Why People Don't Lose Weight: 5 Common Mistakes

Certified Nutrition Specialist By JJ Virgin, CNS
Certified Nutrition Specialist
JJ Virgin is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Exercise Physiologist, and New York Times best-selling author.

Despite years of careful dieting, meal planning and countless hours spent shopping for "all natural" or "fat-free" foods, many still struggle with losing weight and keeping it off.

That's because lasting weight loss goes beyond just what you eat. When my clients claim they’re doing everything correctly, but struggle with weight loss resistance, I commonly find these five culprits are hijacking their success:

1. They're not getting enough sleep.

Our society rewards productivity, often at the expense of our personal health. I’ve had clients who sleep less so that they can squeeze in a morning workout before heading to the office. While I applaud their work ethic, just one night of tossing and turning can drown your energy levels, leaving you cranky and reaching for a low-fat muffin with your morning latte just to keep your eyes open.

When you don't get enough sleep, your hormones get knocked out of whack, sabotage fat loss. One study even showed that just a single night’s sleep could make you insulin resistant, paving the way for obesity. About an hour before bed, power down electronics and meditate, breathe deeply, or just take a hot bath to prepare for sleep. Aim to get seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted shut-eye every night.

2. They're not drinking enough water.

I encourage clients to aim to drink half their body weight (in pounds) in water ounces daily. Bit gulping large glasses during meals dilutes stomach acid and impairs digestion, so it's best to fill up in between meals. Start with 16 ounces upon rising. Thirst often masquerades as hunger or a craving.

3. They skip breakfast.

You’re not really hungry anyway, so skipping breakfast for a skinny latte saves calories, right? Wrong. Breakfast sets your day’s metabolic tone, gives you steady sustained energy, and increases fat loss. But don't think those sugary, processed muffins and cereals that inevitably crash your energy about 10:30am are doing you any favors, either.

Instead, make breakfast a fast, filling protein shake. Studies show that protein reduces your hunger hormone ghrelin so you stay full for longer. Blend non-soy, non-dairy plant-based or defatted beef protein powder with flax or chia seeds, avocado, frozen berries, kale (you won’t taste it), and unsweetened coconut or almond milk for a shake that takes minutes to create but keeps you full for hours.

4. They're snacking too much.

You hear your coworker opening a 100-calorie pack, so you decide it’s time for a mid-afternoon snack too. Every time you nosh, you raise insulin, which stores fat. Plus, let’s face it. You’re probably not snacking on kale chips and hummus. Make sure that your meals consist of lean protein, healthy fats, high-fiber starches, and lots of non-starchy veggies so you can go four to six hours between meals. And if you do need a snack, kale chips and hummus actually do make a great one!

5. They're working out the wrong way.

In the past, I've argued that an hour or more of moderate-intensity exercise can lower testosterone, increase aging, and depress your immune system. One thing we're learning is that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is extremely effective when it comes to weight loss. One study with young overweight women found that HIIT, also called burst training, helped burn more fat than moderate-intensity training.

Burst training is an optimal form of exercise that takes just minutes, but that makes your body an all-day fat-burning machine. I combine burst training with weight resistance in my intense, fat-blasting four-by-four Workouts that require just 15 minutes, three times a week. You can grab a free workout here.

Beyond what I’ve mentioned, what culprits – food-related or otherwise – have you found stall fast, lasting fat loss? Share your thoughts below.

JJ Virgin, CNS
JJ Virgin, CNS
JJ Virgin is a celebrity nutrition and fitness expert who helps clients lose weight fast by breaking...
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JJ Virgin, CNS
JJ Virgin, CNS
JJ Virgin is a celebrity nutrition and fitness expert who helps...
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