Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
26 Jan

17 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

Effective, healthy weight loss isn’t only due to the simplistic calories in, calories out paradigm. Nor is it solely reliant on diet and exercise. It’s everything – it’s all the various signals our body receives from the environment that affect how our genes express themselves and thrive. How we approach the subject matters, too. Our mood, our methods, our temperament. Our conscious decisions and our willpower. It’s setting good habits and expunging bad ones. Most of all, it comes down to keeping our genes happy by providing an environment that approximates evolutionary precedent.

1. You think you’re eating healthy, but aren’t.

Does your diet consist of a massive amount of “products”? Low-carb or not, you want to eat real food. Flagons of diet soda, plates of pure fiber in the shape of noodles, and loaves of 1g net carb “bread” do not a Primal eating plan make. You’re just feeding an addiction and consuming empty calories – sound familiar? Disregard the labels and look inside for what you know to be true: this crap isn’t food, and you shouldn’t be eating it. It’s about way more than just low-carb.

2. You’re under too much stress.

The stress response system is subconscious; it responds to stimuli and nothing else. Emotional stress, physical stress, financial stress, relationship stress – I hesitate to even make these distinctions, because the body does not differentiate between sources of stress. They all cause the body to produce cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone that catabolizes muscle, worsens insulin resistance, and promotes the storage of fat. For 200,000 years, stress meant a life or death situation. It was intense and infrequent, and the cortisol release was arresting and extreme enough to improve the chances of survival. Today, our body responds to a stack of paperwork the same way. Traffic jams are like rival war bands. A nagging boss is like a rampaging mastodon, only on a daily basis. Take a step back from your life and take stock of your stress levels – they may be holding you back.

3. You need to watch your carb intake.

Carbs are key, as always, especially when you’ve got weight to lose. Veer closer to the bottom of the curve, taking care to avoid all processed food (hidden sugars). You might also try skipping fruit.

4. You’re adding muscle.

I always tell people not to get hung up on the scales so much. Those things are useful – don’t get me wrong – but they never tell the whole story, like whether or not you’re adding lean mass. The PB will spur fat loss, but it also promotes muscle gain and better bone density. If you’re feeling good but failing to see any improvements register on the scale’s measurements, it’s most likely extra muscle and stronger bone from resistance training. You wouldn’t know that just from the bathroom scale. If you absolutely need objective records of your progress, get a body fat percentage test (although these might not even tell the whole story) or try measuring your waist.

5. You’re not active enough.

Are you Moving Frequently at a Slow Pace for three to five hours every week? Remember: the near-daily low-level (between 55-75% max heart rate) movement should be the bedrock of your fitness regimen. It’s easy to do (because every bit of movement counts) and it doesn’t dip into your glycogen reserves (making it a pure fat burner, not a sugar burner). If you’re on the low end of the spectrum, crank it up toward five weekly hours and beyond.

6. You’re lapsing into Chronic Cardio.

Of course, you can go too far with the low-level movement – you can begin to lapse into Chronic Cardio. When you stay above 75% of your maximum heart rate for extended periods of time, you’re burning glycogen. Your body in turn craves even more sugar to replenish the lost stores, so you polish off a heap of carbs, preferably simple and fast-acting. You can continue down this route if you wish – I did, for a couple decades – but you’ll gain weight, lose muscle, release more cortisol, and compromise any progress you might have made.

7. You still haven’t tried IF.

Results vary, but if you’ve seemingly tried everything else, intermittent fasting can be a great tool to break through a weight loss plateau. Make sure you’ve fully transitioned onto a Primal eating plan and start small. Skip breakfast and eat a late lunch. If that feels okay, skip breakfast and lunch the next time. Just take it slow and pay attention to your hunger. Eventually, try exercising in a fasted state to maximize the metabolic advantage. If all goes well, your hunger won’t necessarily disappear, but it’ll change. A successful IF tames hunger, makes it less insistent and demanding.

