Losing weight can be a struggle for a great many individuals.
Perhaps you’ve tried to lose weight before and had some modest success but just didn’t get the results you expected.
Why does this happen?
Rest assured that you aren’t alone.
Millions of people make resolutions each year to lose weight and get healthy. Unfortunately, the vast majority of resolutions made are abandoned shortly thereafter, and the individuals who are able to lose weight often aren't able to keep it off over the long term (at least according to the research on weight loss maintenance).
But, all hope is not lost.
It is possible to lose weight and keep it off, just like the individuals who enter our transformation challenges!
Today, we’re going to discuss many of the common challenges that hinder people from achieving their weight loss goals as well as what you can to do make sure that you have the best possible chance of getting the results you want!
Why Can’t I Lose Weight? -- 5 Reasons
Reason #1 -- You’re Eating Too Much
When it comes to answering the question of why people struggle to lose weight, you’ll hear all kinds of cockamamie things from “gurus” and “experts” like it’s gluten, hormones, anti-nutrients, or the ever popular “toxins.”
But, the simple truth of the matter is that the #1 reason that people don’t lose weight is they eat too much. You have to consume fewer calories than your body requires to maintain its weight if you want to lose body fat. It really is that simple.
No tricks. No hacks. No $199 cookbooks from “Coach.”
Eat fewer calories than you burn in a day and you’ll lose weight.
This inevitably leads to someone saying, “I tried counting calories and it didn’t ‘work’.”
Again, they may have been counting calories, but they weren’t in a deficit. Sure, they may have thought they were in a deficit based on an approximation from an online calorie calculator, but the only way to know with reasonable certainty that you are actually in a calorie deficit is to track your body weight, take progress photos/measurements, and log your food intake each and every day.
This is one of the main reasons we developed the 1UP Fitness App. It provides everything you need to track your nutrition and progress easily and consistently.
Also included in the free app are customized and personalized training programs and macronutrient/calorie recommendations to hit your goals. For extra motivation and support during your weight loss journey, enter our 8-Week Transformation Challenge where we are giving away $50,000 in Cash and Prizes to 10 Total WINNERS per challenge (5 Female and 5 Male).
Reason #2 -- You’re Not Sleeping Enough
No matter what your goal is (fat loss, muscle gain, body recomposition, increased athleticism, etc), if you’re not getting enough sleep, your ability to achieve your desired results will be severely hindered.
The reason for this is that sleep is essential...why else do you think we’ve evolved over eons spending ~⅓ of our lives asleep?!
Sleep is when our bodies replenish, recharge, and regenerate after a long day’s hard work. Hormone production is in full force to help your muscles repair and grow. Sleep also helps refresh us mentally, physically, and emotionally for the next day’s challenges.
On the flip side, not getting enough sleep is known to:
- Increase feelings of hunger
- Reduce feelings of satiety
- Decrease motivation to exercise
- Reduce mood & well-being
- Increase feelings of anxiety, stress, & irritability
- Reduce movement (which lowers daily energy expenditure)
- Increase cravings (particularly for high-calorie, sugary/salty foods)
As you can see, nothing really good happens from shortchanging your sleep. Basically, everything you don’t want to happen does when you don’t get enough sleep. You’re hungrier, more tired, less happy, and less satisfied from the meals you eat. You’re also more likely to seek out high-calorie foods.
The sum of these factors leads to stalled fat loss and quite possibly fat gain.
As such, it’s imperative that you get enough sleep each and every night...trying to make up your weekly sleep debt by sleeping in on the weekends won’t cut it.
Since so many individuals have trouble getting enough quality sleep each night (possibly including you), here are some tips to help you set the stage for deep, restorative sleep:
- Go to bed at the same time every night (yes, even on weekends)
- Establish a bedtime ritual each night to help signal to your body it’s time to “power down” for the evening
- Limit exposure to blue light (TV, LEDs, tablets, smartphones, etc.) 2 hours before bed
- Reduce exposure to stressors before bed (work emails, texts, social media, news outlets)
- Take a warm bath/shower
- Listen to relaxing music
- Make your room cool & dark
- Wear loose fitting clothes
In addition to the above tips, it can also be helpful to use a nighttime relaxation and recovery aid, such as our men’s and women’s sleep formulas -- Recharge PM & Beauty Dream PM. Our nighttime formulas contain natural ingredients that promote feelings of calm & relaxation helping set the stage for the deep, restorative sleep you need without leaving you feeling groggy the next morning.
Reason #3 -- You’re Too Stressed
Stress is a part of everyday life, and not all stress is inherently bad.
Certain types of acute stress, such as intense physical exercise, actually benefit the body, making it stronger, more resilient.
Where stress goes “bad” is when it’s chronic.
Chronic stress is known to wreak havoc on human physiology, and it’s even been linked to several disorders and conditions.
Chronic sleep deprivation is a form of chronic stress that many individuals (possibly even you) deal with regularly. The same unwanted side effects of sleep deprivation are also known to accompany chronic stress.
