Why Did I Stop Losing Weight?

Woman struggling with weight plateau

It can be frustrating when you reach a dieting plateau, the scale doesn't budge and you ask yourself, "Why did I stop losing weight?"

Most Common Answers for Why Did I Stop Losing Weight

When your weight reaches a plateau and you are still trying to lose, it may be for any number of reasons.

Eating More Calories than You Realize

When you stand on the scale and ask, "Why did I stop losing weight?" the real question should often be, "How many calories am I eating, and how many calories do I need?" The number of calories you should eat to lose weight depends on several things including your age, current weight, activity level and gender. As you lose weight, you require less calories. As you age, you'll need less calories. If you are inactive, you'll need less calories.

When you first start a diet and eat less, it results in weight loss, but when your calorie intake catches up with your calorie needs for maintaining your weight, instead of losing weight, your weight will stay the same.

Here is an example:

A 40-year-old female, who is 5 foot 4 inches tall, weighs 155 and exercises three days a week needs 1869 calories a day to maintain her weight and around 1500 a day to lose. Once this woman drops to 140 pounds her weight loss stops. Why? Because she now needs 1776 calories a day to maintain and 1400 to lose; the 1500 calories a day slows weight loss to the point that it seems to her she is not losing at all.


Inactivity is another reason people stop losing weight. An initial drop in calories at the start of a diet results in weight loss, but when you don't exercise, your body requires less calories. For instance, if you take the same 40-year-old woman in the above example who exercises three days a week and change her active lifestyle to an inactive lifestyle, now she needs 1550 calories to maintain (not lose). With exercise she can eat 1500 and lose! Instead, if she chooses a sedentary lifestyle, she is looking at a the reality of a 1200 calorie diet, if she wants to lose.

Reached Your Healthy Weight

One reason people's weight reaches a standstill is that they've reached their healthy weight. You can check the ideal height and weight charts to find the weight range for you. Sometimes people think they are fat when they are not. Instead they are not happy with their body image. If you think this may be the case for you, it is recommended you talk with your doctor. First of all, the doctor can tell you what weight is right for you, and secondly, the doctor can help make sure you don't fall prey to an eating disorder in an effort to become thinner than you need to be.

Medical Reasons

In some cases, medical conditions and/or medications can cause weight gain or affect weight loss. People with thyroid problems which slow the metabolism struggle with weight gain and trying to lose weight. If you think this may be your problem, schedule a check up with your family doctor for a professional diagnosis.

Medications that may cause problems with losing weight include:

  • Hormonal medications (including birth control)
  • Oral steroids
  • Anti-depressant medications
  • Diabetes medications
  • Anti-psychotic medications

How to Break Through a Weight Plateau

Different people prefer a variety of tactics to break through their weight plateau. One recommended approach is calorie shifting which is also known as calorie cycling. This method of dieting shifts the amount of calories you eat from day to day so your body doesn't know what to expect. The thinking behind this is that when you eat a low calorie amount every day, your body kicks into survival mode and your metabolism slows to save energy. This means you burn fat slower and weight loss seems to be at a standstill.

Another way to break through your weight loss plateau is to change what you're doing for exercise. Fitness trainer Jonathan Roche recommends interval training because it burns up to 30 percent more calories than regular exercise.

Weight plateaus can last weeks and even months for some people. If your weight just won't budge, it's best to contact your health care provider for a checkup. He may hold the answer to get your weight loss back on track if all else has failed.

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Why Did I Stop Losing Weight?