8. You’re eating too much.

Low-carb isn’t magic. It reins in wild hunger and tames insulin, but calories do still matter – especially once you approach your ideal weight. In fact, those last few pounds often don’t respond to the same stuff that worked so well to get you to this point. Eating nut butter by the spoonful and hunks of cheese without regard for caloric content may have gotten you this far, but you’ve got to tighten things up if things aren’t working. And that’s the real test, isn’t it? There is a metabolic advantage to eating according to the PB, but if the weight isn’t coming off, something’s up – and calories may need to come down.

9. You haven’t overcome bad habits or developed good ones.

Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you engage in bad habits? If so, identify them. Make tentative, loose plans to disengage from their clutches, and tell people close to you. Make it public, so you can’t back out without losing face. You’ve also got to develop good ones. Follow roughly similar guidelines as when kicking a bad habit – identification, planning, publication – and you’ll be on your way.

10. You haven’t purged and Primalized your pantry.

Out of sight, out of mind; out of reach, out of mouth. Keep the crappy junk food out of your pantry, if not out of your house altogether. Go down the list and toss the stuff that doesn’t apply. As for the rest of your kitchen, check out the fridge interiors and grocery lists of some other Primal folks for inspiration, and visit Thrive Market for Primal approved replacements.

11. You’ve reached a healthy homeostasis.

It may be that your body has reached its “ideal” weight – its effective, genetic set point. Reaching this level is generally painless and effortless, but it won’t necessarily correspond to your desired level of leanness. Women, especially, tend to achieve healthy homeostasis at higher body fat levels. Breaking through plateaus can be hard enough, but plateaus ordained by the body itself can be nearly impossible. It’s probably going to take some serious tinkering with carbs, calories, activity levels, sleep, and stress. If everything else is on point and accounted for, you may be looking at healthy homeostasis. Then, the question becomes: do you want to mess with a good thing?

12. You’re low on willpower.

Willpower is like a muscle. It must be used or it will atrophy. You’ve also got to provide fuel for your will – little victories to start out. Go for a walk if you can’t muster the will for the gym. Take note that willpower, or lack thereof, might actually be an indicator of your body’s needs. If you truly can’t muster up the will for the gym, it may be that your body needs to recover. When that’s the case, overtraining is a bigger danger than lack of will.

13. You’re full of excuses.

If you find yourself having mini self-contained internal arguments throughout the day (and you lose), or (even worse) lying to yourself about what you’re eating and doing, you’re probably also full of excuses. Read this, maybe twice, then follow up with this.

14. You haven’t actually gone Primal!

We get a good number of new readers on a regular basis, and not all of them take instantly to the Primal concepts. And yet they come back. They read the archives, the comments. Something draws them near, while at the same time keeping them at arm’s length. Why is that? What’s stopping them? If that describes you, what are you waiting for? Take the plunge. Go Primal for 30 days and see how you like it. I assure you; the many enthusiastic community members are here because it works.

15. You’re not getting enough sleep.

Chronic levels of sleep deprivation cause the release of cortisol, our old fat-storing friend. The biggest spike in (fat-burning, anabolic) growth hormone plasma levels occurs in deep sleep. And a recent sleep study showed that truncated sleep patterns are linked to weight gain. Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

16. You haven’t given it enough time.

The Primal Blueprint is a fat loss hack, undoubtedly, but it isn’t always a shortcut. Some people get instant results from dropping carbs, grains, sugar, and vegetable oils, while others have to take a month to get acclimated and only then does the weight begin to slide off. Either way, though, this is a lifestyle. You’re in it for the long run. Approach it with the right mindset and you won’t get discouraged.

17. You’re eating too much dairy.

Some people just react poorly to dairy. We see this time and time again listed in the forums; dairy just seems to cause major stalls in fat loss for a good number of folks. There are a couple speculative reasons for this. One, folks coming from a strict paleo background may not be acclimated to the more relaxed Primal stance on dairy. Reintroducing any food into the diet after a period of restriction can have unintended consequences on body composition. Two, dairy is insulinogenic, which is why it’s a popular post-workout refueling tool for athletes. Does a non-strength training PBer need to drink a few glasses of milk every day? Probably (definitely) not.

Bonus Reason: Sprinting is not part of your fitness routine.

I’ve found that many assume that they’re getting everything they need from their workouts from plenty of low level aerobic activity and a couple of strength training sessions each week. Sprinting is often overlooked, but it’s one of the Primal Blueprint Laws for a reason. Nothing shreds you up faster than sprinting. I’d ease into sprints if you’ve never done them or are extremely out of shape or overweight. That is, I recommend you have some measure of fitness aptitude before you jump into a routine. But once you’re ready do 6-8 all out sprints (with short breaks between) once a week to break a weight loss plateau when all other attempts have failed.

Am I missing any other reasons? If you’ve successfully surmounted a stall in your fat loss, what was the ultimate explanation? Let everyone know in the comment board!

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Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Yes, this is helpful. It’s all information I already know, but it’s a great reminder. I especially struggle with #1! I have done low carb for years, but make the mistake of curbing cravings by devouring low-carb snacks like Atkins chocolate, low-carb brownies, etc. What a joke! Instead of eating one normal brownie, I end up eating half a baking pan of low-carb brownies! And I get so sick afterwards (I have an intolerance for malitol and other similar ingredients). So not only have I made myself sick, but I’ve also slowed any progress of weight loss. It’s an easy thing to get suckered into, because you think “oh it’s only 1 net gram of carbs per serving, so a couple servings can’t hurt!!!”

    Anyway, it’s time for me to get back to Primal again and just ditch the brownies altogether! :)

    Claire Owens wrote on March 6th, 2013
  2. k , ur no help! most of everything u said was wrong!

    Alexis wrote on March 6th, 2013
  3. Hi Mark,

    great article.

    I have a lot of problems with some of the listed reasons.

    My main problem is as you wrote “chronic cardio”. I’m doing daily 2-3 hours of cardio. It’s 99% constists of running. And as you wrote I always crave some sweet things.
    I dont’ eat starches, grains,sugar,dairy(only raw goat milk) but eat a lot of fruit and honey. And don’t know how to cut down and quit from too much fructose too.
    And also how to cut a little bit with cardio, I always feel that I need more, and realise that that much is too much, feeling stressed too.
    All my day is about cardio workout, working as a freelancer but my productivity is gone, feel like don’t have enough time because of excess exercise.
    Constantly failing to plan my day, because of the things I mentioned.


    Ati wrote on March 6th, 2013
  4. I really need help right now. I have cut out gluten and alcohol from my diet. I hardly eat dairy, in fact the only dairy I have upped was on advice to get more protein in my diet: natural yogurt.

    I drink 2 litres of water every day. I live off plenty of veg and fruit, lean meat and fish. I’m hardly hungry so my meals as tiny and I usually don’t eat more than what would be the size of my fist (or a bit more) on my plate.

    I’m constantly told by my friends I eat rabbit food and still I can’t shift the weight. I do put on weight when stressed and I noticed that when I go to the gym or do a lot of exercise I have what is like a “crash”, get very fatigued, can’t get out of bed for days and put on between 10-20kg of weight at a time.

    I just can’t lose weight I have tried everything and now I’m thinking of starving myself because I just don’t know what to do. I was medicated for an underactive thyroid for 8 years but recent tests showed it’s now normal and the medication never worked or helped. I am now 30kg more than my normal weight of 65kg (I’m now 95kg) I yo yo between 90 and 95 but just can’t lose the weight. I’ve had loads of tests and all show I don’t have Cushings or Diabetes. I have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (medically and scientifically – my mitochondria can’t produce ATP energy) and I have PCOS but I walk everywhere and I can’t drive so this forces me to walk. I’m seriously at the end of my tether. I’ve spent over £10,000 on seeing private doctors, specialists, naturopaths etc you name it! I lose about 5kg on their super strict programme but then if I get tired or stressed again then whoop before I know it I’m super fat again.

    Please please please help me!

    ellie wrote on May 11th, 2013
  5. ok I really need help im 14 ive ran 2 miles everyday for 6 months & for about 2 weeks I did insanity, I used to be 162 pounds now im 154 pounds. I always eat vegetables and not much junk food. why is it that in such a long time I only lost so little ? :c im really worried cause I always try being healthy and doing as much as I can .

