“I don’t get it, I’m eating less and exercising more but the fat isn’t budging.”

Sound like something you’re saying right now? Does it seem like no matter what you do you’re just stuck in a fat loss rut? Our bodies do not want to be lean. Mother Nature happens to like making and storing fat, just look at contestants on these weight loss shows. Their bodies are so efficient at adding fat that it even places fat on their organs. Fat is very easy for our body to maintain, muscle on the other hand, is not. Muscle helps to raise your metabolic rate so muscles are very “expensive” for our body to build and maintain. Our diets have to be perfect in order for us to lose fat properly. But what if your diet, cardio and workouts are perfect?

Here are four reasons the scale might not be moving.

1. Water Retention or “Fake” Weight Gain

I see this daily, especially with women. If you are in a caloric deficit — consuming fewer calories than your body needs — you should be in a state of fat burning. That said, losing weight on the scale and losing bodyfat are two different things. If you are in a negative calorie state and the scale keeps going up it could mean a couple of things; water retention or intestinal back up. If you’re weighing yourself daily you’re going to notice a fluctuation and that is mostly due to your body getting rid of food or sodium from previous days. 

2. You’re Overeating and Don’t Realize It

You might be saying “But I am eating healthier and I barely eat, there’s no way I can be overeating!” Well, my friend, let me tell you: If you’re not logging your calories and just “eating by feel” or “eating clean foods” you’re probably overeating. A calorie is a calorie no matter how you slice it. If your body requires 2,000 calories a day to lose weight and you consume 2,100 calories from grilled chicken and lettuce you will still gain weight! On the other hand, if you consume 1900 calories from skittles you will lose weight.

3. You’re Not Using a Food Scale

So many nutritionists and RDs can agree that most people are good at underestimating their calories eaten. A good example of this is a piece of protein. If you’re eating a piece of protein and you assume it is either three or four ounces, in reality the protein might be eight or nine ounces. That’s almost double or even triple the amount of calories. This is why when someone comes to me wanting to lose bodyfat I always instruct them to get a food scale. You might be surprised at where your portions are.

4. You’re Overestimating How Many Calories You’re Burning

Going back to something you have probably heard a million times over, you must burn more calories than you consume. Most people overestimate how many calories they are truly burning. If you went for a 20-minute walk you did not burn 300 calories! Most people have smartphones or an iPod of some sort; all of these devices come with calorie trackers that can tell you exactly how many calories you are burning from exercise. Just make sure you keep your methods to track calories consistent. If you use the number on the cardio machine, stick with that number. A smartphone device will read a different number from the cardio machine. The one that is correct is the one you use consistently.

The solution to not losing fat is to start logging your daily intake. You wouldn’t drive cross country with no map, so stop eyeballing your food and start keeping track. Most people say they can’t lose weight because they don’t have the proper systems of checks and balances in place to ensure they are burning fat.