Few things are more frustrating than putting your full effort into something and not seeing a result from it! Especially when it comes to something so personal like your body.
According to Boston Medical Center, Americans Spend $33 BILLION (Yes, BILLION) each year on weight loss products. Even with all that spending nearly 2/3 of Americans are STILL obese (sounds like a waste of money).
Now maybe you’re not obese and just wanna lose 10, 20, okay 30 extra pounds of fluff that you put on during the past few years (or during the Covid pandemic). You’ve heard things like “Calories in vs. Calories out” or “This diet will help you lose 20 pounds fast” but you think you’ve tried it all and still no weight loss.
After training over 150 clients over the past 5 years I’ve heard the classic “I’ve tried everything to lose weight” plea but in most situations, that’s not the truth.
Here are the 8 most common reasons you’re not seeing weight loss:
1) You don’t need to lose any more “Weight”
I know what you’re thinking.
“How would you know?”
“I still have fat to lose.”
“I don’t like the way I look.”
LET ME EXPLAIN!
Weight= Muscle+Fat+Bones+Skin+Water + (a bunch of other stuff).
So when people come to me and say, “Ashton I need to lose this weight” and grab their stomach, they’re usually talking about losing fat, not just overall weight.
As a health professional my job is to make sure people are healthy but also look amazing, feel great, and think better. We all know those people that say, “I just need to lose a little more weight” but they look like they couldn’t afford to lose another pound if they tried.
If you want to lose weight for these reasons then maybe you should re-evaluate your goals:
(Listen I don’t want to judge anybody, nor do I get to tell you what you want or what your goals should be but I think this topic is VERY important.)
You want to want to lose weight to be at someone else’s body weight.
You want to lose weight because you wanna see a certain number on the scale.
You want to lose weight because you’re in competition with other people.
You want to lose weight because you think it will make you happy. (I know a lot of people who hit their weight goal and are miserable)
Like I said I have nothing against people’s personal goals (Heck I help people lose weight for a living), but many times I see these goals turn into obsessions which turn into eating disorders which turn into massive determinants to your physical, social, and mental health.
2) You’re Losing Fat & Gaining Muscle at the Same Time
This is an INCREDIBLE thing (in a majority of situations) to be gaining muscle while losing fat! This actually means you’re probably doing everything the correct way.
With many of my clients (especially beginners), the first 4-6 weeks they don’t lose much weight at all! This is because the workouts and nutrition plan are increasing their lean muscle mass and decreasing their fat mass. This is ideal because muscle makes you look leaner but also your overall body fat % will decrease. Take a look at this example down below:
Week 1- Let’s say your weight is 150lbs and you have 50lbs of fat. That means your body fat percentage is 33%.
Week 8- Let’s say your weight is 150lbs and you have 30lbs of fat. That means your body fat percentage is 20%. You’ve added 20 pounds of muscle and lost 20 pounds of fat!
This is most commonly known as body recomposition which is ideal for many people because it gives you the most dramatic transformation but also builds a great base for you to sustain these new results. Here’s a transformation of mine for an example.
I didn’t lose any more than 5 pounds between these pictures. But my body fat decreased tremendously because I lost fat and gained muscle at the same time!
3) You’re Eating Too Much (Even if it’s healthy)
This one seems like a no brainer, yet people don’t identify eating healthy as eating too many calories.
Did you know that there are as many calories (350) in an avocado as a McDonald’s Medium fry?
Did you know that there are nearly as many calories in a Chick-fil-a salad as a TWO (2) Chick-fil-a (Fried) Chicken sandwiches?
Did you know that 1 tablespoon of olive oil has as many calories as a (normal size) Chocolate Chip Cookie?
Now I AM NOT SAYING THAT YOU SHOULD EAT MCDONALDS OVER AVOCADOS.
But what I am saying is that calories are calories. You eat too many of them and you WILL gain weight.
So you may be asking, “How many calories should I be eating Ashton?” and my answer would be, “I have no fricken clue?!?!”
