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Healthy Weight Center

Why am I Not Losing Weight?

Have you been working out regularly along with eating a healthy diet but still cannot seem to budge that number on the scale? Successful weight loss is more than just seeing shrinking numbers on a scale everyday.

Weight loss is still an energy balance issue regardless of healthy eating and exercise routines. Remember that healthy eating means something different to each person and does not always mean low calories.

Portion control is an important skill! A common mistake "dieters" seem to make often is dropping their calorie intake so low that their body goes into an energy efficiency state to preserve itself. We find that if you try to offset your intake to be about 300-500 kcals less than your expenditure, it will result in steady and slow weight loss. Working out will increase the amount of calories burned and is essential in promoting weight loss. Your body?s initial response to this suggestion will depend on your current metabolic rate. If your body?s metabolic rate is depressed (as in energy efficiency), there might be a period of adaptation. For this reason, we suggest you graduate slowly to your new calorie level to avoid a weight gain while your body senses a time of relative feast.

A second suggestion we commonly promote is eating every 2-3 hours. Certainly, go no longer than 4 hours between eating episodes. This is a grazing attitude, but it still demands you stay within your daily calories. So you are eating small snacks and meals but more frequently. This may help keep your metabolism stimulated and curb your hunger so you can avoid overeating and make better choices later in the day.

The most important suggestion I can make for you is to get rid of the scale. Frequent weighing can lead to more frustration and does not necessarily reflect your body changes accurately. Most folks would be very happy to gain a little muscle and lose a little fat. However, this might even reflect as a little weight gain on the scale. Get rid of your scale and go by how you feel. Good health is the most important measure! If you can't get rid of your scale, at least vow to only use it once a week.

You might consider adding a registered dietitian and exercise specialist to your weight management team. Diet and exercise need to go hand in hand with reasonable balance for success. The combination of a moderate diet and exercise helps maintain your lean mass while trying to whittle away at the fat mass.

Losing weight slowly with a lifestyle you can maintain is much more likely to be sustainable weight loss, meaning you keep it off!

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Last Reviewed: Feb 19, 2010

Jackie  Buell, PhD, RD/LD, ATC, LAT Jackie Buell, PhD, RD/LD, ATC, LAT
Director of Sports Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University