Ask The Trainer #35 – Why Your Diet Stopped Working


Chad, I’ve been dieting and working out now for almost 2 months. The first month I lost 3 pounds, then my weight loss froze. I work out 5 times per week and I eat very healthy. No fast foods, sweets, or alcohol. I want to lose another 27 pounds to hit my goal weight. Why can’t I lose any more weight? Any guidance would be appreciated. Thank you.



Hi, Tammy. I’m sorry to hear about the frustration you’re experiencing trying to lose weight.

I bet there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t come across someone who is dealing with this same dilemma. As I begin questioning some of these people, I almost always identify multiple common factors that could realistically be hindering their weight loss efforts.

Frankly, there are innumerable possibilities to consider here. So, I’m going to give you the top 10 most common reasons I’ve determined to have a negative impact on weight loss plans…

1. Stress From Major Life Changes:

Divorce, moving, losing a loved one, financial hardship, losing a job, or unwanted career changes are among the most stressful situations anyone could experience. Stress increases can result in elevated serum cortisol levels.

Cortisol is the primary stress hormone of the human body. It gets lots of attention in the fitness world because it’s a catabolic (breaking down) hormone. In other words, it induces muscle breakdown, reduced metabolism, visceral fat synthesis, suppressed immune system, and lower growth hormone levels. These catastrophes occur when our cortisol levels get too high.

In addition to stress increasing cortisol levels, many people have a tendency to eat more under stressful conditions. Obviously, those excess calories spill over into fat gain. Some effective remedies for dealing with stress include meditation, yoga, listening to relaxing music, massage, or supplementing with adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha or Rhodiola Rosea. These all help reduce the impact stress has on the body.

2. Following A Low Carb Diet Too Long

Low carb diets do work. However, restricting carbohydrates for an extended period of time will result in higher cortisol levels. As previously mentioned, higher cortisol levels can result in muscle tissue loss, which will slow down your metabolic rate and encourage fat synthesis.

3. Sneaking Junk In “Here and There”

Sometimes when people begin losing weight on a particular diet, they get a little overconfident with their initial weight loss, and randomly begin snacking on treats “here and there”. Hey, it was “just 1 margarita” … or “just 1 cookie”, right? While it’s easy to justify, keep in mind those extra calories “here and there” add up very quickly, amounting to bigger numbers on the bathroom scale.Chad Shaw

4. Food Intolerance or Allergies

More and more people are being diagnosed with celiac disease. Celiac disease triggers an inflammatory response in the body. Increased inflammation is linked to increased weight gain. The remedy, in this case, is to simply determine what the offending food products are through a process of elimination. Then, remove these foods from your diet.

5. Staying On The Same Diet Too Long

The body is an incredibly adaptive machine. Any type of lower calorie diet will generally work short-term. But, your body will eventually adapt and stop responding to it. This is why carb cycling and intermittent fasting have become popular in recent years. These strategies involve nutritional diversification which can help prevent the body from adapting and yield more long-term success.

6. Medications With Weight Gain Side-Effects

If your doctor prescribes a new medication, be sure to ask if it has any known side effects, such as weight gain. In the past, certain medications my doctor put me on caused weight gain. For example, one time my doctor put me on prednisone for a respiratory infection which did cause me to gain weight and retain water.

7. Over-Exercising

Sometimes people will increase the length of their workouts to try and rapidly lose more weight. However, this strategy often backfires. Excessive exercise of any kind can result in an overstressed condition, leading to high cortisol levels, incomplete protein turnover, muscle tissue breakdown, visceral fat gain, and other unpleasant side effects associated with elevated cortisol levels.

8. Lack of Exercise

If you maintain the same number of calories during times when your activity levels decline, your progress will likely halt or even reverse. Such times might include getting injured, going on vacation, working longer hours, etc. Therefore, if you are unable to maintain the same activity level required to keep losing weight, you must reduce your caloric intake to compensate for it. I’ve done this on numerous occasions when I was recovering from injuries or surgeries that prevented me from being active.

9. Hormone Imbalances

Many factors affect our hormones in a negative way. Poor nutrition, hereditary diseases, sleep disturbances, toxicity, illness, medications/drugs, and stress are among the most common causes of hormonal changes. More specifically, abnormal levels of thyroid hormones, testosterone, cortisol, prolactin, and estrogen can all have a profound effect on your body weight and composition. If you suspect you may have a hormone imbalance, consult your MD and request a comprehensive hormone panel to rule out the possibility.

10. Consumption of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms)

Norwegian scientists claim there is a very definite link between GMO consumption and obesity. Results from studies lasting over 10 years showed animals fed GMO foods gained fat much quicker and retained it, compared to animals fed non-GMO foods. You could be unknowingly consuming GMO’s by eating foods made from corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, papaya, and possibly zucchini and yellow squash. Many zero calorie sweeteners contain GMO’s as well. So be cautious and do your homework.

While this list is far from comprehensive, it should serve a solid guide to help you figure out why your dieting progress has slowed down. If this helps you in any way, please let me know!

As always…

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

Have A Question For Chad?

Just click the button below.