What’s more, chronic stress is also known to inhibit fat burning and promote fat storage, particularly around the abdomen.
Stress can take many forms, including physical, emotional, and psychological. And while they all may feel slightly different, to your body’s hormones, they all lead to the same thing...elevated cortisol levels.
While it may not be possible to remove stress completely from your daily life (remember some stress is good), if you’re finding yourself constantly stressed and/or feeling overwhelmed, it’s imperative to take steps to reduce how much stress you expose yourself to, or at the very least try to improve how you handle stressful situations.
For instance, if a particular commute to work has you constantly road raging, consider driving an alternate route, even if it might take 5-10 minutes longer. You’ll be surprised at just how much more pleasant the drive to and from work can be when you’re not stuck in stop & go traffic, even if it takes a bit longer.
Reason #4 -- You’re Not Moving Enough
As we mentioned at the outset of this article, weight loss ultimately boils down to managing calories in versus calories out.
Many individuals are under the conception that so long as they perform a handful of resistance training and/or cardio sessions per week that is all the physical activity they “need” to lose weight.
While this is true (to a certain extent), you’ll greatly accelerate your results (all the while being able to diet on a higher number of calories) if you increase your general level of movement during the day.
You see, “exercise” as it’s commonly thought of (45-60 minutes in the gym) doesn’t actually burn all that many calories. Sure, it burns some calories, but in the grand scheme of how many calories your body actually burns in a day, the amount of calories burned during structured physical activity is but a fraction of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
Your daily energy expenditure is composed of your:
- Resting metabolic rate (RMR): calories burned performing basic life-sustaining functions
- Thermic effect of food (TEF): calories burned digesting and assimilating the food you eat
- Thermic effect of activity (TEA): calories burned during exercise
- Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): calories burned during non-structured physical activity -- laundry, cleaning, walking to the car, etc.
NEAT represents the most variable component to TDEE and it’s a way for you to significantly increase your daily calorie burn without feeling like you’re living in the gym and/or performing endless bouts of cardio.
Even simple things like taking a 10-minute walk (or two) during the day, taking the stairs, parking at the back of the parking lot, walking while talking on the phone instead of sitting, etc. All of these things may seem trivial, but when compounded on each other day after day, week after week, lead to greater calorie burning which helps you lose weight faster and/or be able to remain in a deficit while eating a higher amount of calories.
Reason #5 -- You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
This might seem strange given the fact that we’ve talked about how eating too much can prevent weight loss, but in reality, one of the best things you can do for weight loss success is to consume enough protein each day.
Truth be told, most people (women in particular) struggle to consume enough quality protein each day.
Now, we all know that protein is important for repairing and building muscle (which it is).
But, protein also supports weight loss!
For starters, protein is the most satiating macronutrient, which means it keeps you feeling fuller for longer than either carbs or fats.
Additionally, protein is also the most energetically expensive macronutrient for your body to digest, which means you burn more calories breaking down and utilizing protein than you do carbohydrates or fats.
Finally, the body is highly reticent to store protein as fat. Provided that you consume more protein than you need, the body would first have to break down the protein into individual amino acids, then convert those amino acids to glucose (at which point it may be used for energy or stored as glycogen), and only after that would it possibly be further metabolized for storage as fat. All of these processes are very energy intensive (meaning they require the burning of calories).
Moreover, research shows that high-protein diets generally lead to greater fat loss (as well as greater muscle retention) that lower protein (yet similar calorie intake) diets.[1,2,3]
Higher protein intakes have also been found to prevent metabolic slowdown, a common side effect of losing weight, as well as help prevent weight regain.[4,5]
A good rule of thumb to aim for daily protein intake is ~1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. So if you weigh 150lbs, you would want to consume about 150 grams of protein per day.
Some of our favorite protein sources include:
- Lean beef
- Lean pork (such as pork tenderloin)
- Fish (salmon, mackerel, cod, etc.)
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
Protein powders provide a quick, convenient, and delicious-tasting option to help reach your protein goals for the day (which you can track using the 1UP Fitness app). They can be mixed into shakes, protein smoothies, oatmeal, pancake/waffle batters, and/or protein yogurt bowls.
- Brehm BJ, D'Alessio DA. Benefits of high-protein weight loss diets: enough evidence for practice? Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2008 Oct;15(5):416-21. doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e328308dc13. PMID: 18769212.
- Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014;11(1):53. Published 2014 Nov 19. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53
- Moon J, Koh G. Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2020;29(3):166-173. doi:10.7570/jomes20028
- Soenen S, Martens EA, Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Lemmens SG, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Normal protein intake is required for body weight loss and weight maintenance, and elevated protein intake for additional preservation of resting energy expenditure and fat free mass. J Nutr. 2013 May;143(5):591-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.167593. Epub 2013 Feb 27. PMID: 23446962.
- Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lejeune MP, Nijs I, van Ooijen M, Kovacs EM. High protein intake sustains weight maintenance after body weight loss in humans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Jan;28(1):57-64. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802461. PMID: 14710168.