"Why is my weight not going down?" Avoid these common tracking pitfalls to get the scale moving
- 4 Minutes Read
Are you doing everything right, yet your weight is still not going down? Avoid these typical food and activity tracking pitfalls to get the scale moving again.
The everyday situations below result in underestimating your calorie intake. If you are working hard and your weight won't budge, pay close attention to these potential sources of error.
To get the most out of tracking, learn how to measure your portions of foods and drinks. In particular, accurately measure calorie-dense items such as fats/oils, snack foods, and alcohol. Click here for some additional tips on measuring and estimating portions.
Learning how to search and log the correct food item can help improve the accuracy of your calorie intake.
To ensure you don't forget something, make sure to log your food as soon as you eat. If this is not possible, at least jot it down on something you won't throw away, like your smartphone. This is especially important when it comes to snacking. If you struggle to record your snacks, try measuring and portioning them out ahead of time to know how much you eat. This habit will help you accurately estimate calories and cut down on mindless munching.
As a learning tool, logging supports you in meeting your health and weight-loss goals. And yet sometimes people track for a few days and then decide, "I eat the same foods every day, so what's the point of tracking?" Did you know that research shows that consistent tracking predicts weight-loss success, even if you eat similarly from day to day? Finding the time and motivation to track daily will serve you well in making informed decisions so you can see results.
The other side of the weight-loss equation is energy expenditure. Make sure you aren't overestimating energy burned from exercise and other activities by avoiding the following pitfalls.
MyNetDiary uses science-based energy equations for daily activity from the Dietary Reference Intakes. To modify your activity level in the app:
The simplest way to avoid overestimating your calories is to set your activity level to sedentary. Sedentary already includes incidental walking up to about a mile or 2000 steps a day, which most of us do every day. So, there's no need to track 15 minutes of shopping as exercise, for example, as it would just overestimate calories.
Remember that your chosen activity level should represent what you do every day. So, if you work four days x 10 hours on your feet, then remember to average it over seven days/week (so, instead of "active," you might choose "light active").
If you manually log exercise from MyNetDiary's database, then be sure to select the correct or closest intensity level for your activity. For instance, if you run, cycle, or walk, then look for the most comparable miles per hour (MPH) intensity for logging. Click here to learn how the MyNetDiary app estimates exercise and physical activity calories.
Accurately recording your minutes can be tricky for stop-and-go activities and sports. For example, if you're at the gym for a while for a workout, record the number of minutes spent actively exercising. You may find it helpful to have another person use a stopwatch and time net seconds for weightlifting sets, for example. You may be surprised to learn that your actual lift time is only minutes for your routine, even if you were in the weight room for over an hour.
AutoPilot takes the guesswork out of how many calories you should eat each day to reach your weight goal by your target date. It allows the app to automatically adjust your Daily Food Calorie Budget based on your current weight. If you are losing weight too slowly, AutoPilot may increase the weekly weight-loss rate. Or it will decrease the weekly weight-loss rate if you are losing too fast.
While regular physical activity is important to losing weight and keeping it off, consuming the calories burned from working out isn't always necessary. If your weight is not going down, turn off the toggle to "add exercise calories to the calorie budget." The calories burned during exercise will not be added to your Daily Calorie Budget.
Suppose you are consistently under your Daily Calorie Budget, and your weight is not going down. In that case, you may need to take a different approach. Sometimes, people cannot lose weight despite Herculean efforts because their thyroid no longer produces enough thyroid hormone, or they take a medication that makes it harder to lose weight. Your doctor can investigate this and other possible reasons for your weight stall.
If you've done everything and still your weight stagnates, you may consider meeting individually with a registered dietitian. They will be able to review your tracking records to help you identify foods and habits that may be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts.
You are worth the time, energy, and effort to figure out what is standing in your way of achieving your weight-loss goals. Don't give up!
Reviewed and updated by Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES on March 30, 2022.
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