10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight, According to RDs

Julia Malacoff
by Julia Malacoff
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10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight, According to RDs

Anyone working on losing weight and creating healthy habits can tell you it takes time, dedication and patience. It also takes knowledge about what does and doesn’t work for you individually, which is often discovered through a process of trial and error.

However, registered dietitians often see their clients making some of the same mistakes when it comes to shedding pounds healthfully. Here, they share 10 common ones to avoid:



Many people find it easier to create a calorie deficit when they ensure their meals contain plenty of lean proteinfiber and water, says Summer Yule, RD. “Though both fruit juice and dried fruits contain some of the antioxidants you’d find in whole fruits, the former doesn’t contain as much fiber and the latter has less water content. Thus, you get the most filling volume for the calories with whole fruits.” For example, per cup, whole grapes have roughly 100 calories while grape juice has 160 and raisins clock in around 500. “When it comes to fruit, always opt for fresh (or frozen),” says Yule.



Calories alone do not indicate good health or nutrition,” explains Jane Pelcher, RD.

Checking out your other nutritional data with an app like MyFitnessPal can actually make your weight-loss journey easier. For example, “aim to slowly increase your fiber intake to 25 grams for women or 38 grams for men per day.” Aside from playing a role in satiety, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are beneficial for gut healthreduce risk of heart disease and provide essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, says Pelcher.



It can be tempting to try certain fad diets simply because you know someone else had success with them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit for you as an individual. “We each have different food preferences, activity levels, energy needs and medical conditions, meaning there’s no one generic weight-loss strategy that will be an optimal fit for everyone,” says Yule. “If you need help developing a personalized nutrition plan that is supportive for weight loss, consider checking in with a registered dietitian who can help you meet your goals in a way that aligns with your life.”



Somewhere along the way, people started to think vegans and vegetarians were healthier and thinner. While this may be true in some cases, it’s not a great weight-loss strategy on its own. “Meat gives us the protein we need to build muscles and burn fat,” explains Jessica Swift, RD. “When meat is cut out of the diet, it is usually replaced with high-starch foods that will not help you build muscle. I recommend a well-rounded protein intake with lean meats, seafood and plant-based proteins such as beans, legumes, low-sodium soy products and whole grains.”



“If someone is currently sedentary and makes a goal of working out seven days a week, it’s unlikely to be successful,” notes Laurel Jakubowski, RD. Simply put, it’s important to set yourself up for success by taking small, achievable steps. “Start with one or two days a week and work up from there,” she suggests. “Similarly, people may decide they are never going to eat junk food again or never drink soda again, which is also unrealistic.” Instead, consider reducing your soda intake from a few times a week to once a week or occasionally swapping a calorie-dense dessert for fruit.



“Some of my clients get so caught up in eating healthy foods that water becomes a side note,” says Taylor Stolt, RD, consulting dietitian at Plate and Canvas. But there are some major benefits to making sure you get enough H2O: “Staying hydrated reduces hunger, increases the number of calories you burn and improves your body’s ability to burn body fat for energy.” If you’re not sure how much to drink, “a good place to start is half your body weight in ounces,” Stolt advises. “Tea and bone broth count toward fluid intake, too.”



Swift is all for reducing simple or refined carbohydrates like baked goods, candy and white breads. “But these are not to be confused with complex carbohydrates such as quinoa and whole-wheat products,” she emphasizes. “When it comes to energy, your body prefers to break down carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates also offer fiber, protein and other nutrients that stabilize your blood sugar during this ‘breaking down’ process.” Plus, it’s pretty hard to cut out all carbs and maintain a healthy diet since carbs are also found in several main food groups including vegetables, fruit and dairy. Cutting them out “makes for an insufficient diet that is not sustainable.”



“It is easy for calories to creep up without noticing when you are mindlessly munching on food throughout the day,” says Andres E. Ayesta, RD, certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of Vive Nutrition. “This tends to happen when you are cooking or when there are treats and easy-to-grab snacks around you all the time.” That’s why a food journal can help keep you accountable. Ayesta also recommends planning your meals and snacks ahead of time.



Overall, most RDs don’t recommend using your activity tracker as a guide for determining your calorie needs. “Fitness trackers are often inaccurate, and people tend to overestimate how many calories they’ve burned and underestimate how many calories they eat,” says Jakubowski. “This may lead people to think they’ve ‘earned’ that big piece of chocolate cake at 600 calories when their workout only burned 400. That 200 calorie excess can build up quickly and lead to weight gain.” Instead, she recommends tapping into your satiety levels and keeping track of your weight to find a calorie amount that works for your activity level.



“A balanced diet needs to incorporate your favorite foods,” says Pelcher. “Regularly eliminating them results in cravings and overindulgent cheat days that may counter your weight-loss goals. Instead, use an 80/20 guide where 80% of your intake consists of your favorite whole grains, high-quality proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and 20% is for the cookie or side of fries you’ve been craving.”

Whether you’re cutting carbs by eating smaller portions or substituting carbs for veggies, our Low Carb recipe collection has inspiration for every meal. Visit “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app to browse our collections.

About the Author

Julia Malacoff
Julia Malacoff

Julia (@jmalacoff) is a seasoned writer and editor who focuses on fitness, nutrition, and health. She’s also a certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach. Based in Amsterdam, she bikes every day and travels around the world in search of tough sweat sessions and the best vegetarian fare.


13 responses to “10 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight, According to RDs”

  1. Avatar TJ says:

    Outdated and misguided advice. To advocate a high protein animal based diet is uninformed and woefully lacking. The nutritionist should begin her re-education with the film Forks Over Knives.

    • Avatar G-Rex says:

      A film that focuses on one study is now the bellwether for food nutrition science? Okayyy. Not saying it doesn’t have valid points. But if you’re casting the whole list as outdated and misguided, you should come armed with more than an advocacy documentary.

    • Avatar Nick Fergadis Giannakopoulos says:

      High protein diets are better in preventing muscle loss while on a deficit than high carb or high fat ones.

  2. Avatar sosee11 says:

    The point about protein/meat is misleading. It is easy to get 100g of protein/day on a vegan diet (I do most days of the week). I think this should be reworded to highlight that you cannot skimp on protein rich foods, whether that’s meat, soy, legumes, etc… Just treat all protein sources equally. I understand the point they were going for… just didn’t land as was probably intended.

    • Avatar Jason says:

      Unfortunately plant protein sources are not nearly as bio-available as animal protein sources. Just because something has Xg of protein in it doesn’t mean your body can access it.

  3. Avatar Maria Eulalia Bello says:

    Great. An article advocating meat consumption.
    Unsubscribing from MFP emails/newsletter.

  4. Avatar Brian Butterworth says:

    If you’re not sure how much to drink, “a good place to start is half your body weight in ounces,” Stolt advises.

    What the fluff does that mean? Please reply in SI units.

  5. Avatar Lisa T says:

    No I find you advocating meat as a source of protein uneducated.
    In fact saying meat gives us the protein we need to build muscle and burn fact is pathetic.
    It sounds like you are giving advice found in some old newspaper from 1950.
    I’m vegan not plant based.
    You telling people that they should be eating meat is barbaric.
    I know this is a post about weight.
    Please go on Instagram or some other form of social media
    See how the fittest athletes get their protein
    It’s not filtered through animals
    You are so wrong
    Leave the animals alone for gods sake
    Educate yourself

    • Avatar mattbell007 says:

      Lisa T is a first-world bigot. Several things about the human body point to the fact that veganism isn’t natural. Vitamin B12, and your teeth/tooth structure point to the fact that humans are naturally omnivores, not vegetarians, and certainly not vegans. Eating lots of veggies is good, but avoiding meats because they have an animal source is idiotic. Inuits would have died off long ago if they were vegans.

      • Avatar Krystina says:

        well, mattbell, our dental structure is that of vegetarians, not carnivores. Note that we do not have giant canines, not pointed teeth to rip/shred raw meat. We have a lower jaw which moves side to side, as a vegetarian animal- unlike carnivores, which have scissored jaws. Look at our molars! Check out our hands, which are created to PICK fruits and nuts and grains to eat!!! Lisa T is right on. Vitamin B12 is one anomalous issue, and we don’t need much to be healthy. Where did you learn that old trope about “our teeth make us carnivores>” When in fact, our teeth make us VEGETARIANS?! And we are, as the species on our planet with the ability to enslave other species, and also to destroy the earth through our own unsustainable food choices, in THE POSITION to SAVE THE WORLD. And YES, the enlightened and ultra athletes are all vegans now. Inuits are another anomaly, in a harsh environment, who had to adapt to survive. That we CAN adapt is due to our amazing brains, not our bodies (Inuits would freeze to death post-haste in their *natural naked state* LOL. BUT WHAT ABOUT VITAMIN C? Humans need it. Comes from plants. Etc.

  6. Avatar Merrilyn Tattersall says:

    80/20 does not work for me now I’m almost 58 (no matter how hard i tried & succeeded at not eating sugar or takeaway junk food & all the supposedly bad foods nothing worked (until about 4 or 5wks ago when i started seriously cutting out ALL carbs (inc most veges) & dabbling in keto & intermittant fasting (lost about 1 or 2kgs, slow progress but seems only way that i could make any progress at all)

  7. Avatar Aarchman07030 says:

    The best part of online diet/nutrition media these days is the hyperbolic invective of the carnivores vs. the vegans. Skip the content and head right for the comments.

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