5 Reasons Why The Number On The Scale Isn’t Going Down: A Dietitian’s POV

There is a strong correlation between our weight and our eating habits. There is also a more recently discovered correlation between our general lifestyle habits, other than just the food we eat, and our weight. There are therefore many things to consider before making conclusions about why we’re not losing weight. Here are 5 of the more common reasons.

So, why is the number on the scale not going down, even though I’ve been exercising regularly?


  1. You’re eating at a caloric balance
    Caloric balance takes place when your body burns the same amount of calories as you consume during the day, whether with or without exercise. Caloric balance is, in general, what you aim to reach when you want to maintain a healthy weight. In fact, from a dietitian’s point of view, maintenance (coming from caloric balance) of a healthy weight for an extended period of time is an indicator of good health.To lose weight at a healthy and steady pace, reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day. If your goal is to lose weight, here are a couple tips to reduce your caloric intake:

    – Watch what kind of foods you’re eating. If you tend to eat plenty of high-fat foods, cutting back on that and replacing them with highly nutritious food (whole grains, vegetables, minimally processed food products), may help you cut those unwanted calories;

    – Try not to drink your calories. It is very easy to consume 500 calories with just one trip to a commercial café. A lot of the time, restaurants and cafés have the nutritional info of their drinks on their website, or available in person.

    – Keeping a food journal of what foods you eat in a day (quantities as well) is a great way to keep track of what you’re eating. You might be underestimating your calories. For a detailed analysis of your food journal, consult a registered dietitian!

  2. You’re gaining muscle during exercise
    Secret’s out: muscle weighs much more than fat. You can probably imagine that replacing your fat cells with muscle cells with regular exercise, your fat loss might be hidden, with your weight at the scale staying stable for quite a while. You may even experience weight gain!What you should retain from this is the number on the scale doesn’t necessarily dictate your health. For more individualized and personalized evaluation of muscle vs fat mass, consult a kinesiologist or a registered dietitian.
  3. You’re not drinking enough water
    Drinking enough water helps keep your metabolism in shape and at a proper speed. It may even sometimes help speed up your metabolism.The general recommendation for water intake is 2 litres a day, but that recommendation may easily be above that, depending on your height, weight, muscle mass and exercise frequency/intensity.

    Tip to identify dehydration: take a look at the color of your pee the next time you go to the washroom. If it’s dark or a bright yellow, have a couple glasses of water asap!

  4. Your sleep quality is lacking
    Studies show that there is a correlation with a lack of quality sleep and obesity. Although that may not be your case, lack of sleep may be hindering your weight loss.Here are some tips to improve your quality of sleep:
    – Turn off all digital devices at least 30 minutes before you sleep;
    – Exercise during the day to help you relax and tire you out;
    – Develop a bedtime ritual to signal your mind that it’s time to shut off soon;
    – Avoid eating right before bed, not because you’ll gain more weight when you sleep, but because it might stimulate your brain right before bed. It is however not recommended to go to bed hungry, which could also give you a tough time falling asleep. To solve this getting-too-hungry-right-before-bed issue, have 3 filling meals (no skipping!) and up to 3 snacks throughout the day.
  5. You love to party
    There’s nothing wrong with having a good time, but partying usually implies high amounts of alcohol consumption, which comes with its own caloric value (about 7 calories per gram, to be a bit more precise), as well as lots of late-night snacking (which doesn’t usually entail fruits and vegetables, does it?).Drinking alcohol occasionally during social activities is acceptable, and may even have some health benefits (read the benefits of red wine here). It may, however, hinder your weight loss when this consumption becomes frequent.

    The general recommendation for safe alcohol consumption is 9 drinks for women and 14 for men, per week. To read more about how much alcohol this actually entails, click here.


For more information about your health, wellness, nutrition or weight loss goals, consult a registered dietitian.

Hope this information was helpful!


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