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What If You Diet & Exercise & Still Don't Lose Weight?

By Tammy Dray ; Updated July 18, 2017

If your scale isn’t budging, you might need to look beyond your diet and exercise for reasons. If you’re trying to lose weight through a crash diet, that might be the reason it’s not happening. Crash diets might produce results in the short term, but they ultimately cause you to lose muscle that causes your metabolism to slow down. Instead, focus on losing weight by changing your eating habits and focusing on healthy food choices.

Revise Your Diet & Exercise

Before you look for reasons somewhere else, make sure you truly are eating right and exercising enough. Keep a journal for a couple of weeks. Write down any physical activity you do, whether that means walking 15 minutes to work or taking a 60-minute indoor cycling class. Do the same with everything you eat and drink. Look not only at what you eat, but also at portion sizes. Look at liquid calories as well. You might be getting lots of calories from gourmet coffee drinks, sodas, juices and alcohol. Finally, pay attention to your indulgences. If you eat right during the week but then overdo it on the weekends, that might be enough to ruin your weight loss efforts. As a basic rule, if you're not consuming fewer calories than you're burning, you won't lose weight.

Look at Your Medical History

A number of medical conditions and medications can cause weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight. A sluggish thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hormone imbalances and food intolerances or allergies can all affect your weight. So can medications such as corticosteroids, anti-depressants, certain diabetic drugs and statins, used to treat high cholesterol.

Consider Your Age

As you get older, you lose muscle. According to Brigham Young University’s exercise science professor Larry Tucker, this causes your metabolism to slow down. As a result, you might be eating the same you always did but you’re now gaining weight. You have two options to deal with this: cut down your calorie intake or start weight training, so you maintain your muscle mass. Aim for two to three weight training sessions a week of at least 20 minutes per session.

Assess Your Stress

Stress can cause weight gain. This is because you’re more likely to indulge on high-calorie, high-fat foods when you’re stressed. You might not think a single treat makes a big difference, but do it daily and the calories add up. Also, stress causes your body to release cortisol, the hormone that controls the “fight-or-flight response.” This increases your appetite and might lead to an accumulation of fat around the stomach area.

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