Sometimes, strange things happen when you’re trying to lose weight – some people follow crazy extreme diets that may cause them to faint and others pack in tons of exercise making them constantly exhausted – leaving you feeling discouraged when the number on the scale doesn’t move and, shock horror, you end up gaining weight.

So what gives? If you think you’re following ‘the rules’ and can’t seem to reach your weight goals, there could be many other reasons why you can’t trim off those last few pounds that have nothing to do with how many crunches or lunges you tackle every day.

What many of us are not aware of is that there are lifestyle habits that need to be implemented in combination with a healthy diet and exercise plan, as well as ruling out other health issues like thyroid problems, in order to see positive and sustainable, long-term results. Let’s take a look at what might be keeping you from losing weight no matter how much you diet and exercise.

Why can't I lose weight when I exercise and eat right?

being stressed can stop you from losing weight

1. You’re completely stressed out

High levels of stress do a funny thing to the body – they raise the level of cortisol, the fat-storing hormone, and trap that fat right around your waistline – and it doesn’t end there. High levels of cortisol increase your sugar cravings thanks to the raise in blood sugar levels, so it’s a cycle you really should try to avoid! (1)

not getting enough sleep can cause weight gain

2. You’re dealing with insomnia thanks to overtraining 

Another way fat-storing hormones thrive is lack of good quality sleep. Insomnia and sleep deprivation are associated with decreased insulin sensitivity, therefore making it difficult for you to properly rest and have your body recover naturally from all that heavy exercise. There’s a fine line between training hard and overtraining so try to find a balance in order to not see an increase in cortisol. (2)

not eating enough can stop you from losing weight

3. You’re not eating enough

Counting calories is a slippery slope – when you drastically reduce calorie intake, the body holds onto fat and uses muscle for energy, slowing down your metabolism. Instead, follow a diet of healthy and varied food groups in order to replenish your body and mind with the nutrients they need to thrive. Working with a Nutritionist can also be helpful as more personalised tests can be done to seek what you’re lacking and what can help you break the barrier when it comes to weight loss.

not eating healthy fats can stop you from losing weight

4. You’re not including good fats in your diet

‘Fat’ has a bad rep, however not all are created equal. Fats are an essential nutrient that play an important role in weight management, hormonal balance and supporting the immune system. One popular way to include healthy fats in your diet is the beloved avo-toast breakfast – that way you’re getting your fix first thing in the morning helping you to satisfy hunger, supply your body with good fats and stay fuller for longer.

chewing your food properly can help you lose weight

5. You don’t chew your food enough

This one might seem a little far-fetched but it has tons of merit to it. Saliva contains enzymes that help break down food before it enters the digestive tract, so the longer you chew your food in your mouth, the easier it is for the food to move throughout your body and intestines, kick-starting the digestive process and the absorption of nutrients.

not drinking enough water can stop you from losing weight

6. You’re not drinking enough water

Hydration is key to living at your optimum level of health and happiness. Not only does it flush out your system and keep your skin youthful and supple, when it comes to losing weight the right way, drinking plenty of water increases the amount of calories you burn. Also, sometimes when you feel hungry it’s actually your thirst talking, and hydrating before meals can help reduce your appetite. (3)

food intolerances can stop you from losing weight

7. You may have some intolerances you don’t know about 

It’s all in the gut – when you feel sluggish, bloated or gassy, your tummy is trying to tell you something. The gastrointestinal system holds about 80% of the immune system, therefore it’s plain to see that food intolerances can make it difficult for you to lose weight. Try booking an appointment with a Nutritional Therapist to undergo tests and make sure that what you’re nourishing your body and mind with are actually helping you on your journey and also to rule out any serious allergies.

a sluggish thyroid can cause you to gain weight

8. You have a sluggish thyroid

Feeling sad, cold, depressed even? Sometimes these could be tell-tale signs that you need to speak to your Doctor about your thyroid. The thyroid gland releases hormones that control metabolism, therefore a sluggish thyroid means slower metabolism – a process that could halt your dedication to losing weight long-term. Book an appointment in order to find the best possible solution for you and your specific situation.

When it comes to losing weight naturally and in a healthy manner, it’s important to create the right wellbeing routine that makes sense for you, but to also make sure that you’re getting enough sleep, water, variety in your diet and speaking to medical practitioners for support in order to put your best foot forward.

READ NEXT: Tried and tested remedies and products to help you with weight loss.


1. Moyer AE, Rodin J, Grilo CM et al., Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women. Obes Res 1994.
2. Beccuti G., Pannain S., Sleep 
and obesity. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2011.
3. Stookey, J. D., Constant, F., Popkin, B. M. Et al., Drinking Water Is Associated With Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women Independent of Diet and Activity. Obesity 2008.

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