Why You Exercise But Don’t Lose Weight

A lot of what you think may be wrong, but you can fix it


Counting on the scale as an indicator of whether you’re making progress during your weight loss journey is a tricky move. Seeing the same number doesn’t mean lack of success. Chances are you losing fat but it’s being replaced by with muscle or water, or a combination of both. Fluid retention is the most common reason for losing fat but not weight.

Slimming down is not rocket science, and, for the most part, is unnatural. “What we are trying to do is restore the weight that was natural to our body when we looked and felt our best,” Svetlana Kogan, MD and author of Diet Slave No More!, says. “What is not natural is when we try to do things that are foreign to our body and we cannot sustain.”

That's why she asks of people to do what feels natural to the body so they have no resistance to that routine. “It becomes your permanent lifestyle,” Dr. Kogan adds.[slideshow:99995]

One sustainable change is moving more. The body was designed to stay in motion, as studies have shown. When you are exercising on a regular basis, it’s important to fuel your body appropriately – not only before your workout, but also after, to help your body optimally recover.

“This could mean eating more snacks per day or increasing your portion sizes at meals,” Lisa Mikus, RD, CNSC, CDN of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition, says. “Generally speaking, you will need to eat more consistently and be more conscious about what you are eating before and after workouts to help maximize your muscle growth and results.” But keep in mind that every person has individual needs.

Stimulating weight loss may require tweaking calories just slightly, Leslie Bonci and owner of Active Eating Advice says. But it’s important to increase the intensity of exercise, make sure portions are appropriate, work to evenly distribute calories over the day, and get enough fiber and protein, she adds.

One factor people should remember so they don’t get easily discouraged, Mikus says, is patience. “It is important when you are losing weight in a healthy and sustainable matter.” Long-term, healthy weight loss involves more factors than just calories in versus calories out and may take time to achieve, she adds. “Focus more on incorporating healthy lifestyle changes into your everyday routine.”

Click here for 19 ways you may be exercising but not losing weight

More readings: 

Trainers Share the Top Weight Loss Mistakes People Make at the Gym

15 Exercises that Doctors Would Never Do

10 Moves Trainers Think You Should Skip and What to Do Instead