5 reasons you are not losing weight!

Sam Barber

     Losing weight can be a challenge at the best of times. With social media providing much of our information these days and uneducated “online coaches” selling the quick fix it’s leaving people in a position where it’s impossible to lose weight. Here are 5 reasons why you aren’t losing the weight:

#1 Metabolism

Understanding how your metabolism works is essential to losing weight. Your metabolism is essentially your cells ability to process nutrients and convert them to useful energy. There are many things that can effect your metabolism, sleep, water intake, lean muscle mass, diet intake, and activity. Understand this: Your metabolism is fragile! Treat it with care. Far too often these days online coaches are giving out “diet plans” saying you should eat this many calories to lose weight. Based off what? Every single person is different and all of the factors previously mentioned need to be taken into consideration. The main thing to focus on here is going to be to protect your muscle mass. More muscle requires more energy therefore a faster metabolism.

If you drop your calories too fast, too soon you run the risk of going catabolic (break down of muscle), and no this does not mean your body is “eating” its own muscles for energy. Muscle tissue is expensive, it burns a lot of calories and isn’t really an efficient use of energy for the body. If you are not giving your body enough calories its smart enough to realize that all that muscle is hurting you therefore it gets rid of it. If you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down meaning you have to drop your calories even further to lose weight. This usually means going to unhealthy levels. Protect your muscle by making sure you eat enough protein. Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.

What if you’ve already made this mistake?

If you’re already at a point where your calories are extremely low, and you can’t lose weight, it may be time to put your weight loss goals on hold for a second and rebuild your metabolism. Fitness is all about playing the long game, have patience and trust the process. There is even a chance that introducing more calories will help you lose weight. The boost in metabolism along with an increased sensitivity to nutrients can work wonders for your weight loss goals. To rebuild your metabolism, SLOWLY reintroduce calories into your diet, when I do this I add 150-200 calories every week to two weeks. When I do this I track my weight and look at myself in the mirror. If that weight is going up too quickly, I slow down and hold off for a little bit. Going slowly will help your body to adjust to the extra calories and not put on too much fat. Once you’ve added 1000-1500 calories to your diet now you can start to cut back down again. By doing this your metabolism will be faster and it will be MUCH easier to lose weight. Just as you increased your calories slowly, do the SAME on the way back down. 

In summary: Your metabolism is fragile, eat lots of protein, go slowly. 

#2: Calorie Tracking

This one seems obvious but if you’re not tracking your calories then you’ve lost the game before you’ve even started. People literally have no idea what they are putting in their bodies, by tracking what you eat you are able to gain valuable data to help you make informed decisions to your weight loss goals.

Start by tracking what you eat for 1 week without making ANY changes to what you normally eat. This will help you figure out how many calories you need to eat to maintain. If your weight over the week doesn’t change, congratulations you know how many calories your body needs to maintain homeostasis*. If you gain weight, you know you’re eating too much. From here you can start to chip away at those calories, SLOWLY.

Even if you are tracking your calories, you might still be making some mistakes. Hidden calories are one of the big pit falls people make. Hidden calories are those small little things that you don’t bother to track because “it’s not going to make a difference.” For example ketchup, cream in your coffee, almond milk in your smoothie, these add up! Try to think of your caloric intake over the week rather than day to day. Over a week all that ketchup adds up, which will reduce that deficit you’ve been working so hard to create, remember every calorie counts!

The other big mistake we make? Binge eating. You can be perfect all week but then on Friday night you destroy an entire pizza, 3 glasses of wine, a bag of chips and a tub of ice cream. Don’t worry, we’ve all done it! But guess what? Once again you’ve ‘chipped’ away at that deficit! (see what I did there). Don’t beat yourself up though, it happens, just make sure you get back on the horse the next day. Just go back to normal the next day, don’t try to make up for the night before. That encourages poor eating habits.

Pro tip: track your cheats! I like to go ahead in my day if I know I’m going to cheat, track what I’m going to have and make adjustments to the rest of my day to limit the damages.

In summary: Track ALL of your calories, reduce them slowly, track your cheat meals.

*Homeostasis. The bodies natural tendency to even itself out, this happens throughout the body’s systems.

#3: Too Much Cardio

Cardio should seen as a tool to help you increase your total calories burnt in the day. This ties back in with my point about metabolism. You want to protect your muscle. If you are eating at a deficit, not eating enough protein and then throwing in cardio, chances of losing muscle are high.

