On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight? 3 Mega Reasons to Consider

Awareness of common barriers to weight loss can help you figure out why your current tactics may not be working. Luckily, small shifts now can bring about big changes in the future.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight? 3 Mega Reasons to Consider

Wondering, “Why cant i lose weight?” A few common causes can create barriers to your weight loss journey. 

If you feel hungry but are still struggling to lose weight, you’ve come to the right place for answers. Keep reading for three common reasons you may be struggling with weight loss. 

Why Am I Not Losing Weight?

While most people wish weight loss could be simple, it actually can be quite complex. It’s common for weight loss to fluctuate during different stages of life—such as pregnancy or menopause—but this doesn’t take away from the fact that unintentional weight gain or difficulty losing weight can be frustrating. 

Luckily, health experts have found a couple common reasons why you’re not shedding the pounds as quickly as you hoped. 

3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight

Worried that the weight is not coming off? The following factors may be at play. 

1. You’re Not Eating Enough To Support Your Body

You may be wondering, “Why am I gaining weight when I barely eat?” A common tactic to cut calories is to skip meals or snacks. However, under-eating likely means you’re under fueling your body, which can actually work against your weight loss goals. 

Cutting entire food groups is even riskier since you might be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are needed for the body to function properly and support healthy weight loss. Eating enough nutrients, like protein which builds muscle, can assist you in losing fat (while simultaneously helping you gain muscle).

For proper weight loss progression that also serves your long-term health, you’ll want to make sure you’re eating enough. Your body needs to achieve a delicate balance in order to lose weight. In other words, you’ll need to eat enough calories while also burning enough calories each day. 

As a general rule, 3,500 calories burned equals about 1 pound of weight lost. However, some bodies burn calories at a different rate, so it can be helpful to meet with a dietitian if you feel like your metabolism doesn’t run at this rate. 

Instead of taking drastic measures, like cutting out all snacks or meals, resorting to fad diets, or excessively working out, it’s recommended that you only decrease your calorie intake by about 500 calories a day. To account for this difference, try cutting back on one snack or skipping a sugary dessert to account for this difference. 

This is good news, and it means you can still enjoy some of your favorite foods while losing weight! Often, focusing on the quality instead of the quantity of food can help you make meaningful changes. For example, eating whole-wheat bread may provide health benefits that refined white bread doesn’t, even though calorie counts are similar. 

2. Diet and Exercise Habits Are Working Against Each Other 

When losing weight, it’s important to support that goal with healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle overall. Focusing on only one habit while neglecting others can sabotage your weight loss efforts. For example, if you exercise regularly but continue to eat plenty of processed foods each day, you likely won’t see the results you’re looking for. 

Exercise, and strength training in particular, supports weight loss goals by helping to burn fat while building muscle mass. Physical activity also helps to prime the body for better health by raising heart rate and increasing circulation. This sequence of actions delivers oxygen and nutrients to the body, which can have a slew of health benefits beyond weight loss.

Even for short amounts of time, exercise can be beneficial. Short bursts of activity—also known as "exercise snacks"—can add up over time and contribute to weight loss efforts.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to balance a healthy diet and exercise at the same time, try focusing on a few simple healthy choices at a time, such as: 

• Adding fruits and vegetables to each meal 
• Choosing foods low in additives (i.e. sugar, saturated fat, sodium) 
• Explore a new kind of exercise with each workout or each week (i.e. endurance, strength, balance, flexibility)
• Moving for at least 30 minutes each day 
• Opting for lean protein and whole grains whenever possible 

Other healthy habits are important, too. For example, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and managing stress the best you can to support your weight loss efforts (and overall health). 

3. You’re Not Getting To The Root of The Problem

The numbers on the scale don’t tell the whole story. Occasionally, undiscovered medical conditions can cause unintended weight loss or weight gain. It’s not uncommon for body weight to fluctuate when the body is stressed by some kind of condition. 

Looking for accompanying symptoms can help you figure out if an underlying condition may be getting in the way of weight loss. For example, high blood pressure, cognitive problems, or poor sleep may signal more serious issues beyond the inability to lose weight. Hormonal problems, in particular, can cause unwanted weight gain. 

Instead of trying to figure everything out on your own, meet with your healthcare team and report any symptoms that concern you. Telling your doctor about how difficult it’s been for you to lose weight may help give them another piece to the puzzle, and can help you both see the big picture a bit better. 

The Bottom Line on Common Weight Loss Barriers 

Although one may wish that weight loss could be simple, it involves a complex balance of calories eaten and calories burned. Underlying conditions can complicate matters, as well as unhealthy habits that don’t support your overall goal.

Overall, while diet is a huge factor in determining weight, it isn't the only factor to take into account when losing it. Adding other team members—like doctors or therapists—to your healthcare team can help you find the answers you need to move towards your goals. 


Mayo Clinic Staff. Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics. Mayoclinic.org. Published January 2023.

National Institute on Aging. Diet and Exercise: Choices Today for a Healthier Tomorrow. Nia.nih.gov. Accessed March 2023. 

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Some Myths about Nutrition & Physical Activity. Niddk.nih.gov. Published January 2019.