Here’s Why You’re Not Losing Weight  

by JJ Virgin on December 26, 2023

Losing weight can be challenging and sometimes frustrating, despite your dedicated efforts in diet and exercise. You might find yourself diligently following what appears to be the perfect plan, but the scale refuses to budge, leaving you puzzled. 

With four decades of experience in the weight-loss field, I've helped thousands of women reach their health and body-composition goals. While some successfully lost weight by making simple dietary and lifestyle changes, others faced insurmountable obstacles in their journey—but we were able to figure it out! 

I've identified seven crucial factors that can contribute to weight-loss resistance. When you adjust your plan to address these factors, I’ll bet the scale tips in your favor. 

1. You’re Not NEAT Enough 

In modern lifestyles, long periods of sitting are common, whether at a desk job, while commuting, or in leisure activities. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) will inspire you to move more.  

NEAT refers to the energy your body expends during non-exercise physical activities—about 10-15% of your daily energy expenditure (or calorie burning) results from NEAT. 

NEAT activities include fidgeting, tapping your foot, pacing, and standing. Women who engage in higher levels of NEAT tend to have a faster, more flexible metabolism. In fact, studies show that NEAT movements can burn up to an additional 2,000 calories per day. (Yes, you read that correctly!).1 

2. You’re Too Comfortable  

Stepping out of your comfort zone can have some surprising benefits. Your body is incredibly skilled at maintaining a consistent internal temperature, a process known as thermoregulation. When you're in a warm and cozy environment, your body doesn't have to work as hard to regulate its temperature. 

However, exposing yourself to colder temperatures disrupts this comfortable equilibrium. When you get cold, your body shivers to generate heat. Shivering increases your energy expenditure, meaning your body burns more calories to stay warm.2 

You can deliberately expose yourself to cold by taking cold showers, plunging into cold water, or simply adjusting your room's thermostat to a cooler setting (around 60-68°F). 

Cold exposure also activates a type of fat known as brown fat. Unlike white fat, which stores energy, brown fat is metabolically active and burns calories to generate heat.3 Stepping into the cold can have both calorie-burning and metabolic benefits. 

3. You’re in a Workout Rut 

First, congratulations on maintaining a regular fitness routine. That's a significant achievement! However, there's a downside to doing the same workout repeatedly without increasing the intensity; your body can adapt and plateau. 

To overcome these plateaus, challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone. Consider hiring a personal trainer to design a new workout routine. Make exercise more enjoyable by taking it outdoors, trying different classes, or exploring new fitness apps.  

Additionally, focus on improving your weakest areas; if you prefer the gym but dislike cardio, consider adding strength training. Tracking your progress with a body-composition scale is critical; what you measure and monitor, you can improve. 

Get out of your workout rut with my free Resistance Training Cheat Sheet. I've provided everything you need for your fitness journey, including home gym essentials, an 8-week workout plan, and a progress tracker to track your sets, reps, and weights with each workout. 

4. You’re Not Getting Enough Protein 

Protein is a vital macronutrient you’re probably not getting enough of. Research indicates that low-protein diets can result in muscle loss. Muscle tissue consumes more calories at rest than fat tissue, so losing muscle can slow your metabolism and hinder your weight-loss efforts. 

Protein also has a higher thermic effect than fats and carbohydrates, meaning your body expends more energy (calories) to digest and absorb protein. Digestion and absorption demand about 20-30% of the calories from protein. In other words, for every 100 calories of protein you consume, your body burns approximately 20-30 calories breaking down protein into amino acids.4 

Protein-rich foods are more satisfying too, helping to control hunger and cravings. They take longer to digest, helping you feel fuller longer and reducing the likelihood of overeating or snacking. 

Eat protein first and get 30-50 grams with every loaded smoothie and meal. 

5. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep 

Inadequate sleep disrupts the delicate balance of hormones that regulate hunger and feelings of fullness, including ghrelin and leptin.  

Ghrelin stimulates your appetite. When you don't get enough sleep, your ghrelin levels rise, causing you to feel hungrier.5 On the other hand, leptin, the hormone that signals fullness to your brain, decreases when you're sleep-deprived.6 Consequently, you may eat even when you're not truly hungry. 

Even one night of poor sleep can lead to insulin resistance in otherwise healthy individuals. Insulin resistance can increase blood insulin levels, promoting fat storage and increasing appetite.7 

Poor sleep can also make you tired and unmotivated to engage in physical activity. It also leads to higher levels of cortisol (your primary stress hormone) even when they should be lower, which can throw your blood-sugar levels out of balance. 

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.