    Jazmine wrote on July 21st, 2013
  6. I am one of the most active people I know, I race dirtbikes, I spend more then 2 hours at the gym everyday, run more then two miles everyday, and I eat fairly healthy. My biggest problems are with stress and sleep problems. I don’t know how I am supposed to solve those problems and finally drop this unwanted fat. I would prefer not to say what my problems are but they are relatively severe. Mostly involving my family. How am I supposed to fix that? I have worked out for nearly, no lie, everyday for the past four months and have had minimal results. What do I do?

    Anthony wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  7. So, I have been exercising (intense cardio and weight workouts) eating very healthy, and drinking plenty of water and green tea. I stay away from soda, I dont eat out hardly at all, and I get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. I cannot lose a single pound! My face looks super fat! I weighed less when I was having 3 starbucks drinks a week and eating out at least twice a week. It is so very frustrating because I dont know what else to do!

    Britt K wrote on October 28th, 2013
  8. What the heck kind of educated person would tell anyone wanting to loose weight to ever skip meals? That is ridiculous. Do NOT skip ANY meals if you want to loose weight. Each an at least 200 calorie high fibre breakfast. Healthy fruit and vegetable filled lunch and small dinner at least 4 hours before you sleep. This speeds up your metabolism!

    Adrienne wrote on November 11th, 2013
  9. OK…I’m off the bread and grain train , only use a tiny bit of dairy in my coffee, make and eat my own yogurt sparingly AND swim at a medium pace 5 days a week for 30 minutes in the morning. (but I do have a more sedentry lifestyle due to pain issues and I dont’ take any medications!)
    I do eat beef, pork, chicken and fish but don’t eat cheeses, drink soda’s or cook with or eat any processed if possible.
    I cook most my meals for myself and my hubby ( I love to cook!) and I try to get a serving of greens and a serving of fruit each day.
    I have cut out all sugar except what I drink in my coffee, but I do cook with honey when needed.

    I am a 59 year old woman and have had both ovaries my uterus and my cervix removed in 2006.

    I have been 50 lbs overweight for a couple of years…and since starting a more primal way of eating and cooking over the past few months, I am still 50 lbs overweight !
    I am beginning to believe that I will never lose the fat! It’s very frustrating and motivating. Got any words of wisdome for me??



    Beverly wrote on November 26th, 2013
  10. I really appreciate that you listed “You’re under too much stress” as number two. I think that the effects of stress, of all kinds, is grossly misunderstood and enough attention isn’t put on this topic. Stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, exercising, meditation, are all wonderful ways to reduce stress and can also bring awareness to areas of your life that can be modified. And once cortisol levels in the body are low/normal, hopefully weight loss comes easier. Great post!

    Dr. Enriquez wrote on February 20th, 2014
  11. Very nice reasons you gave about that why we are not lose weight.good post.

    Miss Kate wrote on March 19th, 2014
  12. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it,
    you are a great author. I will always bookmark
    your blog and definitely will come back in the future.
    I want to encourage you to definitely continue your
    great job, have a nice holiday weekend!

    Donald wrote on June 12th, 2014
  13. Yeah, sprinting is better. Than say long distance running. First, you only have to actually run a few yards, which tricks you into thinking you are doing less work, when you are really running harder than you would by running longer. Secondly, you don’t have to travel that far. Long distance just feels wrong running in short circles, so you are forced to run down the block a couple of times for it to actually feel like taking a jog. But then, you’re out in traffic, running laps around the same people over and over, it gets really annoying if you don’t like people gawking at you all the time. Then, if you choose to run a long straight line, what if you need to come back for some reason, it takes quite a while to get back to home base. So, in my opinion, shorter bursts of high intense running is way better than taking a vacation to go run fifteen miles to get the same burn. Who has the time anyway, with the economy like it is, where people actually DO work three jobs, juggle kids, and possibly go to school? No one has time to be a slave and be a long distance runner, unless it’s your job, then you’re set and never mind anything anyone else says.

    randallmckay wrote on June 23rd, 2014
  14. What did you mean by “plates of pure fiber in the shape of noodles”? I’ve been making zucchini noodles with my spiralizer. Is that OK?