Start walking instead. Look at what your average steps are currently (most phones track this now) and then add 1000 steps in. Do that for a week then add 1000 more. By doing this you’re able to increase the amount of calories burnt throughout the day (NEAT*) without putting your muscle at risk. How ‘neat’ is that? (I’m sorry, I’ll stop). As you get closer to your goals and your calories have reached their bottom range (Ladies I don’t suggest going lower than 1200 calories a day, gents 2000 should be as low as you go) now you can add in cardio. If you keep up your steps then adding in some HIIT training is going to be the most effective addition. Do not do HIIT for longer than 20 minutes. This is plenty, after that you're simply training for endurance, putting your muscle mass at risk and leaving yourself open to injury. If you are weight training on a regular basis I’d recommend keeping this low impact, ellipticals, assault bike and stair masters are all great options.

People often ask me whats the best type of cardio. Simple answer is the one which you like the best. If you really like the assault bike do that. The result will be the same no matter what you do. For your HIIT training I recommend short INTENSE bouts of about 15 seconds and then rest for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Go hard, recover, go again.

*NEAT: Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (the amount of calories you burn day to day outside of exercise).

#4: Sleep

Sleep is critical to your body’s ability. To put it simply our body is always in two states, sympathetic and parasympathetic. Now sympathetic is your ‘fight or flight’ mode. We need to be in this state in times when we need to be alert and fired up, such as when we workout or are under serious stress. Parasympathetic is our ‘rest and digest’ mode, this is when the body is at its most efficient in recovery. If you don’t get enough sleep your body is stressed. This causes you to constantly be in a sympathetic state. If you’re tired you are likely to turn to caffeine to get you by, this simply adds to the problem. If your body is in this state for too long it produces a hormone called Cortisol. Your body needs cortisol to an extent as it helps control blood sugar, regulates metabolism, reduces inflammation, and controls blood pressure. All positive. However, too much cortisol can have the opposite effect, it can result in weight gain, acne, slowed healing and muscle weakness. When we are tired we are also more likely to slip up on diet as the body is looking for extra fuel to keep it going, such as carb heavy diets.

In summary: Sleep 7-8 hrs a night, keep cortisol levels appropriate.

#5: Weight Training

If you haven’t figured out by now that having muscle is going to be important towards your weight loss goals I’m not sure what you’ve been reading. More muscle = higher metabolism. Higher metabolisms make it easier to lose weight. Simple as that. Unfortunately weight training itself is not as simple as that.

Not all exercises are created equal. Compound movements are going to be the BEST way for you to increase muscle mass. Compound movements are any exercise that involves movement at 2 or more joints. These are going to be the best option for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, they use more muscles in each movement, meaning we can hit more muscle in one go making your time spent in the gym more efficient. Secondly, compound movements have a systemic effect on the body. This means that they fire up the central nervous system more than an isolated movement does. This can result in boosted metabolisms and adaptations throughout the body. Believe it or not studies have shown that doing barbell back squats can actually increase upper body muscle mass. (https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-train-for-systemic-growth)

The other key to weight training? PHASE YOUR TRAINING. The body is an incredible machine designed to adapt to our environment. Keep training the same way all the time, and the body will adapt. You should phase your training every 3-4 weeks. To do this you should change training stimulus. This means don’t always train for muscle growth: strength and endurance are important as well. This will allow you to see consistent results. If you are unsure on how to do this, hire someone who does. If you can’t afford a personal trainer, look for online guidance from a quality source. Hint: your favourite ‘Gym Shark athlete’ probably isn’t a quality source. All of the programs on my website will take you through a strength, hypertrophy and endurance phase. If you need guidance on where to start let’s talk.

In summary: Weight train, do compound lifts, phase your training.


About the author

Born and raised in London, England, Sam has played and coached football in the UK and Canada. He has experience coaching football in professional soccer environments, most notably the Vancouver Whitecaps and Brighton and Hove Albion (EPL). His qualifications include a Bachelors Degree in Fitness and Wellness (ongoing), as well as several training system diplomas.

Over the years Sam has tried various training methodologies, including classic bodybuilding, powerlifting and CrossFit. This makes him versatile as a trainer and allows him to cater to almost any goal a client may have. His true passion lies in helping people transform their physiques and ultimately change their lives.

Sam is based out of Victoria, British Columbia and offers 1 on 1 personal training as well as partner training. Alternatively, he offers online personal training and nutritional consultation.

To inquire more about these services, send him a DM through instagram 


Here are Sam's social media accounts: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sambarber.training/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sambarber.training/

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