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Why am I not losing weight in a calorie deficit?

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

This is a VERY common question bothering many people. You establish a calorie deficit by eating smaller portions or maybe skipping a meal, only to see your weight remain the same after a few weeks. But when it comes to this strategy of cutting calories, there’s more to it than simply lowering your calorie intake.

Let me shed some light!

The other things that can affect weight loss (or gain), even if you are in a calorie deficit, include what you eat, your stress levels, sleep patterns, hormonal fluctuations, and many other variables.

Do you know what a calorie deficit is?

A calorie deficit is where you burn more calories than you consume. This causes the body to use up stores of energy (fat and muscle) and causes you to lose weight over time. How many calories you should consume depends on your age, weight, gender, daily activity level, exercise, and other health conditions. In general, aiming for a 500-calorie deficit should allow you to lose 1 pound a week.

Does it matter what you eat in a calorie deficit? YES.

Carbohydrates, salty foods, processed foods, and even some medications can lead to water retention, and this can cause your weight to remain the same even if you’re burning fat. Protein takes more energy to burn, so eating a high-protein and high-fiber diet will help you burn more calories.

TIP: Eat lean quality protein. And fruits and veggies for fiber!!

Drink water as an essential part of shedding pounds. Here’s why:

  • Stimulates your metabolism.

  • Suppresses your appetite.

  • Makes workouts more effective.

  • Helps your body burn fat faster.

Tip: Start your day with a big glass of water!

Why are you not losing weight in a calorie deficit?

It's important to understand that in a calorie deficit, you won’t linearly lose weight. There will be fluctuations. Rather than seeing your weight go down as time goes on, you’ll often see it go up, then back down. Big point, however, you should see your weight decrease in the long run. So don’t get discouraged, and be as consistent as possible with your nutrition and movement.

TIP: Don't eat processed food, high-sugar foods, baked goods, highly refined flour, alcohol, and processed meat. Instead, focus on foods that are highly nutritious proteins and fiber. Eat lean quality protein. Fruits and veggies for fiber!!

Here's my list of some nutritious best foods to eat when trying to reach your weight loss goals:

  • Any Berries, Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Pears

  • Fish, Shrimp, Scallops

  • Poultry and Lean Red Meats

  • Broccoli, Mixed Greens Salad, Spinach, Arugula

  • Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese

  • Beans, Lentils

  • Eggs, Egg Whites

  • Hard Boiled Eggs

  • Baked Potatoes

  • Repeat, lots of Fruit and Vegetables

Are you getting enough sleep?

Sleep deprivation lowers metabolic function, leads to loss of energy throughout the day, and can cause you to choose high-calorie foods throughout the day. This is true, just pay attention to your food choices when you're lacking sleep.

TIP: Exercising improves your sleep quality.


When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol, known as the stress hormone, as a part of your body’s fight or flight response. You can’t always control the introduction of stress in your life, but you can adopt stress management strategies to ensure that it doesn’t affect your health goals.

TIP: Help yourself by relieving stress with exercise, meditation, going on a walk, and seeking behavioral counseling or health coaching. FYI, I'm a health coach!

If you're not tracking weight loss appropriately, your weight can fluctuate up to 4 pounds a day. Be sure to track your weight at the same time every day. What you eat, when you eat, and your menstrual cycle can all cause weight fluctuations.

As you age, losing weight becomes harder. There are several reasons for this. One is that as we age, we lose lean muscle, which is more efficient at burning calories. At the same time, our metabolism naturally slows down because most of us honestly do fewer activities each day.

Both men and women undergo hormonal changes that could affect weight loss. For women, a drop in estrogen can cause weight gain. For men, a drop in testosterone makes it harder to burn calories.

The biggest reason!!!

Sometimes when you begin a calorie deficit, you’ll experience a sudden loss of weight, and then things will become slower or stagnant. It can be easy to become frustrated. Remember that weight loss doesn’t happen in a linear manner. How long it takes for you to lose weight varies with your starting weight, age, gender, and overall state of health. Most experts advise you to wait 3-4 weeks to see weight loss.

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