The right amount of calories is determined by many different lifestyle and genetic factors! There are many calorie calculators that you can use online to give you a rough (very rough) estimate of how much you should be eating. The best way though is to work with a professional to help determine your nutritional needs.
So eat less and lose weight correct? Not exactly… It’s a bit more complicated than that. In fact, your problem could be the opposite of eating too much.
4) You’re Not Eating Enough (Slow metabolism)
I know this point seems a little odd but stick with me here. It’s more common than you would think.
When my 400-pound client first came to me and asked me to help her lose weight, I asked her how much she was eating in a day.
Client: “Around 1000 calories a day.”
Me: “Only 1000 calories? Okay, the first thing we gotta do is get you eating more calories in the day.”
Client (Baffled about to leave the room): “Eating more is how I gained the weight! Don’t I need to eat fewer calories to lose it?”
14 months later she was down around 200 pounds while eating over 2000 calories!
I know you’ve been told the opposite. Eat less to lose weight. Heck I know I just stated it above!
Let me explain (shortly) why eating MORE could help you lose weight.
Let’s say you start a diet and you begin eating 1200 calories per day. You lose weight initially but now you’re stuck.
Your metabolism starts to adjust to that 1200 calorie intake. Meaning your body won’t burn anything past that mark. So you have a choice to make.
Eat less food & workout even harder. Even though anything under 1200 calories is considered unhealthy and it will be tough to work out harder with fewer calories. This is like expecting your car to drive further with less fuel.
Eat more food to help you boost your metabolism so you start losing weight at an even higher calorie intake. Let’s say instead you slowly increase your calories to 2000 but you don’t gain any weight. You build muscle because your eating more and you get more nutrients because you're eating a larger variety of foods. Your body will begin to adjust to burning 2000 calories and when you drop to 1500 calories, your body will have to pull those calories from somewhere. You’ll begin to drop weight to make up for that deficit and if you do it right all in the form of fat.
I will elaborate on this process in a later blog but eating more calories is beneficial for our bodies. You’ll have more energy, get to eat more, and boost your metabolism. This will also, in turn, help you burn more calories in the future.
I’ll leave you with this last point. Do you think a body lacking in nutrients would prioritize losing fat? Do you think starving yourself is truly healthy even if it results in weight loss? Do you ever wonder how people eat so much but are fit? You gotta eat those calories to help you get to the next level of weight loss.
5) You’re Eating The Wrong Things
I love cookies. I love beer. I love burgers. These things aren’t necessarily the wrong things to be eating. The wrong things to eat are things that don’t sit with your body well and are not beneficial to your health.
Just because I love those foods doesn’t mean I eat them all the time. But it also doesn’t mean I eliminate them altogether either. No food is bad nor good but some foods are more beneficial than others.
Making different food choices like these can help us lose weight but also stay healthy.
Whole foods > Processed foods
Whole foods are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes etc. They usually don’t come packaged in a box, can, etc. Just eating whole foods increases the thermic effect which is how many calories it takes to break down that food. They retain their fiber as well as the whole portfolio of beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that are often removed in processed foods.
Processed foods on the other hand are usually higher in calories and sodium but lower in fiber and nutrients. Processed foods usually are highly palatable (taste good) so you eat more of them which increases your overall calorie intake.
Think about it this way. You could eat a whole bag of chips easily (Processed food) but if you were to eat 3 full potatoes (Whole Food) you would be stuffed! There are roughly 1200 calories in a bag of chips compared to 3 potatoes having only 450 calories.
Broccoli is a very healthy vegetable that the majority of people should consume. But when I eat broccoli my stomach hurts, I get bloated, and other digestive things happen. So should I keep forcing myself to eat broccoli because it’s healthy? NO! Things that disagree with our bodies shouldn’t be consumed on a regular basis or at all. It could stop you from losing weight if your body can’t break something down in your gut or even worse it can damage your digestive system.
So look out for foods that hurt your digestive system, make you feel lethargic, give you diarrhea, make you constipated, make you bloated.
Some common food intolerances: dairy, gluten, eggs, sulfites, fructose, FODMAPs
The wrong combination of macronutrients
Macronutrients are the large molecules that are body uses for fuel and MANY other functions. The 3 macros are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Each macro has a different role in the body and all are important in their own way.
