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8 Non-Food Reasons Your Diet Might Not Be Working

You're saying "no" to the office donuts. You're eating salads, shunning the fast food and learning to manage those irritating things called calories. Good for you! But weeks have passed and you're still mad at the scale. What else could be sabotaging your weight loss goals? This is the time to look at it from another angle, as the culprit may have nothing to do with food.

1. Not enough water
Sometimes you feel hungry when you're really actually thirsty. You think you're hungry and eat more, thus eating more than you should be, thus gaining more weight. Drinking enough water throughout the day keeps you hydrated, improves metabolism, fills you up and keeps your appetite down.

2. Not enough exercise
It is possible to lose weight by diet alone, but if you're one who really loves to eat, you'll get to your goals much faster and easier with daily exercise. Remember not to think of exercise as just  "stuff you do at the gym," or walking, running and jogging, but also simpler things like chores and chasing the kids too!   If you have reached a plateau, sometimes an additional boost of exercise or starting a new type of energy expenditure will rev your metabolism just enough to help you lose those last few stubborn pounds. Adding more strength training is great for turning up the volume on exercise. This increases muscle, which is more metabolically active than fat tissue.

3. Not enough sleep
Studies have shown insufficient or shortened sleep can cause hormonal imbalances, which can derail your weight loss efforts. Disturbed and/or shortened sleep can cause in increase in ghrelin, which increases appetite, and decreased leptin, the hormone that tells you you're full. Try to get about 8-9 hours of quality, rested sleep, or at least how much you feel is adequate for you.

4. Too much stress
Stress is part of most people's daily lives, but an unusual amount of high stress for long periods can cause increased cravings for fat and sugar, several studies show. Find ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life that works for you such as deep breathing, music, exercise, time alone, massage, a favorite hobby, talking with loved ones, prayer and many more.

5. Thyroid Malfunction
Hypothyroidism (which means reduced thyroid) can have many symptoms, but a major one is slowed metabolism and weight gain. High levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) can mean a low T3 and T4 and hypothyroidism. It is seen frequently in women 50 and older, and can have many causes. It's important to get this hormone checked by your doctor during your regular visits.

6. PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common female endocrine disorder in which can cause slowed metabolism, weight gain, infertility and hormone imbalance. Be sure to talk to your Registered Dietitian about how to lose weight with this condition.

7. Too Much Alcohol
Don't celebrate so fast! That amber frothy drink may be preventing you from reaching your desired thinness by slowing down fat metabolism and increasing appetite. One alcoholic beverage for women per day, and two for men, is OK, but those trying hard to lose weight may want to lay off completely.

8. Medication
Some medications, such as some antipsychotics, steroids, antidepressants, and for diabetes can cause appetite increase and added pounds. It's important to talk to your doctor about finding the right medication if you feel it's causing you weight gain.

These are some of the sneaky non-food factors that may be negatively affecting your weight loss efforts.  Be sure to discuss these and any others with your physician and Registered Dietitian!

Catherine S. Hains, MS RD has been interested in health and nutrition since she was a young child. Growing up in Fort Worth, TX, she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Texas Christian University and wrote for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 12 years. Her life-long interest in nutrition and disease prevention never waned, and she went on to earn her Master's Degree in Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University. Cathy, now a Registered Dietitian, owns Lighthouse Nutrition and Wellness in Gig Harbor, WA where she enjoys inspiring people of all ages to make losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle easy, fun and permanent. She enjoys good food, cooking and food preparation, and showing others how healthy this can be. Her other pastimes include traveling, art, music and family life. She also likes staying fit with tennis, bicycling walking and jogging, researching nutrition and helping clients be at their best. For more information on Cathy, visit www.lighthouse-nutrition.com or write to Catherine at info@lighthouse-nutrition.com.

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