To achieve great sleep, practice good sleep hygiene: 

  • Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool (65 – 68° is optimal). 
  • Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Sleep&Glow is my go-to source for pillows, blankets, sleepwear, and more. Visit them here and use code jjvirgin for $20 off all pillows and blankets. 
  • Remove electronic devices that emit blue light or wear blue-blocking glasses around bedtime. 
  • Avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime. 
  • Develop a relaxing pre-sleep routine like reading, bathing, or engaging in breathing exercises. 
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. 

The Optimal Sleep Kit contains three supplements (Sleep Candy™, Magnesium Body Calm, and All-In-One Shake) that help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep through the night, and wake up feeling rested.*  

6. You’re Eating the Right Foods at the Wrong Times 

When you eat is equally important as what you eat. Continuously eating from the moment you wake up until bedtime, even if it's healthy food, can keep you from efficiently burning fat.

Each time you eat, your insulin levels rise, which inhibits the breakdown of stored fat and promotes the storage of excess glucose as fat, prioritizing the use of glucose for energy. This effectively stops the fat-burning process (fat burning resumes when insulin levels drop between meals). 

Be sure to allow 3-5 hours between meals to give your body the chance to lower those insulin levels. You may also want to incorporate intermittent fasting into your routine, which involves a 12-15+ overnight fast.

If you feel hungry between meals, review your food journal to ensure you've consumed enough healthy foods by the plate. One study found a glass of water can also help stave off late-night cravings.8 

7. Your Environment Is Toxic 

Environmental toxins lurk in your food, air, water, and personal-care products. While your body has natural detoxification processes, excess toxins can overwhelm these systems. 

Toxins that the body cannot eliminate get stored in fat cells. Your body may resist releasing fat as a protective measure to prevent other organs from being exposed to these toxins.9 

Some toxins, known as obesogens, can interfere with regulating hunger and metabolic hormones, including hormones like ghrelin, leptin, and insulin. Obesogens can also contribute to issues such as blood-sugar imbalances, chronic inflammation, thyroid problems, and other factors that can make weight loss more challenging.10 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has some terrific guides about reducing your toxic exposure, including their Skin Deep guide and Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Reduce Your Toxic Burden to Reach Your Goal Weight 

A toxic burden can hinder your ability to lose fat and find your goal weight. Detoxification is the key to eliminating toxins and substances contributing to weight-loss plateaus. Reducing your toxic burden can create the foundation to make you a better fast burner.

I designed the 10-Day Protein-Powered Detox Program to provide comprehensive detoxification support by addressing the biggest glitch in most plans: optimal protein. These essential amino acids give your body the nutrients to detoxify, promote effective fat loss, and sustain a healthy weight. This program includes everything you need (including a private, supportive Facebook group) to ease your toxic burden and help your body burn fat safely and sustainably.*  

Learn more about the 10-Day Protein-Powered Detox Program here

References: 

  1. Villablanca PA, Alegria JR, Mookadam F, Holmes DR Jr, Wright RS, Levine JA. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis in obesity management. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015 Apr;90(4):509-19. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.02.001. PMID: 25841254.  
  1. American Sport and Fitness: Do You Burn More Calories in Cold Weather? 
  1.  Cleveland Clinic: Brown Fat, Brown Adipose Tissue: What It Is & What It Means 
  1. Healthline: How Protein Can Help You Lose Weight Naturally 
  1. Cleveland Clinic: Ghrelin Hormone: Function and Definition 
  1. Mosavat M, Mirsanjari M, Arabiat D, Smyth A, Whitehead L. The Role of Sleep Curtailment on Leptin Levels in Obesity and Diabetes Mellitus. Obes Facts. 2021;14(2):214-221. doi: 10.1159/000514095. Epub 2021 Mar 23. PMID: 33756469; PMCID: PMC8138234. 
  1.  Donga E, van Dijk M, van Dijk JG, Biermasz NR, Lammers GJ, van Kralingen KW, Corssmit EP, Romijn JA. A single night of partial sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance in multiple metabolic pathways in healthy subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jun;95(6):2963-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2009-2430. Epub 2010 Apr 6. PMID: 20371664.  
  1. University of Washington Study. 2002. Reported in Integrated and Alternative Medicine Clinical Highlights 4, no. 1: 16.  
  1. Jackson E, Shoemaker R, Larian N, Cassis L. Adipose Tissue as a Site of Toxin Accumulation. Compr Physiol. 2017 Sep 12;7(4):1085-1135. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c160038. Erratum in: Compr Physiol. 2018 Jun 18;8(3):1251. PMID: 28915320; PMCID: PMC6101675. 
  1. Mohajer N, Du CY, Checkcinco C, Blumberg B. Obesogens: How They Are Identified and Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Their Action. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021 Nov 25;12:780888. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2021.780888. PMID: 34899613; PMCID: PMC8655100. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern.