30 August 11 Why Did I Stop Losing Weight?

This is huge concern for many of you trying to lose weight. It seems like you are doing everything right yet the scale won't budge. Or worse, you find that your weight has inexplicably gone up despite eating fewer calories than you burn. What gives?

Body Weight Components

Body weight includes the weight of muscle, adipose tissue (body fat), bone, organs and body fluids. Losing or gaining weight is not simply just losing or gaining body fat; it includes other tissues as well. Losing weight safely means losing primarily body fat with minimal loss of muscle and other tissues.


Body weight can fluctuate up to about 5 lbs (2.3 kg) throughout the day. Anything that can cause a fluctuation in body water or hydration status can also affect body weight. For instance, certain blood pressure medications, the menstrual cycle, illness, profuse sweating, drinking liquids and eating food will all affect body weight. When your weight stalls or increases unexpectedly, is it associated with a change in any of the above factors? A high-salt diet can play havoc with your blood pressure as well as your body weight. Also, try to weigh yourself under the same "conditions" – e.g. after you wake up and use the bathroom – to minimize variation.

Basic Troubleshooting

Most of the time, folks who are not losing weight are simply not creating enough of a calories deficit over time. Recall that you have to create a deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1 lb of weight. To continue to lose weight, you have to continue to create enough of a calories deficit. And that can be a real challenge.

Most of us either underestimate calories intake and/or overestimate calories burned. This results in a lower calories deficit than expected and therefore, a slower rate of weight loss. Try to be as accurate a record keeper as possible and try to track daily.


Aerobic and resistance training can increase muscle mass as well as muscle glycogen deposition. This small increase in water-rich tissue could mask a small decrease in body fat weight. If your waist or clothing size decreases even without a significant decrease in weight, then it could be that your body composition is changing in a beneficial direction. A shrinking waist is something to celebrate – it is associated with better health. However, weight should eventually drop with continued training in the presence of a calories deficit (eating fewer calories than total calories expended).

Crash Diets

When folks go on crash diets, much of the initial decrease in body weight is actually water, not body fat. With a continued low calories intake (well below one's BMR), the rate of weight loss slows but there will be a continued increased loss of muscle along with body fat. This is a problem for many reasons (safety and health), but in terms of weight loss, it makes it a little harder to lose weight. A larger drop in muscle means a larger drop in BMR. You will still lose weight, but your maintenance calories, as well as calories for weight loss, will decrease more than expected. You can view your BMR calories in MyNetDiary apps under "My Plan" or under the "Details" tab on the web.

Patience, Grasshopper!

Try to avoid getting too frustrated with a stubborn scale value. If your weight hasn't changed for a few weeks, then it is time to troubleshoot. If you weigh yourself daily then be prepared to practice patience since normal weight fluctuations could easily mask true weight loss for a short period of time. And finally, if you feel that your body is really fighting the weight loss, then stop and reexamine your target weight, rate of weight loss and target calories. Don't starve yourself – your body will fight back. In my experience, folks have the most success with a moderate reduction in calories intake combined with a moderate level of exercise. That is, when lifestyle changes are moderate yet sustainable so that over the long haul, the weight comes off and stays off for good.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Weight Loss/Plateau (Weight Stall)

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