It can be incredibly frustrating to find that you can’t lose weight no matter what. This article is written specifically for women and includes eight reasons and practical tips that may help with weight loss resistance and an inability to find healthy weight management.

white scale tied with a yellow measuring tape.

The truth is, you don’t have to be skinny to be healthy. But, if you are overweight and that weight is negatively impacting your health, then it might be wise to consider losing weight.

If you do in fact need to lose weight, then it can be as simple as cutting back on food indulgences and being a little more mindful about your choices.

For some people, however, weight loss can present quite a challenge.

It turns out that there are some real reasons why you may be struggling to lose weight, no matter how hard you try. Women of child-bearing age and who are post-menopausal may also have unique challenges with weight loss.

In addition to reviewing the potential causes of weight loss resistance in this article, you may also need to consult your healthcare provider to rule out any other medical reasons. Your provider can also help determine exactly what is your ideal weight range and how you can reach your goals.

8 Helpful Tips to Get Over Weight Loss Resistance

1. Work on Getting Enough Quality Sleep

Lack of good quality sleep can absolutely hinder your weight loss efforts, and research shows that chronic sleep debt is associated with obesity.

Not getting enough sleep is actually quite common in the United States. Nearly 1 in 3 of American adults are not getting the recommended amount of sleep.

So how exactly does lack of good quality sleep affect your weight loss efforts? If you’re not getting enough minutes of good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly and your hunger hormones can get out of whack.

The bottom line is that most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. To ensure that you are getting that amount, you might actually have to be in bed up to 10 hours, taking account the minutes it takes to fall asleep or time you might wake up in the middle of the night.

If you are trying to lose weight but are having a hard time, getting enough good quality sleep should be your first priority.

woman sleeping in bed with white comforter pulled over her head.

2. Learn Stress Management Techniques

Chronic stress also has a negative impact on weight loss efforts.

When we’re under stress, our bodies produce an adrenal response. Our adrenals pump out more cortisol which signals the liver and muscles to release glycogen stores. This type of stress response can lead to loss of muscle mass, increased fat storage, and impulses to overeat.

Work to control stress by identifying your triggers and attempting to get them under control. As you better manage your stress, then your ability to lose weight should increase. 

How can you tell if you are stressed?

There are a few ways. Do you feel tense or often find that your neck and shoulders are sore? Do you often feel rage, worry, or helplessness?

If your stress is serious, you might want to seek counseling to help develop better coping techniques.

woman meditating on a deck in the setting sun.

3. Get Hormones Back in Balance

Hormonal imbalance is a huge reason for weight-loss resistance.

Women are particularly vulnerable to changes in weight, especially during times of hormonal changes like perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.

Thyroid hormones, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, insulin, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin are all responsible for weight gain or problems losing weight when they are not properly balanced.

If you suspect imbalanced hormones might be a problem for you, ask your doctor to test your hormone levels, including a full thyroid panel, female hormones, and cortisol.

You may also want to focus on eating a hormone balancing diet, not just for your thyroid, but for your other hormones as well.

This includes a diet very low in refined sugar, high in fiber, and with moderate levels of good fats and quality protein. Avoid processed foods and refined oils, and eat as clean and organic as possible. You may also want to try eating a Raw Carrot Salad or 1-2 raw carrots a day to help with estrogen detoxification.

Read more about how to reverse estrogen dominance naturally. And, if you are new to eating clean, then don’t miss my articles on how to eat clean and the best healthy shopping list.

Lastly, if you have thyroid disease, you may wish to read my article on losing weight with Hashimoto’s.

4. You Need to Adjust Your Macronutrients

Many people are eating too many refined carbohydrates and not enough protein or healthy fats. One study showed that higher protein intake after weight loss helps prevent weight regain.

This doesn’t mean you should fear carbs, although some people do benefit from a low-carb diet. Eating carbohydrates from unprocessed sources like low sugar fruits, vegetables and limited starches is good for you, especially women. See my list of the best gluten-free carbs.