Many fad diets manipulate these macronutrients. But what I’ve found and research supports is you should have a good blend of each of them. Working with a professional of course is the best way to get the right combination suited for you but according to Healthline, 45–65% of their calories from carbs, 20–35% of their calories from fats, 10–35% of their calories from proteins.
I’ve seen the best results when giving my clients a nutrition plan higher in protein, moderate in fats and carbs. Protein is not only the most satiating macronutrient but it also burns the most calories when consuming it.
6) You’re Not Working Out Properly (AKA you’re not lifting weights)
Movement is the key to not only losing weight and being fit but also to be your healthiest. Something as simple as walking has profound benefits to your health! But in the age of fitness tracking devices, many people only focus on how many calories they’re burning during a workout.
I don’t get bold or opinionated very often but if I do it’s about this.
Weight Training is better than cardio. Research is expanding to prove this statement but many of my clients would agree.
Now before you hop off your peloton and write a bad review for my company, let me be very clear. I still think there is a place for cardio and in fact, I think you should do cardio as well. But neglecting weight training is a big mistake.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go squat 400 pounds 5 days a week (That would be awesome though) but it does mean that you should spend some dedicated time doing resistance training. I recommend at least 2-3 days of resistance training per week.
According to Current Sports Medicine Reports, "Ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg. Benefits of resistance training include improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem.”
Not only are you losing fat with resistance training but you’re also burning fat and increasing your metabolism. Which in result helps you lose more weight! Cardio doesn’t have this metabolism-boosting ability as profound as resistance training.
7) You’re Stressed Out
This is the most important topic I’ll discuss in this blog. Stress is a KILLER!
According to the NCBI, “Emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States estimates that stress accounts for about 75% of all doctor visits.”
When you’re stressed your body is in a sympathetic state or more commonly known as “Fight or Flight.” This state can save our lives if we’re running away from a Tiger but living in this state for too long tires our body and takes attention away from other processes.
The easiest way to sum this up is that when your body is too stressed it’s not worried about losing weight, it’s worried about surviving.
Stress can come in many forms. Exercise causes stress. Not eating or sleeping enough causes stress. Work causes stress. Learning how to reduce stress (Not eliminate. Some stress is good.) will put our body in a state to continue to see results.
8) You May Have A Medical Condition
This is my least favorite reason and for two reasons.
It sucks to have a medical condition and it’s unfair.
People hide behind their condition and don’t even attempt to be healthier.
I don’t want to come off as rude or heartless, but rather I want to be truthful and helpful.
Even when it seems like there’s nothing you can do to make your situation better you never know until you try.
Nutrition, exercise, and science act like magic sometimes and miraculous things can occur.
I’ve dealt with my fair share of clients who have had an underlying medical condition that held them back from seeing results. After doing nearly everything right and not seeing results is the time you should go seek medical attention.
My client plateaued for 6 months and later on we found out that he had a thyroid issue. He got medicine and proceeded to lose 80 pounds and decrease his body fat by 32%.
We’ve seen people reverse cancers, diabetes, and other medical conditions. WHY NOT YOU!
(disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional so I can not clearly give you advice, but rather I can give you hope and inspiration to find a way or potential solution to your problem. Don’t give up)
Here are some common medical conditions that inhibit people from losing weight.
Inflammation and cellular damage
Chronic stress and depression
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Not being able to lose the weight you want sucks, I get it. Your body is a very wonderful, sensitive being, and when it doesn't look or feel the way you want that's very frustrating.
Use the information above and check to see if you're falling short on one or multiple reasons why you may not be losing weight. Once you do that make a game plan on what you're going to do to fix that reason and start losing the weight you want to lose.
Don't know where to start?
Schedule a FREE consultation with us and we'll help you come up with a gameplan that will help you look amazing, feel great, and think better.
Written by Ashton Baalaer
Owner of Mind Muscle Hustle & Head Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach
Trained over 150 clients In-person and Online
Schedule your consultation CLICK HERE