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4 Unexpected Reasons You're Not Losing Weight, According to a Doctor

These could be thwarting your weight loss efforts.

It's no secret that losing weight requires determination, consistency, hard work, and sacrifice. After all, if it were as simple as snapping your fingers to achieve your ideal body, we'd all have our ideal bodies tomorrow. According to a recent Gallup Poll, over half of U.S. adults want to lose weight, and 26 percent have made serious attempts to do so in the past five years. However, weight loss is a fickle and frustrating foe that can be difficult to achieve. That's why feeling at your wit's end is understandable if you don't see results.

If you're struggling to lose weight and feel like you're doing "all the right things," read on. We chatted with a doctor and a registered dietitian who shared four surprising reasons why you may not be achieving your weight loss goals.

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You choose fad diets and "quick fixes" over healthy eating habits.

Foods in a Keto Diet

Whether it's keto, carnivore, paleo, or some other new trend, jumping from diet to diet in hopes that it will provide an easy solution to your weight loss problems is a recipe for failure. Instead, develop healthier eating habits and cultivate a better relationship with food (while exercising regularly) to set yourself up for successful weight loss. That's because fad diets often restrict foods and don't offer sustainable ways of eating, causing people to lose steam and throw in the towel on their weight loss goals. Also, research has found that fad diets tend to be nutritionally inadequate and promote negative body images.

"Anytime a diet forces you to eliminate certain foods (especially ones you like), micromanage everything you put in your mouth, or starve yourself, there's a good chance you won't be able to stick with it long-term," says Amy Killen, MD, a regenerative medicine physician and medical advisor at Joi Women's Wellness. "For long-term dieting success, choose a healthy way of living that includes enough flexibility to see yourself adhering to the program for months or years, instead of days or weeks."

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You don't eat enough protein.

Various Proteins

Protein is essential for weight loss because it's highly satiating, helping you feel full and satisfied. Also, you may be more prone to cravings and overeating if you're not getting enough protein. While the average healthy adult needs at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily, the amount of protein required for weight loss will vary depending on your individual needs and goals.

Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian with Balance One Supplements, tells Best Life, "There's no one-size-fits-all answer to how much protein you should eat for weight loss. However, a common recommendation is to aim for 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This equals about 15 to 20 percent of your daily calorie intake."

You don't get enough rest and relaxation.

Woman Up in the Middle of the Night

When tired or stressed, you're more likely to give in to cravings and indulge in unhealthy, high-calorie foods. In fact, lack of sleep and stress have been found to increase your risk of obesity and metabolic diseases. "The effects of chronic stress are very similar to the effects of sleep deprivation on weight loss because, like lack of sleep, chronic stress causes elevations in cortisol that can affect insulin and your body's ability to burn fat instead of store it," explains Killen.

Aim to get the minimum recommended seven hours of quality sleep each night. To help improve your sleep and aid in your weight loss efforts, Killen suggests avoiding screens an hour before bed, not eating within two hours before bed, and sleeping in a cool, dark room. She adds, "Practices like guided meditation, breathwork, nature walks, and journaling can go a long way in helping to keep stress at bay."

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You skip meals.

Fork and Knife on a Plate
Creatus / Shutterstock

It may seem counterintuitive, but not eating enough calories can be a significant roadblock to weight loss. For example, a large cohort study published in Nutrients in 2021 examined the association between skipping meals and weight gain in over 26,000 university students in Japan. The researchers found that skipping meals was linked to significant weight gain, with those who forgo dinner associated with a greater than 10 percent weight gain.

"Skipping meals can cause your body to go into a starvation mode, which slows down your metabolism, leading to weight gain rather than weight loss," says Best. "Rather than skipping meals, consider eating mini-meals four or five times a day. This can keep your metabolism going without the need for the traditional large, time-consuming meals."

Adam Meyer, RHN
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more
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