4 Common Weight-Loss Pitfalls That Lead to Weight Gain

Jodi Helmer
by Jodi Helmer
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4 Common Weight-Loss Pitfalls That Lead to Weight Gain

Congratulations: You worked hard to hit your goal weight and you made it.

However, maintaining weight loss might be harder than you think. Research presented at The Endocrine Society’s annual conference found just 14% of those who lost moderate amounts of weight (defined as 10–15% of their original body mass index) maintained their weight loss; among those who lost less than 10% of their original BMI, only 23% maintained their weight loss.

Instead of letting months (or years) of hard work disappear in a haze of skipped workouts and sweet-tasting rewards, beware of these common pitfalls that could cause you to regain weight:



The promise of quick weight loss might make it seem worthwhile to consume nothing but low-calorie shakes or cabbage soup. Chelsea Cross, RD, a dietitian with Dietetic Directions warns you might lose a lot of weight on a fad diet but dramatic calorie restriction is impossible to maintain long-term.

“Any plan that restricts a large food group simply because it’s off limits or too high in calories … is not something that can be stuck to,” Cross says. “You’ll eventually eat those forbidden foods and, because of the deprivation, will overeat them.”

Instead of adopting a fad diet or prioritizing quick weight loss, Cross suggests setting realistic weight-loss goals; eating a balanced diet that includes all of the food groups; and focusing on changing your lifestyle, not just your diet. These strategies, she says, help you achieve long-term, sustainable weight loss.



Whether you showed up for boot camp at the crack of dawn, squeezed in a run on your lunch hour or invested in a personal trainer to keep you motivated, the hard work paid off.

Once you hit your weight-loss goal, you might think you deserve a break from those high-intensity sweat sessions, but skipping workouts is a bad idea. Taking a two-week break from your exercise routine significantly reduces cardiovascular fitness and lean muscle mass, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Anthony J. Wall, MS, a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise, notes that skipping workouts may make it harder to get back into an exercise routine.



Running the same 3-mile route or choosing the same settings on the elliptical trainer might have helped you shed unwanted pounds, but continuing with the same workout is going to make it difficult to maintain your weight loss. After you lose weight, you need to switch up your workouts, says Wall.

“When you follow a consistent exercise program, your body gets more efficient and you stop [burning as many calories],” he explains. “You have to take the intensity up a notch if you want to maintain your weight loss.”

Changing the number of repetitions in your strength-training program, adding high-intensity interval training to your cardio workout or checking out new classes like Pilates and aerial yoga instead of showing up for the same Zumba class each week ensures you don’t see the weight you lost start creeping back on.



If you struggle with sleeplessness, it might be harder to maintain weight loss. Sleeping less than six hours per night was associated with higher rates of obesity; and additional research found shorter amounts of sleep were linked to larger waistlines.

“Insufficient sleep can disrupt hormonal levels that are responsible for feelings of hunger and fullness,” explains Natalie Dautovich, PhD, National Sleep Foundation Environmental Scholar and assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The more time you spend awake, the more opportunities you have to eat — and you’re more apt to reach for high-calorie snack foods than fruits and vegetables when you’re exhausted, Dautovich says.

To maintain weight loss, aim for 7–9 hours of sleep per night. You can increase the odds of getting a good night’s rest by sticking to regular sleep/wake times and going to bed in a cool, dark environment.

Keeping the number on the scale from creeping up takes some work, but the effort will be worth it when your favorite jeans continue to fit like a glove.

About the Author

Jodi Helmer
Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer writes about health and wellness for publications like WebMD, AARP, Shape, Woman’s Day, Arthritis Today and Costco Connection among others. She often comes up with the best story ideas while hiking with her rescue dogs. You can read Jodi’s work or follow her on Twitter @helmerjodi.


12 responses to “4 Common Weight-Loss Pitfalls That Lead to Weight Gain”

  1. Avatar Eddie G says:

    I like the point 4… I guess a lot of people do that.

  2. Avatar Mike says:

    These articles are awful. I’ve lost 110lbs in 8 months and ignore everything i read on here. These things were written by people who have never had to lose a pound in their life and all they do is read books about it. For one second I’d like to see them live this garbage.

    • Avatar Monkuwoiuna says:

      Yes, the fact that your experience has been different invalidates every point in the article. People are exactly the same, so there’s no way you are an exception, so go ahead a slag the author for her work. They should have just asked an anonymous commenter for his insights.

      • Avatar Mike says:

        It aint rocket science. Burn more calories than you take in. If you cant wrap your brain around that concept then you are literally a moron.

        • Avatar jwoolman says:

          So you lost almost 14 lbs/month while sleep deprived, following a fad diet, and not exercising. No wonder you’re cranky!

          • Avatar Mike says:

            Sleep better than I ever have. Fad diet, no thanks. Worked out 7 days a week sometimes twice a day. Tracked all of my calories with iFit(MFP stinks). I just don’t like idiots like you and the poster trying to make it something its not. Calories In, Calories Out + Exercise. That’s it. If you have “trouble” with that, you need to take a look in the mirror and that goes for anybody and everybody reading this.

        • Avatar lookingahead says:

          Wow. You really do need things spelled out for you, don’t you? Points 1 through 3 ARE about calorie intake and calorie burn.

    • Avatar lookingahead says:

      How long has it been since you took the weight off? A year or more? I’m sure you noticed this article is about MAINTAINING weight loss.

      • Avatar Mike says:

        Weight has been off for 2 months. Maintaining is far harder than losing. Still dropping about a lb a week and trying to tighten that up.

  3. Avatar JGray1 says:

    I did keto for a week and lost 7 pounds. I realized though that if I ate a cracker I would put back 5 of those pounds maybe more. I switched to a medium carb menu and a lot of protein and tried to keep down the portion size which I find make a big difference in how much weight loss you have. smaller portions make you skinnier.

    • Avatar SON OF BARRY says:

      yeah, KETO is a FAD diet and long term failure for most people. I keep my carbs around 100 and proteins 100 with calories between 1600-1800 a day with exercise. Ive lost 32 lbs in 7 weeks…50 to go

  4. Avatar Night shift RN says:

    I work 12 hour night shifts. I sleep in the day. Weight loss is a struggle for me. Can you do a study on weghtloss for shift workers?

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