    Back story: I lost about 30 pounds in three months, but in month #4 I haven’t lost any weight. Not sure what I’m doing wrong. I’ve got about 60 more pounds to lose.

    Bake Up, Little Suzy wrote on July 23rd, 2014
  15. This is a dumb website. There are a few good tips, but even a broke clock is right twice a day. This guy seems like he’s trying to start a cult.

    Jake wrote on August 28th, 2014
    • Hi Jake,

      I agree, websites in general are kind of a dumb idea, but it’s what most of us have in lieu of healthy grandparents passing down their tips and tricks for maintaining health. I don’t know about you, but dying from complications relating to diabetes like my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother does not sound at all appealing to me. If you have other areas that direct you towards evaluating your own health and improving it, feel free to point us in that direction–afterall, that’s what an online community is for, isn’t it? To share some things that work in a “take what you need and leave the rest behind” kind of way.

      I have to admit that while I don’t like all the advice on this site (I’d rather be a non-sprinting, vegetarian, green-juicing hippy who has a miraculous ability to eat anything I’d like, but unfortunately, my body has different ideas–meat, veggies, some fruit, low-FODMAPS, no dairy, no sugar, no grains and, gasp, sprinting seem to work better). A cult based around healthy food, good sleep, exercise and stress management sounds better than a sharp stick in the eye, from my perspective. Anyhow, a broken clock is right twice a day and this blog might have two good take aways for you. Take what you like and leave the rest behind.

      Jennifer L. wrote on August 28th, 2014
  16. hi! iam naveed and iam 14 years old… i want to ask few questions about losing weight… iam 160lbs and i want to lose weight fast.. before dieting i was 163 and now iam 160lbs.. its about 3 weeks why iam not losing fast… because i dont think that i eat too much calories… i exercise everyday for 1 hour.. like different exercises, weight lifting, mountain climbers, bunch of different exercises….. i eat 1 apple at morning and nothing at school till i come to home and then 1 cup of grapes and 1 apple.. and then at evening i drink coffee with milk {added} with 2 buscuit without cream.. without sugar no cream nothing .. and then i go to exercise for 1 hour… after then i drink 3 or 4 glasses of water….. and then at about 11 pm i eat again apple and grapes and 1 glass of milk and then go to sleep…. all this things that i eat per day is about minimum 500 calories and maximum 700 calories without the exercise burning…. so plz tell me is it fine about my meal or not.. is it healthy or not……

    naveed wrote on September 19th, 2014
  17. What’s up to every , because I am really eager of reading this web site’s post to be updated daily.
    It includes good data.

    Demetrius wrote on October 23rd, 2014
  18. I am a student and i want to lose weight but being bust in losing weight i may lose my marks i want to improve both
    Please help …..

    Hope wrote on November 12th, 2014
  19. Well it’s been about a month overall of limiting to 1800 cals day mixed with a few days a week exercise, with NO weight loss.

    About 6 months ago I started ‘eating well’ and lost 15 lbs in about 2 months. So THIS time is EXTREMELY frustrating. I’m mostly eating granola/milk, coffee/cream, salad (measured cheese, sun seeds, dressing), and pears.

    I am doing very well on counting calories, try to add more than less to be conservative. Today I am 238, and a month ago I was 242, INSANE. It makes ZERO sense. It’s like burning 450 cals at the gym 3 or more days a week is doing nothing at all.

