Why can't I lose weight, even though I'm eating well?

Rose Reisman
Nutrition & Dietetics
How often do we say, “I can’t lose weight even though I’m eating healthy and exercising"? Or we blame it on bad genetics, a slow metabolism, or our age. Likely not.

But there are things you may not be aware of:
  • Salads are not innocent once you add cheese, nuts, dried fruits, oil or mayonnaise-based vegetables, and high-fat dressing.
  • Eating larger portions of even healthy food increases weight. For example, fruits and vegetables aren’t zero calories.
  • Minimize the starchy varieties such as peas, potatoes, avocado, mangos, and bananas.
  • Watch those condiments -- sour cream, plum sauce, ketchup, peanut butter, and mayonnaise. They have excess sodium, fat, and sugar that add up.
  • We may think that fish or chicken is healthier than red meat, but not if it’s deep-fried or served with heavy sauces or excess cheese.
These simple changes will move the scale in the right direction.
Even though you may be eating healthy foods, you still may be consuming too many calories. If you are burning less calories than you are eating, even if you are eating healthy foods, you will still gain weight. Start thinking portion control even when eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc.
Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine

You may not be able to lose weight because of what you're drinking, not what you're eating. Many times when people are frustrated with weight loss, they look and look again at their food records and insist that they are eating only healthy food in small portions, yet the scale won't budge. There are certainly multiple reasons for this, not the least of which is the scientifically proven human tendency to record less than we consume and more than we exercise. It's not purposeful cheating, but small things such as forgetting the handful of M&M's off a coworker's desk, or chips at a Mexican restaurant  or assuming we must have walked at least a mile during the day (without counting steps on a pedometer).

We also tend to forget the liquid calories! Yes, Virginia, the liquid calories count, too -- and often way more than you'd expect.

Here are the calorie counts in some common drinks:

- Soda: 1 can of Coke is 140 calories.
- Starbucks: Tall Cafe Latte with Nonfat milk has 126 calories (Grande: 168).
- Caramel Frappuccino Blended Coffee with whipped cream: Brace yourself -- 430 calories! (Note a McD's quarter pounder is 410.)
- Wine: 4 ounces -- a half cup -- glass of Chardonnay has about 90 kcal. Measure your glass once. Most of us drink at least 6 to 8 ounces.
- Frozen Margarita: 180 kcal for 4 ounces, but most margarita glasses hold 12 ounces, which is over 500 kcal!
- Gatorade: 12 ounces is 310 kcal.
Recognize that 3,600 calories equal one pound, which means your simple morning coffee may be adding a pound or more per month. Ironically, your workout drink can easily do the same.
Focus on water the most, and low or no-calorie drink options if you are trying to lose weight. 

Continue Learning about Dieting For Weight Loss

Dieting For Weight Loss

Dieting For Weight Loss

Losing weight quickly is OK as long as you do it safely, not through a crash diet. You can lose three or more pounds a week by burning more calories than you eat. If you burn an extra 500 calories per day through eating less and i...

ncreasing your physical activity, you can lose about one to two pounds of fat per week. Dietitians recommend a daily minimum of 1,200 calories per day (a 200-pound person might need 1,400 calories). Anything less makes you lose muscle as well as fat, which slows your metabolism. Instead, minimize your intake of starches, added sugars like high fructose corn syrup and animal fat from dairy and meats. Focus on eating fruits and vegetables, soy products, egg whites, skinless poultry breasts, shellfish and fish, nonfat dairy foods and meat that is 95 percent lean. Drink lots of water, don't skip meals, and eat only from a plate while seated at a table.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.