5 reasons for your weight loss plateau

Scale won't budge? The reasons why you might not be losing weight may surprise you.
Published 3 February 2019 | Updated 1 July 2024
WeightWatchers® member Cortney

You're doing your best to stick to a healthy eating plan, but the scale doesn't seem to budge, leaving you stuck in a weight loss plateau. Sound familiar? "Weight loss can be impacted by all aspects of your life—sleep, stress, activity, and even your mood," says dietitian Nicole Stride. "And if you're not looking holistically at your health and overlooking one or more of these elements, you may be hindering your success.” We've identified a few key reasons why you might not be losing weight effectively. Read on to discover if one of these factors is affecting you.

1. You're skimping on sleep

"Getting a good night sleep consistently can be really beneficial for your weight loss efforts," says Stride. "Irregular sleep cycles can kick the appetite-stimulating hormone ‘Ghrelin’ into overdrive. This means you may not be as satisfied with your usual meals and will start to look for ‘quick fuel’ options like high-sugar, high-fat convenience foods.” Plus, she adds, a lack of sleep can increase the level of Cortisol, the stress hormone, which is partly responsible for fat storage. Aim to consistently get between seven and eight hours of shut-eye a night.

2. You're not combining food and exercise

Researchers at America’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center confirmed that it’s eating fewer kilojoules combined with regular exercise that’s most effective for weight loss, compared to using either strategy on its own. We know how important doing regular physical activity is, not just for your weight health goals but for your mood, your sleep.

3. You're stressed out

Stress works a lot like sleep deprivation, in that many people reach for food to cope when they feel stressed out. Plus, a lot of people may let their regular fitness habits and goals fall by the wayside too, when they're anxious or overloaded, because they think they don't have time. But a good workout can be a great stress reliever, so it’s important to find the time to fit it in.

4. You look at food as if it's the enemy

"Cutting out your favourite foods, or positioning foods as 'good' and 'bad', may set you up for a negative relationship with food and can create feelings of guilt when you eat these foods," says Stride.

“The key to long term success is to enjoy all the foods you love. The key is to include your favourite foods occasionally, rather than every day, and to enjoy sensible portions by tracking them as part of your Points Budget.”

5. You haven't tried a new approach

Don't give up if your first attempt at weight loss isn't successful or you reach a plateau you can’t shift. Mix it up. "Switch up your daily routine by changing the type of activity you do, trying to eat lots of fruit, veg and ZeroPoint foods. The key is to be persistent and treat yourself with compassion—sooner or later your efforts will pay off!” says Stride.