    My only hope is I am losing inches. I’m 54 almost and if the stats are true, then losing weight is harder when older. BUT how do you figure the LAST 15 lb loss out? What’s changed from 6 months ago?

    nOBS wrote on November 26th, 2014
  20. Eat when i am hungry or have the time and do not eat when I am not. As long as you eat primal foods, though, the warrior diet timing probably can’t hurt.

    kakoli wrote on December 9th, 2014
  21. I went through this list and marked everything off. Bam. This did not answer anything for me. All of this is common knowledge. I am looking for why I can’t lose weight– why it won’t come off– and why no one seems to have an answer that isn’t complete and total sense. I am already aware of the obvious.
    I am about 40lbs over weight — I don’t eat dairy, carbs, sugar, soda, glutton, or even fruit. There is nothing left for me to cut out of my diet. I only eat 10 oz of lean protein (mostly fish) a day, never add back fat for cooking, and 10 oz of green vegetables. Every day for nearly 5 years. (I commit to this 10 months out of the year). I work out 5 days a week for 2 hours. Cardio and light weights… No more than 10lbs.
    I am 5’4″ and weigh 167.
    My weight has not budged in 2 years.
    I’ve had tests run by doctors and nutritionists. Everything looks stellar. No one can tell me what is wrong. I am certainly willing to try and commit to anything– but I admit, my spirit is broken. I’ve struggled with weight my entire life— but I never struggled with eating behavior. With my obsession, I surprised I am not anorexic.

    Ally wrote on February 12th, 2015
  22. This was so helpful! I have recently began my weight loss journey. I’ve been going at it pretty strong and my drive is amazing right now. I’m so motivated to drop the weight. My goal of 20 lbs in less than a month is next to impossible but I’m going to stick with it and see how close I can get in the time frame I have allotted myself. I am 5″9 and I was 175 when I started on the 4th of march. I’ve dropped 5 lbs ,4 of which were in the past 2 days. I’ve quit smoking, which is probably not helping with my stress but I’m determined not to start back. I’ve given up alcohol, sugar, carbs and I’ve started to work out again for the first time in a year. I will now cut way down on the fruit after reading this, try to get more sleep and do all that I can to reduce stress. I will do almost anything at this point to get closer to my goal. Thank you so much for the good read! If you have any suggestions please shoot them my way!

    VMARTINEZ wrote on March 12th, 2015
    • Also how long should I do the sprints? An Hr? 30 minutes?

      VMARTINEZ wrote on March 12th, 2015
  23. Sharing.

    Mike wrote on April 13th, 2015
  24. I think throwing out food is worse than eating them .I would donate.its up to them to eat or not but I would donate.some people may think that donating junk food is not kool but let’s put it this way …if u r out in the cold n naked would u put on some ripped used dirty blanket to survive or would u expect a brand new clean designer coat instead ? Remember that dirty blanket will keep u alive at least for another day.we must learn to appreciate what we get.

    mini wrote on June 10th, 2015
  25. Good morning Mark,

    I tryed paleo diet last year. I was 125lbs and lost almost 10 pounds the first week wihout even working out really except walking. When summer came and the kids at home, it started to be difficult to keep up with the diet. Then by Christmass, I was weighting 130lbs. I wasn’t eating a lot but I have the feeling that my body was stocking fat… One month and a half a go, I came back on pd. I am working out, jogging and yoga. Sticking to the iet but guess what? Haven’t lost 1 pond??? I really have the feeling my body is working against me. I am drinking a looot of water. Yes I cheeted BUT occasionnaly and for sure, with all the veggies I am eating, almost no carbs, a small amount of meet almost no nuts, there is nooo reasons I didn’t drop ponds so there is something else. I am 44 years old, so I guess, as a women, maybe my body is starting to change but again, I am in the frog with that weght thing… I don’t aim for 110 but 120 I would be be please since I am 5’2¨… 1 pond on me look like 10 :p At least my husband tells me that my body changed, so I guess something is happennning, but at 130, there is certainely place for a couple of weight drops.

    Thanks for your help


    Isabelle wrote on July 7th, 2015
  26. Skills can be imparted, but the will to persist and persevere is inborn… a talent you have been blessed with. Well done.

    imran wrote on July 7th, 2015
  27. My biggest problem is portion control. I have gotten so used to eating big meals that I am not being satisfied with small meals. I have lost some weight but not as much as I could lose. Any suggestions on how to overcome this.

    Wendy saltsman wrote on August 22nd, 2015

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