include exercise in your lifestyle but don’t expect that exercising alone will mean weight loss because it probably won’t. Track your calories as well and you can’t go wrong.
8.You’re overlooking liquid calories
Whenever you ask people about the calories they consume they usually tell you about food and meals but drinks can contain calories too.
If you’re having multiple teas and coffees a day, all with milk and or sugar, then you’ll be consuming a good few extra calories. And obviously there’s the calories from sugary fizzy drinks too.
Make sure all of these get included in what you consume so that you get an accurate idea of what you are actually having.
A good rule of thumb when dieting is to try to consume most of your calories through food not drinks. So lots of water, diet drinks if needs be and prioritising herbal teas and black coffee over things like lattes which will have more calories.
9.You’re a secret eater
If you’re a busy person you might be eating things half the time without even realising it. Parents for example will just pick at something from their child’s plate and completely forget doing it.
But all these calories here and there add up and unfortunately they all count.
If you think you might be a secret eater try to be super strict with yourself and only eat at structured times like meals and snacks that you can properly track and account for.
10.You’re not being patient enough
Even if you’re doing everything right, seeing progress can still take time and will never happen as fast as you want it too.
As I’ve explained your weight can be effected by lots of factors so that can be frustrating.
I usually advise people measure their waist and hips but you might lose from other areas initially that are harder to measure like your face for example.
You might take progress pictures but struggle to see changes, often because we are just too hard on ourselves.
This can be so frustrating and demotivating but just try to be patient.
How you clothes fit can be a good one for being able to see more accurate changes and progress as is being focusing on how you feel.
There are so many benefits to eating better and exercising beyond just physical changes like; increased confidence, the sense of accomplishment, time for yourself, having a purpose and a challenge. Try to remember and appreciate these too.
So if you aren’t seeing the results you want, check back through this list and make sure you are doing everything as well as you can and then just try to be patient and enjoy the journey.
The results will follow.