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6 Surprising Reasons Why You Can't Lose Weight

By Stephanie E - Jenny Craig

Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, R.D.


“Why can’t I lose weight?” 


It’s an all-too-common question many of us have asked during our weight loss journeys. If you’ve noticed the scale won’t budge, the reasons behind why you’re not losing weight may be easier to fix than you think! By making these simple changes to your lifestyle, you can start losing weight again — and build a few new healthy habits along the way. 

"Help! I can’t lose weight!"

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Even if you’re following a weight loss program, you might still experience some challenges — and that’s normal! But if you’re not sure how to get back on track, finding an answer to why you’re not losing weight can seem daunting. These are some of the most common issues that could affect weight loss — and what you can do about them.

1. You’re skimping on sleep.

Photo by Melissa Belanger on Unsplash

oatmeal in white bowl with berries and kiwiToo little sleep could cause more than drowsiness and irritability: It may even counteract the benefits of a weight loss program, research suggests. One study found that study participants who dieted and slept 5.5 hours per night lost less fat and had considerably increased loss of fat-free body mass (which makes up important components like muscle mass) compared to those who slept 8.5 hours per night who followed the same diet.1 Those who slept less also experienced increased hunger and a lower resting metabolic rate than those who slept more. These 10 quick tips may help you get a better night’s sleep.

2. You’re skipping breakfast.

There’s more to this humble meal than meets the eye: Missing out on the first meal of the day might be one of the reasons why you’re not losing weight. According to one study, enjoying a delicious breakfast may support your weight loss efforts more than a heavy dinner.2 In the study, a group of overweight women “front-loaded” their calories by eating a more calorie-heavy meal in the morning and a less substantial meal at night, while a second group had the opposite. The group who ate a heavier breakfast lost 2 ½ times more weight than those who had a calorie-dense dinner.2 Other research suggests a hearty breakfast may help you to feel more satisfied throughout the day and may prevent overeating later.3

3. You're mindlessly munching.

Photo by mediaphotos on iStock

hand reaching for colorful candies in bowlIf you’ve ever turned on the TV, started snacking and suddenly realized you’ve reached the bottom of the bag, don’t worry — we’ve all been there! To combat distracted eating, try out a few mindful eating strategies to support your weight loss goals. When you eat mindfully, you’ll pay attention to your senses by savoring the flavors, colors, textures and aromas of the food that’s in front of you. Practicing mindful eating can help you slow down, giving your body the chance to tell you when it’s full. (It can take up to 20 minutes to feel satisfied, so feel free to take your time!4) These seven simple tips may help you to avoid mindless eating — give them a try!

4. You're not watching your portion sizes.


Portion distortion is real — and it may be affecting your weight loss. In fact, the average size of many foods from restaurants and grocery stores have increased in size as much as 138% since the 1970s.5 And with larger portion sizes comes excess calories, which may eventually contribute to weight gain. 

Photo by tifonimages on iStock
two plates of spaghetti portion sized

It’s important to distinguish between a portion size and a serving size: A portion is what you serve yourself, but a serving is generally the recommended amount to eat — and what’s listed on a product’s label. To stay on track with your weight loss plan, try these visual cues to get the right portions at mealtimes.

5. You’re (really) stressed.

When you experience stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can affect metabolism, blood sugar levels, inflammation, and more.6 Chronic stress, along with increased cortisol levels, may result in increased body weight, body mass index and waist circumference, one study found.7 So, how can you stress less and relax more? Start to recognize common signs of stress and take some time to enjoy your favorite activities to help you de-stress.


Bouts of stress may also lead to emotional hunger. Rather than turn to junk food and sweets to help cope with feelings of anxiety, try indulging in some self-care activities instead.  


6. You’ve hit a weight loss plateau.

Feeling like you’re stuck in a rut? You may be experiencing a weight loss plateau. How long does a plateau last? That depends on your body and what you’re doing to lose weight. Sometimes, the unhealthy habits you’ve been trying to avoid slowly make their way back into your life. Other times, a weight loss plateau is your body’s way of signaling it needs a change. Rather than following a one-size-fits-all diet, choosing a weight loss plan that focuses on your needs and fits your lifestyle may help you to push through a stubborn plateau.

Jenny Craig offers a variety of meal plans created to fit your unique lifestyle. View our menu options here

The bottom line

If you can't lose weight, we know the feeling can be frustrating. But hang in there. We hope these insights will help you figure out why your weight loss has stalled and give you the motivation you need to get back on track.


If you're struggling to drop those stubborn pounds, Jenny Craig can help. Our proven plan includes delicious, ready-to-go meals and the support of a dedicated weight loss coach  so you'll have everything you need to learn how to lose weight and keep it off. Get started today.





[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951287/

[2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.20460

[3] https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/skipping-breakfast/

[4] https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/11/09/we-found-out-if-it-really-takes-20-minutes-to-feel-full_a_21602736/

[5] https://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-have-food-portions-increased-2016-4

[6] https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/cortisol

[7] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.21733

Stephanie Eng-Aponte

Stephanie Eng Aponte, Copywriter at Jenny Craig
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig and has written for the health and wellness, tech, and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. They employ an “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoy the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find them photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.

Favorite healthy snack: green apple slices with sunflower butter



Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RDN

Briana Rodriquez, RDN at Jenny Craig
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs. 

Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)


This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.

Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy. 

This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.


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