What Prevents Weight Loss After Exercising?

You may not lose weight simply by exercising.
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Exercise is an important part of any weight loss plan, but it isn't a guarantee that you'll shed pounds. You may find that you maintain or even gain weight despite working out regularly. There are a few possible explanations for this. Understand these potential problems so you can address them and reach your weight loss goal.


No matter what you do, you can't lose weight if you consume more calories than your body burns. In fact, for every 3,500 excess calories that you consume, you'll gain 1 pound of fat. If you consume as many calories as you burn off, you will simply maintain your current weight. But the good news is that if you consume 3,500 calories below your needs, you will lose 1 pound of fat. Aim to cut your calories by 500 to 1,000 per day to get a healthy weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.


Eating too much will hinder your weight loss but so will eating too little. According to Alan Titchenal and Joannie Dobbs, nutritionists at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii, eating too few calories can send the brain into "survival mode." This can cause your metabolism to slow and may encourage you to revert to overeating. The University of Washington recommends that women consume at least 1,200 calories per day. For men this number is 1,500.

Fad Diets

According to the University of Washington, fad diets can hinder your weight loss. Fad diets make unrealistic promises like losing 10 pounds in a day. These diets often overemphasize specific food groups and ignore calories. According to the University of Washington, these diets can cause quick weight loss through fluid loss. But once you get re-hydrated -- which is important if you're exercising regularly -- your weight will return. Instead of falling prey to these diets, stick with a regular exercise regimen and create a healthy calorie deficit in your diet.

Elevated Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is a hormone that your body secretes in response to stress. If you are constantly stressed, depressed or have an anxiety disorder, then you may have chronically elevated cortisol levels. This may cause you to have difficulty losing weight even when you work out. This is because high cortisol levels can trigger your appetite, causing you to eat too much. It can also make it difficult to lose weight in particular areas, as elevated cortisol levels tend to cause fat to accumulate on the stomach. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have elevated cortisol levels.

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