It’s the refined carbohydrates like sugar, sodas, crackers, breads, and cookies that should be avoided.

If you feel like you are addicted to sugar, then you might want to try a sugar detox or check out my list of the best no-sugar foods.

chia pudding in a jar with fresh raspberries on top.

5. You Need More Joy Into Your Life

Believe it or not, but there’s a link between happiness and weight loss. How you handle stress and sadness in your life can make or break your weight loss efforts.

Not having enough joy in your life can affect the way your body reacts to temptations, such as those pesky sugar cravings.

Lack of joy can affect neurotransmitters that control mood, thinking, appetite and behavior, making you more likely to eat poorly, skip exercise and gain weight.

There are some simple ways to combat this – seek peace of mind in the form of mediation, write in a gratitude journal, hang out with a friend, go outside for a walk, or do something that makes you happy. Finding activities that you enjoy and having support from others will add joy to your life.

Additionally, you may need to reconsider your desires to lose weight. Are you actually overweight or are you trying to reach a number based on societal pressures? Speak to your healthcare provider to make sure that weight loss is actually an important goal for your health needs.

friends on vacation walking along a street near the beach.

6. You’re Eating Too Much Sugar

Sugar seems to have found its way into almost everything we eat, including most processed and packaged foods. The best way to avoid added sugars is to cook at home and choose your own ingredients

Several studies have shown that sugar can be as addictive as cocaine. This makes it hard for most people to give it up.

However, if weight loss is your goal, you’re going to need to consider nixing it from your diet (be sure to read my article on how to go sugar-free without going crazy).

If you need more support, try my free Sugar-Free Challenge.

7. You’re Eating Processed Foods

Processed foods are everywhere and they can be hard to avoid for some. Processed foods can contain high levels of sodium, sugar, refined oils, and other questionable ingredients.

Packaged and boxed foods are generally best to avoid. A recent study also showed that ultra-processed foods have been linked to cancer and other metabolic disorders.

Make a conscious effort to eat wholesome, clean foods such as how they are found in nature.

It does take an effort to cook and eat real whole foods most of the time, but your weight loss efforts will likely benefit from a diet without processed or packaged foods.

dog with donut toy.

8. You’re Not Moving Enough

The amazing think about exercise is that you don’t actually have to work out hours a day to get benefits.

Some say that you really only need between 1-2 miles of walking a day to stay healthy (about 30 minutes, 5 days a week), plus some additional weight-bearing exercises and stretching to help with flexibility.

It’s easy to think that you have to go hard or not do anything at all, but start with just a 10-minute walk and go up from there.

If you don’t do any exercise or movement at all, it will be difficult to lose weight. Just a slight increase in your activity can make a big difference when it comes to weight loss. 

As a secondary benefit, even gentle exercise can help boost mood which may help prevent emotional eating.

On the flip side, you don’t want to overdo it with exercise. Too much movement, especially cardiovascular exercise, may increase your appetite and result in overeating. It’s all about finding balance!

a tabby cat sleeping with owner in bed.

FAQs About Weight Loss Resistance

Why is it harder for women to lose weight than men?

There are several reasons why it can be more difficult for women to lose weight than men. But, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible for women to lose weight. It might just take longer and occur at a slower rate.

Does it mean there is something wrong with me if I can’t lose weight?

It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider if you have been actively trying to lose weight but aren’t getting results. You may need to do some blood work to rule out causes such as thyroid disease. See my article with the best lab tests for women. You may also like my article on how to naturally increase energy.

Conclusions 

If you find that you can’t lose weight no matter what, then you should know these eight potential reasons why that might be happening, and what you can do to fix it.

Don’t beat yourself up, but do some research into why you aren’t meeting your goals. Then, try to make some changes one at a time and see if you get better results.

See these other weight loss tips for women.

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About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with nearly 10 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.

Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.