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. By keeping your metabolism working efficiently, you can burn body fat constantly. Any cardiovascular exercises such as jogging, walking or aerobics are great exercises to add to your workout routine. Also follow the standard food guide to keep from over eating and for good health.

    ereynol wrote on August 24th, 2012
  2. Its like you read my thoughts! You appear to understand so much about this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something. I think that you could do with a few % to pressure the message home a little bit, however other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

    weight loss wrote on August 27th, 2012
  3. Are you eating every 2 to 3 hours, at least 4 to 5 times a day, snacks in between meals, I wouldn’t go over 500 cal a meal, and your snacks should be 100 or less, if your not eating every 2 to three hours your body will think its starving itself and will slow down your metabolism or make it stop, it will store fat bacause your body will go into survival mode, so this could make you gain weight, eating every 2 to 3 hours small portions, combined with a hardcore excercise, example turbo fire, or insanity, should fix this promblem, all your excercises should be hard if it’s easy for you to do your not gonna get the results you want, you have to go your hardest everytime you excercise, really push yourself, I would try really intense workout videos, like turbo fire, insanity, p90x, etc, I am doing turbo fire and I love it I lost 26 lbs in 3 weeks cause I really pushed myself hard, and ate right, I even ate pizza and French fries and some junk food one day each weekend and still lost weight, but if I eat like that I will do like 3 turbo fire videos, this worked for me and still is working I am a mother of 2 I just had a baby, and I’m not gonna stop, if this don’t work I would go see a doc, good luck!! I hope this helps!!

    Heather wrote on September 19th, 2012
    • Heather, that is the worst advice I have yet to read on here. I think you need to go to another site. You’re not understanding or getting anything from this one and what true health is. Please go eat pizza and French fries somewhere else.

      Liz wrote on June 24th, 2013
  4. Oh yeah I would also write down everything you eat and drink, and don’t go over 1200 cal a day,

    Heather wrote on September 19th, 2012
    • Just stop. You don’t regulate your calories. You don’t over exercise. You don’t snack nonstop or eat every 2 to 3 hours. Every person should listen to their own unique body. You are old school and I sincerely hope no one takes your antiquated advice to heart.

      Liz wrote on June 24th, 2013
  5. I am going to try intermittent fasting. I think that really works. It is also nice to do meditation with fasting because your body is light. Careful not to starve and get dizzy and giddy though, keep hydrating and eat fruits and raw food.

    yoga retreat girl wrote on September 19th, 2012
  6. First of all you can sum this all up into one sentence: You’re not in a calorie deficit.

    Foods you eat are irrelevant, and type of workout is irrelevant.

    However there is some kind of phenomena when you can be 7 days straight in a 1000 calorie deficit and the scale barely moves down, and then suddenly one day it starts dropping hard and fast. I would like to know the reasoning behind this.

    Aaron wrote on October 22nd, 2012
  7. I have to admit that all 17 reasons are spot on as far as what is required to make a body- and with that, a life – transformation.

    I would only add, not that it is not mentioned but I believe it should be more obvious to everybody, that people should make en effort to stop trying to lose weight but focus on ways to lose fat.

    It is far healthier to keep track of your overall body fat than keep measuring your weight, not to mention that it is a more accurate health indicator than weight loss.

    With that in mind, it is certain that in that list anyone trying to make body changes will find one or more reasons that he/she is not succeeding in it.
    Thank you for making it a group for us to refer to.

    Alex wrote on November 25th, 2012
    • Pump some iron. Resistance tranniig, (weight tranniig), can help both sexes stay lean by building muscle and raising metabolism. The fact is, hours and hours of aerobic exercise won’t help most people lose weight fast because your metabolism drops back to normal fairly quickly after stopping the exercise. If you gain muscle, however, your body’s resting metabolism, (the amount of calories you burn when you’re just sitting still), increases, because muscle requires a lot of calories to maintain. Studies have shown consistent weight tranniig to raise the body’s metabolism by 15%. This means an average woman might burn 200-300 more calories at rest every day! Resistance tranniig is the gift that keeps on giving! Although, keep in mind that muscle mass weighs more than fat (don’t be surprised if you gain weight but look slimmer).

      Nahuel wrote on December 6th, 2012
  8. Hi – I am trying to lose weight but finding it difficult, mainly because 3 years ago I hurt my ankle and can no longer walk, run or sprint, which pretty much brings me to a standstill.

    Lack of a nearby swimming pool or gym here as well as I’m rural.

    Any ideas?

    Robyn wrote on November 28th, 2012
  9. I like to run at night because after I run I never get hungry so it keeps me from snacking.

    kelsey wrote on January 3rd, 2013
  10. Another reason: Those special events featuring family and friends and SAD food choices. It’s just on event right?… that seems to happen several times a week. I am never disappointed when I pass on the SAD food, but I am disappointed when I allow myself to have that 2nd beer.

    Helmholz Watson wrote on January 7th, 2013
  11. They tried to sell me Carnivor once when I said no to whey protein (I take ALA and D, so I went to buy them during gold card week.) I asked why it would be better than a steak, and being told “it has no fat” I walked away.

    Regarding 1 – I’ll give you eating a loaf of paleo bread, but shirataku noodles have been eaten for a long time in Asia, and not for weight loss/health food, but just as a food. Why doesn’t it count as a food?

    JAlanKatz wrote on January 7th, 2013
  12. My problem is loosing to much weight. I think I need more carbs, but I don’t want to eat bread, potato, beans and rice. I eat tons of vegies, fruits, meat, eggs soup and salad. Any recommendation on how I can put some weight without stepping out of PB?

    John wrote on January 7th, 2013
  13. In my mid-40s I put on weight for the first time in my life. I was able to lose the weight with the Adkins diet and no exercise.

    Over time I regained the weight and began to try to lose it in earnest at 53 or so (female BTW). I cleansed, exercised and watched calories and started PB and could not lose. I was doing Power Plates 3 times a week, so I could see muscle, which was good, but I was sooo frustrated with the belly fat.

    Finally I went to an Ayurvedic MD. She diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Thyroid, so stress and lack of proper sleep (from teeth grinding and apnea) were the biggest factors.

    It has been a two year journey. I eat basically Primal, but she has me on a winter diet that includes orange veggies daily. I do Power Plates 3 times a week, sleep so much better due to my new dentist-made mouth guard, something I resisted play tennis 3-5 times a week.

    I am very physically fit and feel good, but I definitely would like to lose 3 pounds of belly fat and the love handles. At 57 I sometimes think I’m just being too vain, but belly fat is supposed to be so unhealthy, ans I hate the look of it, so yes, I’m still trying to lose it. I take my Porcine thyroid upon waking, wait hold hour and take 1Tab of olive oil on an empty stomach with a half lemon chaser. I follow that with warm lemon water and healthy flora caps. In half hour I eat breakfast. I can’t go longer without eating, but that makes 14-15 hours since dinner. The olive oil jump starts the liver and keeps my colon active.

    Those of you with lots of weight gain should try that morning routine. I also use Nature’s Sunshine Collatrim before bed. And I have done their small intestine cleanse too, as improper absorption can be a problem.

    Overall I feel good, I just wish I could get rid of that stubborn belly fat. I’ve even considered the mechanized fat melting (basically its the step they do before lipo-suction) but I can’t bring myself to it. Any suggestions?

    Mary wrote on January 8th, 2013
  14. DANCE!! Bump, grind, twerk, bellydance, dougie, whatever. Move that hot new body! I think it encourages people to get in touch with their bodies, which is an aspect of living primally that is very lost on most westerners!

    Jase wrote on January 28th, 2013
  15. Having put on 3 stone (that’s 42 lbs) over the last couple of years and always yo-yoed with my weight since being the fat kid at school I have been reading MDA and PB and lots of other sites about primal/paleo eating and IF and have decided that all the reading in the world isn’t going to help me I need to actually DO something. So for the last 3-4 weeks I have been wheat free trying to avoid processed foods, plenty of fish, big salads, a few nuts here and there, big veggie stews (I can’t afford free range meat and won’t buy battery farmed) limited potatoes, cutting down dairy AND fasting until dinner time 2 days per week AND 4 x bootcamp style workouts (squats, lunges, pressups – all the rights stuff)plus 2 x yoga per week and I have lost a measly 2lbs. I am overweight and out of shape and feel like I am putting in a load of effort with virtually no result. 3 weeks on the Cambridge diet with no excercise has seen me lose about 12lbs in the same time with half the effort. What am I doing wrong? I am so disappointed.

    Ali wrote on January 31st, 2013
    • yeah but did you gain all that weight from the cambridge diet back afterwards? plus more?? I think primal is about something that is sustainable for life and loosing weight slowly. that being said, you have to make sure you are not eating too much primal food, or perhaps you have a medical condition that is preventing weight loss (hypothyroid)? and maybe also not eating to little to fuel all the workouts you are doing? its all about balance and finding what is right for you.

      Sarah wrote on January 31st, 2013
      • ps you may have also gained muscle if you just started doing this type of intence exercise. how are those clothes fitting?

        Sarah wrote on January 31st, 2013
  16. Thanks Sarah, I guess it will be a slow process – I’m not going to give up. I am actually wearing a pair of jeans I haven’t worn for a while so maybe things are starting to change…

    Ali wrote on February 5th, 2013
  17. This might fit into the “you’re not active enough” category, but I just wanted to put it out there that about 90 percent of Americans are sitting too much. In fact, most of us sit for about 80-90% of our day! Watching TV, working, driving… Our bodies weren’t made for all of this sitting, and honestly, it is no wonder that our nation is facing a weight problem!
    If you want to lose weight, you’ll have to cut back on the sitting. A NextDesk or any adjustable height or standing desk is a good solution here. Check us out at for more of the benefits of standing. No matter the desk you choose, just start standing and you’ll feel healthier, lighter, and happier overall!
    Thanks for the post.

    NextDesks wrote on February 7th, 2013
  18. I’ve been dieting for 1 month now since I hit 185 pounds. I’m 19 years old, female, and 5 feet 3 inches tall. I cut out sodas, fast food, dairy, grains, and sugary products. Now I’m at 187. ??? I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. I’m trying to be more active, but it’s hard because it’s winter here. I do multiple workouts a day though. I eat tons of protein. I usually only eat chicken, chicken salad, water, bacon, ham, and eggs. I cheat every blue moon, and I’m guessing that’s where the two pounds came from. But I used to eat fast food three to four times a week, and drink about 4 sodas daily! I don’t know why I’m not seeing any progress now that I’ve given up all of my favorite foods just so I can fit back into my clothes. I don’t have a pair of jeans I can wear right now. I’m trying so hard!

    Kayla Parron wrote on March 4th, 2013
  19. Often hear about Low Carbers ( I am one with paleo 80/20) that gain back some weight. My 18 yr old daughter decided to go LC which put me back to an Atkins, LC diet. What an eye opener as to how many Carbs I was eating. Some of us Low Carbers that have been eating this way for a while lost count of their carb intake. Not saying I was gaining weight or felt unhealthy but working with and cooking for my daughter was an eye-opener.

    pjnoir wrote on March 6th, 2013
  20. 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
  21. k , ur no help! most of everything u said was wrong!

    Alexis wrote on March 6th, 2013
  22. 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

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